Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Publishing Methods: Which is Right for you?

Writing a book is the easy part. The hard part begins when you attempt to publish and market the book. In this article, I’ll share the publishing options available today. This will provide you with information needed to make a decision about how you will bring your book to the market.

Option One: You may find a mainstream publisher who is willing to take a look at your book, but if you’ve ever tried to pitch a book you realize that the probability of rejection is extremely high. Even if you do get lucky, you will still have to do a major portion of the marketing, so it helps to have some extra money to use for publicity. While mainstream commercial publishers and university presses have budgets for advertising and promotion, they tend to only use their resources to promote highly visible personalities whose books are easily sold by the power of that person's notoriety. These publishers will rarely risk a dime on an unknown author, and if they do, the window of time for the book to be deemed successful is roughly six to eight weeks. If your book doesn't justify its costs in that time period, it is back-listed and disappears from print. Unless the author wants to do his own publicity, he has little recourse other than to wait out the time period until he can purchase back the rights to his book.

Option Two: is to use a “publish on demand” service such as or Most of these companies will accept ANY quality of work from ANYONE, but you can expect to spend between $100 and $3,000 (shop for prices before you decide) and that price may not put any copies in your hand! Copies of the book will cost you about $5-6 each. You may do all the design work yourself or you may choose a la carte services or packages that include editing, cover design, formatting the page layout to their specifications, fulfilling orders and marketing the book. The services will help you obtain an ISBN and list the book on, Barnes and Noble and other major chain bookstores, but remember whoever owns the ISBN, owns the copyright. You may think you are self-publishing, but unless you purchased the ISBN under your name, you may very well have given your publication rights to the publisher.

One good thing about these services is they do handle distribution and order fulfillment. When someone wants to purchase your book, they will print a copy, ship it, and pay you about 30% of the purchase price as a royalty. If you print the book using a POD company, you will still have to market the book, but you won’t have to fulfill and ship orders.

The term "publish on demand" goes way back. When Monks got an order for a book, they would copy it by hand and deliver it to the client. They did not print extra copies and store them in the monastery. When printing presses were developed, we moved away from the monk's reproduction method. Large runs (called offset) were more economical so we printed thousands of copies and waited for orders to come in. Some publishers still pay to warehouse large quantities of books when they expect a high demand from the market. Many authors still have these books in their garages.

The more modern term "print on demand" is used to describe a technology called digital printing. Like the monks, a book is printed only when there is a request from a client, but today we use lightning fast printers to produce one copy at a time. Most conventional publishers use both offset and print on demand to make copies of a book.

Option Three: I checked into printing a book by using a local commercial printing company. The best price I found was three cents per black & white page. A 195-page book would cost about $6.50 including the cover (which you design) and perfect binding. If you want the book in color, the price could easily make the book cost more than you can sell it for. The printer I used allowed me to print as many or as few as I wanted since they offer digital printing technology.

It is very important to have someone proofread your text before submitting your file because the printer will print exactly what you send without making an edits or doing any revisions. If you print the book in this manner, you will still have to market the book, fill and ship orders. If you only sell one book per day, this might not be a problem, but if you sell twenty books a day, you may have yourself a new full time job!

Option Four: Publish it as an eBook. This is the least expensive way to publish, and people do actually buy eBooks. I had a graphic designer create my cover image to use for promotion of the book on my Web site. I set up a business account with PayPal and added my ISBN to my product list. They created an html code that I copied to my Web site. When someone makes a purchase, I receive an email notification. I respond to the email by attaching the pdf of my book and sending it to the customer. It would be better to have an auto responder email the eBook to the customer upon purchase but Godaddy, the company who sends my permission-based newsletter, does not offer an auto responder. Other services may.

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If you have a good quality alternatively published book, you can offer it for sale in bricks and mortar bookstores. You just have to pound the pavement and make the phone calls. The book must be returnable and wholesaled through Ingram or one of B&N's other suppliers. You may contact Barnes and Noble Small Press Department, 122 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10011, Phone (212) 633 - 3300. You will need to send an Advanced Reading Copy and a request for consideration for in-store placement.

You can’t judge a book by its publisher or by its printing method. The type of printing an author uses doesn’t make a good book bad or vice-versa. Content is what makes a good book. However, without good publicity no book will sell regardless of the quality the printing or how pretty the cover may be. Even spectacular content won’t sell a book if no one knows it is available. Therefore, it’s not how you bring a book to market that counts. It’s how you bring the market to the book.

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services based in Nashville, Tennessee. She and her team of ghostwriters service clients all over the globe by offering quality writing at an affordable price. If you need a brochure, web text, business document, résumé, bio, article or book, visit .

1 comment:

Susan Morgan said...

Hi Yvonne,
Interesting article on the options for publishing. As I have published using your second option, I read this section with special interest.

First, while no doubt some publishers accept ANYTHING, not all do. There are some POD publishers who DO have standards, who DO care about the content they produce and who DO turn down material. Poor quality is, after all, a reflection on them.

I choose (after some in depth research) to publish with booklocker, which is far less expensive than either of the two options you mention. And also, just so you know, unless you (the author) sign a contract that specifically takes away your rights, YOU retain the copyright, no matter who owns the ISBN.

My experience with booklocker has been wonderful. Very professional. Always responsive. And the finished product is something I can be proud of (and I am).

Anyhow, just wanted to share. Hope this helps you and others who are considering going this route.

All the best,