Self-Publishing For Dummies

by Jason R. Rich



About the Author

Jason R. Rich is the bestselling author of more than 32 books, including a few self-published titles. He has also ghostwritten several additional books for business leaders and well-known experts in their field. As a journalist, Jason continues to contribute articles to numerous national magazines and major daily newspapers, and he works as a freelance public relations and marketing consultant for companies in a variety of industries.

Some of Jason’s recently published books include The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online, 2nd Edition (Wiley); Pampering Your Pooch: Discover What Your Dog Needs, Wants, and Loves (Howell Book House); The Everything Family Travel Guide to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Greater Orlando, 4th Edition (Adams Media); and American Idol Season 4: Official Behind-the-Scenes Fan Book (Prima/Random House). Jason is also writing a series of personal finance guides for Entrepreneur Press, the publishers of Entrepreneur magazine. His most recent self-published book is The Bachelor’s Guide to Life (iUniverse).

Jason lives just outside of Boston with his Yorkshire Terrier, named Rusty ( Yes, Rusty has his own Web site. Please check it out! You can also visit Jason’s Web site at or e-mail him at



This one is for Ferras, Mark, Ellen, Sandy, Emily, Ryan, and my family.


Author’s Acknowledgments

Over the years, I have read a handful of For Dummies books. I am very proud to now have the opportunity to contribute a book to the popular series. I hope you, the reader, find this book helpful on your quest to become a published author.

Thanks to Mike Lewis at Wiley for inviting me to work on this project. Thanks also to Georgette Beatty, this book’s project editor, for her hard work and guidance. The work of Carrie Burchfield (copy editor) and D. Patrick Miller (technical editor) are also very much appreciated. Many people work extremely hard to make the For Dummies series so successful. I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone involved, including the editors, illustrators, designers, proofreaders, reviewers, editorial supervisors, and the sales team. This book truly is a team effort.

On a personal note, my never ending love and gratitude goes out to my close friends — Ferras, Mark, and Ellen (as well as Ellen’s family), who are all extremely important people in my life. I’d also like to thank my family for all their support. (Congratulations to Ferras on signing a major record deal and having the opportunity to pursue his dreams! I am so proud of you, Ferras!)


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Georgette Beatty

Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Copy Editor: Carrie A. Burchfield

Editorial Program Coordinator: Hanna K. Scott

Technical Editor: D. Patrick Miller

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistants: Erin Calligan, Nadine Bell

Cover Photo: © Alamy

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Tera Knapp

Layout and Graphics: Andrea Dahl, Denny Hager, Clint Lahnen, Barbara Moore, Barry Offringa, Melanee Prendergast, Jill Proll, Heather Ryan, Alicia B. South

Proofreaders: Leeann Harney, Jessica Kramer, Christy Pingleton, Aptara

Indexer: Aptara

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Do It Yourself: Getting Started with Self-Publishing

Chapter 1: Welcome to Self-Publishing!

Figuring Out Whether Self-Publishing Is the Best Option for You

Gathering the Right Publishing Tools

Putting Together a Winning Manuscript

Editing Your Work Effectively

Dealing with Administration and Design

Checking Out Your Printing Options

Delving into Distribution

Getting the Word Out with Publicity and Marketing

Surveying a Brief Self-Publishing Timeline

Chapter 2: Understanding the Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Why Should You Even Consider Self-Publishing?

What Are the Benefits of Self-Publishing?

What Are Self-Publishing’s Drawbacks?

Do You Have the Skills that All Self-Published Authors Need?

Can Self-Publishing Be a Full-Time Gig?

