What Authors Need to Know
before Self-Publishing a Book
Introduction to Barbara Brabec’s
CRASH COURSE in How to Self-Publish a Book
This article introduces you to a comprehensive guide first published in part in 2016 on BarbaraBrabec.com; now updated and expanded for republication as a PDF document.
The climate for self-publishing has never been better than it is right now, and authors have more self-publishing power and control over their work than ever before. But this industry is loaded with financial pitfalls for unsuspecting authors who are ready prey for companies on the web posing as real book publishers.
I published two books for the trade in the eighties and nineties before I got an agent and sold several home-business books to the trade. But after the first and second trade book was published, I continued to enjoy good sales on my self-published books and sold several thousand copies of each book by mail and through speaking engagements, making a tidy profit in the process.
I actually produced one of those books with nothing more than sheer determination and an IBM Selectric typewriter (how I loved those interchangeable balls). My readers didn’t care how they were produced because the content was solid and the books were attractively laid out and easy to read. (This was in the days when boards had to be pasted up and sent to the printer for “shooting.” Red film had to be stripped in where pictures were to be inserted, and it was a tedious and time-consuming process.)
Now, everything about the publishing industry has changed. Today’s publishers and printers want books designed and delivered electronically, and there’s a whole lot more to this than is obvious at first glance. Add to this the fact that things are now changing more rapidly than ever because of new technology and improved ways of doing everything.
In addition, today’s big trade publishers only want to work with professional writers who don’t need any hand-holding or anything more than copy editing, and they also want authors who are aggressive marketers. “Traditional book deals are a thing of the past,” says Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur.com. “In 2021, don’t bother trying to get a book deal without an existing, sizable audience, and if you do not actively reach 25,000+ people regularly before a deal, no reputable publishing company or literary agent will take a risk on your book.”
In Mark Coker’s 2021 Predictions for how the book publishing industry is changing, he pointed out that the four big publishers will soon become three with the Penguin Random House’s pending acquisition of Simon & Schuster. “With fewer publishers bidding for the best books, it means fewer opportunities and lower advances for authors interested in a traditional publishing deal. This will drive more authors to self-publishing.” (More from Coker in my crash course linked to below.)
If you have tried to get the attention of a trade book publisher and been rejected, or if you simply prefer the idea of self-publishing so you can be in complete control of your book from start to finish—and you’re prepared to learn how to market and sell the book/s you plan to publish—then I urge you to give serious consideration to self-publishing.
Should You Self-Publish or Work with a
Print-on-Demand (POD) Self-Publishing Service?
The number of web-based companies now offering services to authors interested in getting published is absolutely amazing. First-time authors must be careful not to get suckered by companies that aggressively advertise for authors on radio, television, or the internet, promising they will “publish your book and get it into bookstores.” Such so-called book publishers are a totally different breed from the traditional trade book publishers who sell to bookstores and libraries. They are simply service providers whose primary goal (as I see it) is not to sell your books, but to get as much money from you as possible for one or more of their “special services.”
If you have an extra $3,500-$5,000 you don’t know what to do with, then go ahead and have one of these companies publish your print-on-demand book—but brace yourself for royalties and profits much less than what you will get by publishing it yourself through Amazon, Lightning Source/IngramSpark, Smashwords, or other book publishers discussed in my “Crash Course” that I’ve linked you to below.
Your self-publishing options are simple: (1) pay someone to do all the work for you; or (2) you decide to learn as much as you can about the self-publishing procedure and then hire out only what you can’t do yourself. Thankfully, many capable freelance service providers offer affordable, high-quality services to authors interested in self-publishing. I’m one of them, and my comprehensive self-publishing manual will connect you to other service providers in my network that you can trust.
You’ll get nearly 80 links to valuable self-publishing resources and information to help you succeed as an author:
• Discussions and links to your best print-on-demand (POD) and eBook publishing and distribution options. How each works, with links to related articles discussing the fine points of each.
• The best self-publishing service companies (and those to avoid), with information and links to articles on how they work and some pitfalls to be aware of.
• Links and details about some excellent short-run book printing companies for authors and speakers who expect to sell many books directly to individual buyers and may want to do an additional book printing with one of them.
• Valuable resources for writers, authors, and self-publishers that I’ve found most helpful—links to those offering professional services, excellent articles, free resources, and noteworthy blogs.
• A page devoted to ISBN numbers, barcodes, and info you need on your book’s copyright page. In all, my free PDF book-publishing manual will greatly add to your overall education on the self-publishing industry at large and where you can fit into it.
CRASH COURSE in How to Self-Publish a Book
What Authors Need to Know about the Self-Publishing Industry
Part 1: Your Print-on-Demand (POD) Self-Publishing Options through IngramSpark/LightningSource and/or Amazon KDP
Part II: Other POD Book Publishing Companies to Consider—or Avoid
Part III: Your eBook Publishing Options and Distribution Strategies through KDP, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and more
PART IV: Skills and Services Needed for Self-Publishing Success
You can read this document online, print it, or save it to your computer or tablet. (I don’t recommend reading it on a cell phone given all the links it includes.) Once you read it—which is a lot to absorb—you might want to set up a short telephone consultation with me so I can answer any questions you may have and help you figure out your best self-publishing options.
For example, depending on the kind of book you’ve written and how you think you might promote and sell it, one publishing route may be better for you than another, and you may find that doing an eBook edition first to test the waters is the smartest and most affordable way to begin. As several of my author clients have attested, I can answer questions you may have and help you get started on the self-publishing road that’s right for you. If you can’t do everything yourself, I will answer any questions you may have about the service providers I’ve recommended in my “Crash Course,” especially those who have been helpful to me in the past.
The Changing World of Book Publishing. Past and present perspective for today’s book lovers and self-publishers. with discussions about independent book publishers, author-publisher contract changes since 2012, and eBook publishing pros and cons, with links to seven related articles. (A wealth of info NOT in the “Crash Course” document. )
Writing &Publishing T/C
YOUR COMMENTS are invited below for both this page and the PDF document, “Crash Course in How to Self-Publish a Book.”