How To Publish a Book

Publishing a book is a big dream for many people. In the past, it was a daunting, almost impossible task. Thanks to modern innovation, particularly the internet, the dream of publishing is no longer as challenging as it once was. That is not to say it is easy but it is certainly an easier goal to reach now then it was a decade or so ago.
Writing a book is a passion, a labor of love. If you are going to do it, you want to do it right. As challenging as the writing can be, publishing your work often presents an even bigger challenge.

In days gone by, one would need a publisher and probably an agent to introduce you to the publisher and help with negotiations. Most publishers were extremely selective and many books, now famous, were rejected many times. Some famous examples include Gone with the Wind, Moby Dick, and even the first Harry Potter. No doubt there were a good few red-faced publishers once the books became famous.

You can still go the traditional route if you wish. This would involve contacting various publishing houses directly or finding an agent that is prepared to represent you. This can be tricky and often demoralizing. Fortunately, there are now a number of alternatives that could work for you.

If you have published a book before you would have learned many lessons and the next one is sure to be easier. If this is your first attempt then you will need some help and guidance.

Here are some ideas and tips if you wish to get published.

Be clear on why you want to publish

People want to publish books for a wide range of reasons. Before you embark on this process, be realistic and clear on what your motives are and what you want out of the experience

Some of the main reasons for publishing a book include:

  • Having a really solid idea that drives you to put pen to paper and share, making a name for yourself in a niche topic. You might be a coach or public speaker that wants to establish a reputation as a thought leader and “expert” on the subject matter
  • A real passion and unique knowledge of a subject
  • Diversify income from other activities such as public speaking or training
  • A freelancer or entrepreneur that wants to expand their work
  • A regular blogger that wants to put their work together in a book
  • You want to publish for profit
  • You want recognition from your peers and audience

There are many motivations for wanting to publish a book. There are no good or bad reasons, the important thing is to understand your own reasons. That will help to dictate the path you choose and the way you publish.

Understand the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing

This is an important distinction and should be made at the start. If you believe you have a best seller, be it fiction or nonfiction, you might want to go the route of traditional publishing. Nothing wrong with this but understand that it is not easy.
There are pros and cons to both options.

Traditional publishing

In this instance, the publishers takes all the risk. Well, your time, effort and passion is certainly a risk but they take the financial risk. They will be responsible for all aspects of the process including proofreading, editing work, typesetting, layout, design, printing, and cover art. They will also handle and pay for all advertising and marketing expenses. They will handle warehousing, distribution, and billing. They pay you the writer or author a royalty for each book that is sold.


Another option is to self-publish. The internet and other technologies have made this easier and relatively inexpensive but there are a number of potential pitfalls. Sure, you have greater creative freedom but it is not all rainbows and unicorns.

Traditional publishers are experienced, they understand the market and they have valuable contacts. They also have a budget to market and promote your work. As a self-publisher, you will generally lack the skills and experience to do a good job of getting your work on shelves and sold.

Going it alone as a self-publisher means that you need to put up the money for all the above services. You need to pay for professional editing, design, printing, and most importantly, marketing and promotion. You also need to have marketing experience as well as industry knowledge and contacts if you really want to make a success of the venture. Do not make the common mistake of thinking that marketing a book is easy or inexpensive. There is a huge amount of competition, especially now that the barriers to entry are a bit lower. One really has to produce great content and make a massive marketing effort in order to get traction and gain success.

Truth be told, self-publishing is an expensive exercise. While it might seem like the best or possibly only option, do not think you can do it on a shoestring budget. The entire process is expensive. Doing it on a small budget will only lead to disappointment and failure unless you have outstanding content that catches the attention of the public.

Write the book

This is a pretty obvious step but the order and sequence are important. You should only write the book after you have established your reason for writing and created your goals. If you already have writing experience you will realize that the process is not easy. It is far from the glamorous image portrayed on television or in the movies. It is, however, extremely rewarding.

