How To Get a Book Published

Get Published Easily and Cheaply

In today's world, the publishing industry has been going through some amazing changes. With 98% of all manuscripts submitted to the "big houses" being rejected, many authors are turning to self-publishing as a viable alternative. This has created a huge new market for would-be publishers.

Self-publishing has grown exponentially over the last decade or so, experiencing roughly a 30% growth rate annually. This growth has been accompanied by a huge influx of "self-publishing" companies setting up shop to help inexperienced authors get their works to print.

Many new authors don't have the first clue as to how to go about getting published, nor do many have the funds necessary to do it the right way on their own. These "self-publishing" companies can offer myriad tools and services to make the process much less painful. You can find companies offering anything from just simple print layout to a complete host of services including editing, marketing tools, cover design, and sales assistance. Most will offer a selection of bundled packages as well as "a la carte" services that can be purchased as the need arises.

The best thing about self-publishing concerns the author's rights. When a new author submits his manuscript to a traditional publisher, he typically has to give up his copyrights...not only for that manuscript but for any future work he may publish. He is under contract with the publisher---he is owned. And for his indentured servitude, he can typically expect 10 to 15% royalties on his work. If he has an agent, he can expect to pay 10% of his earned royalties to him as well.

As a self-published author, one retains all of his rights---copyrights, movie rights, electronic publication rights, everything. When he opens the front cover of his new book he will see "Copyright, his name, 2009", instead of "Copyright, RandomHouse, 2009". When his book becomes a best-seller and Universal Studios decides it wants to turn his novel into a movie, the movie maker has to negotiate with him...not some publishing house leech. If the author decides he wants to offer his book on Amazon's digital book service, Kindle, he just does it---no special permissions from a publisher necessary.

Now many would argue that a large publishing house has things to offer that might not otherwise be available, or affordable, to a self-published author. Take advertising for instance. Who could afford all those "Da Vinci Code" TV commericals we all saw, right? Well think about it...there were roughly 480,000 books published in the US alone last year. How many book commercials do you remember seeing? Ten? Five? Less? The point is that no publisher is going to fork out huge advertising capital until a book has already sold a million copies, if even then. What about scheduling book signings? What about it? If you can use a telephone, you can schedule a book signing. Just start locally to keep your travel expenses at a minimum, then schedule signings further away as your revenues allow. About the only things an author is really missing out on by not choosing a traditional publisher are the big advance checks and the greater access to the huge number of bookstores around the country and across the globe. But that isn't really true either. Since traditional publishing houses reject about 98% of all the manuscripts they receive, you had better have a sure-fire best-seller on your hands if you're planning on getting any kind of advance. As far as getting access to book retailers goes, a respectable self-publishing house will offer the same access as the traditional houses. My publisher, Author House, for instance, provides access to 25,000 retailers worldwide, as well as 1000's of online booksellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

The big argument against self-publishing used to be that the author was required to put up most, if not all, of the cash himself, with no guarantees that his work would sell a single copy. Authors used to need to have 100's of copies of their books printed up front and then hope they could sell them. But with the advent of print-on-demand services, this is no longer the case. There is no longer any need to warehouse inventory. Once your manuscript is set-up for printing, then all that's left to do is to sell it. As soon as an order is placed---say from Amazon.com---your book is printed, bound and shipped, usually in the same day. The costs for the printing, binding, shipping, etc. come out of the sales price, and the author gets the rest. There are no up front costs to the author whatsoever, except what he paid to get the book ready for print. This cost can vary greatly among self-publishing companies; it can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars. It is best to consider the costs, services, and reputation together when deciding on a self-publishing house.

