Have you ever wanted to have a book in print, or your own publishing company? With the self publishing revolution of the past decade, it’s now possible. This summer, I was bitten by the bug (or should I say book!) and took a slight diversion from historical fiction into the art world – though many of you know I’m an artist as well as a writer. I’m very excited by my new project of producing The Creative Zone: An Adult Coloring Book Inspired by Stained Glass. Publication date is very soon, so I will keep you posted!
Please note I am referring to sole proprietorship. If you want a more complex business set up such as a corporation, then you’ll want to take advice from a lawyer and an accountant before you move forward.
1. Choose a Name for Your Publishing Company
If you want to sell your books solely though Amazon or elsewhere online, you can simply publish your books through Create Space or another Print On Demand (POD) company – see Number 4 below. However if you want to get your books into a bookstore, you will not be taken seriously without your own publishing company. Common wisdom is also that the name should not just be an extension of your own name e.g. Mary Smith Press. A name distinctive from your own or the title of the book will look more professional.
I chose D Street Press which has a local connotation for me. You will of course need to search online to see if your name is already being used.
2. Get a Domain Name
Aside from a general online search, one of the best ways of finding whether a name is being used, is by searching for the domain name. Because after all you will want to register the domain name yourself. Even if you don’t yet have a website, or have a website in a different name, it makes sense to snag a domain for your new press. I do this through GoDaddy. They are very reputable for hosting domains, and I’ve also had good customer service with them. But I have also read that they have a poor reputation when it comes to site hosting, so look elsewhere for that.
3. Register Your Fictitious Business Name with the County Clerk
Once you have the name, checked it’s not in use and registered the domain, you will need to register with your County Clerk’s office that you are doing business as (DBA) your fictitious name. In my county, this was a very simple process of filling out a one page form and paying the $40 filing fee. You will also need to put a notice in a local paper for four consecutive weeks , but the County Clerks office will give you names and contact details of places to contact. Note that the smaller the paper, the less the fee will be. Mine cost $30 for the four week submission.
If you are unclear on the rules in your county, then check with your local Small Business Association (SBA)
4. Choose a Printer
OK – now we’re getting closer to the book! Although there are numerous POD Companies out there, the two main contenders are Ingram Spark and CreateSpace. The latter is Amazon’s POD company.
Quality wise they are close, but Ingram Spark have a slightly better quality reputation (this is always a subject choice). If you want to just go with online sales through Amazon, then Create Space is the simplest choice and I understand they will give you a little more handholding too. However, if you also want your books in Barnes and Noble, Libraries and numerous other distributors, then Ingram Spark is the one to choose. Another reason – and for me it was the decisive reason – is that you will not be picked up by bookstores if you are published by Create Space. Call it snobbery over self publishing or what have you, but this is generally speaking the state of play at the moment.
5. Buy ISBN Numbers
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the long string number code (13 numbers in the US) that the book is recognized by all over the world. If you work with Create Space, you can buy one of their ISBN’s for $10, but that can only be used through Create Space. It is in effect ‘their ‘ number.
If you want to ‘go all the way’ then you need to buy an ISBN yourself. In the US, this can only be done through a company called Bowker. Go to the site MyIdentifiers.com. FYI In Canada, ISBN’s are issued for free! However in the US, it is most cost effective to buy 10 at a time, which is a hefty $295 (I was lucky to buy mine on sale for $250), but to only buy one costs $125, so …..
6. Submit Materials
Once you’ve chosen the POD company you want, then you have to jump through a few hoops filling out forms and making sure your files are up to their specifications. So be sure to look at all of these specs. before you set up your book in whatever Desk Top Publishing software you use. (I used Pages). The current top of the line software for this is InDesign from Adobe. But it’s a chunk of money to rent (not buy) as Adobe now have all their software – Photoshop, Illustrator & ID though a monthly licensing fee. But you can even do your layout in Word. Once you have done that, then you will need to approve an e-copy and to be prudent have them send you a hardcopy to proof.
After that is all good to go, the the POD will submit your work to Amazon , Barnes and Noble etc, and you are published!!
As I said, this is a somewhat bare bones guide and by no means answers all the questions you will have before you start on this publishing journey. But there are many good sites to get info from. Here are three of my favorites:
TheBookDesigner.com Joel Friedlander runs this site and is a veritable fountain of information on the subject. An excellent resource. He also sells templates in Word for book layout at a very reasonable cost to take some of the headache out of that part of the process.
TheCreativePenn.com is another excellent site run by Joanna Penn. This is really a fantastic site for writers in general.
JaneFriedman.com also covers loads of self publishing stuff in her blogs and her writers resource page is the most comprehensive I’ve seen.
To add a couple more, Kristen Joy’s site TheBookNinja.com is great for finding out about webinars on publishing – many of which are free and packed with great info. Creativindie.com from Derek Murphy is another good one. He’s great at giving freebies too.
If you have any other good resources you’d like to add to this list please leave them in the comments.
So has anyone chosen POD as an option? What difficulties have you come across? What other vital points do you feel need including in this list?
Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media.