If you’re here because you want to know how to publish a book, you’re welcome.
It used to be the case that if you wanted to become a published author, you’d first have to get an agent, who would then try to get a traditional publisher to publish your book.
The traditional publisher would pay you an advance, undertake the cost of producing and marketing your book, and remit your royalties when due or when accrued enough.
But you wouldn’t actually be any closer to knowing how to publish a book, than you were before you saw your name in print.
And that’s when all went well…
But with time and options, the advent of eBooks and different kinds of publishers became a very real thing.
Yet, the existence of different kinds of publishers, agreements and book formats has created something of a minefield that many authors cannot navigate without injury of some sort.
So, we have some publishers who don’t actually know how to publish a book, and authors who genuinely believe that all publishing entails is uploading their book and hitting the Publish button on Amazon, Okadabooks or some other sales platform.
If you definitely don’t want to use a publisher because you think you’re better off doing it on your own, do well to check out this post on what you must know if self-publishing a book.
Or you’re likely to end up publishing a book that nobody wants.
Otherwise, keep reading to find out in five steps, just how to publish a book.
1) Get the book ready
Any publisher worth their salt, so who truly knows how to publish a book, will tell you that you thinking your book is ready, doesn’t make it so.
That’s the reason many authors end up releasing poorly-produced books that nobody wants to read.
The day after you complete your manuscript or finish NaNoWriMo is not when you should hit Publish on Amazon or Okadabooks.
While some might think it’s excessive and unreasonable, there’s a reason traditional publishers typically release books 18months after signing an author.
You might not need to take that long but there’s absolutely no justification for hitting Publish two days after you finish writing a book.
There are so many things to be done before you can honestly say your book is ready.
Have you determined that the book has an audience, and if yes, who that audience is?
Has your book been ruthlessly edited by a professional? Or are you releasing the first draft that’s riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors?
Is the message in the book clear and easy to understand for the target audience?
What about the cover? Did you hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Or did you create it on Canva to save cost?
Do your book title and description speak to the target audience’s needs and desires?
If you haven’t sorted these, your book is not ready and anyone who tells you otherwise, doesn’t know how to publish a book.
2) Decide on the publisher
All publishers are not created equal, so you need to at least have an idea of what you want before settling with the publisher you choose.
And if you don’t know, ask questions.
There are different kinds of publishing deals – traditional, co-publishing/hybrid, and self-publishing with different models.
Not everyone is going to get a traditional publishing deal, which (believe it or not) might not even be the best fit for you and your book.
Depending on what they claim to offer, your publisher should ask you questions not limited to, “When are you making payment?”
At The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd, no matter what an author thinks of their book before they get to us, we always have
- previewers (who sign an NDA) test the content to determine target audience’s connection with it
- manuscripts ruthlessly edited (there have been
tearssad faces after our competent, experienced editor has had a go)
- covers professionally designed
- global distribution made possible with specific ISBNs recognised by Bowker
- (book and author) marketing plans that are reviewed and tweaked when necessary, and
- books distributed to where the audience is
That’s in addition to other things we do to ensure we’re truly empowering our author to find, fine-tune and amplify their voice while broadcasting their story (without getting into legal or other trouble, ourselves).
I’m not saying you definitely have to use our publishing service, as we don’t publish all genres and we truly might not be the best fit for you, but you need to be sure
- there’s an alignment between your publisher’s goals and your desires, and that
- the publisher you do choose, knows how to publish a book
3) Know your rights
I cannot tell you how disturbing it is for me to come across a writer who doesn’t ask questions, so will sign anything before them.
I appreciate that some people are scared of asking questions because they’re ashamed to admit they don’t know something, but isn’t it better you bear the so-called shame now and get educated?
Instead of signing something you don’t like, but you don’t even know you don’t like it cos you didn’t understand what it meant when you signed it?
In every facet of the entertainment industry – from books to music, movies and others – there are ALWAYS people finding out years after they’ve signed a contract, just how bad it was for them. Then, they start crying out on social media and suing everyone in sight, to no avail.
If a publisher cannot give you a clear answer in a calm manner when you ask questions about the contract you’re about to sign, walk away with your manuscript; you will not die.
