So you want to write and publish a book but you don’t know where to start
One of my favorite aspects about releasing “The Little Girl With the Big Hair,” has been showing people how tangible and attainable it is to publish your own book! I was surprised by how many people always wanted to write or release a book but didn’t think it was possible.
It is important to state that there are many paths to releasing a book. I can only vouch for the path that I took. Additionally, my books are children’s books, which require a few different steps than a chapter book, novel, etc.
I’ve comprised a list of 11 steps that again, I took to get from Point A: an idea to Point Z: a published, printed book. I hope it helps someone achieve their goal of doing the same.
Take your ideas from your mind and put them on paper. Edit as frequently as you need to. This is where you decide if it is a children’s book, a horror novel, a fiction or nonfiction piece, a love story, etc.
2. Set Deadlines
You have your content. Now, you need to set deadlines. It could be a year from now, a few months, tomorrow…but there needs to be a specific date that you agree to out loud and stick to!
This is to send to people that have a hand in the creation of your project. If you have an illustrator, coauthor or photographer participating, this is who would receive the NDA. I used a template from Docracy.com that I have used since Day 1 and it does a superb job at delivering the message. I believe it also sets the tone and conveys that you’re serious and that your ideas are sacred to you.
4. Scouting the help you need
In my case, I needed help with illustrations. I searched high and low before finally deciding on an illustrator. I went through 3 prospects and was extremely frustrated when none of them worked out. Quitting was never an option so I just kept trying and finally landed on one.
I sent him the NDA, shared the idea with him, was very vocal and specific about every miniscule detail and we didn’t move forward until the character looked exactly how I wanted her to look. If you do not need an illustrator, you are in luck but if you do, I would suggest checking out fiver.com
If you need help with something else, I would suggest making a call to the Arts Department at your local high school or college to see if they can be of any assistance. The reason why I suggest doing it this way is because it will be more affordable.
Speaking of affordability, how much is this all supposed to cost Sway? You need to decide what you want to spend if you will have images and illustrations in your book. You need to discuss those prices with whomever is assisting you with those aspects. Put those prices in a contract with incentives, deadlines, repercussions if deadlines are not met, etc.
Editing is pretty straightforward. However, after a while, your eyes are tired of looking at the same thing and won’t pick up on small spelling, grammatical errors. This is when you hand it over to a friend or two, a teacher that you still communicate with, an educator that you trust, the head of the writing department at a local school, etc…. Generally, this won’t break your pockets but it is super crucial to the success of your release. I would say 5 rounds of editing is ideal. People saying “good job” will simply not suffice! Let them know that you need feedback and constructive criticism.
You are almost at the end! Now it is time to create and choose images that represent what your book is about. Brainstorm for a day or so and don’t overthink it. If you’ve worked with an illustrator or photographer already, offer them additional compensation to help you create the cover. If you haven’t, see step 4.
Is it also here where you decide what image and bio and description you want on the back of the book too. Again, don’t overthink it. It’s as easy as you make it.
8. Now What?
You have the pages in a document in your computer, you have the covers, and your book has been edited. Now what? This is where you may need to outsource the finishing touches.
We used InDesign to move forward with formatting the book correctly. Here is a crash course link on how to use it if you would like to use it too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F0E0NQ92eY It is an Adobe product and will need to be purchased and downloaded on your computer.
Find comfort, however, in the fact that this could also be accomplished in Word or Google docs too. If there are images, you can just drag the images in to the docs. If there are only words, this will be a walk in the park for you.
9. ISBN and Copyrighting
If you wish to act as your own publisher on paper, visit Bowker.com and purchase an ISBN number. There are places that will sell you ISBN numbers at a way cheaper rate but be aware that they are sometimes incompatible with the platforms that are going to be printing and distributing your book.
Do not use your personal name to register the ISBN. This will limit you when it comes time to get your book in stores, institutions, libraries, etc. I used my LLC name and Tax ID/EIN for the school that I founded and now I essentially have my own publishing company on paper. If the publishing and distribution company provides you with ISBN, it is easier to have them assign you one, honestly.
To copyright your book, visit https://www.copyright.gov. This is something I thought was way more necessary than it is but I believe it is a just incase. It is not super expensive and definitely will help more than it would hurt.
10. Publishing, Printing and Royalty Payments
This is where you find out from me to you, author to author, that authors aren’t rich.
Larger publishing companies have bigger fish in their pond to promote. Thus, you are going to wait months before they will even review and approve your book.
Mom and Pop publishing companies will spend more time on you but their reach is not as long. I also found that sometimes they want upfront capital. The ideal situation is when your publishing company takes their money as the books sell.
I published and printed through createspace.com (an Amazon company.) The Royalty breakdown is 60/40, where I receive 60% and they receive 40% of each sale. I was okay with this until I found out that I would also be paying for each single book to be printed.
In retrospect, with a more humble perspective, they literally are publishing, printing, putting it together, distributing, shipping, providing a platform and other outlets. Thus, it is more than fair for them to take 40% and an additional printing fee but it was a hard pill to swallow at first.
With my second book, I will be ordering a few hundred books and doing all the packing, shipping and marketing myself to get a gauge of which option I like better.
11. Selling and Marketing
This has been the hardest part and I do not have a magic answer for this. I would suggest reaching out to your close circle, their close circles, using social media, trying to get featured as many times as possible, trying to get in book stores and libraries, hosting pop up shops, etc. When I find out the secret sauce to this recipe, you will be the first person invited in the kitchen. Perhaps, you can direct me to some blog posts?
In closing, I really do hope this helps someone. Remember that the main thing holding you back is yourself. Good luck, happy writing and happy publishing Author!