If you have a story that you wish to tell, a book that you have already begun or finished, I would recommend you conisder the world of self-publishing. But first, a warning. When I say self publish, I am not talking about vanity presses. There are companies out there that consider YOU, not your audience, as the customer. They are trying to sell you bigger and bigger packages that could range from $5000 to $10,000 dollars. Stay away from these guys. There is no reason to pay that kind of money in the new world of self-publishing.
As a self-publisher all aspects of publishing fall to you. Below I am going to talk about the different hats you are going to need to wear as a self-publisher.
The Book Cover
People judge a book by its cover. If you have good design skills, you may be able to create this yourself. If so, good on you. If you are moderately skilled, you can buy licensed graphics and manipulate them to your liking. Note that I said BUY. Do not just grab some graphic off of Google and put your title on top of it. That is called stealing, and you could get sued doing that stuff. You want to support other artists.
If you have very little graphic design knowledge, this is definitely something you are going to want to outsource. A good book cover should run between $200-$500. You are not gonna get this from a big company. But you can get this price from smaller design firms and design guys doing side work.
You wrote a book. Great job. But chances are your book is chock full of errors. There are going to be basic grammar mistakes that your spell check is going to miss. You may have problems with agreement, with commas, with run-on sentences, with dangling participles. You want to clean that stuff up. I once read a book with a typo on the cover. The cover! I have seen books with the author’s name spelled wrong! You don’t want to go to print with those kinds of mistakes. And you are too close to the material in order to see the cracks. Finding a good line editor is a must. They will proofread and correct the mistakes. For much professional editing, you will pay $3-$5 per page. That adds up quick. A 200 page novel is already at $1000! But, some independent publishers will offer line editing in a package that is significantly lower.
Again, you wrote a book. That is an amazing FIRST step. But that first draft is not a final draft. Just because you vomited out words on a page does not make it art. I have a novel I was working on for the past 6 years. I thought it was close to ready to make its big debut. But when my editor got ahold of it, he gutted it. The entire 2nd act was lost. It hurt me to have these words I had labored over so easily dismissed. But as I read it again with new eyes, I have to admit they were right. The structure was wrong. Act one and three were different stories than act two. If I had just put out my first swing, it would have been half the book it could be with a little help from a professional. Now, the price on this is hard to say. It is possible to do this for free. If you have some friends who are literary types, you can have them be a beta reader for you. They can give you some good big picture ideas of how it is received. If you do ask a buddy to do this for you, be grateful. Send them a card with a gift card or something. Beta reading is a good thing, but there is still value in a professional editor reading your stuff.
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a social security number for your book. The ISBN makes your book a citizen in the land of books. As a single individual, you are looking at $100 for a single ISBN. A company buys this in bulk and can therefore usually just throw these in with a package.
Now, if you choose to publish on Amazon’s Createspace (more on this Friday) they will give you an ISBN for very cheap. I don’t like this route because then it lists your publisher as “Amazon” or “Createspace.” I don’t like that. I think having a “real” publisher looks better. This may just be a personal thing. I don’t want their name on my creation.
These obstacles may seem insurmountable. But they are not. You just got to know where to look. I have a few friends in this world of graphic design and editing and they have graciously offered their services to people looking to get published. Over in my “Tree Farm Girl” Kickstarter, there are a few higher tiers for writers. Whether looking for some story editing, line editing, or an entire suite of services to get your book published, there are options. If you are ready to take a swing, I would encourage you to look at the packages being offered and see if any of them could help you make your dream of publishing a reality.