From Idea to Published Book ... How to Self-Publish the Easy Way!
I've been involved in publishing for over a decade now as an author, editor, and
project manager; however, it wasn't until just a few years ago that I decided to
move into self-publishing. Indeed, my first few projects involved consulting for
others and, now, I am involved in my own, personal projects. It has taken a while
for me to come back around to my own works, but in the process I learned how to
minimize time and expenses in producing a book and getting it to market.
This short article will not try to explain every aspect of book publishing in detail,
but it will brush on a few of the important topics. I have a few other book projects
in the making that will detail the book self-publishing process; however, in the
mean time, this should give you a good basis of understanding.
The most difficult part of creating your manuscript is deciding on the topic. We all
have ideas. It's part of our being. Ideas pop in and out of our heads all day long;
however, we usually dismiss many of them as useless or too simple to be of use. You
would be surprised at how many people want "simple" and easy-to-understand information!
Readers want books that teach, inform, and entertain.
When you sit down and really think about all you've learned throughout your life,
you'll be amazed at how much you really know! Your life experiences alone could
fill a library! Even if you feel that you don't have any knowledge that would be
of interest to anyone, you can start small.
Research a market that interests you, find your competition, learn all that you can
about a specific subject, and then write about it. Your ideas are important, as your
knowledge and point-of-view are unique and of interest to others.
Planning the Product
I always suggest keeping your book concise and informative. This provides a small
footprint, yet it also allows your readers to purchase your book at a reasonable price.
Keep it around 100 pages, which, once in book format, equals about 50, two-sided pages.
The core content of the manuscript consists of a title page, copyright, table of
contents, figure and table references, acknowledgements, forwards, content, appendices,
index, and back page. This list is the basic minimum requirements to support the
information necessary to present your book and its content. Of course, you can add
other items such as a glossary and a preface, but such inclusions are at your discretion.
It is best to produce your book in the standard 5.5" by 8.5" format in both print
and PDF. I always suggest PDF to my publishing clients because it is one of the few
cross-platform (i.e., Mac, PC, PDA, and UNIX-based machines) document distribution
products available today and it is the most popular.
Once you've focused on an idea, you'll have to create an outline or table of contents
to define the content. The best way I've found to do this is to break the idea down
into blocks of contiguous information --- similar to assembling a pyramid. Step through
your idea and ensure that you are building from, for example, the most general
information to the most specific information. Check the outline several times, and have
a friend review it, to ensure that gaps are filled in appropriately.
You can actually over-rewrite your work to the point of frustration and burn-out. Ensure
that you've planned and researched appropriately to provide a solid foundation. In this
way you can develop a first draft and then perform substantive and grammar edits. Then,
perform a technical edit and a second draft.
Once the second draft is complete, move into a final copy edit then, once you produce
galleys or a sample version of the finished book, perform a proof read. Don't rework
any of the core steps of document development, but ensure that each step is completed
with quality in mind. This ensures a solid product in a short amount of time. If you would
like to update or add to the information in your first release, provide a follow-up revision.