Choose your adventure

Writing is only the first step. It is the most important, no doubt. If you want people to read your book, the most best thing you can do is write something that they will want to read. But people have to know about a book in order to know they want to read it, which is where publishing comes in. You want a cover design that both catches the eye and captures the essence of your book. You need a great title. What about back cover copy? Blurbs? Interior design? Fonts? How does printing work? How do you get your book into bookstores and online retailers? What is print on demand (POD)? And you haven’t even started to think about marketing.

As any author who has just started to look into publishing their book knows, figuring out the publishing industry can be as frustrating as trying to order at Starbucks for the first time. How do you know what you want when there are so many options? As it gets more and more difficult for an author to be picked up by a commercial publisher, more and more authors have been taking matters into their own hands and self-publishing.

A good self-publishing company can help an author navigate the publishing process and put out a quality book. We can make it so much easier—but still not easy. There are roughly a thousand things an author still has to consider. So while other things are important (cover design, editing, marketing, the perfect title), sometimes I feel the most important step, after actually writing your book, is deciding you want to self-publish at all. So, in the tradition of choose-your-own-adventure books, I have created the guide below to help you make that choice.

1. You want to convince an agent to represent your book, then wait around to hear from the many publishers to whom you have sent your manuscript.

  • Yes. Choose commercial publishing.
  • No. Proceed to 2.

2. You want complete control over the production of your book: design, title, editing, pricing.

  • Yes. Proceed to 3.
  • No. Return to 1.

3. You (or someone you love who is willing to devote a lot of free time) are a professional designer and editor and already know how to publish your book with a print-on-demand printer.

  • Yes. Choose to self-publish on your own.
  • No. Proceed to 4.

4. You have no publishing expertise, but are willing to invest time and money into professionally publishing your book.

  • Yes. Start looking into self-publishing companies.
  • No. Return to 1.

There are many things to consider in choosing a good self-publishing company, and thereby protecting yourself and your manuscript. But that is a subject for another post! In the mean time, I’d recommend reading The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, by Mark Levine, a helpful guide to all the little things you need to know about.

Questions? I love questions, especially book questions. Email me at or call 641.628.8398.

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