By Susan Daffron, President of Logical Expressions

Editor’s Note: Susan is our NAMW Member-only Teleseminar presenter for July.  This article is just a sneak-peek into what you’ll learn during her Teleseminar!

Thanks to advances in desktop publishing software and printing technologies, the publishing industry has experienced an incredible transformation over the past decade.  The seven steps listed below will guide you through the process of self publishing your memoir!

1.) Finish Your Manuscript

This step should be obvious, but many people fret way too much about the “publishing” part of the process before they have actually finished the book. Research your market carefully, so you know who will read the book. Then write a GOOD book.

2.) Get the Book Edited

Every book needs an editor. (Our books do too!) Do not try and skip or skimp on this step. First get people you trust to read the book. The more critical they are the better. Consider sending sections out to experts in your field. Than hire a professional editor to edit your manuscript.

3.) Buy ISBNs

Any book that is distributed in the book trade must have an ISBN. Go to R.R. Bowker, Inc. at isbn.org and purchase your own block of ISBNs. This company is the official source for ISBNs in the United States, so spend the money and get your ISBNs there. Don’t believe “self-publishing” companies that “give” you an ISBN. Buy your own. To be listed on online book sites such as Amazon.com, you must have an ISBN. If you do not buy the ISBN, you are not the publisher of record, and you are not truly self-publishing.

Avoid all the add-ons or upsells from Bowker. It’s best to buy at least a block of 10.

4.) Get Set Up with Lightning Source

When you set yourself up as a publisher with Lightning Source (LSI), you gain access to LSI’s massive distribution network. LSI is owned by Ingram and getting into the Ingram database via LSI makes your book available to leading distributors such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and many others. Your book is printed only when it is ordered, so you don’t have to carry a large inventory.

5.) Write Your Cover Copy

After the title of your book, the marketing copy that appears on the back cover is probably the most important text you can write. On the back cover you describe whom the book is for, and why this book will solve their problems. The back cover is an important marketing tool, so you want to choose every word wisely.

6.) Do Book Interior and Cover Layout

The least expensive way to lay out a book is obviously to do it yourself. However, not everyone has the time or technical expertise to do that. In that case, you may want to take advantage of the NAMW Member benefit that gives NAMW Members 30% off the full price of this service offered by Logical Expressions.

7.) Print On Demand Without the Subsidy Press Stigma

Despite what the subsidy press folks would have you believe, print on demand is just a printing technology. A book is printed when it is ordered. In fact, “green publishing” is now possible. With POD, books are printed only when they are sold.

In the traditional publishing model, thousands of books are printed in each run, and many of them are returned as “remainders” that are destroyed or sold to warehouse stores at pennies on the dollar. What a waste!

In fact, thanks to today’s technology:

  • Getting started as a publisher is affordable like never before. If you are willing to do absolutely everything yourself, you can publish your first book for less than $500, and your second for less than $200!
  • POD printers have direct hooks into electronic distribution systems, so your books are available for sale as soon as you approve the proof!
  • You can make corrections to your book without making thousands of pre-printed books obsolete. You just provide new content to your printer and all new buyers get the new book.
  • Major online booksellers like Barnes and Noble offer your books to a worldwide audience. They can order directly from your printer, so you make money on every sale, without having to handle a single book!
  • You retain control over how, when, and where your book is published, which gives you incredible flexibility. If you get a big order, you can decide to print through an offset printer to save money. You aren’t tied up in legal contracts that limit your ability to reproduce your own work.

As a publishers myself, I have used print on demand printing to produce my books. The quality is good. In fact, many huge mainstream publishers use POD to publish many of their “backlist” titles. You probably have POD books on your bookshelf and didn’t even realize it.