lost in thoughtHave you ever wondered, “How difficult is it to publish my book?” You’re not alone, and while my impulse is to say, “Only as difficult as you choose to make it,” in truth there is no good answer. I can, however, provide you with some guidelines to help you decide if self-publishing is for you.

Beware of Those Who Say Publishing Is Easy

My best advice is to be wary of anyone who tells you that it’s easy to publish your book. Any path to self-publishing that looks too easy is probably too good to be true, and may eventually turn into a path that becomes the most difficult (and potentially the most expensive). To avoid falling prey to self-publishing companies that promise sunshine and rainbows, research, research, and research some more. Information is power, and understanding thoroughly how to self-publish a book will make the job seem much less daunting, and give you the upper hand when getting quotes from service providers. You should understand each step so thoroughly so that you’re able to explain to service providers exactly what you need while also being able to filter through the advice they give you. By not understanding the self-publishing process and knowing the right questions to ask, you put yourself at their mercy. Don’t just do whatever they tell you to do without understanding the reasons why!

The Steps to Self-publish a Book

So what are the steps to publishing a book? I outline them briefly below.

The first step of course, is to write your book. Writing your book may in fact be the most difficult part of the entire process, so if you have a manuscript ready to go, congratulations! The rest may seem easy in comparison.

Planning is the next step. If you aren’t a planner, you might find this the most difficult step next to writing the book.  You should be prepared to treat publishing like a business venture; you are investing time and money in your book, which is your product, and you plan on selling your product, just like any business. The idea of starting a business might sound difficult and even overwhelming, and your reaction might be to seek the easiest way out. Avoid the temptation! The more planning you do ahead of time, the less difficult the rest of the publishing process will be. You can read more about planning for your publishing business here. And if you haven’t already done so, head over to the 1106 Design website, sign up to the mailing list, and download the FREE copy of Publish Like the Pros, which includes a chapter on this topic, and goes into every step of the self-publishing process.

The next steps involve design and editing. These steps should not be done by the same person! But who SHOULD you choose to design your book cover and book interior, typeset your book, and edit and proof it? If you have done your planning, you will know your budget and you will know what you can afford. You will also have thought about your goals and your audience, and you will know the level of professional design they will expect. You may already have a shortlist of service providers. By doing this research, you are better positioned to determine the best design and editing team for your needs.

Then there is printing, distribution and marketing. Your decision of how to distribute your book will impact how it’s printed. And you should already be thinking about marketing your book, even while you’re writing it; if you intend on selling your book, you should know you have an audience before you type the first word.

The Hidden Costs of Self-publishing

Earlier on in this post, I alluded to the easiest way out possibly also being the most expensive. How could that be? First off, beware of hidden costs; make sure you get a firm quote and understand exactly what you’re getting. Finally, if the “easy way” produced a book that does not look professional, does not help you towards your goals—if you just plain old aren’t happy with it—then that turns out to be a very expensive endeavor. What is the cost of redoing your book? Of losing the money you have already invested? Too expensive indeed!

For more information on the steps to self-publish your book, see the How to Self-publish page on the 1106 Design website, created just for first-time publishers.