Stop Dreaming and Start Publishing

book with flowersIf you are a writer at heart, then you have no doubt dreamed about becoming a published author. With all the tools available for potential new authors, there’s no excuse to not fulfill your dream. This article covers the steps you’ll need to take to finally publish that best selling novel you’ve worked so hard on.
Once upon a time, thousands of writers slaved over their typewriters, pecking away at the keys for hours on end, hoping that their books would become the greatest best sellers of all time. Writing the masterpiece was just the first step in a long, grueling, and often disappointing process. Once the writer put years of his life into his book, he had to somehow convince a publisher that his book was better than all the others. If he couldn’t convince a publisher, he had to find an agent, which was just as difficult, if not more so, than finding a publisher. Manuscripts piled up and became dusty, and many great authors were never discovered.
But the story has a happy sequel to it. Part two takes place in a world where all writers have a chance to become published authors. This is where we are today. If you are a great writer, there is no reason why you can’t publish your book. Thanks to on-demand services such as Lulu, Create Space, and Lightning Source, talented authors can produce their own books and sell them on a per-order basis. There are some mild setup fees required to publish a printed book, but once the title is established, you can sell it indefinitely with little or no additional cost. The procedure is fairly simple, and usually these services provide you with a representative to help you through.
If you’re not sure you’re ready for print, or you don’t think you can afford the initial setup fees, try publishing your first book as an ebook. Ebook formatting used to be a tedious task, but ebook distributors like Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook have gone to great lengths to make the process as painless as possible. All you have to do is follow a style guide. If you’ve done any  professional writing or editing before, you’re already familiar with style guides, so you shouldn’t have any problems. If you’re worried about conforming to epub format or if you just want to hit all the distributors at once, Smashwords is a very good option. Smashwords sells only ebooks, and they are very author-friendly. They have a fairly strict style guide, but there is a very good reason. They take your properly formatted manuscript and grind it into various ebook formats so that it is compatible with a multitude of e-readers. Then they distribute the ebook to all the popular venues, including Kindle, Nook, Apple iBook, and Sony. They store your ebooks, sell them, display them, and provide you with monthly sales reports. And it doesn’t cost you a dime.
Getting started
The first thing you should do, of course, is write your book. Get your creative juices flowing. Spend some quality writing time every day, if possible. Next, hire someone to edit the book. Even though you’re a good writer and probably got all A’s in freshman composition, you are too attached to your work to do a quality job. Be sure to hire someone who specializes in editing genres like yours, because grammatical styles differ slightly between genres. For example, a journalistic style (like Associated Press), may omit grammatically correct commas to save space. Fiction style supports the writing out of numbers, while nonfiction uses just the number itself. It is important for your editor to know what style you want him or her to follow.
Format the book
Download the style guides for all of your publishing distributors, and start working your book into conformity. Start with ebook format, because it’s simpler. With ebooks, you’ll have to strip off most of your word processing formatting and will add it back for print. Save a separate file each for Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, so you can easily upload and maintain each. Next, format your print version and save it to a separate file. The simplest print publishing venue is probably Create Space, but you may prefer another distributor. Make sure you follow the formatting guides exactly. If you don’t, the resulting errors could cause delays.
Create a cover
Whether you decide to e-publish or go straight to print, you’ll need an attractive cover. People do look at covers when shopping for books, and they do tend to be drawn to the better looking ones. If you can afford it, hire an artist. You don’t have to hire someone to create the cover, just someone to provide a visually pleasing front cover image. Lightning Source provides cover templates, whether you use their services or not, and you can work your new artwork into it using Photoshop or some other image editing software.
Upload your book
Finally, visit all your chosen distributors’ websites and upload the files according to their instructions. Because you are self-publishing and will not likely sell your books at brick and mortar stores, you can set your royalties at a higher rate than a traditionally published book. You’ll receive even more of a benefit by not having to share that royalty with an agent or publisher. Once you’ve got all your files uploaded to all the right places, all you need to do is wait for sales. To speed things up, be sure to research successful marketing methods for self-published authors, hire a publicist, and sign up for as many social networking sites as you can.
Write your next book
Just because you’ve published one book, it doesn’t mean you’re done. It’s time to get started on your next book. A true author produces many books and keeps his fans happy for years. Each time you publish a new book, the process will be easier for you.
Congratulations on taking the first step. Now that you have the information you need, dust off all those old manuscript and get publishing.