A to Z of Self-Publishing
by Linda Radke
A is for Advertising.
Do very little paid advertising. Try to get publicity first. If you
need to advertise, use co-op advertising to share the expense with
other publishers, and only advertise in publications that will reach
your target market.
A is for Amazon.
Once you've published your book, consider establishing an account with
Amazon.com. They offer a number of options. Remember when setting the
retail price of your book that most distributors will require at least
a 55% discount!
A is also for
Associations. Join as many publishing associations as
possible, since you're going to need all the help you can get in order
to succeed. Send review copies and press releases to associations that
cater to your market.
A is for Awards. Use
Literary Market Place to find out about awards your book might qualify
for. Awards add prestige, create opportunities for press releases, give
a sense of pride and accomplishment, and lend credibility to you as an
author. You can also type the keywords book awards into your browser.
This may lead to new places to submit your work.
B is for Best.
Do it right the first time and then be proud of what you've done.
B is for Book Printing.
Get bids from various printers, using consistent specifications.
Consider a short run printing (500-1,500 copies) for your first book to
minimize your risk and expense. Search the Internet for book printers
and make sure to have your book's specs handy so you're always
comparing apples to apples. Ask for samples and at least two
references, and then check with their local Better Business Bureau.
If you choose the print-on-demand (POD) route, Lightning Source offers
a great opportunity to print short runs and then to have access to
their distribution channels. You'll find lots of other choices on the
World Wide Web, too, but use the same caution you'd use when choosing a
C is for Catalogs.
Get your book in as many catalogs as possible, but don't limit yourself
only to book catalogs. If your book would make a great gift, look into
gift catalogs, as well.
Check out the Directory of Mail Order Catalogs. It's expensive, so you
might want to share the cost with another publisher, or you can see if
it's available through your local library. Regardless of which route
you choose, think beyond just book catalogs. If you're publishing a
children's book, look into catalogs that feature products for children,
and even if they don't offer books, you could still pitch yours as the
C is for Consultant.
Establish a relationship with a publishing consultant. It may sound
like an expensive step, but compare it to the cost of making mistakes
that could have been avoided. Each mistake you make will cost money,
and if you eliminate enough mistakes, a publishing consultant will
actually save money in the long run.
C is for Copyright. Always
copyright your material. Get instructions and forms from the Copyright
Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559, visit their website
at www.loc.gov, or call 202-707-3000 during business hours.
D is for Distributors. Do
some Internet and Yellow Pages research to get your book into the hands
of as many distributors as you can.
D is for Do it Right. Let
me reinforce the need for doing everything right. Your first goal
should always be to create the best product you can. It needs to be
something you can be proud to put your heart and soul into-and doing
everything right is the first step toward achieving that goal.
E is for Energy. You
need an abundant amount of energy to produce, market, and promote your
book, including brainstorming with publishers of similar books.
E is for Equipment. Your
office will need a phone, a computer, a fax machine with a designated
fax line, a copier, a printer, and other equipment. Economize whenever
you can, but make sure each piece of equipment will fit your own
E is for Expectations.
Set realistic expectations, knowing that most companies don't make it
by selling only one product. On the other hand, every company had to
start somewhere. Set a budget-and stay within that budget. Don't put a
second mortgage on your home, but if you can afford the risk of
investing in your dream-and you're willing to work hard to achieve
it-go for it.
F is for Facts.
Make sure all your statistics can be backed up. Do your homework or
hire an editor to help you verify all your facts.
G is for Galley Proof.
The last step before the printer, a galley is a well-written, edited
version of your book-not a manuscript that still has to be edited. Send
out galleys ninety days prior to the publishing or printing of your
book. Make sure you only mail galleys to people who request them. Use
galleys to seek endorsements from well-known professionals for your
book prior to printing, since it lends credibility to have celebrity
endorsements on the back cover.
H is for Help.
Keep your local reference librarian's number handy, get familiar with
the incredible amount of free help that's available on the Internet,
and if you hire a consultant, have your questions ready before you call.
H is for Humor.
You're going to need lots of it as you work your way through the
self-publishing maze. Maintaining a sense of humor can save your sanity
in the long run.
I is for Inventory. Keep an inventory of office supplies, and shop
around before you put in an order. Your Internet browser is always at
your fingertips. Type in your current needs, followed by the keywords
J is for Junk Mail.
You can learn a lot by studying junk mail. Look at other publishers'
fliers, see what's effective and what isn't, and learn from their
K is for Knowledge.
Every step along the way, you need to know what the next step will be
if you are to succeed as a self-publisher. The more you know, the
better your chances of success, and when you don't know-consult an
L is for List.
Be selective about the lists you buy. Proven lists may cost more, but
they're worth it.
L is also for Labels. Have
a label made with your book's name on it or have the cover made into a
label. They're great to use when packaging books. You can obtain a free
label and rubber stamp catalog from Five Star Publications.
M is for Marketing Plan.
Begin creating your marketing plan from the start. Since your budget
will be limited, prioritize your list carefully.
