Books are not dead, gathering dust in the public archives or libraries. On the contrary, in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, overall book sales rose by around 5 percent year over year, according to the New York Times. At some point, demand is outpacing supply.
Even better, aspiring authors can now self-publish, which offers many benefits. Writers now have better control over many aspects of the publication, from spending to marketing.
However, for a book (and its author) to be successful, it still needs some help, particularly from these professionals and services:
The editor will check your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and consistency errors. This involves the checking of facts as well as larger problems with continuity. Before choosing a self-publishing company to handle your book’s publishing, make sure it offers you a choice between having your book edited by an employee or hiring your editor independently.
There are different kinds of editing:
- Developmental Editing – This is the big-picture, high-level stuff. Does it make sense? Do your character’s actions make sense based on what you’ve written about them earlier in the book? Did you introduce a subplot out of nowhere without properly setting it up?
- Copyediting – This is checking for sentence structure, word choice, clarity, and flow. It’s also looking for grammar, punctuation, and consistency errors.
- Proofreading – This is a very close line-by-line read to catch missed mistakes. Many self-publishing companies offer only one level of editing, but the good ones will let you choose which level of editing you want.
An editor will decide which one to use based on the book’s content. Also, some editors have a specialized focus, such as editing romance novels or science fiction. A good editor will also know your genre’s audience and be able to catch mistakes that could jar readers out of the story.
- Publishing Company
Book publishing companies have staff that can handle all parts of the book’s publishing, from editing to designing its cover and interior. The services they provide will vary, so check their website for details. Here are some things you should expect:
- Editing (see #1 above) – The quality of the work varies greatly between publishing companies. Make sure they offer more than one level of editing, so you can choose what’s best for your book.
- Book Formatting – This is the process of getting your manuscript into an ebook or print-on-demand compliant format that looks good on paper and ebook readers/tablets. It will include choosing fonts, font size, margins, and paragraph spacing. The general rule is to make the font as large as possible without sacrificing readability (i.e., the text shouldn’t be too cramped).
- Cover Design – This is where you can get a one-of-a-kind look for your book that reflects its genre and content. Many authors feel that this is the most important part of selling a book.
- Marketing Services – These will vary widely between self-publishing companies, so again, read their website carefully. Almost every company offers promotion through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, while others offer your book’s listing on popular retail/online stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You should expect, at minimum, for the publisher to promote you and your book directly to its email list. This is why it’s so important to select a publishing company based on how well it can sell your book.
- Distribution – Your publishing company should be able to get your book into retail/online stores like Amazon, B&N, and others. Amazon is the biggest retailer in the world, so your book should be for sale there. Many self-publishing companies are selective about which retailers they list with, but you don’t want to get caught up in that battle. You want to make sure that it can get into as many stores that sell books as possible.
A self-publisher also needs someone who can look into their finances, especially when earning money from their books. Most traditional publishing companies have an in-house accountant to take care of their books, but that’s not the case with self-publishers.
Make sure your publisher works with a qualified accountant who can make sure it’s filing taxes properly on time and making appropriate financial investments. You can also hire a tax specialist to go over your publisher’s taxes, especially regarding any income you may have from royalties.
Self-publishing is a viable alternative to working with traditional publishing companies, so don’t dismiss it out of hand. It has its issues, but if you pick the right self-publisher and services, your book will be in good hands and readers will find it. With the information in this guide, hopefully, you’ll find the perfect one for your book.