Publishing 101

I am frequently asked, “How do I publish a book?”

Thousands of webpages, blogs and books are devoted to answering this question. Why? Although it is a simple, straight-forward query, the answer is complicated.

Most people mean that they already have a book, but they want to find a publisher. There are two paths to publication: find a publisher or publish the book yourself. The downside to independent publishing (self-publishing) is that you bear the financial burden of marketing, promoting and printing your book. Also, instead of being rejected by publishers, suddenly you are rejected by distributors, reviewers, bookstores, and possibly readers. Self-publishing doesn’t solve everything, but more and more people like that option.

I tried for many years to find a publisher before I decided to independently publish my work. I started my own publishing company, Bookaroos, and attended the Publisher’s University sponsored by the Publisher’s Marketing Association now the Independent Book Publisher’s Association (IBPA). Unfortunately after twelve years in business, I still do not have the resources to publish books for other people, but organizations like IBPA help independent publishers find the resources they need.

Of the hundreds of books about self-publishing, the book I found to be the most helpful is Dan Poynter’s SELF-PUBLISHING MANUAL. He has information about how to start your own publishing company or use a print-on-demand publisher. If you decide to publish yourself, I highly recommend print-on-demand (POD). The financial burden is MUCH LESS if you go that route, but even if you don’t self-publish, Dan’s book is a great resource for learning everything there is to know about the publishing industry.

Although I have not used any print-on-demand companies yet (currently I print in large quantity with a printer in Minnesota), I do know that many of the POD companies seem to be extremely overpriced like the Barnes and Noble iUniverse program. Amazon’s CreateSpace program is an inexpensive way to get your book out there. I noticed that CreateSpace books were frequently winners in many of the contests I entered last year which tells me the physical books they print must be pretty good quality for the price. When I do switch to POD, I will probably use CreateSpace.

If you want to avoid the hassle of producing and selling the book yourself, you need a large, established publisher. The best way to find a publisher for your children’s book is to join an organization like The Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s (SCBWI). Although it is based in the U.S. (Los Angeles), it is an international organization with great resources for members. Visit SCBWI’s membership benefits page to learn how SCBWI can help you. Usually at their regional meetings you have the opportunity to show your work to an editor or literary agent. It’s always a big advantage to meet them in person.

Now that you know how to find a publisher, let’s consider the quality of your book. Regardless of which way you produce your book (with a large publisher or publish yourself), if the book isn’t a quality product, you won’t sell many copies. If you don’t sell many copies, then you won’t make any money and no one will be encouraged to buy your next book. How do I define a ‘quality book?’ Here is my formula:


More and more books are being produced because publication is faster and less expensive than ever before. Your book can be published and sold as an e-book in a matter of hours, but just because you can publish the book quickly, doesn’t mean you should. Perhaps a better question to ask is, “Should I publish my book?”

Once your book is published, it represents YOU. Readers will judge your book as either worthy or not worthy of recommending. In time, I hope my blog will guide you toward websites and books that will help you craft a quality story readers will devour from cover to cover and recommend. I will frequently use my favorite books and my own books as examples, and although my success has been in the children’s picture book genre, most of the information I provide about writing and publishing is applicable to many types of storytelling. I hope my experience as an independent publisher will help you produce a book that changes your life and the lives of those around you in a positive way.

Creating a book is a process that involves introspection and transformation. Remember that writing a book is one thing; sharing your story with an audience is quite another. You will learn a lot about yourself as you craft your story, but sharing your book with an audience will transform you in ways you never imagined. By finishing the book, you are virtually guaranteed to achieve introspection and transformation, but a successful writer longs for more. You want your audience to have a similar experience. Hopefully your reader will examine their own mind and feel transformed by the experience of reading your book. If your book evokes a positive emotional response in your audience, readers will revisit your book again and again AND recommend it to others.

One response

  1. Pingback: Illustrating Your Picture Book | Tammy Carter Bronson

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