Gone are the days of struggle for writers who long to see their work in print. Modern technology affords budding authors the opportunity to go from pen to press in what seems like a matter of days. Authors are no longer faced with the many limitations that once halted “self publishing” pioneers in their quest to actualize their work. Publishing companies of today are catering their businesses to include the ventures of self publishing entrepreneurs willing to invest in their own ideas. If you are willing to pay, you can realize your dream of authorship. However, publishing a book and becoming a renowned author are not synonymous. You will have to employ a few more tricks in order to make strides in that area. You can read more about my tips on marketing yourself as an author here.
If you are interested in becoming a self published author, here are a few suggestions to point you in the right direction.
1. Write something worth reading!
I know this sounds like a no brainer but it’s really a critical step in the publishing process. Publishing a book is an accomplishment. You want it to represent a certain quality. Therefore, you should focus on writing something that is not only appealing to the audience you are trying to reach – but is also well written. I am not implying that you have to be an English scholar, or that you have to produce the quality of work similar to Shakespeare or Oliver Wendell Holmes. However, you should not want to put anything in print unless it is something that you want immortalized. If writing is an area that you struggle in, don’t dismay! If you have a good story to tell, tell it. You can use the services of a ghost writer to help you with the mechanics of putting it on paper. There are plenty of freelance writers willing and ready to perform this service for you (at cost). If writing is not a problem for you, then you still definitely want to consider hiring someone to proofread it and provide you with feedback. Websites like ODESK and Write4me can provide you with the opportunity to hire the service of a freelance writer.
2. Copyright your work.
I am still from the “old school” when it comes to copyrighting the things that I have written. I began my writing ventures during a time when it was completely acceptable to mail a copy of your writings back to yourself. The idea behind this concept was to never open the copy. The postmark would serve as proof of the approximate date of copyright if needed. Of course, you could still accomplish this by simply sending an email copy of your work to yourself. It is important however to send your work in the body of the email and not as an attachment. You could then print this as evidence of when it was written, as it would have an email time stamp affixed to it. The more practical way to accomplish this is to simply copyright your work through the Library of Congress. Here, you would simply submit an application for copyright, pay a nominal fee, and submit a copy of your work. For more information on the process of having your work protected click here. For information on the form you would use, click here. It is perfectly acceptable to copyright your unpublished work.
3. Have your work edited. Have your work edited! [sic].
Editing your work is essential to ensuring that you are publishing high quality work. You could use one of the previously mentioned services like ODESK or you can opt to have editing done through the company that will ultimately press your work. Either way, you definitely want to comparative shop and make sure that you are not being overcharged in this arena. The EFA provides a list of suggested rates for editorial related services.
4. Purchase your own ISBNs and barcodes.
Purchasing your own ISBN is a good idea if you plan to publish more than one book. An ISBN is a number that uniquely identifies your book, and facilitates the sale of your book to bookstores (physical and digital) and libraries. Although most companies providing services to self published authors will assist you with this for an additional charge, you always have the option of purchasing them directly through RR Bowker. You have the options of purchasing them individually or as a set. You could also purchase a barcode for your book as well through the same company.
5. Find a company to print your books.
There are tons of companies that will sell you a publishing package ranging anywhere from 200 to thousands of dollars. Although these companies are eager to assist you with your publishing projects, it’s not necessarily because they believe in your work. These companies are in the business of making money. Your book project increases their profit margins. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do a little pre-publishing work (steps 1-4) before you get to this stage. I would also recommend using a company that offers flexible rates and different packages for indie authors like Outskirtspress and Dorrance Publishing.