Learn how to say No respectfully, if you don’t like something; nobody will beat you.
While some publishers will be a better fit for you than others, unless you’ve signed what you shouldn’t, no publisher is the be-all and end-all of your writing career – not even us.
If one doesn’t want and can’t work with you, another might. But only if you’ve not already signed away certain rights out of ignorance, shame or desperation.
In theory, a single book could be published as an eBook, paperback, and audiobook in English, then turned into a movie, limited TV series or comic books in another language. You could even have T-shirts, mugs, key-rings and other merchandise branded with your book.
So, why, oh why, are you signing something that says one single person or entity (who’s not you) can have all those rights?
Yes, there’s a whole bunch of rights associated with your book, that if exploited properly, could have you and your descendants smiling out of the bank for years to come. Don’t be an Esau.
Do not sign all your rights away because you don’t know what they are, you’re too afraid to ask, or you’re too stubborn to take this training.
4) Prepare your marketing
When you know how to publish a book, you prepare your marketing in advance.
You understand that marketing is an activity that starts before your book comes out and persists throughout the lifetime of your book – if you want your book to sell.
It’s not a boring activity reserved for stuffy CEOs, that you shouldn’t do, because you’re a creative.
And it’s not something you do as an afterthought, when your book comes out.
Having your book on Amazon, Okadabooks or Smashwords is not marketing; that is distribution.
Marketing is getting in front of your target audience to let them know why they need your book, then where and how to get it.
Telling me you have a book on Amazon does nothing for me, especially if we’re meeting for the first time.
Why should I get your book? Do you know how many books are on Amazon? So, what makes your book so special, that I’d leave what I’m doing, to go get yours?
That’s how a marketer thinks; you get out of your own head long enough to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.
Have a definitive marketing plan to reach that audience, else you’re going to waste money you shouldn’t be spending and going on platforms you have no business being.
If you’ve written a romance fiction book, why do you think it’ll be a good idea to go on a political show where terrorism is the topic of discussion that day?
If a celebrity says she doesn’t read, why are you paying her for influencer marketing cos she has 10million followers on Instagram?
Why squander funds on a full-page ad in a paper your target audience doesn’t know?
Or waste your time, going on a podcast when your book is only available in print?
No, not every publicity is good publicity cos if your Coming of Age fiction novelette is suited to secondary school students in Nigeria, but you’re pictured falling out of a club where you’ve been smoking shisha with Nollywood actors of questionable character – you might have to use juju to sell that book.
Cos which Nigerian parent or teacher of a Nigerian teenager in a Nigerian secondary school, will want your book near their child or student – even if you have a relative in the Federal or State Ministry of Education?
Anyone who knows how to publish a book knows that your marketing plan should include a strong author brand at the base, which is supported and reinforced by all marketing activities you undertake.
It was after my second book was released that I knew what my author brand statement is – Chioma Nnani writes multicultural fiction for women aged 18+ who want to be strong, independent and fulfilled.
Meaning no matter how much I personally like a person or platform, I don’t associate with them for brand marketing activities.
If you don’t know what an author brand is, or how to build a strong one, register below.
5) Launch your book
This doesn’t just mean hitting Publish, though it has to happen at some point.
Anyone who truly knows how to publish a book knows that launching a book requires more than that.
Think about what happens when a brand launches a new or limited edition product – from bags to drinks, milk to lingerie.
They don’t just put items on a shelf and hope that people will troop in.
Think of when a new store is about to open.
Even after building anticipation, they make a lot of noise before and on the day to attract who they want.
Same applies to books.
You’ve done the ground work, don’t just hit Publish; you are not Beyonce (who released an album without saying anything before).
Make noise, have a party (virtual one works fine) on the day you’re ready to have your audience access your book. And invite them.
Only then will your book enjoy the benefits of being released by a person or a publisher who truly knows how to publish a book.
Don’t forget, if you haven’t done so yet, you can still sign up below to find out the five things you definitely should know before you write and publish a book.
Now you’ve reached the end of this post, did we deliver? Did you see anything new or surprising about how to publish a book? Let us know in the comments section below.