Your book is almost done. You are completing the final revisions of the manuscript. If you are self-publishing for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions about the next steps in the process.
Have you had the manuscript professionally edited? As Guy Kawasaki advises in his outstanding guide to self-publishing APE: How to Publish a Book, “…you still need someone to review your manuscript with a magnifying glass and a professional eye to optimize your content and to kill virtually every typographical, grammatical, and factual error.” Remember, says Kawasaki, “Your goal is a book that looks and feels as good as any book from a big-time, traditional publisher.” Professional editing is the way to make sure you achieve that goal.
What do you want your book to look like? When you work with a book designer to transform your manuscript into its final form as a book here are some of the things you will need to think about. Print (hard cover or paperback) or ebook? Both? Trim size of the book? Will your book be text only or will it have illustrations? Color or black and white? Will your book have special features such as an appendix, an index, endnotes, or a bibliography? Do you have ideas for the cover art? A good book designer will work with you to make sure your book has a professional quality look. Your guidance can help her do that.
What about an ISBN, copyright, or Library of Congress number? If you plan to sell your book (or even if you plan to donate a copy to the Library of Congress) you’ll need an ISBN. You can get one or a block of ten from Bowker, the official U.S. ISBN agency, at www.myidentifiers.com. Do you want to copyright your work? The U.S. Copyright Office says, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” But you may want to register the copyright because, “Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation.” If you want your book cataloged by the Library of Congress you’ll need to get a Preassigned Controlled Number (PNC).
Who do you want to print the book? Not all printers are the same. You’ll need to find one that will print the book you and your designer are envisioning. Make sure that the printer you are considering prints the trim size, cover type, colors, etc. that you want. Compare the prices of printers. They can vary significantly.
In choosing a printer you’ll also want to give some thought to how you will distribute your books. Is print-on-demand best for you? Will you hand sell some of your books at public appearances? If so what does the printer charge you as the author for books you buy. The price should be lower than the one they charge book buyers. Do you want online distribution? Do you want to sell in bookstores or be available for ordering by libraries? Not every printer offers all of these options. You need to make sure the one you choose allows you access to the distribution and fulfillment channels you want for your book.
Have you created a marketing plan for your book? The success of a self-published book depends on your effectiveness in creating a buzz about it. Do you have the knowledge, skill and inclination to handle your own marketing or would you be better off hiring a book publicist or marketer? There is a lot to do even before your book is published and available. Our recent post, What to Do Before Your Self-Published Book Hits the Market, will give you some ideas of where to start. So as your manuscript is being turned into a finished book, get started letting people know it will soon be available. They’ll be ready to buy when your book is ready for sale.