Chapter 3: Equipping Yourself with the Write Stuff

Fix It Up: Creating Your Ideal Writing Environment

Throw Away the Hammer: Assembling the Writer’s Toolbox

Chapter 4: Creating a Winning Manuscript

It’s Not Always About You! Considering Your Audience Upfront

Don’t Be Sketchy: Creating an Outline

Dig for Facts: Doing Research

What Meets the Eye: Adding Visual Interest to Your Manuscript

Put the Pieces Together: Examining Other Book Elements

Keep It Legal: Obtaining Permission to Use Other People’s Materials

You’re Not a Copier: Avoiding Plagiarism

Chapter 5: Fine-Tuning Your Work with Careful Editing

A Bird’s-Eye View of the Editing Process

The Nitty-Gritty of Hiring an Editor

Part II : Pulling Together the Details: Administration and Design

Chapter 6: Setting Up Your Self-Publishing Business

Understanding the Benefits of Establishing a Publishing Company

Taking Official Steps to Create a Company

Keeping Costs Tracked and Under Control

Finding Additional Expert Advice on Your Business Adventure

Chapter 7: Tackling Book-Specific Tasks

Obtaining an ISBN for Your Book

Ordering a Barcode for Your Book

Filling Out the Advance Book Information Form

Securing a Library of Congress Control Number

It’s Mine, All Mine! Copyrighting Your Work

Increasing Profits by Setting the Right Cover Price

The Right Time: Selecting Your Book’s Publication Date

Chapter 8: Coming Up with Creative Page Design and Layout

Delving into Do-It-Yourself Page Design

Laying Out Your Book with Popular Desktop Publishing Software

Converting Laid-Out Pages into Printer-Friendly Files

Hiring a Professional Graphic Designer

Chapter 9: Judging a Book by Its Cover

Constructing a Catchy Title

Keeping a Close Eye on the Front Cover

Turning to Your Book’s Back Cover

Remembering Your Book’s Spine

Working with a Design Expert to Create Your Cover

Part III : Start the Presses! Examining Printing Choices

Chapter 10: Trying Out Traditional Offset Printing

The Basics of Working with a Traditional Offset Printer

Choosing the Features of Your Traditionally Printed Book

Hiring the Right Offset Printer for Your Needs

Chapter 11: Print-On-Demand for Demanding Self-Publishers

Taking a Quick Tour of Print-On-Demand Technology

Looking at the Pros and Cons of Print-On-Demand

Surveying the Print-On-Demand Process

Picking a Great Print-On-Demand Company for Your Book

Checking Out a Few Prominent POD Companies

Chapter 12: Checking Out Some Non-Traditional Printing Options

The Basics of eBook Publishing

The Details of Putting Out eBooks

Heading to a Local Print Shop

Chapter 13: Working Successfully with Any Printer

Walking through the General Printing Process

Getting on the Same Page with Your Printer

Surviving the Proofing Stage

Wrapping Up Your Work with a Printer

Part IV : Making Your Book a Bestseller: Distribution Methods

Chapter 14: Selling Your Book through Popular Online Booksellers

Creating an Effective Listing

Submitting Your Listing to Popular Online Booksellers

Generating Excellent Online Reviews

Taking Advantage of Other Resources from Online Booksellers

Chapter 15: Distributing Your Book through Traditional Channels

The Challenges of Securing Major Retail Distribution for a Self-Published Book

Working with Wholesalers and Distributors

Approaching Independent Booksellers

Scoping Out Specialty Retail Stores

Distributing Your Book via Direct Mail

Hooking Up with Trade Associations, Special Interest Groups, and Conferences

Grabbing the Attention of Mass-Market Retailers and Bookstore Chains

Chapter 16: Getting a Grip on Warehousing, Order Fulfillment, and Shipping

Warehousing Your Books and Managing Inventory

Handling Order Taking and Fulfillment

Shipping Your Books to Customers

Chapter 17: Selling Your Book to the Big Boys for Better Distribution

Sending Your Book to a Major Publisher

Tapping the International Market

Selling the Subsidiary or Serial Rights to Your Book

Part V : Creating a Buzz: Publicity and Marketing

Chapter 18: Crafting Publicity Materials for Your Book

Going Over the Basics of Press Materials

Making a Great Impression with the Press Kit Folder

Writing an Attention-Getting Press Release

Using Successful Strategies for Writing Your Author Bio

Putting Your Best Face Forward with a Publicity Photo

Writing a Knockout Pitch Letter

Creating an Electronic Press Kit

Distributing Your Press Materials to the Media

Chapter 19: Publicizing Your Book for Free with the Media’s Help

Talk It Up: Saying the Right Thing to the Media

Dress It Up: Looking Good When You Promote Your Book

Book It: Generating Reviews

Show It Off: Coordinating Author Appearances and Book Signings

Leave It to the Pros: Working with a Publicist

Chapter 20: Marketing Your Book with Paid Advertising and Promotional Tools

Checking Out the Pros and Cons of Paid Advertising

Deciding Where to Advertise to Reach Your Target Audience

Planning a Successful Ad Campaign

Effectively Using Promotional Materials

Chapter 21: Maximizing Your Marketing Power in Cyberspace

Caught in the Web: Building a Promotional Site for Your Book

If You Build It, Will They Come? Generating Traffic to Your Web Site

Adding Extra Bells and Whistles

Chapter 22: Expanding Your Income with Spin-Off Products and Services

Considering a Few Important Points Before You Start Down the Spin-Off Road

Developing Creative Ways to Repackage Your Content

Generating Revenue with a Wide Range of Services

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 23: Ten Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