N is for Niche Market. To
have the best chance at success, target your book to a specialized
market. This book is an example of aiming at niche market. In fact,
most of the books Five Star publishes are created for niche markets.
O is for Offer. Offer
something extra when someone buys your book by mail. Whether it's free
shipping and handling or a 10% discount for buying several books,
you'll sell more copies. Find examples of some of the special deals we
offer to our customers by visiting www.FiveStarPublications.com and
clicking on Special Offers.
P is for Patience. Remember
that Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time to do things right,
whether it's developing relationships, obtaining reviews and
endorsements, getting distribution, or finding buyers. Don't beat
yourself up if you don't sell out the first printing two months after
publication. When you feel your patience running low, reread
R in this list-and make sure you're maintaining Realistic Expectations.
P is for Promotion. Promote
your books no more than six days a week, but strive for five days,
since you also need to have a life outside of publishing. Don't work
night and day-family time is important, too.
Q is for Query. See
if other publishers might be interested in publishing your book before
you decide to publish it yourself. You'll learn a lot and it may
reinforce your determination to self-publish. The Arizona Authors
Association has brochures on creating dynamic query letters, as well as
lots of other helpful information. Write to Arizona Authors'
Association, 6145 W. Echo Lane, Glendale, AZ 85302 or visit
R is for Rubber Stamps. Have
several rubber stamps made, including:
Advance Review Copy
Not for Sale
As You Requested
For Deposit Only
4th Class Book Rate
Request a free rubber stamp catalog from Five Star Publications.
R is for Realistic
Expectations. The first thing to do when beginning the
process of becoming a self-publisher is to keep your expectations
realistic. If you expect too much you may be disappointed, which can
lead to discouragement. Being realistic allows you to lay claim to the
many minor victories you're going to experience along the way, and it's
always easier to maintain a positive frame of mind when you've had
victories, no matter how small.
R is for Reviews.
Have your book reviewed by as many sources as possible-including
newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs, and association
S is for Stamina. You'll
need a lot of stamina if you're going to succeed as a self-publisher.
It's what has kept me in publishing for more than twenty years.
T is for Timing. Be
alert to fast-breaking news in your field and capitalize on it by
either getting out a new book quickly or reviving one that's already in
U is for Utilization.
Don't be afraid to use all the resources available to you, but always
temper your decisions with good judgment.
U is for UPC.
You can obtain a UPC bar code at: GS1 US (Formerly Uniform Code
Council) 7887 Washington Village Drive, Suite 300, Dayton, OH 45459 or
by typing UPC Code into your browser and doing some Internet research.
The bar code on the front cover of this book is the type used by
grocery store scanners. The bar code on the back cover is the type used
by bookstore scanners.
V is for Vulnerability. It's
a state you may find yourself in often as you work toward success, but
being vulnerable doesn't mean being defeated. Keep your eyes on your
goal and constantly work toward it-even when you're feeling
vulnerable-and you'll succeed.
W is for overWhelming. Self-publishing
can be close to overwhelming at times, but whenever you feel yourself
being overwhelmed, go back to S in this list and call upon your Stamina
to keep moving in the direction of your dream.
X is for eXperience. Whenever
possible, call upon the experience of professionals who have been there
ahead of you. You don't need to constantly keep reinventing the wheel.
Use the experience of others to help you overcome challenges. The price
you pay will save time, money, and frustration in the long run.
Y is for You and Your
Book. You're embarking on what can be one of the most
rewarding experiences of your life-both emotionally and financially-but
it's the pride of knowing you've produced an outstanding book that will
be your greatest reward.
Z is for Zoo. It
may sound strange at first, but once you've gotten into the
self-publishing world with both feet on the ground, you'll understand
that it often feels like a zoo-welcome to my world!
Taken from "The
Economical Guide to Self-Publishing: How to Produce and Market Your
Book on a Budget" by Linda F. Radke
Since 1985, veteran publisher Linda F. Radke, owner of Five Star
Publications, has been ahead of her game--self-publishing before it was
commonplace, partnership publishing before the rest of the world even
knew what it was and producing award-winning traditional and
nontraditionally published fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for
adults and children.
Radke's odyssey to becoming one of the nation's leading consultants in
the areas of book production, marketing, publicity and distribution,
began simply enough with the desire to print a few books to complement
the household employment agency she owned. For Radke, who on more than
one occasion has been teased about having "printer's ink in her veins,"
the experience of publishing the books was exhilarating, prompting her
to change careers and launch Five Star Publications without looking
Eventually, Radke added services and acted as a publishing consultant
for other self-publishers, ventured into traditional publishing and
pioneered partnership publishing to allow her to publish more authors
and make them a more integral part of the creative process of
Among her many accolades, Radke is author of The Economical Guide to
Self-Publishing (a Writer's Digest Book Club selection that is now into
its second edition) and Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show (a
Doubleday Executive Program Book Club selection). She is a founding
member of the Arizona Book Publishing Association and was named Book
Marketer of the Year by Book Publicists of Southern California.