You’ve finished your book and now want to get it published. Where do you start?
First decide how much work you are willing to do yourself. Any service you add will increase your costs dramatically. Editing Cover design Book interior formatting As you search for publishing companies, you may decide that you want more options or choose to do more work yourself. Make lists of what you are looking for and then begin searching. Most sites will compare their services with some of their competitors and make your job a little easier. For a list of publishing companies go to the Writer’s Digest directory.
Unless this is something added into the price, contact Copyright.gov and upload your file. Be sure to let the publishing company know that it has been copyrighted and add the information on your manuscript.
Where will the book be available? – The major distributors are Amazon, Ingram, Baker & Taylor. Find out if your book will be available in the U.S. only or also in other countries. E-Book availability Some companies provide e-book publishing in addition to printed format. If not take a look at Amazon.com to upload your manuscript for Kindle availability or SmashWords.com where your file can be converted for other e-reader formats.
E-Readers are becoming more and more popular. Each site will let you know how to format the file (this sometimes changes periodically and you have to upload the file again after making the required changes). The one thing to remember with e-book formatting is not to leave blank spaces. When reading on a small screen only one or two blank lines should show between chapters.
Follow formatting instructions for that particular publisher. Take a look at a paperback book and see how chapters, page numbers and margins are set. The main requirement is to use automatic indents and not the tab key. After printing a novel, I uploaded the file on Smaswords.com and found their formatting directions to be helpful. I used basically the same format with some minor changes in the file I uploaded on Kindle. For CreateSpace.com, once the file is set up in Microsoft Word, it can be converted to a PDF file by selecting Save As then choose PDF in the Save as Type box.
ISBN – International Standard Book Numbers are usually included. Unless you want to keep concurrent numbers for all your publications, in which case you may purchase them in blocks from ISBN, the publishing company will usually provide ISBNs.
How long will it take to publish and what can you expect? Ask for a projected timeline. (This doesn’t apply if you are doing the editing and formatting yourself as it only takes a couple of days for the book to be ready for printing once you have it set up). Ask how much it will cost for any edits and how long corrections take. Several of the errors in my first book were formatting errors made by the publishing company. Each time I asked for a correction it took two weeks to forward another proof to me. Don’t expect them to correct their own errors without prompting from you. Each proof you receive you will be reviewing for both your errors and theirs.
Proof – Will the proof be in PDF format or will you receive a hard copy? CreateSpace will send you a proof for approximately $9.00 which includes shipping and handling. If you go with a publishing company where you pay an upfront fee for the work, you will probably only receive the body of the book and the cover in a PDF file for proofing.
What size? – Most common trade paperback size is 8.5” x 5.5”
There is no such thing as a standard contract. Read the contract thoroughly. Beware of “as is.” It means that the publishing company has no obligation to correct their errors. Search the internet Before making a final decision, do a Google search of reviews. Also check with the Better Business Bureau.
Many of these companies can be costly (generally at least $1,000 which doesn’t include editing) and if you want to do most of the work yourself take a look at Lulu or CreateSpace. I’ve used CreateSpace for two of my novels. The only cost is for the proof and an additional cost for the Pro Plan. They also provide ISBNs. This is by far the cheapest way to go and I found their cover templates and process easy to use.