How to Publish a Book: Your Go-To Guide to Becoming an Author
Publishing a book is easier than you may think. These days, you have a variety of options available to you on ways to get your book published.
With my experience as a published author of over 80 books, I have created this guide on how to write and publish a book so you too can have the tools you need to become a published author.
I will explain how to publish a book using self-publishing and traditional publishing methods.
Table of Contents
I will also give you tips about the book publishing process, talk about the costs involved in publishing a book, and answer some common questions about writing and publishing a book.
When you know the steps and useful tips on how to write and publish a book, you can overcome the obstacles you may face and accomplish your dream of becoming a published author!
How to Write a Book
The first step to publishing a book is, of course, to write one first.
You might already have an idea for your book and are ready to start writing. Or maybe you have been developing your book in your mind for years and don’t know how or when to get started.
Regardless of where you are in the writing process, the right tools and advice can help bring your book to life. Follow these steps to start and finish writing your book.
Decide What You Want to Write Your Book About
To help you get started on your writing journey, you’ll first need to decide what you want to write about and why you want to write a book.
Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What do you want to share with others?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you have a lot of knowledge and experience on?
- What story do you want to tell?
- What can you pass on that will improve the lives of others?
Think about your audience too. Who do you want to share your book with? Who would benefit from knowing what you have to share? Do you want to entertain, uplift, inspire, or teach? Do you hope to impact children, adults, teens, parents, people who love to cook, those who love science fiction, entrepreneurs, DIYers, and so on?
Also, decide if you will write fiction or non-fiction. You might want to write a non-fiction self-help book, instruction manual, how-to book, educational book, or autobiography.
Maybe you prefer fiction and want to write a children’s book, romance novel, historical fiction, or mystery?
Learn How to Write a Book
With your why, what, and who finally established, it’s time to learn how to write your book in the most efficient way possible.
Often, how to start writing a book is the most important step. After all, you can’t finish something you don’t start in the first place. Many people struggle to get started though. But once you do, the motivation to keep going can grow and grow as you stay focused.
Having a book writing formula in place will help you navigate how to write and publish a book. It helps you get started and keep going — even when you have writer’s block.
Writing a book outline is actually the secret to my success as an author! I use an outline for every book I write, even after all these years as an author.
Additional things you need to do to start and finish your book include:
- Doing research on your topic
- Setting word-count goals that you can reach
- Asking for feedback from people you trust or are knowledgeable on your topic
- Editing and revising your book for accuracy and flow
How to Publish a Book
Once you have successfully written a book, it’s time to publish it so people can actually read it.
In general, there are two primary methods of publishing. You can choose to work with a traditional publisher, or you can publish the book on your own.
When you choose to work with a traditional publisher, you will start by finding a suitable publishing company and convincing that company that your book will be successful.
You could also hire a literary agent — sometimes called a booking agent — to help you get your book published. They will contact publishing companies for you, taking the work and stress off of you.
If a company agrees to publish your book, you will then sign a contract that determines how much you will be paid in royalties.
If you decide to publish on your own, though, you have a range of options. You can use a free publishing service to publish your book digitally, in print, or both.
You can also purchase other self-publishing services to print, distribute and store your book if an all-in-one service is more attractive to you.
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
As hinted above, self-publishing differs from traditional publishing in several ways.
For example, in traditional publishing, you work with a publishing company that handles all of your expenses and the tasks related to the printing, storage, and distribution of your book.
If you choose to self-publish, however, all of these tasks and expenses become your responsibility.
Additionally, when you choose traditional publishing, the publishing company will have control over some of the rights to your book and will likely take a large portion of the profits.
If you self-publish, you can retain full rights to the book and the revenue it earns. Some self-publishing platforms will require some rights to your book, however.
Be sure to consider these factors, and what is important to you as you decide which path to take in the book publishing process.
Tips On How To Get A Book Published
Hopefully, you’re starting to understand that getting your book published requires some effort and perseverance.
Whether you are considering how to self-publish a book or how to use a traditional book publisher, some of the steps and requirements will still be the same.
Here are some tips on how to get a book published that will help streamline the process.
1. Edit your book carefully
Before submitting your book to any publisher, make sure you have edited it carefully for grammar, spelling, and content.