A few tips for successful writing:

Establish a good writing environment

You cannot write successfully without the right setup and environment. Sure, some people can belt out some good work at a Starbucks but the ideal environment is set up for productivity and success. You want to ensure that you have everything you might need at hand and minimal distractions.

Start with a plan and outline

As much as you might want to wing it and create as you go it is always better to have a basic synopsis before you start. This will give you guidance and direction. You can still be flexible and deviate if necessary but the plan will keep you on track to some extent.

Get into the habit of writing

Writing is a discipline. Even if it is your greatest passion it still requires work and effort. It needs commitment. Getting into a habit will help a great deal. Set goals and strive for them. Commit to x amount of words per day. Everyone has different circumstances and expectations. Some might have more time than others. Find your sweet spot and try to stick to it. Some days the words will flow and other times, not so much.

Plan and use a calendar

It is important to schedule work and track your progress. That is the only way you will know if you are getting ahead. Writers often write for the sake of writing without actually being productive. Set realistic and specific goals in order to be able to measure your progress.

Get some outside feedback

It is essential to get outside opinion and feedback on your work. While you are passionate about your creation you will generally lack objectivity. It is important to get a neutral party or two to take a look and give you constructive criticism. If we get to close to our work it is natural to lose objectivity.

Allowing others that you know and trust will give you a new perspective on your ideas and improve the content. It is also a fact that once you have worked on something for a while you become blind to errors that might be immediately obvious to others.

Take time and effort when selecting your title

Despite the cliché that one should not judge a book by its cover, we all do. It is human nature. The title is the first thing that most people see and that will send an immediate message. Good title selection is essential if you want to publish successfully.

The title cannot be too long and it needs to have immediate power and impact. You also need to consider how it will appear on Amazon and other online formats.


Even if a book is going to be published and sold online more than a hardcopy, the cover is still a critical element. Do not neglect this important aspect of your book.

Find a skilled editor

Even the very best writers need a good editor. As previously mentioned, the longer you look at your own writing the less you will see. A fresh pair of eyes, particularly those skilled and experienced at editing, will spot minor or larger errors or issues with your writing. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve your work.

A good editor is invaluable to anyone writing any work so do not assume you have created a perfect book. Allow an independent person with the necessary experience and skill set to evaluate your work and give you constructive feedback.

Get the details right

Before you even think of publishing, be it online or hardcopy, ensure all the details are correct. The success of your work depends not just on your written word but the entire package.

Price your book correctly

While you might have a strong opinion with regards to the value of your book it is up to the general public to determine the right price. If you overprice it, the book will sell poorly. Pricing strategy is important. View a few similar boos and rate their success and quality in order to determine your best price. You do not want to overprice your work while at the same time you do not want to undervalue it.

Create an online presence

If you intend to self-publish you will need to create a strong online brand and a powerful presence. This is not easy and takes time and effort.

You need to create a Kindle account for starters. A Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account is a good start.

Kindle is far from the only choice and there are many avenues available. Much will depend on your subject matter and the style of the bok. Do some investigation and exploring in order to find the best outlets for your work.

Create a launch plan

You want to start with a bang so put major effort into the launch. If you are lucky enough to have a publisher, take advantage of every opportunity to promote your book. If you are self-published, you will have to create these opportunities. Go for it. Find them and make it work. You only have one opportunity to launch the book so make the most of it.

Learn for next time

Even the best authors lean form experience. If your first publication was a success or a failure, you can learn from the experience.  Take note of the response and public perception and evolve accordingly.

Final thoughts

If you choose to go the traditional route and find a publisher you will have your work cut out for you. That is not to say it can’t be done but it will require good work and effort. Self-publishing is also challenging as it requires effort, expense, and skill.

Either way, publishing a book is a great achievement and something to be proud of. If you are going to do it you want to be successful. Take note of the challenges and potential pitfalls and go into the experience with your eyes wide open.

Publishing a book is not easy but can be highly rewarding. With the right concept and approach, it is achievable.