After almost two-years of my agent and I trying to find a traditional publisher for my non-fiction book for teens, I decided to take the plunge into self-publishing. I came to this decision after articles I read on AC, as well as from magazines such as Writers Digest. I eventually chose iUniverse as my self-publishing firm after thoroughly researching this market. If you are considering self-publishing, you need to take the following steps before you decide on a self-publishing firm. This is how I came to my decision.

1) I familiarized myself with the names of top self-publishing firms, such as Authorhouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, etc., and checked their status and ratings by the Better Business Bureau. I learned to do this after hearing about people’s experience with PublishAmerica, a publishing house that is not a self-publishing firm, but pitches that they will publish your book like a traditional publisher. Checking with the Better Business Bureau uncovered many problems with this firm, and prompted me to check every other firm I was considering.

2) Searching through Google and Netscape, I plugged in “Ratings of self-publishing firms” and came up with various types of reviews including those who had direct experience with self-publishing firms, as well as independent reviewers of those firms. Some reviewers did not speak highly of self-publishing firms in general, but many more recognized self-publishing to be right the answer for many authors.

3) After getting general information on a few of the more popular self-publishing firms, I requested an information packet that gave me details of their packages, costs, services and distribution capabilities. You will need to know what you can spend on self-publishing a book, and what firm and specific packages meet your needs. Some firms charge more for a self-publishing package, but that package may include more services. Other firms have a lower cost and charge additional fees for things like proofreading services. Also look for the self-publishing firm’s relationship with outlets such as and Barnes and A good self-publishing firm should be able to have your book available on-line. Look at what companies they are using for printing and distribution. The best firms will use Lightning Source and distribute through Baker & Taylor and / or Ingram.

4) When you have studied your information packet from each company, write down a list of questions. Will you be assigned a Publishing Assistant? Will you have access to editorial staff? Will you receive an evaluation of your work, or will it just be published as is? Are there special packages / recognition for quality books? How are royalities calculated? Will you have any marketing support, etc…? You will need to feel comfortable that the self-publishing firm will give your book the best chance for success.

More people are self-publishing today than ever before. The former “vanity” presses have given way to the Print on Demand (POD) technology and that has opened up a whole new world for those who may want to self-publish. If your self-published book sells, your royalties will be higher and you retain control of your book. You can still send your final bound book to traditional publishers who, seeing the finish product, may be more attracted to it than if you sent them a double-spaced manuscript. Traditional publishers also check the sales of self-published books and will take on authors whose books are doing well. You will have to spend more time getting your book reviewed and marketing it, but there is no one more interested in your book than you when it comes to getting it recognized.