After scouring numerous self-publishing houses, I chose Author House because they fit all of my criteria. They have several different publishing packages available starting at under $600. The package I chose ran just under $1200 and included everything I wanted to get started. I received: full print set-up; one-on-one support; a custom, full-color cover and personalized back cover; custom interior design; ISBN assignment; electronic proofs; online distribution; marketing consultation; hard cover, paperback, and E-book formats; book buyer's preview; and complimentary copies in both hard cover and paperback. In addition to all that, they have the full gambit of other services available, a la carte, such as: editing; additional marketing and advertising tools; and design, production, and sales services for additional fees. One of the additional services I chose was the Guaranteed Return Service. Retailers like the idea that they can return unsold copies of books, and they often will look for a return policy like this when perusing a publisher's catalog for books to carry in their stores. For $70, I was able to ensure book sellers they can return unsold copies for a refund, and the royalties I was paid for those copies remained unchanged. You may not need all of these services, or maybe there are other services you would want to include. The important thing is to remember to shop for a publisher like you would for a car. Consider the options, the cost, and the reputation. Author House published 19,000 titles last year...nearly six times the number published by Random House, the world's largest publisher of consumer books.

Another nice thing about self-publishing is the author gets to name his own price. Instead of being stuck with the 10% or 15% from a traditional house, a self-published author can keep as much as 55% of the sales proceeds, depending on what venue he chooses. One needs to be careful here, so as not to price himself out of sales. The final retail price of a book will depend on the commission schedule one chooses plus the printing costs, so the author shouldn't be too greedy or the book may end up getting priced higher than people are willing to pay for it. I would rather sell 100 paperbacks for $15 with a royalty of 30% than sell two books at $25 with a 50% royalty...know what I mean?

So in my opinion, self-publishing is a no-brainer. Just ask James Redfield, author of the best-seller "The Celestine Prophecy". He was turned down by numerous traditional houses, so he decided to self-publish. After selling 250,000 copies of the first printing on his own, the big guys finally took notice. He scored a huge deal with Warner Books, and "The Celestine Prophecy" went on to become a multi-million best-seller. Lisa Genova wrote her first novel entitled "Still Alice" and was turned down or completely ignored by over 100 literary agents. She paid $450 to iUniverse to publish the book and then sold copies to independent book stores. A fellow author eventually discovered the book and introduced her to an agent. She sold "Still Alice" to Pocket Books for a mid six-figure advance. Pocket Books released a new edition in January, 2009, and "Still Alice" debuted on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list that same month at #5.

As you can see..."self-publishing" is no longer a dirty word. For more on self-publishing, check out some of the Google Ad links on this page.

25 comments

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Thanks for sharing all this useful information. I've been considering publishing with Lulu.com. Have you looked into their services? How do they stack up against Author House?

Did you allow anyone to read your book before you published it? One of the problems with self-publishing, I think, is that you don't get any real feedback on what may be the strengths or weaknesses of your work.


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Hi Aya, I am familiar with Lulu. It is a decent place to get published, but the reason I chose Author House is because of all the additional services they include or have available, and the associated costs. I don't remember much about their pricing or what kind of split they take from your royalties, as I checked so many places before I decided on Author House. But there must have been a reason, for me personally anyway. Everyone has different needs, and Lulu may be perfect for you.

Yes I did have quite a few people read my book before I went to publishing. I couldn't afford the editing costs at Author House...a standard edit was going to run me about 3 grand...so I relied heavily on friends and family to help me twek my manuscript. I can always go back and have them edit it for me professionally when the funds permit. There were 9 of us in total looking it over, and I think collectively we did a pretty decent job. In fact, thanks to those who helped, I have my first 100 or so book purchases commited already.

I actually helped Don Cockroft with the editing of his book last year. If you don't know who he is, he was the place-kicker for the Cleveland Browns from 1968 to 1981 (I think those dates are right). He wrote a book on his memoirs from the "Cardiac Kids" days.

So if you would like for me to take a look at your manuscript, I would be happy to do so if you think I would be of any help to you.

By the way....in case you haven't seen it yet...I posted a comment on your Bow hub! man, the work you have done with that little guy is out of this world!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Onthewriteside, thanks for answering my question so thoroughly. Thanks also for offering to take a look at my manuscript. I may just take you up on it when I am ready. ;->

Yes, I did see your comment on Project Bow DVD and have responded there.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 7 years ago from Sydney

Thanks for this interesting insight into your experiences with Author House. The sale or return option sounds great - the biggest limiting factor of self-publishing is the difficulty of getting copies into high street stores, and it sounds like Author House has found a solution for that. 