Editing your book thoroughly ensures that you have the best possible chance of getting it published successfully.
If you are self-published, a polished book free of errors will give readers a good experience. They will be more encouraged to recommend your book to others and give positive online reviews. This can lead to more book sales for you.
2. Research your options
To make the best decisions in becoming a published author, research your publishing options before you move forward.
If your book is accepted by more than one publishing company, for example, you should compare offers carefully to make the best selection.
If you partner with a literary agent, they will help you navigate the steps of how to get a book published. Research your options for literary agents well too. Consider their fees, experience, and how well they connect with you and your book idea.
3. Pitch to the right companies
Some publishing companies may be more willing to accept your book than others. Research different companies to determine which ones are most likely to be interested in your book.
Don’t waste your time or your resources pitching your book to companies that are unlikely to invest in your career.
If you’re self-publishing, make sure you can still generate a good pitch to your ideal audience. This will help you with things like writing book descriptions your audience will read to help them decide if they want to buy and read your book.
4. Be willing to publish yourself
If you cannot find a publishing company that is willing to invest in your book or would rather try the self-publishing route, consider publishing it yourself.
Even if you don’t have the funds to self-publish using more traditional methods, you can use a free publishing service to distribute your book to millions of readers online or in print. These services guide you through the steps of how to get a book published.
How to Self-Publish a Book
These days, future-authors-to-be benefit from the availability of a plethora of self-publishing companies. The variety of options helps lower the barrier to entry and makes publishing a book more affordable.
What Is Self-Publishing?
Self-publishing involves publishing a book without the help of a traditional publishing company.
When you choose to self-publish a book, you either may pay for and arrange all aspects of the publishing process on your own, or you may sometimes work with a company that handles some of these tasks for you.
Reasons to Self-Publish
One of the biggest reasons people choose to take the self-publishing route is because it can be easier than traditional publishing, and it can get your book in front of readers faster.
There are times when this is the best choice to make and times when traditional publishing might be your best option.
Make sure you are choosing self-publishing for the right reasons. These can include the following:
- You have the time, money, and ambition needed to produce, promote and manage your book business.
- You prefer to have the most control possible over the content, marketing, cost, and design of your book.
- You already have a large audience to sell to.
- You are writing a romance novel because they typically have a huge audience of ebook readers.
Some of the wrong reasons for publishing a book using self-publishing include these:
- You are in hurry instead of taking the time to write a good book and get it published.
- You think it is a shortcut to getting a contract with a traditional publisher.
- You are afraid of having your book rejected by a publisher.
- You do not think you are popular enough to be accepted by a traditional publisher.
- You do not want to share your earnings with an agent or publisher.
How to Self-Publish a Book
To self-publish your book, you have two main options.
You can self-publish completely on your own. This means you will print, store, distribute, and market copies of your book.
Or, you can use a self-publishing platform, which takes care of many of these processes for you.
Steps to Self-Publish a Book
Here is how to publish a book using self-publishing. These steps may vary depending on how you choose to self-publish or the type of book you are writing. You can do all of them yourself or hire others to help you with different steps:
- Write your book and edit it yourself.
- Have your book professionally edited.
- Format your book for how it will be printed or in ebook format.
- Create illustrations or hire an artist to make them.
- Design your book cover.
- Print your book or decide on a self-publishing platform.
- Market your book initially and on an ongoing basis.
- Maintain the distribution, storage, printing, and budgeting aspects of your book.
Because of the popularity of the internet, you have hundreds of self-publishing companies to choose from for publishing a book. Some are better than others. These are among the best self-publishing companies:
- Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
- Apple Books
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Rakuten Kobo
How to Market Your Book
Now that your book is getting ready to launch, you need to generate buzz around it with marketing.
Marketing your book successfully can take more time and effort than writing your book. But when you do it right, it can pay off.
One of the most important parts of promoting your book is planning your book launch. This can begin even before your book is finished. Set up an author website to get people excited about your upcoming book.
Ask your target audience what they think your book title will be or how a plot should develop or what content they most want to see in your book.
You can use social media along with your website to promote your book. Consider forming a book group on Facebook, filming a YouTube announcement, or uploading a post to Instagram.
