How to Publish a Book

When people write me to ask for help with their book, they often ask about how to publish a book. It’s a good question, one you should consider before starting your project.

There are two main ways to get your book published. One is to self-publish and the other is to find an agent and pursue a traditional publisher.


There are many choices for self-publishers. I highly recommend Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (for more information, click on this link. He advocates becoming your own publisher and taking all the steps needed to get your book in print. This is the best way to make sure your book has the quality you need and want for your budget.

There are other outfits who will handle a lot of the legwork for you., and seem to be the top three. I’ve heard good things about and quite a few negatives about the other two. All three seem to try to upsell you to purchase various marketing packages, which may or may not be effective.

Full publishing

If you want to find a publisher to take on your project, you should probably find an agent. It isn’t always necessary, but an agent can make the process a lot smoother.

The first step in this process is to create a proposal for your book. If you’ve never done this, you’ll want to hire a ghostwriter to help you. It’s a key document that will help you sell your idea to a publisher.

For a nonfiction book, the publisher will want to see a few chapters, read over your synopsis, and know what your marketing plans are. Who else has written books on this subject? How have they done? What makes your book different?

Pros and Cons

When you self-publish you keep all the profits, but you will have to pay all the upfront costs. If you only have a modest print run to start, you’re probably looking at $3000 to $5000 to see your book in print. If you hire a publicist, the costs jump up substantially.

If you go the full publishing route, you have no expenses, but only receive a small percentage of the net sales. The publisher should help you market your book, but if you’re a first time author, they can’t put too much money and energy into you. They will be watching to see how your sales are in the first six months.

Either way, you must market your book

If you’re trying to decide how to publish your book, whether to self-publish or find a publisher, you must understand that you will need to market and sell your own book. Many first time authors think their book will sell itself, but it rarely does.

Be prepared to sell your book through online campaigns, newsletters, social media and good old fashion book signings.

Please feel free to share your publishing stories with us here! Which route did you choose?