Welcome to HubPages, by the way - if I can offer a couple of tips, always split your text up into multiple text capsules and use sub-headings to make it more digestible.  Personally I'd split this into two Hubs - one a discussion about self-publishing and the other a review of Author House.  Images add reader interest, and right-floated, coloured text capsules are a great way to highlight important points.


anujagarwal profile image

anujagarwal 7 years ago from Noida

Nice and informative hub. It will help me when I'll be ready with my work.


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Marisa, Thanks for the comment and athe advice! This was my first attempt at writing a Hub, and I really wasn't sure of all the nuances yet. Great ideas though! I think I will definitely have to follow your suggestions!


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Anuja, Thanks for the comment! Good luck with your work!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Wow. Thanks for the insight as it was very helpful. I am currently un-published but hope to be very soon. Perhaps I am old fashion (for now) but I plan to eventually get my book published the traditional way. I think that part of the problem is the money situation. It took me 8 years and 3 rewrites to finished my novel. I know how difficult it is to write a novel, which by the way is about my family's plight from a Thai refugee camp in the post-Vietnam War era. I hope that one day, when I do get published, I will marketed as the first Lao-born Novelist!


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

dohn121, Outstanding! Congrats on your perserverance! Good luck with getting published, and remember...if the schmucks turn you down, there's always the self-publishing route! Thanks for the comment!


M. Rose profile image

M. Rose 7 years ago from Orange County, CA

Great hub! You seem very knowledgeable, and I definitely learned something new from this. I'm in the finishing stages of writing a book, and I will certainly consider what you've written here when I do finish. Congrats on your first book! Keep writing!


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 7 years ago from Sydney

You're welcome, rightside. Remember you can (and should) revise and update old Hubs as you learn more about Hubbing. Darkside has written some great Hubs on the subject.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Great hub - lots of good information. I was leaning heavily towards Author House as well, but decided to go with Lulu because of limited $$. They also have plans that include marketing, x amount of books, and allow you to set your own price as well as others...was a hard choice - both companies looked very solid.

Welcome to hubpages, and congrats on the book! Will have to check out your hub about your book :D


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 7 years ago from Sydney

Enelle, the downside of Lulu is that they don't have any arrangements with bookstores - as far as I know, Author House is the only one to do that. If you can't get your book in bookstores, your sales are going to be severely limited. But I get what you're saying about limited $.


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

M. Rose, Glad you found the Hub informative! Thanks for the congrats, and good luck on your writing venture as well!


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Thanks again Enelle! I think Marisa is correct about LULU also. But hey...the nice thing about being self-published is that you can always change!


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 7 years ago

very good information..welcome...=)


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Thanks Stacie...glad you found it useful!


mirandalloyd profile image

mirandalloyd 7 years ago from Alaska

Good solid advice, but a writer also has to be careful. As you mentioned, most "vanity" publishers require all the fees to be paid up front, and there are many unscrupulous publishers running scams, with books not being delivered, requests for more money, and services not being rendered as promised, if at all.

Before looking at absolutely any publisher, big house or self-publishing/vanity, always check them out first. The SFWA's Writer Beware page ( http://sfwa.org/beware/ ) is a great resource.


MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

These are wonderful tips, thank you so much:)


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Glad you found them informative!


puppascott profile image

puppascott 7 years ago from Michigan (As far as you know...)

Great information. Thanks.


onthewriteside profile image

onthewriteside 7 years ago from Canton, Ohio Author

Glad you found it useful puppascott!


Judy Cullins profile image

Judy Cullins 7 years ago from La Mesa, CA

Self publishing is a great way to go, especially for self-help and how-to books!


cjcsimmons profile image

cjcsimmons 6 years ago from Lakewood Wa

Love your advice, I feel the same about self publishing, even tho' I have never done such a thing, I would love to. My doctors all keep telling me to write a book. They are fascinated with my illnesses and how I have managed to come through them. I wrote on LULU.com a couple years ago, I have never gone back to check on it, but they do have some pretty good ideas for publishing I do remember that. Can you read my hubs and tell me what you think? Appreciate it.

Cynthia

Happy Writing


quuenieproac profile image

quuenieproac 5 years ago from Malaysia

A very interesting and informative hub, certainly a good guide for aspiring authors . Thanks for sharing!

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