How to Publish a Book

There are several steps to publishing a book, depending upon the path that you choose. Many of my ghostwriting clients come to me without a clear notion of how it all works.

Much depends upon what you want to accomplish and how you’d like to brand yourself. Most people who contact me about writing a book are doing so because they want the book to make a profit.

The Info Product Route

If you’re just trying to share some information and you want to make a fast profit then you might enjoy the info product route.

There are hundreds of these on the Internet. You’ve probably downloaded 1 or 2 yourself. Prices range from $9.99 to $87.99.

They’re insanely lucrative if you’re good at marketing them. It costs next to nothing to put up a website to sell these books.

Content expectations are high but design expectations are low. Customers expect nice looking covers but not necessarily professionally designed covers. You can simply save them as a PDF. Borders and some nice type setting are helpful, but they’re not required.

If you’re working with a writer you can publish this type of book virtually the moment you receive your satisfactory final draft. You will then need to get on with the business of marketing it, since it won’t sell itself.

I believe this route is actually going away, thanks to the Kindle. There is no way I would ever pay $37.99 for any info product these days. I am more than aware that I can have the same instant gratification by ordering something from Amazon, and I can see the reactions from other customers (if any) before I do so.

Info products work great if you’re giving them out for free. They are outstanding marketing tools when you place them on your website. If that’s the case your profit is rather indirect as you’re using the book to sell other products or services.

Kindle Publishing

If you want to self-publish Kindle, Nook, and other established e-pub formats are the way to go.

You’ll need a professional cover designer. You’ll also need a good Kindle layout professional, especially if your book contains a lot of bullet points, footnotes, or charts.

I also recommend getting a professional editor. Sure, a writer proofreads before sending things on to you. But writers are also awfully close to their own work.

It’s really easy to stare at what you wrote and miss mistakes. Your brain just sees what you meant to say.

Why do you want the professional editor? Because expectations are higher on Kindle and similar formats. You’re competing with huge publishing houses who are absolutely hiring people to double check the work that authors put out.

People scrutinize self-published work a lot more. You want it to be indistinguishable.

The same reader might have been reasonably tolerant about a small mistake on an info product, since that’s a product that is obviously self-published and stands on its own. They aren’t so tolerant on the e-pub formats.

What about setting prices? E-pub books can go for $9.99 or they can go for ninety-nine cents. It just depends. Look to see what similar books are selling for and set your prices accordingly.

Again, you’ll have to market your book aggressively. You won’t make many sales if you don’t.

Self-Publishing Physical Books

Platforms like and CreateSpace have made it very easy to self-publish physical books. However, I don’t ever recommend this route to my clients.

I’ve done it before and it’s frankly too expensive. You’d have to charge a ridiculous amount of money to make any kind of profit.

How often will you pay $17.99 for a paperback book? That’s about how much you’d have to charge to make even a small profit.

Physical book sales are declining. You can get your book in Amazon, to be sure, but again, you’re competing with big publishing houses. Who can afford to charge far less than you can.

Some people order vast quantities of their books and sell them themselves. That could work, but again, it’s an expensive investment. It works incredibly well for public speakers, however. If you run seminars and want a book to sell at your seminar then this is a great route to take.

If you don’t have at least $10,000 to put into the project after having it written then you should avoid creating physical copies of your book. If you do have $10,000 the I recommend buying Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, because he’ll walk you through a soup-to-nuts execution. He’ll take you through print runs. He’ll talk you through ISBNs. He’ll talk you through book promotion and teach you how to make a profit.

You’ll still need a professional cover designer, editor, and layout person.

The Traditional Route

The traditional route is the hardest route. There’s a chance you’ll make far less money than you would through self-publishing your work in any of its three forms. You will get more prestige from this route, however, which is very important to professionals who are writing books for the express purpose of enhancing their reputations.

There’s also a chance that you won’t be able to find anyone to publish your work.

If you’re writing non-fiction you will need to write up a book proposal and submit it to various publishing houses. If you’re working with a ghostwriter then the writer can usually take care of this for you.

No ghostwriter can guarantee that you’ll pick up a traditional publisher. Nor can a ghostwriter guarantee that your book will achieve bestseller status. A ghostwriter most certainly cannot guarantee that you will get some kind of movie rights.

Some ghostwriters might have great contacts and networks with agents, editors and other industry professionals which might prove advantageous, but that’s all.

If a ghostwriter starts making any of those promises it’s probably time to run. A ghostwriter can really only promise to deliver a great product at a fair price. What you do with that product is up to you.

Traditional publishing doesn’t put you off the hook for marketing your book if you want it to sell. In fact, your non-fiction book proposal will need to contain a marketing plan, too.

Platforms and Planning

As you can see, the steps for publishing a book aren’t easy, but they’re not terribly mysterious, either. Make decisions by knowing your objective and by understanding exactly how you plan to use the book.

Then, think about the platform for selling your book. You’re going to need a website. You’re probably going to need a blog. A good professional writer can help with both after the book has been produced. You might also need a social media presence. Some writers can help with that too (I do all three, for example).

Finally, you might want to think about other books. It’s hard to make a profit with a single book. You usually want to put together some sort of series or brand so you can develop a loyal following. Repeat customers are at the heart of any business, after all, and you can’t have repeat customers on the strength of a single book.

If you’re thinking about having a book written to boost or launch your business, contact me. I can take your ideas and do the hard work of putting them on paper so that you can focus on turning a profit. I can also advise you on the best format for your project based on your needs, goals, and objectives. Finally, I can help you market the book by helping you build and launch your author platform. A book is just a product like any other, and it needs a solid business strategy if you want it to succeed.


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