26 Things You Should Know Before You Decide to Publish A Book

(Updated 6-12-2015)

Microsoft Publisher and similar programs make it incredibly easy to design and publish- or print-flyers, brochures, menus and a number of other items. As soon as the design prints, the entire publishing process is considered complete, but this is not true for the world of book publishing.

The following lists and links are designed to introduce authors to the industry of writers, designers, publishers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers that every author should understand in order to minimize the chance of slipping on their way to success.

  1. The first step for authors who plan to publish their work is to clearly define their post-publication goals. This is not the first step most writers think of, but when your goal is to make your work attractive enough for people to buy it, you have to start with understanding the wants and needs of your future readers. Use the information in the Book Publishing How-to Series that comes with your free Author Info Kit to get started.
  2. There are a lot of ways to organize your thoughts for your book, and physically sitting down to write is only one of them. Other options include: compiling notes from previously written documents and notes, interviewing, storyboarding, dictating your story to a recording device, outlining your thoughts or even partnering with  a ghostwriter.
  3. Authors are more likely to successfully complete their manuscripts when they have a system, structure and support to guide the way. Learn more about how to get the system, structure and support you need in the Book Publishing How-to Series that comes with your free Author Info Kit.
  4. Professional editing is a must for every author. Even bestselling authors need editors. Learn what you can expect from the editing process and how to find the right editor for your book.
  5. Book publishing is not easy money. You’ll need a great book that wows readers, an engaging platform that connects people to you and your message, and an effective marketing plan that is updated roughly every 90 days after publication to keep your books selling over time. This is true whether you partner with a traditional publisher or choose to self-publish. The hardest part is consistently working to promote and sell your book both online and offline over time.
  6. Published authors are entrepreneurs-or authorpreneurs-who need skills in developing marketing systems to be successful. For a few tried-and-proven examples of book-related marketing systems, I recommend reading:“‘Book Yourself Solid’ as a Writing Model for Inspiring Action and Making Business Sales,” “Book Not Selling? Let Tim Show You How to Sell Your Next 1000 Copies,” and “The Expert’s Guide to Automating Book Sales.” 
  7. copyright gives someone the exclusive legal right to do anything they want with a book and doesn’t expire until years after the copyright holder dies. Make sure that you or your publisher registers your copyright within 6 months of publication for maximum protection-and mailing yourself a copy won’t help you.
  8. Publisher’s Weekly is considered to be the ultimate guide of the publishing industry. Learn about conferences, contests, and industry news for FREE at www.publishersweekly.com. 
  9. Most traditional publishing companies require authors to communicate with them through a literary agent. It would be wise to find an agent with experience promoting books like yours.
  10. Traditional publishers may give you an advance and pay to produce your book, but they are not responsible for making you a best seller…YOU are.
  11. Crowdfunding is a great way for self-publishers to finance and market their book publishing and promotion expenses. In short, crowdfunding allows you to share information about your book with the world-usually through an online platform-and invite them to give you money towards your expenses in exchange for a book or other book-related gift after your book is complete. Book writing and publishing expert Judith Briles will publish a crowdfunding guide soon, but if you prefer to jump right in and learn the ropes while you go, I recommend learning more about crowdfunding from Pubslush, the crowdfunding platform that caters to authors.
  12. As of 2013 industry reports, Barnes & Noble is the largest book retailer in the US. That’s why so many authors want their books sold here.
  13. Bookstores are not the only place to sell your books…in some cases they may not even be the best way to go! I’m sure that it feels great to be able to tell people that your book is available “everywhere books are sold,” but what good will it do you if the people who benefit the most from your message are not the bookstore-visiting type? This is why it’s important to study and understand your target audience.
  14. The most “enthusiastic” bookstore buyers live in the West or have earned a Bachelor’s degree or above. Married parents of school aged children or older also highly ranked. So before you lose sleep over putting your books in traditional bookstores, check if their buyers are your target audience members!
  15. Quality editing is so important that it deserves to be mentioned again in the discussion of the publishing process. Your book should go through at least three rounds of editing. There’s nothing wrong with self-editing, but if you do not consider yourself to be an expert on grammar, you will need to partner with a professional editor.
  16. Great endorsements go a long way towards helping you sell your book. So it would be wise to take advantage of the time that your editors are working on your book by seeking raving endorsements.