Not Targeting Your Audience Appropriately

Inaccurate Information, a Lack of Organization, and Poor Writing

A Lack of Attention to Detail and Editing

Inefficiently Using Money and Resources

Implementing Poor Cover Design and Copy

Choosing the Wrong Printing Method

A Lack of Comprehensive Distribution

Wasting the Potential of Online Distribution

Improperly Planning the Publicity and Marketing Campaign

Bad Timing throughout the Self-Publishing Process

Chapter 24: Ten Useful Resources for Self-Publishers

Books for Writers Worth Reading

Helpful Print Publications

Powerful Online Resources

Trustworthy Professional Associations


You may have personal and/or professional reasons why you want to get published. Perhaps it’s to supplement your income or generate an entire income as a writer. Maybe it’s because you have important information to convey or a compelling story to tell.

For someone with good writing skills and a flair for putting words together in a way that’s readily accessible to intended readers, becoming a freelance writer for newspapers, magazines, Web sites, and other media outlets is certainly a viable option. Becoming an author with a published book and working with a major publishing house, however, continues to be much more of a challenge due to the highly competitive nature of the book-publishing business.

In recent years, would-be authors have been given an entirely new way to have their work professionally published in book form and then have it distributed to the general public. The process is called self-publishing. Self- publishing is a fast-growing opportunity made available when new forms of printing technologies, called digital printing and desktop publishing, were perfected. Now, instead of having to print thousands of copies of a book at one time, as few as one copy of a book can be printed at any given time.

The price to self-publish a book has also dropped dramatically in the past few years. Now, publishing a book is extremely affordable for virtually anyone. Never before has the opportunity to publish a professional quality book been within reach of any aspiring author.

Self-Publishing For Dummies helps you take your idea for a book, develop the idea into content to fill a full-length manuscript, and have it published. This book describes the incredible opportunity self-publishing offers to aspiring writers and authors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, consultants, and anyone else with a great idea for a book.

About This Book

Self-publishing puts you in total charge of your publishing project. A successful publishing venture means properly dealing with each step in the publishing process. Without the proper knowledge and experience, costly mistakes can easily be made. The information in this book helps you avoid the most common mistakes made by authors and self-publishers and helps you properly cater your book to your intended readers. This book also lends a hand when you gather a highly skilled publishing team for your venture. By hiring freelance experts to help you with editing, design, layout, and marketing, your book more effectively competes with the tens of thousands of other books currently on the market.

Most importantly, this book shows you how to obtain distribution for your book and properly market it in order to generate sales. Using marketing, public relations, and advertising strategies, along with the power and capabilities of the Internet, you can transform your book into a successful publishing venture.

I’ve put the chapters in an order that makes sense if you’re looking to transform your manuscript into a self-published book. However, each chapter focuses on one important aspect of the self-publishing process, so you can jump around to quickly obtain the specific information that you’re looking for. For instance: Check out Chapter 11 for the scoop on Print-On-Demand (POD) and finding a reputable POD publisher. If you’re looking to put together press materials for your book, skip ahead to Chapter 18. Want to know more about what an ISBN is and how to obtain one for your book? Check out Chapter 7.


Keep in mind that this book isn’t a “how to write a book” book or an “improve your writing skills” book. Developing the writing skills and the necessary expertise on the topic you plan to write about is your responsibility. If you need to brush up on your writing skills, I recommend that you sign up for writing classes or workshops. This book helps you take the manuscript you’ve written or are about to write and transform it into the best book possible.

Conventions Used in This Book

I use a few conventions to help guide you through this book:

bullet Italic words point out defined terms or emphasize words.

bullet Boldface text indicates keywords in bulleted lists and the action part of numbered steps.

bullet Monofont text highlights Web addresses.


Each chapter of Self-Publishing For Dummies focuses on one important aspect of the self-publishing process. Within each chapter, you find many useful resources and companies that provide products or services for self-published authors. Keep in mind that the companies listed within this book are only a sampling of what’s available. Feel free to shop around and research other companies or services before deciding whom to work with. Also, expect the prices associated with self-publishing to change as digital printing options become cheaper, more competition enters into the business, and a greater number of options become available to perspective authors.

What You’re Not to Read

In many chapters, sidebars (formatted in gray boxes) are used to further explain certain topics or to provide interviews with various experts in their field. These interviews are designed to provide additional insight into specific steps in the publishing process, but reading them isn’t essential to getting your book published. Therefore, if you’re in an incredible hurry (and self- publishers can be extremely busy people!), the sidebars are informative but can be skipped over.

