Most authors who choose to publish their book independently may be experts in their field but are not publishing experts. If they are passionate enough about their subject to want to publish a book, they have to figure out how to get their book to market. But that shouldn’t require them to learn everything there is to know about book publishing. Instead, independent authors can tap an array of publishing resources, which allow them to tap into the expertise—the know-who and know-how—they need.
At the same time, authors should have a clue about what it takes to publish a book. Book publishing requires three basic ingredients:
- Content creation
- Content production
- Content distribution
While many people can be involved in completing these steps and each one includes countless tasks and decisions, here is a brief summary.
Books don’t exist if there’s no content. Content comes in various forms, as do the formats one can produce and the channels used to distribute them. Authors create content, but they need help crafting a great manuscript. Publishers, ghost writers, editors, literary agents, and others in the publishing industry play a role in helping authors shape their manuscript. Smart authors recognize the distinction between writing a manuscript and publishing a book based on that manuscript. Their role in creating the content is different from their role in publishing it, and they need to wear the author’s hat at some points and the publisher’s hat at others.
Manuscripts don’t magically turn into beautiful books all by themselves. Producing books in the digital age is a complex process combining human expertise and advanced technology. For books to become the finished products that authors want, they must be involved in content production from start to finish. They need to give input and make decisions about cover and interior design, they need to review proof pages, check the functionality of e-books, and ultimately sign off on printing their book.
Distribution is a global effort. Under this umbrella are diverse activities and numerous companies, such as sales, marketing, publicity, warehousing and inventory, booksellers (retailers), wholesalers, special markets, shipping and freight companies, aggregators, and on and on. Customers may think about seeing books in a bookstore, but behind the scenes all these different parts have to work together to make people aware of the book, deliver, display, sell, and provide customer service for each sale.
Any author courageous enough to create a book should know what it takes to publish. They shouldn’t be daunted by the complex demanding process, but approach the journey understanding that writing a manuscript is merely the first step on the way to having a book in hand. They must prepare themselves for the production and distribution aspects as well if they want to have the most successful publishing experience.