Hosting a reading of your work at a book store is also a great way to promote your book. Use word of mouth and social media to generate interest, and don’t forget to tell your family and friends to share the word, too!
Another fantastic way to market your book is to ask for online reviews once people have read it. Most people look for an endorsement from others before making a purchase.
How to Publish a Book on Amazon
It seems like Amazon does everything nowadays…they can even help you publish your book!
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a self-publishing company operated by Amazon.com. It is one of the most popular self-publishing companies in operation and has an audience of over 300 million people around the world.
You can have your book ready for readers in a matter of days if you choose to take the Kindle Direct Publishing route.
To get started with self-publishing on Amazon, simply navigate to Amazon’s website and follow the instructions provided.
Many people who decide to self-publish do so on Amazon. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this choice.
Possible pros of publishing a book on Amazon KDP:
- Access to huge audience of readers including internationally
- Print on demand means no overhead costs
- Option to publish audiobooks, ebooks and print books
- Up to 70% royalties earnings
- Can fix errors after publishing
Possible cons of publishing a book on Amazon KDP:
- Cannot sell your book digitally anywhere else for the first 90 days
- Cannot post more than 10% of your book content anywhere else online
- Delivery costs come out of royalty earnings
- Cannot take Amazon reviews with you if you leave Amazon
- You cannot market directly to Amazon customers, except through purchasing ads
The Traditional Book Publishing Process
A publishing company is a company that handles the printing, distribution, and storage of an author’s book. Additionally, their job is to find books that are likely to sell well, execute contracts with their authors, print and sell the book.
When you are utilizing the traditional publishing method, the book publishing process begins when you or your agent submits your book draft to a publisher.
The publisher will review your draft and decide whether or not to proceed. In some cases, the publisher may ask for revisions before accepting the book.
Once the book has been accepted and you have signed a contract with the publisher, the book will go to print. Eventually, it will be distributed to retailers for sale.
Use an Agent
A literary agent can take a lot of the responsibilities of getting your book published off of your shoulders. Working with an agent might be especially helpful for a first-time author.
An agent helps you find publishers, negotiate contracts, book speaking engagements and keep track of your budget. Professional agents will also review your manuscript and make sure it is ready for submission to publishers.
One of the positive aspects of using an agent allows you to focus on writing and leave the business side of book publishing to someone else. They’ll navigate through the details of how to publish a book for you, so you can focus on what’s next.
However, you must find a literary agent that you trust. To help you find a trusted agent, start by looking for one who is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives.
An agent charges fees. You will usually pay around a 15% commission of each book sale to your agent.
Be aware, though, using an agent might take longer than approaching a publisher directly. This is because you first have to submit your book to an agent and follow their requirements. Then you wait while they submit your book to publishers.
Submit Your Book Proposal
Whether you use an agent or not, in order to find a publisher for your book, you first need to submit a book proposal or manuscript draft to several publishers. If you do choose to use an agent, this is a step they’ll do for you.
When writing a book proposal, you will need to explain what your book is about, the value it will provide to your readers, and any unique stand-out points regarding how your book differs from any other one like it.
And of course, don’t forget to explain why readers will want to purchase your book once it’s been published!
Sign a Contract
Once you or your agent receives an offer from a publisher — or offers from multiple publishers — it’s time to negotiate your contract.
When seeking out how to publish a book successfully, make sure you’re aware that includes negotiating a contract you will be happy with now, in addition to years from now.
To help, consider consulting the recommendations from the Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative and the Book Division of the National Writers Union for trusted advice on negotiating your book contract before signing it.
Edit Your Book
Once you have signed your book contract, you will put the finishing touches on writing your book by passing your work along to in-house editors.
Once revisions are made, you’ll then agree on a final version for submission and print.
Production and Publication
Now that the copy of your book has been cleaned up for readers, the publisher will take care of the finishing bells and whistles, like the cover design, typesetting, and proofreading parts of publishing your book.
They will also take care of the printing, storing, and distributing of your book.
Marketing and Promotion
Your publisher will also take care of marketing and promoting your book, and hopefully, their efforts will lead to sales.
