One of the biggest misconceptions about writing a book is that you’re guaranteed to make a million dollars. Every writer dreams of having their work picked up by a major publisher, getting paid a six-figure advance, selling the movie rights, and becoming the toast of the literary world. But the reality is, this kind of success can take years to happen. Even decades. Most writers toil for years in anonymity before finally—if ever—getting published.
Does this mean you should throw in the towel and give up on your dream? Of course not. It simply means you have to be pragmatic about it. That starts by asking yourself some pointed questions: Should you sit on your book for years, hoping that a major publisher will someday pick it up? Or should you take the initiative and self-publish?
If your instincts are telling you that you’re better off making your own breaks instead of holding out for a major publisher to swoop down in deus ex machina style, you’re on the right track. Just know this in advance: Self-publishing is an easy thing to do. But it’s an even easier thing to mess up. Doing it right—that’s the hard part.
That's not to say you can’t successfully publish your own book. These days, companies like CreateSpace and IngramSpark make it possible for anyone to get their book into print, leveraging the print-on-demand model to save money you would otherwise spend paying a professional printer to produce a thousand copies of your book. They even offer you global visibility by making your book available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But if you think there’s nothing more to self-publishing than uploading your manuscript and watching it come out the other end a polished, professional product, you’ve got a big surprise coming.
Put simply, there’s more to self-publishing than meets the eye. A lot more.
First and foremost, you should never self-publish your book without having it edited. I’m not talking about giving it to your best friend to read, or running it through spell check—I’m talking about having a professional editor perform an in-depth, comprehensive review to tell you what's working, what's not, and how to make it better. Although you may be convinced your novel is perfect the way it is, getting your book professionally edited is among the most important things you can do to ensure its success. It can turn an unreadable book into a page-turner, and it can transform a good book into a great book. (It can also be the difference between having a publisher reject it or accept it, should you choose to pursue traditional publication through an agent.)
As you probably already guessed, the work doesn’t end when the editing’s done. Once you’ve whipped your story into publication-worthy shape with the guidance of a professional editor, there are a slew of other complexities you’ll have to negotiate to get from Point A to Point Z: formatting the interior of your book for physical and e-book publication; creating a compelling book cover; designing the front, back, and spine of your book to align properly with specific size and dimension requirements; purchasing an ISBN number and EAN barcode; registering your book with the Library of Congress; and last but not least, marketing it properly.
All of these things take varying levels of expertise that can sideline your progress and have discouraged many writers from even trying—after all, you’re a writer, not a publisher. Of course, there are ways to get help. There’s no shortage of companies out there that can handle much of the heavy lifting for you. The challenge is in finding a company that can do everything for you under one roof so you don’t have to hire an editor, a graphic artist, a book designer, and a marketing firm separately.
Where Glass Spider Publishing differs from a lot of companies is that we not only edit and design your book at an affordable price, but we also publish it to our imprint and offer marketing services that can act like a booster rocket to your own publicity efforts.
All of the books we publish are edited by professionals. The interiors of our books are meticulously designed, adhering to professional publication standards. We work with graphic artists to design compelling book covers, and take care of all the complexities involved with obtaining ISBN numbers, EAN barcodes, and registering your book with the Library of Congress. And if that’s not enough, our marketing and publicity team has established relationships with independent bookstores that can get your book onto their shelves.
Needless to say, the professionals we employ to perform these tasks can’t do it for free. Which is where we finally get around to answering that all-important question that brought you here in the first place (the tl;dr shortcut, if you will): Why does it cost money to get your story published? Answer: Because if you want something done well, it’s not going to come free.
Publishing a book should never be looked on as a get-rich-quick effort. It should instead be seen as a long-term investment that starts with teaming up with a company committed to delivering a polished, professional product in a clear and transparent fashion. And in case you were wondering, this pretty much describes Glass Spider Publishing to a T. To find out more about how we can help you, drop us a line and tell us your story.
Vince Font is the founder of Glass Spider Publishing, an Ogden-based micropublisher that offers services to help authors get their books into shape, into print, and into distribution.
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