  17. Book cover design is not just about having a pretty cover, it’s about knowing your market. Most first-time authors assume that they need to have a picture of themselves on the cover, but if you browse your local library or bookstore, you’ll notice that most covers do not feature the author. Before you make major design decisions, become familiar with what is normal for the market where your target audience is likely to discover your book. Read “How to Design a Great Book Cover” to learn more.
  18. Book layouts deserve special consideration as well. Not only is the design of your book cover important, but the design for your book interior layout is important too. If you are writing for an older audience, they may appreciate a larger sized font. If you want your book to be used as a resource guide, it may help to include checklists, bullet lists, or even illustrations to clarify difficult concepts. Your layout can make the difference between a reader’s decision to read your book or someone else’s. Read “Top Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Your Book Interior” to learn more.
  19. Partner with a quality company-or group of companies-to print, distribute and promote your book. When used properly, there are 
  20. The best selling books are not necessarily the best written, but they are the books with some of the best marketing. The PLAN Your Book e-Guide quickly touches on a marketing plan as part of The 15 Minute Publishing Plan. But the serious planning begins after the book is written as part of the PUBLISH Your Book e-Guide.
  21. Random acts of marketing do not yield great results, but marketing plans do. It will be wise to review your sales every 90 days to analyze which marketing strategies produced the most sales. Based on your analysis, you can create or update your marketing plan for the next 90 days. For example, if you learn that you generate more sales from word-of-mouth advertising than from online ads, then you can focus your time and money on creating incentives for readers who make referrals instead of spending time and money on online advertising. Find what works best for you and do more of it!
  22. Rick Warren-author of Purpose Driven Life – broke bestseller records when he sold his books in bulk directly to pastors who used it to teach their churchesWho has direct access to your readers that you could be selling your book to? These people and organizations can make great partners.
  23. Robert Kiyosaki is not just a bestselling author with over a million copies sold, he also owns a financial literacy empire that teaches his readers how to gain financial independence. What additional services or products could you offer your readers to help them reach their goals?
  24. Corporations, associations, schools, libraries, gift shops, catalogs and book clubs all buy and sell books…why not let them buy and sell yours too? Learn how to hire Brian Jud’s proven sales team to sell your books in bulk for you to these retailers when you visit www.BookMarketingWorks.com.
  25. Selling your movie and TV rights is a great way to boost book sales. Over 2/3 of movies nominated for Oscars are inspired by books. True BloodBonesMASHFriday Night LightsSex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada are just a few of the TV shows that are based on books. Don’t limit your opportunity to spread your message-and earn money from it-to simply publishing a book.
  26. Your book content can also be re-mixed into several other products that can help boost sales of the original book. Some of these other content ideas include: blog entries, social media messages, a membership site, an online or offline event, an audiobook, an e-book, or even an online course. Just make sure you limit your re-mixing formats to something your audience would find interesting.

I do not receive any financial compensation from any of the resources listed above. Please note that of all the recommended resources above are included because they are resources that I have used and have personally found useful along my journey of working with authors.

This list and its links are by no means a complete collection of the information you need to know in order to publish successfully, but it should equip you with enough information to form a general understanding of what is included in the book publishing adventure.

If this information makes you think twice about publishing a book, that’s fine. I highly recommend reading the list of 24 content marketing ideas from the Content Marketing Institute to learn of 23 other ways to share your message with the world. Once you find the alternative you like, you can search their site for step-by-step instructions on putting that new idea into action. There are a lot of other options for sharing your information that are not as involved as writing and publishing a book. If you are a poet, here are some specific book publishing alternatives for you.

But if you still think that book publishing is right for you, read the Quick Start Guide to Writing and Publishing Your Book or “PLAN Your Book e-Guide” section of the Book Publishing How-to Series to learn more about the book publishing process and what your next step should be. You can access both of these resource in your free Author Info Kit

For those of you who have already started your publishing journey, are there any additional notes you would like to add?

Image by Molokaicreeper (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at DanielleFetherson.com.