How to Publish a Book

So you want to know how to publish a book?

In this article, you will learn the basic steps. First, it's important to understand that publishing is different than self-publishing. To self publish a book is to do all the tasks that a publisher does: editing the manuscript, designing the cover by using a graphics program or a program that lets you use professionally designed templates, typesetting the copy, creating the galleys, using pdf writer software to create the PDF file to send to the printer, promoting the final product and selling it through established channels of distribution.

If you want to focus on your writing, then keep reading this article. If wearing a lot of hats and becoming a self publisher sounds appealing to you, then you should read this article on publishing a book which details the hidden costs of self publishing.

How to Publish a Book

Think like a publisher. Before writing your manuscript, do your research. The reason is clear. Last year in the United States alone, over 175,000 new books were published. All these books are competing for attention on book shelves across the United States.

Of course, this number doesn't approach the glut of manuscripts submitted to big publishers that are thrown into the trash without a second glance. So do your research. What is your genre? How are books selling in that genre? Who are the publishers? Write their names and addresses down and save this list for later. Is there room for another title? How will you put a unique twist or slant on your work that will add to the mix and make your book stand out?

how to publish a book

Writers who do their research and are market savvy—who give publishers what they want—have a better chance of getting published and making a name for themselves.

  • For a good example, consider the Harry Potter series. This series has opened the floodgates for children's fantasy novels. Before the first book was published, it was almost impossible to get a book of this genre published. (This is why a friend of mine whose specialty is writing children's books about magical creatures (such as dragons) was forced to self publish her first six books.) Now that J.K. Rowling has opened the eyes of publishers with her success, it's easier for other authors in this genre to get their work published.

How to publish a book: give the publisher what their market wants.

  • Now that you've done your research, sit down to write your book. Be sure to check out my writing tips. Once you have finished your first draft, read the whole manuscript from start to finish. Reading your manuscript is your second draft. Now, put on your editing hat and work in your changes. Next, ask supportive (but honest) family and friends to read your work and carefully consider their suggestions. If necessary, do another draft. Note: it will most likely be necessary.
  • Target the right publishers. This is essential. Don't waste your time or the time of countless publishers by sending them a manuscript that does not fit their target market. Consult the list of publishers you made while doing your research. Get their contact information and read their submission guidelines. You may need to send them a PDF file (portable document file) via email, rather than mailing them a Word document. If so use a PDF writer to create the file.
  • Read their submission guidelines. Oops, did I repeat myself? Of course I did and I did so intentionally. If a publisher's submission guidelines say that they don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, then don't send them one because guess what? You just killed a tree and the publisher will throw your envelope in the trash, probably without opening it. If a publisher requires a query letter, send them one. Respect the publisher's submission guidelines and you might get somewhere.

How to publish a book? Target the right publishers and follow their submission guidelines

  • Submit your manuscript. Make a record of each submission. Record the publisher's name, address, contact, and the date submitted. Record whether you submitted a query letter and are waiting to hear back from them. While you wait, be confident that you have learned how to publish a book and turn your attention to other things. Clean that coat closet, pull your weeds or start working on another project.

About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting. She is also the author of an ebook, a companion workbook, a 2-DVD series and thousands of articles.

How to Publish a Book

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