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, I’ve made a few assumptions. I know, making assumptions isn’t always the best idea, but in developing the content for this book, I had to start somewhere. Here are my assumptions:

bullet You have basic writing skills and a great idea for a book. Self-Publishing For Dummies helps you evaluate your idea in terms of its suitability and marketability.

bullet You already have information to convey to your readers, whether it’s a good story or valuable and informative content. Sure, this book helps you fine-tune your approach when it comes to communicating your content to your readers, but it’s up to you to decide what information to include in your book, based on your book’s target audience.

bullet You may even have already written a book, and you want to bypass the traditional publishing process and do it yourself. Or perhaps you’ve already approached major publishers to sell your book without success, and now you want to give self-publishing a whirl. If you already have written your manuscript, this book shows you how to publish it, market it, and make it available to its intended audience.

How This Book Is Organized

You need to complete many steps to ensure that your publishing venture is successful. This book is organized to help you find specific information easily. Each of the book’s six parts is devoted to a particular topic and contains several chapters covering information that directly relates to that topic.

Part I: Do It Yourself: Getting Started with Self-Publishing

The first part of this book introduces you to self-publishing, explains what it is, and clarifies how self-publishing can be used to publish your book. You read about the pros and cons of self-publishing and discover if it’s the right publishing option for you. This part also helps you gather all the tools you need to write and publish your book, while providing you with basic information about developing and fine-tuning your manuscript.

Part II: Pulling Together the Details: Administration and Design

After you’ve finished writing your full-length manuscript, a lot of work is still necessary before it’s ready to be printed and sold. This part focuses on setting up your own self-publishing business and handling the book-specific tasks necessary before your book goes to press. Part II also focuses on taking your book’s manuscript and creating a professional layout and design for its interior and delving into what it takes to create the best possible front and back cover.

Part III: Start the Presses! Examining Printing Choices

As a self-published author, you have a handful of options when printing your books. Which option you choose is best determined by a number of factors: your budget, your ultimate goals for the book, your distribution plan, and your audience. Each chapter in this part focuses on a different printing option, such as offset printing, Print-On-Demand (POD), and eBook publishing. I also show you how to work successfully with any printer.

Part IV: Making Your Book a Bestseller: Distribution Methods

Simply writing and publishing a book isn’t enough to make it successful. One of your biggest challenges is getting your book into the hands of potential readers. You have a few options to distribute your book: selling your book online, distributing through booksellers, and marketing to other retail stores. This part focuses on different book distribution methods and how to best utilize each. I also discuss how to handle your own warehousing, order fulfillment, and shipping, and I explain how to gain even wider distribution for your book by choosing to sell it to a major publisher.

Part V: Creating a Buzz: Publicity and Marketing

Being able to inform readers that your book exists means the difference between selling thousands or tens of thousands of copies (or not selling any copies at all). Developing a comprehensive advertising, marketing, and public relations campaign and then properly implementing it requires a financial and time investment, plus a tremendous amount of creativity, planning, and initiative.

Whether you have a few hundred dollars or an unlimited budget to properly market your book, this part shows you how to utilize the media to generate positive reviews and editorial coverage and how to create effective advertisements. You also discover how to use the Internet to reach your book’s target audience and how to develop spinoff products from your book.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

In this part, you discover how to avoid ten common mistakes self-published authors make and find a variety of resources where you can obtain additional information and guidance as you embark on your book publishing venture.

Icons Used in This Book

The icons used throughout this book help you quickly pinpoint important information, focus your attention on information that’s worth remembering, and draw attention to things you should watch out for and avoid as you start your publishing project.


This icon appears when I convey information worth remembering. Sounds simple enough, right?


This icon appears whenever advice or tips are provided. The information listed with this icon can help save time and money or help you improve your overall productivity and chances of success.


Watch out for this icon. It accompanies information like common mistakes people make, misconceptions that need clarification, or potential pitfalls you in your publishing process.

Where to Go from Here

For an overview of what self-publishing is all about and to determine the best way to get started, Chapter 1 is definitely the best place to begin reading.

Never before has the opportunity to publish a professional-looking book been available to so many people at such an affordable price. After you’ve written your manuscript, by following the advice offered in this book, you can become a published author in a matter of weeks and begin selling your book. If you have something important, relevant, or entertaining to say, self-publishing is a viable option for distributing your message to the public.

Part I

Do It Yourself: Getting Started with Self-Publishing

In this part . . .

You’ve heard the phrase self-publishing, but what does it really mean? This part offers an introduction to self-publishing and helps you get your publishing project off the ground. I tell you about the pros and cons of self-publishing and explain how to equip yourself to start the writing process. I also give you the lowdown on assembling a winning manuscript and editing it carefully.