In 2016 I published my own book. I spent quite a bit of time looking into the different ways this can be done. My conclusion is that there’s a tension between cost, control and quality. It’s up to personal attitude, your finances and standards what route you’ll choose. The bottom line for some people is the perceived status of a certain publisher; for others it might be earning money; and for another group getting into print is the most important. It’s worth thinking about this as then you won’t be (too) disappointed with the result. This page sums up what I learned, I hope that’ll help you reach a decision. It seems to come down to three options to which there are Pros and Cons – it’s up to you to decide depending on your pocket and patience!
- Publisher – let the experts do it
PRO will do / pay for: editing etc., printing, binding, and distribution/ marketing;
CON you will have little control over the product and might not get much, if any, money from this. You should do research on publishers to see that you like their backlist and presentation, you should also check how good is their marketing (Ireland, UK, worldwide markets).
This route is for the author who is concentrating on the writing and whose main aim is to get the d*mn*d thing out there! It is also a good option for authors who have no interest in the mechanics of publishing. For academic writers historically having a book published with an academic publishing house was important for the CV; this has become less important but may be a factor for you.
- Be your own publisher – the DIY route
PRO you have control over everything (like content layout, cover design, etc). If it works out alright, you might make some money from it and, if that what’s you want, the experience might lead to a career;
CON you have to do everything (and pay for it) and if anything goes wrong it’ll cost you and no-one else.
This route is suitable for those who are interested in how publishing works and are prepared to either layout the text themselves and/or commission others to do the work. Whilst the result can be rewarding, do not underestimate the stress of this route!
- Digital/ online publishing – such as CreateSpace.com, lulu.com, etc.
PRO you choose from the templates provided and thus have some control over the product; you can provide artwork (at your expense) for cover design; this route means a low cost to you;
CON depending on different publisher conditions, there may be restrictions on the level of book price, the distribution platform (particular websites), etc. You can order as many or as few copies as you like (or even order none and just have them for sale on Amazon where others can purchase them). This option means that either you prepare the PDF for uploading or pay someone to do this.
This can be a great compromise between cost and control, especially for your first book. Do read around on the internet and be sure you understand the terms and conditions.
Which one did I choose? Because my book project was a history of a local church the decision wasn’t entirely up to me. I wrote and prepared the PDF (content and artwork) and the church paid for the printing of several hundred copies of the book (all proceeds went to the church). I was the publisher as I provided the ISBN. Later on after some more research I added quite a bit to the book and then published a second edition using CreateSpace. I can now insert an Amazon link into webpages and emails so it’s still available for sale and generating some interest for the church at no cost. However, given different circumstances I might decide on another route – for instance, I’m thinking of publishing a few short books online or in ebook format in order to make the contents available.