Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How To Publish A Book

Some friends and acquaintances have asked me on the works of publishing ever since I've taken this road of publishing.

Firstly self published books are one of the easiest ways to get your idea in a book. Mainstream publishers do not really take on niche titles and may reject your ideas, though it is still worth giving them a try.

However, if that fails, you can always go into independent publishing to get your idea across.

Some publish because they want it as a medium of expression, while others choose to make money out of it. Others use it purely as a marketing tool - just like artistes who produce albums, but make their monies through concerts. Here, these publishers make monies by seminar or courses that they offer.

But usually, independent publishers are people with ideas & are passionate about their topics. And while they may like the idea to make money out of their project, they don't put that as the no. 1 priority.

This is good because then the works are usually non commercial and very interesting at times.

So what are the steps to be a publisher?
1. Ideas
Formulate your concept & idea of the book. This is a very crucial part of your book. While most independent publishers usually just think of their idea, they must also note of the target audience for the book.

With knowing what goes in, you will be able to determine your title. Throw a few titles and ask around to see the best one. Looking at the available titles in your bookstore is also good - you either follow them or do a title that is totally different to differentiate your book.

2. Planning
Your book will fall into either a storybook, a photography book (coffee-table book), a directory or a knowledge based book. Depends on your type of book, different books have different planning stages and on its importance.

If you are publishing a storybook, you will need to at least have a bit of talent in building up a good story and a good conclusion. The characters are very important.

If you are on coffee-table books, then photography is crucial - and working with a good photographer is essential.

3. Budgeting
This is a crucial part for publishers as they need to see if this project is viable.

Get quotes from printers in your country and also overseas. Ask them to quote you including shipping and taxes (if from overseas).

It is definitely easier to deal with a local printer, but sometimes overseas are way cheaper.

This is usually the biggest bulk of the costs. Hard cover books are more expensive. And coloured books are also more expensive as compared to black & white only.

4. More on budget & setting up a team
Most independent publishers may not have the big budget for a big team. Don't despair. Outsource what you can and on your budget. A good designer is important as well for all types of books including story books - people judge a book very much by its cover. Some may also hire proof readers.

Do a timeline with them and a comfortable schedule for all parties.

5. Budget - the crucial!
You need to see how you can raise the funds - either your own monies or working with advertisers/ sponsors. Take note on the book industry - how many people actually buy them.

Be conservative, and do not expect your book to be a bestseller yet. You must budget for time spent on marketing as well.

6. Formalities
Register for the ISBN number through your National Library. This ISBN code is a worldwide standardise code for each book. This is important for all book publishers. In certain countries, by registering your book, it is immediately copyrighted.

7. More formalities
With the code, you are sometimes given the ISBN code bar as well. If they don't give you, then you will need to get some professional help in doing the bar.

8. Printing
Once your content is complete, you are ready to head to the printers. Some printing companies may require you to stay in their factories to see the print of each page (usually they print 4 pages in one).

Expect to stay up to 2 days or more if your book is a photography book where colour is important. Usually, you will need to bring your own printed pages as a guideline (which you can print at any shop prior - just remember the costs as it can be a lil costly).

9. Distribution
While your book is in print, you can actually talk to some distributors. Work an arrangement that benefits the both of you and them.

Most independent publishers may consider doing the distribution themselves, dealing directly with the bookstores. However, usually this is not so possible for some bookstores who prefer to deal with a distributor.

But for those that do get to do on their own, expect more paperwork and lots of carrying the books yourselves, or with your helper. Also find transport companies that can help with the transportation.

10. Marketing
Find suitable events and whatever means you can to get your book publicised. Expect to give free copies to the magazines & newspapers for reviews. Collaborate with bookstores for author sessions as well. This can actually be planned before your book is out.

Submit your book to Amazon and also create a website for it. Get any support from your friends who are webmasters or again, outsource it. You could also learn to build a site on your own later on.

Apart from budgeting, this is another very crucial segment if you do not wish your printed books to be seating in your storeroom.

I've learnt the ropes on my own here and boy, was it a journey and experience! In any case, I do hope to help fellow independent publishers in the near future.

Good Luck!



  1. You can always self publish online at

    Or you can always get an professional editor. They usually don't get paid until you actually sell your idea/concept/book to a publishing house, so that's their incentive to help you out.

  2. Hi min-tea

    Yes, lulu is an option :)

    By getting a professional editor - that's something I didnt hear before.

    Can I know what happens when your book is self published? Ie. not sold to another publisher, but published under yr own co? :)


Oh hey, thank you for commenting! :)