Monday, May 19, 2008

Tips For Publishing

Tips from Lorilyn Bailey, Author/Publisher/Publicist, Raleigh, NC (919) 878-9108
So you want to publish your own book or become a publisher of books written by others? I published two books and offer services for authors and independent publishers. It can be a scary and very expensive world out there. Don't jump into it. Research all aspects of independent publishing, and take my advice.
1. Well before you publish, identify your audience. Know exactly who they are and why they would want to spend their hard-earned cash in this economy on your book. What need does it fill for them?
3. Join PMA, Publishers Marketing Association. Site: They have a good monthly magazine and a yearly conference a few days before BookExpo, the country's largest book conference. If you can ever get to BookExpo, usually held in Chicago, sometimes NY or LA, go. It is restricted to people in the book biz. You can exhibit your book through PMA if you're a member, and that will get you a pass to the show. The BookExpo is where deals are made, but new independent publishers should go as part of their education in the publishing industry. Do a lot of research about the show and how to make best use of your time while you're there. Wear comfortable shoes. It's huge. See:
4. Do a lot of research on everything, including book printers. Do not print more than 2,000 books your first time.
5. Be very careful in deciding upon a title for your book. There are many things to look at, including what the title will look like when it pops up in a chain bookstore database, trademarked items, soundalike titles, and misleading titles. Get feedback from many publishing experts about your title.
6. Do a lot of research before deciding upon a cover design. It's vital. There are certain things you must have on the front and back cover, and you'll read about those in the self-publishing "how-to" books. Get feedback on your cover design by experts in the industry. Many new publishers don't do it right and end up with a certain "look" to their covers that screams "self-published!" and makes all independent publishers look bad. By the way, "independent publisher" is the more politically correct term rather than "self-publisher" or even "small publisher." Some independent publishers publish others' works, and some only their own.
7. Know the financial realities before you do anything. Know exactly what the terms are with Before spending any money, know exactly what you need to put in and exactly what you'll get out of it. Profits for publishers are probably not as much as you think.
8. Learn from experts. Join two discussion groups: a) run by Pat Gundry of Suitcase Books b) PubForum-Civil, which is run by several people, including Shel Horowitz (
9. Research distributors. Become an expert on wholesalers and distributers before you sign any contract. It's not easy getting a distributor. You need to know what they need, and you also need to know how they work.
10. Find a whole lot of other places to sell books in addition to bookstores. Highly recommended: John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers . (My service,, which lists authors available for media interviews, is recommended in it, by the way.)
11. When you are ready to publish, hire a professional editor, typesetter, and book cover designer. Contract for their services. There are more than 50,000 books published each year, and you are competing against them.
12. Investigate ways to promote yourself to the media so you can talk about your book. As I said, the more you read, the better you'll be. Another book you need in your library is: How To Publish and Promote Online . Its author, MJ Rose, also mentions, my web site for authors available for media interviews, in her book (as do 23 other books on
13. Be realistic. If an independent publisher sells 2,000 books, that's considered a success. Find out what types of independently published books do NOT sell (such as personal memoirs, novels, children's books) and DO NOT publish them. Non-fiction books sell much better than any other type of book and are much easier to promote. People want useful information. If you can provide that, you're ahead of the game.
14. Do not quit your day job! Few independent publishers make a living at publishing. To make a living, you have to work up to publishing multiple titles each and every year.
15. Recognize that despite ALL of that work, PROMOTING your book is the biggest part of the process. Timing is important. Plan your promotion before you even hire a printer. You, or your author, will be spending a lot of time and resources getting the word out. There are right ways and wrong ways. You can spent a TON of money (and yes, get ripped off), or you can do it reasonably.
16. If you decide to go with "POD" or "Print On Demand" publishing, RESEARCH everything first. Some distributors and bookstores will refuse to sell your books if you use POD. POD has to do with having printing only those books you know you will sell or have sold, instead of printing a large (and more expensive) run. It's tempting and may work best for you in some cases, but there are most definitely drawbacks.
17. Last of all, keep away from "vanity presses." There are people who will take all your money and print ("publish") your book, and you will be left with a bad book that no one wants, and that even if you did sell it, there would be no room for a penny of profit. Vanity presses won't TELL YOU they're vanity presses. That's why you need to do a lot of research before making a move.
18. Have fun!
Please visit Lorilyn's site at:


Joel Turner of The Great American Press said...

Good reference

"2. Read the self-publishing "how-to" books by Dan Poynter, The Self-Publishing "
Check his website out!!

Dan Poynter knows as much about this as anyone.
There are many ways to have digital print runs of your books without signing away your future.
Joel Turner

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh yes! I recommend Dan's site & books whenever I teach my seminars. THE book on publishing!!!