If you want to learn how to get a book published for the first time, there’s no better time than now educate yourself, and start the process. This might be the perfect time to start writing your book. If you’re currently unemployed due to COVID-19, or you’re simply spending more time at home because of social distancing, you probably have extra time on your hands to write a book. And why not do something productive with that extra time in between jobs? Something that could benefit your business and your personal life? Learning how to get a book published is undoubtedly one of the most productive things you can do during your spare time.
You’re probably wondering how to publish a book, how to self publish, how to get a publisher, and wondering about the benefits of having a book published under your name. We are going to get to all of that in this article.
If you’re worried about how to get a book published for the first time, we’re going to explain how to publish your own book and go over some helpful tips for first-timers.
From self-publishing as an independent author to working with a publishing company, we’ll discuss the different methods of getting a book published, even if it’s your first time writing a book.
If you’re curious how to self publish a book, and whether or not that’s a better route than using a publisher, keep reading.
We’re going to dive deep in this article on how to publish a book, and why it’s such an important milestone in your life. I wish I had read an article like this to help me out, when I decided to write my own book for the first time. I have written four books so far. Two are published, and two are unfinished. Of the two that are published, one is a fiction that I ghostwrote, and one of them is published under my name on Amazon. My book is entitled Aren’t You Glad You Read This and it’s for singles who have been struggling and feel unlucky in love. So with my own experience, and experience from experts I have interviewed over the past few months, you’re about to learn a lot about how to publish a book in this post.
The first step is of course to write the book. We’ll go over some tips for writing a book to completion, including how to plan out your book before you write it. Then we’ll review the different strategies for publishing your book. But first, let’s get you motivated to start writing by reminding you of all the benefits of publishing a book.
Benefits of Publishing a Book
Yes, you can potentially make money from book sales, but for most people, that’s not the primary benefit of writing a book. The main advantage of being the author of a published book, is the fact that it helps you establish yourself as an expert.
Public figures, business owners, influencers and entrepreneurs have more credibility, admiration and expert-level status if they’ve published a book. Once you’re successful at getting a book published, your customers will think you’re more legitimate, and your audience will trust you more. In other words, publishing a book is great for business, and fantastic for your public image.
Writing a book to completion and then publishing your own book is also a great way to boost your self-confidence and cure your imposter syndrome. When you master how to get a book published for the first time, you feel that wonderful sense of accomplishment, and it truly is an achievement to be proud of.
Productive habits such as learning how to get a book published and starting to write a book are also a great natural cure for anxiety. This productive project fills your day with meaning and purpose, which are great for fending off that feeling of emptiness or anxiety within you.
Furthermore, it’s likely that many new opportunities will suddenly open up for you once you’re a published author. You’d be surprised how many doors a published book can open. You may be asked to speak at public events, on podcasts or on talk shows about your book. You could get quoted in huge magazines because of a great quote in your book. Or, you might get invited to join elite networking events because of your book. Those are just a few examples of doors your book could open for you.
Now that you’re convinced it’s highly beneficial to write a book, you’re probably wondering how to find the motivation, organization and self-discipline to achieve this goal.
Create a Writing Plan
You can’t even think about how to get a book published until you actually write a book, and we all know that writing a book is no easy feat.
The best course of action is to come up with a plan and a detailed book outline, before you start writing. Some people call this a step outline.
If you want your book to be adapted into a screenplay one day, so that you can say that you wrote the book that famous movie is based on, your step outline should be written in a way that could be easily adapted to a screenplay.
Is part of your goal that your book will help you advance in your career as an entrepreneur, or help you gain recognition as a public figure? If so, you probably want your first book to be a non-fiction, on the topic of which you have expert knowledge.
If you want to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field, the topic of your book should fall within your area of expertise.
It’s even better if you choose a very niche area of focus to write about, within your field of expertise. Keep in mind that certain book genres and topics are hot right now, and if your book is based on one of those hot topics, it’ll be easier to promote.
Your writing plan should also include a deadline. Setting a deadline for yourself helps keep you on track, and you should block out time in your calendar every single day to write.
