Here are the steps I performed to take my edited manuscript to publication. Important: Depending on your goals, your steps might be different. I wasn’t interested in prepublication reviews. I’m not aiming at brick and mortar bookstores. So take this as a minimal set of steps, not a complete set. You may need to do more, depending on your situation. I titled this post my self-publishing steps for a reason.
Having said that, this should give you an idea of the steps you’ll have to complete in all cases. You’ll find a more detailed explanation of some steps under the self-publishing category.
1. Hang out with self-publishers for a while and read a couple of books on the subject. Seriously. Do this. I know you’re eager to get your book out there, but don’t rush in without doing your homework. You’ll likely regret it and end up paying for it in real dollars. Check out the groups listed on the left sidebar. Join those that apply to you.
2. Establish your publishing company. This means choosing a name and registering it in accordance with your local laws. You’ll probably want to set up a website, too. If you’re planning to sell books directly to consumers, you’ll also have to obtain tax numbers from your government.
3. (Prerequisite step: 2). Open a business account at the bank. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to deposit cheques made out to your business. A business credit card will also come in handy.
4. (Optional). Get a business mailing address. If you don’t mind having your home address publicized, then use it. If you do, get a mailing address early, since you’ll want it on hand when you start registering with organizations like your ISBN agency.
5. At any time, you can start laying out your book and creating its cover. If you plan to hire someone to do either of these tasks for you, remember to hire them in advance. Many designers are booked well into the future (I hired my book designer in July for a planned start in October). You’ll have to carefully proofread the internal layout once it’s ready (or hire someone to do it).
6. (Prerequisite step: 2). Register your publishing company with your ISBN agency (Canadians: CISS). If you’re not Canadian, you might have to buy ISBNs at this point, too.
7. (Prerequisite step: 6). Assign an ISBN to the book. You may end up using more than one if you’re planning to publish the book in multiple formats.
8. (Prerequisite steps: 2, 3, and 6). If you’re planning to print with Lightning Source, don’t leave signing up to the last minute. Establishing a business relationship with LSI requires a lot of paperwork. You can sign up well in advance of submitting any titles. I signed up in September 2009 and submitted my first title in mid-December. If you’re planning to use another printer, it would also be prudent to sign up early in the process.
9. (Prerequisite step: 7) Obtain CIP data (Canadians: CIP office). This is optional.
10. (Prerequisite steps 5, 7, 8, and 9): Set up your title with the printer and give the printer your files.
11. Receive and approve a proof from the printer.
12. Register your copyright (Canadians: Copyright application).
13. If you’re legally obligated to deposit books with your government, order books and deposit them (Canadians must do this and should have received an email with instructions after assigning the ISBN.)
14. You’re done!!
Doesn’t look like much, but it’s quite a bit of work. Fortunately, you only have to do steps 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 once, when you publish your first book. Do continue to hang out with self-publishers and to follow the latest news, especially in the area of eBooks. The publishing landscape is undergoing rapid change at the moment.
What amazed me the most: throughout this entire process, I only had to speak to a human being twice, and that was to someone at the bank for step 3 and to someone at the UPS Store for step 4. Otherwise, I published the book without speaking to a soul. Yes, I did “speak” to people through email, but you know what I mean. Everything was done through online forms, by fax, or through email.