Beginner’s Guide to Book Publishing 101
Publishing a book is a hugely complicated undertaking. This article points you at the resources to learn first if you’re considering becoming a publisher.
The expertise on Pub-Forum, an e-mail discussion group, is awesome! Subscribe to it!
The very first thing you need to do is read, read, read, and of course, follow that list. What to read? I would recommend you start with The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross, The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter, The Huenefeld Guide to Book Publishing by John Huenefeld, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer, The Prepublishing Handbook by Patricia J. Bell. There are many other good books and resources, but these will get you started.
Then choose a company name. This is very important! You will have to live with this forever. If you choose something someone else already has or even something close, you could be in for legal troubles. (I know. I had to change my name.) You’ll need to clear it through a company like TradeMark Express (who I used), another such service, or a trademark attorney. Then of course, you’ll have to satisfy your local authorities, i.e.. get a city business license and reseller permit, file with the county for a fictitious business name.
Also, get a business telephone, get a fax (on a separate line from your business phone), get stationery and business cards printed, open a business bank account, put lots of money in it, develop your business and marketing plan, etc. (there’s much more to come). Personally, I joined Publisher’s Marketing Association (you’ll hear a lot of pros and cons about this), subscribed to Publishers Weekly, ForeWord magazine, and others, just to get a handle on what’s going on in the publishing industry. As you get a book ready, don’t try to edit, typeset or design it yourself. Get professional help (available from Pub-Forum members).
You’ll need a contract with your author (if not yourself) and for your illustrator/cover designer. Don’t design your own cover. Get help. It will sell your book. Nothing looks worse than putting out an amateur looking book. That will kill your company overnight.
Oh my; we haven’t even talked about getting reviews, advertising, image building, printing, royalties, author/illustrator relationships, distributor/wholesaler issues, fulfillment. There is so much to learn. But be patient. Don’t expect to start selling your books tomorrow. I started in 1998 and won’t have my first book on the market until 2000, but that doesn’t bother me. I have time to develop a clear direction for my company, set up my web site (it’s almost ready), research my markets, etc.
Best of luck in your venture!
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