A writing schedule to commit to is another integral component of your plan. Writing every single day should be your goal, even if it’s only one hour each day. For example, if you know that it takes you about an hour to write 1,000 words, your goal could be to write 1,000 words per day. At this rate, the first draft of your book could be finished within just a few months.
Setting a realistic daily word count goal is an excellent strategy for keeping yourself accountable, on track, and staying motivated.
Editing and rewriting will of course be required before your book is finished. It’s best to hire a professional editor, and it’s also a good idea to enlist friends and family to be your beta readers. Their feedback will be important to consider when it’s time to make any final changes to your book.
Build Your Social Media Following
Since a large social media following will come in handy when it’s time to promote your book, you should start growing your social media following now. Don’t wait until your book is finished to start thinking about marketing and social media. Plan in advance by growing your social media right now, and targeting the same audience that your book will speak to.
A solid following is crucial if you plan on self-publishing, since you won’t have the media connections of a publisher to fall back on.
However, having a good social media following will also help you find a publisher, if you decide to go with the traditional publishing route. Publisher Lori Perkins says, “Authors that have a large social media following bring something extra to the table. An author is expected to increase the reach that the publisher has. Publishers expect an author to have a Twitter and Facebook account, as well as a blog and an Instagram account.”
This means that having a strong social media presence is beneficial for both self-published authors and authors who publish through a publishing company.
How to Get a Book Published: Decide if You’re Self-Publishing or Finding a Publisher
Will you self-publish your book as an independent author, or will you seek out a traditional publisher? This is an important decision to make.
If you want to publish your own book, you should be aware of the pros and cons of both routes. Working with a publishing company vs self-publishing are two very different routes with different advantages and disadvantages.
To help you make this important decision, let’s review the pros and cons of having a publisher vs self-publishing your own book.
Pros and Cons of Having a Publisher
Using a publisher is an option for some people, especially those who have already successfully positioned themselves as experts in their field, or those who already have a following. But just because a publisher is willing to work with you on your book, doesn’t necessarily mean that going with a publisher is the right choice. Below are some pros and cons of using a publisher:
Pros of Using a Publisher:
- Book Advance. Some publishers will give you a book advance, ahead of your book generating any revenue. This is definitely a financial pro.
- Distribution Connections. Publishers often have the right connections to get your book into a big chain bookstore.
- Media Connections. Publishers are often well-connected with members of the press, media, book reviewers, etc.
- Marketing and Promotion. Publishers often take care of the marketing plan and book promotion for you.
- Professional Services. If you use a publisher, you’ll have access to their editors, proofreaders, book cover designers, and other professional services that you’d otherwise have to take care of yourself. The publishing company typically takes care of these things for you, from editing your book to designing your book cover, as well as taking care of the printing costs.
- More Credibility. Having a well-known publisher attached to your book increases your credibility and clout as an author.
Cons of Using a Publisher:
- Longer Wait Times. It often takes much longer to get your book to market when you use a professional publishing company.
- Split Profits. Publishers take up to 60% of your book’s profits when it starts selling.
- Less Creative Control. Publishers typically take away some of your creative control, as they sometimes modify your book’s content, decide how it’s priced, and decide what your book cover will look like.
- Ownership. You may not have full rights to your own work if you use a publisher.
- Marketing Expenses. Many publishers cover the publishing costs, but not the marketing costs. The marketing expenses of promoting your book often fall on you, even though you’re giving a huge bulk of sales to your publisher.
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
Do you know how to self publish a book? This requires a lot more self-education, research, and effort. I’d highly suggest getting help from a mentor. Self-publishing your own book may be more work, but it could also mean more profits and more creative control. Wondering if self-publishing is the right decision for you? Below are some pros and cons of being an independent author:
Pros of Self-Publishing:
- Keep the Profits. Independent authors don’t have to split their profits with a publishing company.
- More Creative Control. When you self-publish, you don’t have to worry about creative control being taken from you. Erika Liodice, founder of Dreamspire Press, says: “Independent authors have the final say in how their stories are told, what the book cover looks like, how it’s priced, when it’s released, how it’s promoted – and every other aspect of their book’s journey into the world.”
