Home > Book Publishing > How to Publish a Book

All too frequently the question of how to publish a book (and how to self publish a book) deteriorates into a discussion of whether or not an author should use self publishing companies or go it completely alone. I, personally, believe that, all things being equal, the simpler of the two is to use a high-quality, price competitive self publishing company. We review a tremendous number of our self publisher competitors on a regular basis and maintain a large database of each of their publishing services. All too many self publishing companies seem to focus efforts on NOT disclosing fully those things that an aspiring author needs to know. I really feel that accumulating all the available data will help authors make better publishing decisions regarding how to publish a book.

The goal of our discussions on the site center around providing information to authors about how to publish a book. Many publishers talk about their up front publishing package costs and how inexpensive they are in relation to everyone else in the market. The author pours sweat and tears into writing the book. Now this author brings it to light in the market for a very reasonable fee. However, the book is instantly condemned to sit stagnant on the bookshelf. Why? Because to reduce the up front publishing costs, the book publisher had to significantly raise the costs charges for book printing. The number one factor impacting book salees – even beyond the quality of your writing – is the price you have to charge your readers! The more book printing costs from your publisher, the higher your retail price – often beyond what someone will be willing to pay (except of course for Mom and Aunt Martha… )

How to publish a book – that someone will buy….

When discussing the various strategies of how to publish a book, we try to discuss target markets and where the author should focus his or her book.  Quite often authors will tell us their book is for everyone – every reader needs this book, but all for a different reason. One of your core tasks as an author, when learning how to publish a book, is that you must target a specific audience and pursue them relentlessly. “But what about the sales I’ll lose from the other segments?” is the next question we get. Successful book sales are a long pursuit that requires consistent and persistent effort – and has quite a bit to do with the pursuit of targeted audiences and very little to do with reaching out to ‘everyone’

How to publish a book – chasing best-sellers…

We all dream of conquering the world of publishing. We can’t do it without learning how to publish a book. Authors often fall within two camps – some start off very conservative, with realistic expectations and desires, while the other camp dashes in with the wild expectation of book sales in the tens of thousands of units. These authors head into the market chasing the bestseller lists, with the thought that ‘my book can sell just like X.’ Chasing a best-seller list is an exercise in futility – in only the rarest of cases do books make the best-seller lists without spending tens of thousands of dollars in marketing and placement fees (often more like hundreds of thousands…) Don’t put yourself in this position – it’s frustrating and unlikely to create any meaningful success.

How to publish a book – it’s about the marketing…

Last, but not least, in our segment on how to publish a book is the fact that often authors are not as willing as they need to be to spend time marketing their own books. All too often they want to throw money at the problem rather than time and effort. We’ve addressed this is our articles before — self publishers who are willing to spend more money than time on marketing techniques. This just doesn’t make sense, since self publishers are almost always short on cash and more than likely to be publishing a first book to make some money. You can hire someone like Dog Ear to perform ‘technical marketing’ programs, but you ultimately are the number one advocate and marketer for your book. Miles and I spend a lot of time speaking with authors about book marketing and their book marketing plan ideas. And, all too often, the marketing plan is unfocused and aimed at ‘everyone’ so that they can sell a million books in a hurry. I’m sorry, but you need to focus and target – if you can’t identify a specific reader and why he or she might buy your book, don’t do it…

How to publish a book – traditional or self publish…

So lets go back to the original question about how to publish a book – using a self publisher or starting your own publishing imprint or publishing company.

The difference between being a self publisher and using a self publishing company to publish a book is who performs each of the publishing tasks. I use the example of building a house – most of us hire a contractor to build our houses. There are the occasional few (like my father) who build their houses themselves or act as the general contractor. But it’s not the norm. A self publishing company should merely act as your general contractor for the building of your book. For most authors, who may publish one, two or even three books, it is much more advantageous to use a self publishing company than to go through the processes themselves.

Ray Robinson
Ray Robinson

When Ray first entered the publishing industry, authors relied on “vanity presses” to produce their work – many of whom would charge $15,000 or more and leave the author’s garage filled with hundreds of books. Ray, along with coworker Alan Harris, joined forces with Miles Nelson to create Dog Ear Publishing to provide the author community a self-publisher with a heart. The group’s application of new technologies and publishing on demand reduced the cost of publishing a book to a fraction of what it had been for previous generations; authors now have the ability to publish a book in as little as six weeks and print as few as a single copy.