You can also add your own self-marketing and promotion efforts to theirs, especially since no one knows your book better than you! Use social media, word of mouth, your email list, website, and friends and family to draw more readers to your published book.
How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?
The amount of money it will cost to publish a book varies considerably based on the way you plan to publish.
Consider the following costs for publishing a book with self-publishing and traditional publishing.
How much does it cost to publish a book when you self-publish? The amount of money depends on how you choose to publish, the length of your book, and the level of quality you want.
If you decide to self-publish with a free service online, you may not have to pay anything.
However, if you don’t use one of these services, you will need to pay for printing, distributing, storage, advertising, and any other costs related to the release of your book.
Costs of hiring others to help you edit, proofread, illustrate, format, design, and market your book vary, but can be between $2,000 and $4,000.
Traditional Publishing Costs
If you are working with a traditional publishing company and the company views your book as a good investment, the cost to you will be minimal.
The publishing company will handle the majority of the expenses in return for the rights to your book, and you will receive royalties when copies of the book are sold.
How to Publish a Book for Free
You can publish a book for free by working with a traditional publisher who is willing to cover the costs for you.
You can also use self-publishing platforms and publish your ebook or print-on-demand book for free.
While initial publishing is free with these two options, you will pay royalty fees each time your book sells.
The way to avoid royalty fees is to completely self-publish your book, although the upfront costs are much higher.
Popular Book Publishing FAQs
How Long Does It Take to Publish a Book?
The length of time it takes to publish a book can vary. If you are self-publishing, you can publish very quickly. However, if you are working with a publishing company, it may take longer.
Using a book publisher typically takes the longest time. Publishing your book on your own cuts down the time it takes. And using a self-publishing platform like Amazon is generally the fastest way to get your book published.
Traditional publishing may take nine months to two years. The publishing company will determine the schedule and the amount of time required to prepare your book for release.
So how long does it take to publish a book if you are self-publishing?
If you are using a self-publishing platform, you can publish your book within 72 hours once it is written, revised, edited and the cover design is ready to go.
But keep in mind all of the steps that are needed to get your book ready to be published. For self-publishing, here is an idea of what you can expect once your book is written:
- Have your book copyedited for spelling and grammar: 3 to 4 weeks
- Have your book developmentally edited for content: 2 weeks to 8 weeks
- Format and publish your ebook: 1 to 4 weeks
- Format and layout your print book: 5 weeks
- Have a proofreader proof the final version of your book for errors: 1 to 2 weeks
- Have the cover design for your book created: 4 to 5 weeks
- Have illustrations created for your book: 1 to 5 weeks
- Register a copyright, LCCN or ISBN for your book: up to 1 year for copyright, 2 weeks for LCCN, 1 day for an ISBN
- Have a pre-sale period to boost rankings if you are using a publishing platform like Amazon: 2 to 12 weeks
- Release your book for public listings across various retail outlets: 3 to 14 days
How Hard Is It to Get a Book Published?
Publishing a book can be difficult, depending on how you choose to publish it. However, anyone can self-publish a book.
You can also succeed if you go the traditional publishing route. If you have written a book that will sell effectively, publishing it is well worth the trouble.
Knowing the steps of how to get a book published, such as how I’ve outlined here, will make the process much easier.
Two of the most important elements to becoming a published author are to stay motivated as you write your book and patiently but persistently go through the process of publishing.
How Much Does an Author Earn Per Book?
How much you earn as an author depends on the type of publishing you use, your royalty rate, and the price of your book.
Amazon will pay you 70% royalties on ebooks that are priced between $2.99 and $9.99. You might earn 40% to 60% royalties on printed books.
Traditional publishers generally pay an author 5% to 20% royalties on print books and 25% on ebooks. You might earn 10% to 25% on audiobooks.
More Help on How to Get Your Book Published
I hope this guide has helped you better understand how to get your book published. Over one million books are published each year, and there is no reason why your book cannot be one of them.
To further help you become a published author, I encourage you to take my free training on how to write a book. As a published author and a New York Times bestseller, I want to share with you want I have learned to break past the barriers that may be holding you back.
Sign up for my free webinar, 5 Steps to Planning and Publishing a Best-Selling Book and get closer to making your dream of becoming a published author come true.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.