- Speed to Market. Self-publishing is a faster process than using a publisher. Liodice explains that it can take 18+ months with the traditional publishing model.
- Full Ownership. You will own the rights to your work.
Cons of Self-Publishing
- You Need to Learn Many Skills. Independent authors have to learn how to edit and format their book, and must learn the marketing strategies to promote their book. You will have to do everything yourself, unless you’re willing to pay to hire help.
- Higher Financial Investment. Instead of getting a book advance, you’ll have to invest your own money by hiring a book cover designer, proofreader, and marketing professional, unless you learn how to do all of that by yourself.
- Distribution Challenges. As Liodice explains, “It’s more difficult to get your book into big bookstores without the backing of a traditional publisher.”
- You Handle Your Own PR. As an independent author, you have to handle your own PR without assistance, which can be a lot of work. You have to be very organized and well-connected to pull off the PR for your own book.
- Less Opportunity for Accolades. Self Published authors have a challenge making best seller lists outside of Amazon Best-Seller.
How to Get a Book Published by Deciding Which Publishing Route is Best For You
In addition to the questions surrounding how to get a book published, you also want to ask yourself which publishing route is best for you.
Consider using a publisher when you don’t have the budget for securing your own editing, publishing, printing and marketing expenses, and you also don’t have the skills or the time to take on those tasks yourself. Your publisher will cover all of these costs, but they’ll also take a higher percentage of book sales. Use a publisher if you’re willing to earn lower profits long-term in exchange for lower up-front costs and potentially an immediate profit in the form of a book advance.
Many publishers will offer you a book advance which could mean an immediate, up-front payment of $2,500 – $25,000. Your book advance will be on the lower end if you’re a newer author with a small following, or using a small publishing company. The percentage of book sales you’ll earn, however, are as low as 5% – 10% on print copies and as little as 20% – 40% on digital copies. Your publisher typically keeps 100% of the profits until your book advance is paid back, however.
Less effort is required of you when you’re getting a book published through a publisher, and there are less upfront costs, as well as a potential immediate profit if you get a book advance. However, you’ll keep a lesser percentage of the overall sales of your book, and even though publishers often help with marketing, you’ll still have to do most of the marketing yourself.
Opt for self-publishing your own book if you have the time to wear many hats and figure out all the marketing, distribution, editing and design elements yourself. If you have the funds available to cover expenses that would otherwise be covered by a publishing company, it often pays off to front these costs, since you’ll end up keeping a larger bulk of the book’s profit instead of having to share the profits with your publisher.
It’s also best to self-publish if you don’t have the influence yet, to secure a credible publisher. If you’re willing to implement a very strategic, well-funded marketing campaign on your own, you could be successful without the help of a publisher’s media connections.
How To Find a Publisher
If you’ve decided that working with a traditional publisher is your preference, it’s time to do some research. You’ll want to research which publishers tend to publish books that are in your niche, as different publishing companies look for different types of books.
It’s best to pitch your book to publishers through a literary agent, rather than directly pitching the publishing companies yourself. Why? Because literary agents have good connections with publishers, and good relationships with publishers, which means your book has a higher chance of being published if the agent approaches the publisher about it.
Lori Perkins, a literary agent, author, and founder of the publishing company Riverdale Avenue Books, says that your query letter has to stand out. “A good agent gets at least 1,000 query letters per month. A great agent gets twice that amount,” Perkins explains. “Authors should do some research on agents and know what they represent. You can do this by reading Publisher’s Weekly, Publisher’s Lunch or one of the many annual books published about agents. When an author can say, I know you sold X and my book should appeal to that audience, the agent knows they are a serious, savvy author in tune with the current publishing market.”
By researching which agents tend to represent your type of writing, you’ll be more strategic when it comes to which agents you send query letters to.
Sending Query Letters to Literary Agents and Publishers
If you’re pitching publishers directly, you’ll have to review each publisher’s submission guidelines, and ensure they accept your type of book.
However, as previously stated, it’s best to go through a literary agent. Research which agents represent authors similar to you, and send out tailored query letters to those agents.
