There are three distinct processes involved in publishing, whether you self-publish or go with traditional publishing:
The writing process can be separate from the publishing and marketing processes, but only if you never want anyone to read what you’ve written. If you want to get your words out there, you need to publish them, then market them. The internet has made that as easy as posting your words on a blog, then telling your friends about it. Or even simpler, posting it on social media and letting those platforms tell others about it.
The same process used to publish on a blog or social media is expanded when it comes to book publishing. Below is a very high-level graphic showing the processes involved in birthing a book and the timing of various events. Each of the steps listed represents a lot of details that can be handled in a variety of ways.
Writing Process: Idea -> Outline/Structure ->Write Draft -> Rewrite -> Edit -> Final Copy
Publishing Process: Cover Design -> Edit -> Front/Back Matter -> Interior Design -> Final -> Print -> Distribution
Marketing Process: Research Audience/Market -> Build Audience -> Develop Marketing Relationships -> Promos and Pre Sales using Book Cover -> Launch Party & Media Blitz
I’d like to bring a few things to your attention:
- Any or all of these steps can be hired out or outsourced if you do not want to do them or are not skilled at them (even writing the book, believe it or not).
- If you are using a traditional publisher, you are basically outsourcing the whole publishing process and distribution in exchange for anywhere from 85-94% of the net sales of the book.
- If you use a vanity publisher, you are paying them to do a lot of the work for you up front, then taking your chances on making enough to cover your costs and make a profit.
- If you use a hybrid publisher, you are sharing the costs of publishing and possibly marketing in exchange for a large percentage of the profits.
- If you self-publish, you can do a lot of the work on your own, but it takes time and some money. There are two areas you should expect to hire out: editing and cover design. You may also need to hire someone to convert your book into the various publishing formats, although you can do that on your own if you are willing to learn how.
Regardless of whether you self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, you will likely need to make some kind of effort at marketing. As a general rule, publishers will want to know about the size of your audience. Audience can be measured in several ways:
- Website traffic statistics
- Number of people on your mailing list
- Followers/friends on social media
- Sales of existing books
Notice also that marketing starts very early in the process—way before the book is even written. Having an audience early can be a big advantage. You can ask them for advice on your work as you write. As they develop an interest in what you are doing, they are likely to become some of your first customers and biggest fans.