Self Publishing Tips

Read these 24 Self Publishing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Self Publishing tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Why is Dan Poynter an expert on self publishing?

Self Publishing

You can do it! It's true, you can come out of self publishing your book as a success—but you have to go about it the right way. Here is some valuable advice:

  • Do research and write about things that are in demand
  • Study the competition in your niche
  • Start marketing from the get-go (it's never too early)
  • Hire a professional editor—they're worth it
  • Have a snazzy, beautifully-designed cover
  • Make your text clean and easy to read
  • Use a book manufacturer instead of a local printer

   
What should I name my publishing company?

Naming Your Self-Publishing Company

When you decide to self-publish a book, you are becoming a publisher. You will need to choose a name for your publishing company.

Do not name it after yourself (unless you want to look like an amateur).

Be sure the name of your company is not similar to another publisher, past and present. Go to Amazon.com's Detailed Search Page. Type in the first non-trivial (not "The" or "A") word of your publishing company's name in the Publisher field and click on the "Search Now" button to see other publisher's with similar names.

When choosing a company name, there are advantages to choosing a web domain name at the same time. Go to a domain registry site, such as
whois.com
or
register.com to check whether a domain name has already been reserved (which is different from being in use).

Give your publishing house a name that is easy to remember and easy to find on the internet. Be wary of uniquely spelled names that will confuse vendors.

   
What is a Library of Congress Catalog Number (LCCN)?

The LCCN

If you plan to sell your book in libraries, you'll need an LCCN (Library of Congress Catalog Number). You can order your own through the web site of the Cataloging in Publication Division of the Library of Congress. The best news is that applying for an LCCN is free, so it makes sense to simply add an LCCN when you self publish a book.

*Remember, your book must be longer than 50 pages to qualify for an LCCN, so many children's books and others do not apply

   
Should I enter self publishing contests?

Enter Self Publishing Contests

After you have printed your book, and it is selling well, you might want to think about entering one of the many self publishing contests that have sprung up in the last few years. Writer's Digest magazine sponsors a self publishing contest each year, and the winners are all showcased in the magazine. Many other literary magazines (as well as online literary resources) publicize self publishing contests. Peruse through all of them and enter the ones that best suit you. Winning these contests can help get you publicity.

*If your book is truly a success, entering it in a contest may help generate more enthusiasm for your book, and it should help sales, too!

   
Am I a real publisher?

Am I a Publisher?

Having an identity crisis? If you have paid for an ISBN number for your book, you are a publisher. That's the bottom line in self publishing.

*Many people believe they are a publisher if they pay to have their book published, but if the ISBN number belongs to a vanity or subsidiary publisher, then they are the publisher, and you are simply a consumer.

   
Should I use a fulfillment center?

Fulfillment

Ship those puppies to the people! Once you've printed your book, the job has only just begun. Now, you have to store the books, and ship them as they are ordered. When you self publish, all of this can be your job, or you can use a fulfillment center. Don't get storage and fulfillment confused with distribution. A fulfillment center stores your books and handles your shipping needs from bulk shipments to your distributor to handling individual orders for your web site or 800-number. Fulfillment can range from shipping books from your garage to a full service fulfillment center specializing in books.

   
What are some to self publishing pros and cons?

Motivations to Self Publish

Look at the good and the bad! What are some self-publishing pros and cons, you ask? There are many to consider. Some pros include:

  • You have control over the process
  • You get published more quickly
  • More royalties (self-publishing will likely earn you 40-60% opposed to the normal 10%)
  • Complete attention (publishing houses focus on multiple books at once)

You can't have pro without cons, here are some big ones:
  • You're flying solo
  • Time—it takes a lot of yours
  • The market is tight
  • There is a prejudice against self-publishing

   
Who are some famous authors who first self published their books?

Self Publishing Heroes

Some pretty famous books have started out as self published. This proves that self publishing a book can be quite profitable and even notable. Look at these successful self published books:

  • Author Richard Bolles originally self published "What Color is Your Parachute," which has become the Bible for mid-career job changers.
  • James Redfield self published "The Celestine Prophecy" which was picked up by a major publishing house, giving him a six-figure advance
  • Peter Bowerman originally self published his bestseller, "The Well-Fed Writer."

All of these books were wildly successful and show that self publishing a book can be very lucrative if it is the right book at the right time.

   
Is self publishing fiction successfully a fictional concept?

Self Publishing Fiction

Is self publishing fiction successfully a fictional concept? While most all books lend themselves to self-publishing, fiction books tend to sell less copies than most other kinds of self-published books. There are so many well-known and respected fiction authors that a first-time author may have trouble competing, and there are also many fiction genres, so it may be difficult to find just the right niche for your book.

*Self-publishing fiction is not impossible, but it may take longer for the book to sell and for your publishing venture to grow and get off the ground.

   
What type of self publishing books sell the best?

Some of the Bestselling Self Published Book Topics

You can write a book about anything—but would you want to? Self publishing books is becoming so popular that just about any type of book is being self published today. However, there are certain types of books that consistently sell better than others. Some great selling niches include:

  • Self-help
  • Diet and fitness
  • Regional guide books
  • Informational and general non-fiction
  • How-to and instructional books

*It's a great idea to research hot topics before writing a book—that is if you're looking for a big seller.

   
What experts should I look to for self publishing information?

Look at the Experts and Learn from Them

How can I see in real detail how to publish my book? Look to the experts, and learn from them. Any of the books we recommend are excellent sources for information and so are the Web sites of the authors who wrote them. Look for experts in self publishing, and also experts who are willing to share information with beginning self publishers, and you can learn from other's experience. You'll still make mistakes, everyone does, but you can minimize them if you take the time to study the experts and emulate what they do.

   
Can I really write and publish a book in only 30 days?