Your query letter can be sent via email, and must hook the agent and stand out from their pile. Include a brief summary of your book and a brief summary of you, the author. Include important details about your book such as the word count and the genre. Attach your book in PDF format, unless the agent lists guidelines that request otherwise. (Some agents prefer that you paste a section of your book into the body of your query letter.)
There are many resources online that provide helpful tips for sending query letters. It’s important to take the time to do it properly, since as we mentioned, a good agent gets upwards of 1,000 query letters each month.
How To Self Publish a Book
If you’ve decided to publish your own book independently by self-publishing, you won’t have to send query letters, but you will have your work cut out for you. However, even though self-publishing is more work than using a publisher, it’s less overwhelming if you have a plan and know what to do.
The first step when self-publishing is to finish writing your book, and have it professionally edited. Then, enlist the help of a few beta readers and gather their feedback before working with your editor on a final edit. You’ll also have to hire someone to format your book and design the book cover. Since you aren’t working with a publisher, all editing, formatting and designing is part of your workload. This will require some upfront costs that a publisher would otherwise cover, but you’ll get to keep a higher percentage of book sales.
Lori Perkins explains, “Out of pocket, self-publishing will cost an author anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 (good artwork, formatting, editing, proofing, as well as your ISBN number registration and copyright registration). This doesn’t include the cost of marketing. Once a self-published author has earned back the money they have laid out to create (and promote) the book, their income is typically about 70% of the digital price.”
Once your book is complete, you should do some research to decide where you will self-publish. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of various self-publishing platforms, all of which take a different commission percentage, and all of which have different restrictions.
How to Get a Book Published by Using Self-Publishing Platforms
The first self-publishing platform you’ll probably look into is Amazon, which can sell your book in print and in ebook format. You’ll need to decide if you’re comfortable with the commission Amazon takes, as well as the fact that your book will only be available through them.
Amazon has a self-publishing service known as KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Amazon takes 30% or more in commission. They offer self-published authors up to 70% in royalties for digital ebooks sold through their platform. However, to get the 70% royalty plan, there are certain restrictions to follow.
Amazon also currently offers a fixed 60% royalty rate on paperbacks sold on Amazon marketplaces. That means you’ll get to keep about 60% of your list price, but printing costs are also subtracted.
Platforms such as Smashwords allow you to self-publish your ebook on multiple platforms, such as iBooks (Apple Books), Amazon, Kobo, and the Barnes & Noble online nook. Smashwords typically only takes about 10 – 15% of your sales, which is significantly less than what a publishing company would take.
When it comes to learning how to get a book published for the first time, you must do your research on these various self-publishing platforms.
Marketing Strategies For Your Book Promotion
There are many different strategies you can use to promote your book to the public, increase sales, and gain recognition. From paid Instagram influencers and blogger reviews to well-written Facebook ads and podcast interviews, there are several marketing initiatives you can implement. If you want to publish your own book for the first time, you’ll need a thoughtful marketing plan.
Many authors who have published their own book for the first time fail to grasp the importance of pre-planning your book’s marketing. Why is this so important?
For one thing, most media outlets that have book review sections, require that you send them the book at least three months before the publication date. This requires advance planning on your part, since you need to send bloggers and other media outlets a digital copy in advance. They need time to read your book and plan their review, to time it with the release date of your book.
When it comes to Facebook ads and email newsletters about your book, you’ll want to brush up on your copywriting skills, and ask your mentor for help on how to write persuasive copy that will help sell your book. All of this sales copy should be written in advance, so that it’s ready to go when it’s time to promote your book.
How to Improve Your Writing Skills Before You Start Writing Your Book
Your book will do a better job of positioning you as an expert, improving your credibility, and leading to new opportunities if it’s well-written.
Your book will also get better reviews if it’s well-written, and if the quality of writing is good, there’s a better chance you’ll get exposure from journalists quoting your book in magazine articles. But how can you quickly improve your writing skills and learn the fundamental writing techniques that help you stand out as an author?
The key is to find a mentor who can help you learn crucial writing skills, and teach you what you need to know about exactly how to get a book published.
Click here to book a coaching session or consulting appointment with me about writing your own book and getting it published! I have been successful when it came to getting a book published by myself, and I’d love to help you achieve the same goal.