A-Z of book publishing - advice for self-publishing authors

Advice for self-publishing authors

Authors are essential of course. Without these talented souls we have no words! This article offers you no writing advice, there are better resources out there for this, but it gives authors a snapshot of the talent found in a publishing process to help apply this to the self-publishing process. 

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What do authors need to know about the publishing process to get a great book? Ultimately, I'd love everyone to get a visit to a publishing house to understand the different departments within a company and what services they provide. This isn't always possible, they are commercial companies who rarely let unpublished visitors through their doors. All but the smallest venture will have staff that cover:

  • Commissioning - the team that all authors want to speak to, this team are publishers who decide if a manuscript will be right for their list. The list is based on targets, forecasts and market knowledge. They also have close connections to the...
  • ... Sales team - the reps speak to customers, bookshops and attending industry fairs such as the London and Frankfurt Book fairs. Their feedback on what the market wants is critical to the success of new and current publishing.
  • Content - the editors, proofreaders, development and copy editors. This team will work on a critical appraisal and develop the manuscript. These teams are important in making changes that aid the success of a book. They will have many years of experience and sometimes a specialist degree in a subject area.
  • Production - this team look at the schedules, costs and print buying. Some large companies also have a dedicated manufacturing or print buying division. Print is often seen as dead but there is still a huge demand for print books and these departments get the best prices. Production teams often tackle distribution as a book is not selling if it's stuck in a warehouse or the files didn't load up to a website. They may also ensure copies of books are sent to legal deposit libraries.
  • Design - this team will create the page and cover design for print and digital products. It's their job to make sure the product sells well. A poorly designed product won't stand out on Amazon or a bookstand and badly designed pages confuse readers. They base their knowledge on customer feedback, attending book fairs and industry events plus years of experience.
  • Marketing - this team work closely with all the above teams to ensure that the book is marketed to the appropriate social media audience, has supporting material for book launches and fairs. They also work with the publishers to copy write the back cover copy and any catalogues.

This long list gives a brief snapshot of the services that self-publishing authors are taking on when they consider writing a book and publishing it themselves. Much emphasis is placed on constructing a story but there also needs to be an honest appraisal by the author of what they can feasibly provide themselves and what they can contract out. In this A-Z series, I'll look at the best places to find these services and other advice. 

If you can't wait until then, you can download a free guide 'Self Publishing Tips and Advice' below