What It Really Takes to Publish a Book
(and It’s Not Just a Manuscript)

We’re asked – a lot – about what all is needed to get a book published. That list is long and hard to define until the details of your needs are known, but here’s a list of things that nearly all authors will need to get their manuscripts created into print and ebook designs.

Of course, the manuscript itself. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll send your book to an editor and within a few days you’ll have it back and polished. It usually takes at least two full rounds of edits. If an editor tells you something different, run away – fast! You’ll want to give your editor at least 2 weeks for each round. This is such an important step that you definitely don’t want to rush it and end up with a book with errors because the editor had to do a rush job.

  • An Acknowledgements Page. There are many people who will support you, both personally and professionally, through this long process, and you’ll want to be sure to give them the kudos and thanks they deserve.
  • An About the Author Page. The readers really do want to know more about you and what your life is like, how you got started in writing, etc. Don’t leave them wondering. You can always use a Pen Name (fake name) if you don’t want people to know who you really are. Just remember that it was years before people really knew who J.K. Rowling really was. In fact, most people assumed it was a man writing the extremely successful Harry Potter series of books.
  • The author(s) biography. This is a bit different than what’s in the Author’s Page. The biography will be on the book distribution sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. You’ll need both 50 word and 200 word versions for the different sites. This should also be edited by a professional editor.
  • A professional photograph. People also want to see you these days. If you’re not comfortable sharing a photo of yourself or are writing under a pen name, you’ll want to have someone professionally design you a special logo that you’ll use in place of your photograph, especially useful if you’re writing a series of books.
  • Keywords that you believe people will use when searching for a book like yours. Again, different sites use a different number and manner of searches so you’ll want to provide at least 30 words/phrases, in order of importance so they know what to use first.
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number) or SSN (Social Security Number) if in the U.S. The distributors will need to know how to pay you so you’ll need to share this information with the company that uploads all your information, or be ready to add this information yourself after your account is set up. They’ll also need your full name, address, banking information (for payment), and entity type if you’re writing as a business so you can deduct writing expenses (contact a tax professional for full details; I always recommend http://www.homebusinesstaxsavings.com for those in the U.S. so you set up your business the best way, AND learn how to legally deduct your expenses).
  • A description of your book. You’ll need a 50 word version as well as a 50+ word version. Part of this can be used on your cover as well.
  • A website. How are you going to sell your book? Even if you will only be selling through Amazon, etc. using POD (Print On Demand), you’ll still need a website to send people to so they can order their book and choose hard copy, Kindle, Nook, etc.  Don’t forget a great domain name you can purchase through GoDaddy or other domain service companies.
  • Facebook Fan Page, Twitter page, Google+ page, etc. You’ll want these set up and ready to start promoting your book from.
  • Any images you want to use in your book. All images will need to be 300 dpi minimum so they don’t turn out blurry.
  • Determine what size print book you want. Although 6”x9” is the standard size, this is YOUR book and you get to decide what size you want it (within reason, of course!). Other popular sizes are 5×8, 5.5×8.5 or 8×8, 8×10, 9×11 for children’s books, many poetry books are smaller.
  • The cost you want to sell your print and ebooks for. I know, your response to me is, “What is my cost per book?” Well, that depends – on many things! Your cost is determined by the number of pages of your book, which is determined by the print size of your book, as well as the number of copies of your book you print, AND who you choose to print your books. Yes, it’s hard to determine that so I suggest you go to your local book store and see what list price they have on their books – then reduce that price for your book. Remember, you’re not yet a well-known author so your books aren’t going to sell for the higher prices. The good thing is that you can always reduce the cost of your book later on if you find it’s not selling well, although pricing it too high in the beginning will turn readers off – big time. Don’t let your ego or your dream of earning all your money back quickly get in the way. Slow and steady is the name of the game. Get that media attention, those sales, those testimonials, etc. and go from there.
  • Speaking of testimonials, you’ll want to get some. If you can’t get them before your book is printed, you can always have a new cover and/or interior of your book and ebook created to add testimonials later. Remember, you want to get as many with important-sounding names as possible; not Aunt Jane, cousin Bob or best friend Betty. Get instructors and other academics (using their accreditation after their names; e.g. PhD., MA, etc.), public figures, top business people (using their title and company name, when possible). Remember, if you can’t get these before your book is published, you can add them later.
  • If you get an illustrator – whether for your children’s book illustrations or your book cover – spend the funds to get a good one. You don’t want to skimp on this part of the process. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is true!

There are many other things that are needed, but this is a good start.  If you have any questions, please just let us know.


For more information or to get the publishing process started, contact us at Amber Light Publishing, www.AmberLightPublishing.com or (502) 292-3077.

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