The Publishing Dos

You can do it! It's true, you can come out of self publishing your book as a success—but you have to go about it the right way. Here is some valuable advice:

  • Do research and write about things that are in demand
  • Study the competition in your niche
  • Start marketing from the get-go (it's never too early)
  • Hire a professional editor—they're worth it
  • Have a snazzy, beautifully-designed cover
  • Make your text clean and easy to read
  • Use a book manufacturer instead of a local printer

   
What are some self publishing statistics?

Self Publishing Statistics

Before you self publish a book, educate yourself on some publishing basics. Here are some valuable, informative morsels to chew on:

  • As a writer, you can be self-published, subsidy-published, or commercially-published
  • Self publishers are sometimes called private publishers, independent publishers, small presses, or alternative publishers
  • A self publisher wears many hats, anywhere from writer to shipper/warehouser
  • According to the R.R. Bowker Company, there are an average 1,200 new publishers coming into the marketplace every quarter, an average of just under 5,000 new publishers starting up each year
  • Statistics show that of all the titles published annually by the established commercial publishers, only about three out of ten are financial successes

Take that into account when deciding how to self publish a book.

   
How much can I earn if I sell my book to a publishing house?

Selling Your Book to a Publishing House

So, how much can you expect to earn if a publishing house does express interest in your book? That depends. If your book generates a bidding war between houses, then you could look at thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in advances. Most publishers pay small advances to first time authors of $10,000 or even less, and that is why many authors choose self publishing a book over trying to find someone who will pay them to publish it.

* Going with a publishing house can really help you get your name out there so think hard before passing up an offer from a house.

   
Should I only publish books in one field or area?

Stick to one Field or Theme in your Publishing

Branching off can be bad! If you want your self publishing business to be a real success, you should try to stay in one field with your writing. For example, you publish a series of how-to books on crafts and crafting, or you publish a set of real estate buying and selling manuals.

*If you tend to stay in one field, you will be seen as an expert in this field, and you'll begin to gain more recognition (and sales) as your expertise grows and is recognized.

   
How long have authors been self publishing their books?

Following in the Footsteps of Some Great Authors

Traditionally, self publishing has not always been looked at with some apprehension by publishers and the media. Many famous authors, such as Mark Twain, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, and Virginia Woolf self published their own books—it was a common practice one hundred years ago.

*When weighing self publishing pros and cons, remember that self publishing is a long established tradition for some very fine writers!

   
How can I create a memorable business name?

Choose a Memorable Company Name

The name game! When you are your own self publisher, you get to create the name you will publish your books under. Be sure to choose a memorable name that your readers can relate to and remember when they want to buy additional copies of your book.

*It is best not to name the company after yourself, it is better to choose a name that has something to do with the type of books you'll be writing, such as "Golden State Press" if you are writing books about California.

   
Will reviewers look at my self published book?

Will Reviewers Look at my Self Published Book?

It is becoming much more common to self publish a book. Unless they've heard of your book, however, many people simply will not look at your book. That is why most self publishers rely on word-of-mouth, local advertising and media, and other venues to promote their books.

*If you generate enough buzz, it may spread nationally (then bigger publications and reviewers may be willing to take another look at your book).

   
Why do I need to know what other books are competing with mine?

Always Know your Competition

Know your competition! When you self-publish a book, you should know every other book on the market that may compete with your book. Why? Because you need to know what makes your book better, so you can market it more effectively. You can also set the price for your book so it competes with other books in the same area.

*Always remember not to price your book too low, or readers may think your book does not compete with higher priced books.

   
How can I develop a reputation as an expert in my field?

Developing a Reputation

Does your reputation exceed you? Maybe it should! Before you publish your book, it's a good idea to develop your reputation as an expert or leader in your field. If you publish magazine articles, white papers, research, and other types of non-fiction writing, you can develop a reputation as a writer and expert even before your book comes out, and it can help gain additional respect for your book. This is one thing you may overlook as you ponder how to self publish your own book.

   
Is it easy to self publish a book?

It's not Easy

No one ever said self-publishing your book would be easy. There are a lot of self publishing pros and cons to consider. However, once you make the choice to self publish your book, and see it there on the bookstore shelf, you may never look back again! Once the self publishing bug hits you, and the creative juices start flowing, you'll see there are dozens, or even hundreds of untapped markets, and you could write a book for each one, beginning the journey to your own self publishing success!

*Do your research and find hot topics to write about. Society is all about fads so hop on the bandwagon and give the poeple what they want--you may find success!

   
Why is research and fact checking important when I write my book?

Research and Fact Checking

When self publishing books, your facts and research should be meticulous, because they reflect on the rest of your book's content and message. You may want to include Notes in the back of your book, citing your sources for facts and figures, or you may want to include footnotes. You can also include a statement in your text, such as "According the FDA's Web site, today's children are more obese than prior generations."

*Let the reader know where your facts come from, and your book will have more credibility (make sure you use reliable sources, rather than personal Web sites where you cannot verify the information is really correct).

   
Can I create lasting memories for my family with my self published books?

Establish a Family Tradition

Selling not your thing? You may not want to sell hundreds of books, or even any at all. You may simply want to preserve your family's memories, thoughts, and remembrances that can be passed down from generation to generation. Think of this when thinking about self publishing pros and cons.

*You don't have to self publish for a profit, you can establish a tradition of self publishing your family's history, so it will survive forever.

   
What is a book coach?

What is a Book Coach?

Get a coach! Book coaches help authors fine tune their books so they are ready for market. They are more than editors, because they will also comment on the book's sales potential, and help authors through problems that they might face in the writing, editing, and printing process.

*A good book coach can help you produce a better, and more marketable book, and in the world of self-publishing, that is extremely important.

   
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