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How to Publish a Book: There Are Three Options

Aug 18, 2007
How to publish a book is a question many writers ask themselves. There are three options to publish a book:

Self-publishing
Vanity/subsidy publishing
Commercial publishing

Is self publishing right for you?

Self publishing means you not only write the book, you're responsible for every part of the production and sales process. True self publishing means you own the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). That's important because you set the sales price and discount for the bookstores.

An offset printer is the most cost effective method of printing 500 copies or more, but you're responsible for all the formatting, interior design and artwork. If you expect the book be profitable, offset printing gives it the best chance. An offset printed book can be less than 20% of the cost of a print-on-demand.

Print on Demand is simply a technology that allows as little as one copy to be printed at a time at a reasonable cost. A 250 page trade paperback with four color covers will cost about $5.00 each.

It's a huge undertaking but some titles can be a success when they're self published.

Vanity/Subsidy Publishing
You can use a publish-on-demand or vanity/subsidy company such as Iuniverse, authorshouse or xlibris. The fees are reasonable and you can print as few copies at a time as you need. One company, lulu.com doesn't charge any fees upfront, although you need to have your book, including the cover artwork and formatting all ready to go. Again you can have one copy printed or one hundred. These vanity/subsidy houses will take care of getting your title on amazon and in the Ingram database that the bookstores use to order books.

If your goal is to see your book being sold in bookstores then it makes sense to forgo the self publishing route and consider selling your book to a commercial publisher.

Mainstream Commercial Publishers
There is a bit more cache when a book is published by a mainstream commercial publisher rather than self published. Publishers vary in the types of books they're interested in. Some only want nonfiction narrative, some cookbooks, others business books. There are a number of resources, both websites and books, which describe what types of books each publisher is looking for, their contact information, and often the name of the editor to contact.

Commercial publishers will pay you an advance, which is simply a fee for allowing them to publish your work, and take care of all the editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing. The advances can run from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. Once your book is accepted, you do not have to pay the advance back, unless of course it's stipulated in the contract, but that is very rare.

Commercial houses have the distribution and sales force in place to get your book into bookstores. Most bookstores, both independent and chains, do not stock self-published books.

Hopefully this information will help you make the decision on how to publish a book.
About the Author
Avoid scams and get your book published. Complimentary report Perils and Pitfalls of Publishing for Writers just visit Free Report
Dee Power is the author of several books including The Publishing Primer: A Blueprint for an Author's Success and The Making of a Bestseller
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