You’ve written the book – the next step is getting it to readers, whether via bookshops, online or digital download. Generally depending on which route to publication is chosen, there is a trade off between control and cost. You should consider also whether you want your book in hardbook, paperback or ebook and how important this might be in book sales.
Publishing a book – some things to consider
The traditional route of sending a manuscript to a publisher generally means handing over control to the publisher (who stumps up the cost): in this route the author only provides the content, the publisher does the considerable other work that brings the book to market. This work should not be underestimated.
The other end of the spectrum is where the author does everything: writing, editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, ISBN, printing, binding, distribution, marketing. If the author is competent and prepared to learn, or has access to specialists, this can be a great choice. However, it has to be funded completely by the author and there are pitfalls along the way for those unaware of the problems that can happen, such as printing, binding, royalties for fonts and photos, and copyright issues. There are no guarantees that income will be generated either unless some form of funding such as sponsorship or crowd funding is sourced. If it is important to have control (but you’re prepared to spend the time on the process) and breaking even is fine, then this might be the one for you. However, creating the book is only the first stage; distribution can be a headache.
In between the two is online publishing (aka print on demand (or POD)) where the author provides the content but also does the other work such as layout and designing the cover (or can get a designer to do these). The author has a high level of control within the parameters of the digital framework and can provide their own ISBN, for instance, and links from their own marketing platform to generate sales. However, restrictions on paper colour, paper quality, cover design, number of pages, type of cover, etc. may be imposed by the POD service. There is much information about how to do this online so it’s worth researching this route by reading around. If you’re starting out as a writer and finding it hard to get published in a traditional way, then POD could be a useful way to get noticed.
Whichever route you choose is up to you and it depends on your circumstances whether financial or otherwise.