Publishing a book is every writer’s dream. In fact, some writers don’t even feel like writers until they have published a novel. The truth is, if you are writing, you are a writer, regardless of how many book sales you have achieved: a million or none. The difference between a published author and one who aspires to be one is just luck. However, you cannot simply write your novels and sit back with your hands in your lap, waiting for luck to find you. You have to take charge of your publishing journey and start doing the work that needs to be done to get published.
Today, there are two paths to follow: traditional publishing and self-publishing. In the first road – traditional publishing, ideally, the publishing house takes over all the publishing duties, which can be many. In the second route, all publishing tasks will be on your shoulders. In this guide, we will cover all the basic concepts for both traditional publishing and self-publishing.
We hope this beginner’s guide on how to publish a book will help you realise your dream of publishing your novel, no matter which route you choose.
Part 1: Traditional Publication
Traditional publication is the dream of most writers. In reality they do not know how and when their book will be published, they only know that they have to wait for a publishing house to take their novel and put it in bookshops all over the world.
Traditional publishing has recently gained even more weight because we live in a digital age and anyone with some computer skills and a Microsoft Word can publish a book on Amazon, for example. Being able to get your book published by a publishing house is the dream – what greater proof do you need to know that your book is worth reading?
However, not everything is as it seems in traditional publishing and there are many things you should know before embarking on this path.
1) What is traditional book printing?
In theory, traditional publishing seems very easy. You send a query letter to an agent, and then that agent tries to find a publishing house that will take your book. All you should do, ideally, is find a good agent and write.
In practice, however, agent or not, a reader from a publishing house will read your manuscript. While having an agent means that your manuscript receives direct attention from the publisher, some publishing houses accept manuscripts submitted without an agent. These are commonly called unsolicited manuscripts, and go into a pile with many other unsolicited manuscripts. Thus, a reader goes through the pile of manuscripts. The reader may or may not have liked your novel. Sometimes, if the publishing house refused to accept your book for publication, you might not even receive a rejection letter. However, if the reader liked your novel, they would pass it on to a publisher, who may or may not reject your book. They might contact you with the changes you need to make to publish your book. However, until you get an offer for the rights with a contract in hand, nothing is really certain.
2) Pros and cons of traditional publishing
There are many pros and cons to traditional publishing, and both should be considered when you are making a decision on which route to take – traditional or self-publishing.
The pros include:
You have a contract and an advance;
After your book is published, you receive royalties after the advance has been paid in full;
Royalties are money paid to the author, a certain percentage of commission from sales of the author’s book;
You have a professional editor to help you turn the draft into a publishable book;
You get a team of professionals to handle marketing, publicity and production design, such as designing a cover that does not look like it was made by a child in Photoshop;
You may be approached to publish several books, especially if you are writing a series;
Your novel gains instant credibility because today anyone can self-publish a novel.
Your publisher may want you to make significant changes in the story, to the point where the end result barely resembles what your book was originally about;
Your publisher might have bought the rights to your characters, your series, your novels, and therefore might fire you from writing your novels and have a ghostwriter continue;
You might come across a paid publisher that shows itself as a traditional publishing house (more on this later);
Your novel might not make enough sales, threatening everything from your livelihood to your security as a writer;
Your publisher may have bought too many rights to your work, not only print rights, but also audio, film, foreign publishing, etc. In other words, your publisher might have the power to make a film contract without even consulting you, because you legally gave them the rights to do so by signing the contract.
3) What to expect from a traditional publishing house
We have already covered some of the things you can expect from a traditional publisher. Basically, a traditional publisher should take care of the publishing process for you. When the publisher buys the intellectual rights to your book, they will offer you a contract. Make sure you read that contract from beginning to end. In fact, try to get an intellectual rights lawyer to review the contract with you. It is always helpful to get legal advice when you sign a contract with a publisher, because you might end up legally obligated to things you did not really want.
If the publisher gets the printing rights to your book, they will decide how long your book will stay in print, which can vary from several months, a year or more, depending on sales. For example, if you take a book and it says fifth or seventh edition on the cover, it means that the publisher has printed a certain number of books (hundreds, thousands), five (or seven) separate times over the years. After the publisher has decided to stop printing your book, ideally, after a period of time, the rights should revert back to you, which means that even if your publisher no longer wants to print your books, you can find another publisher or publish the book yourself.
Each publishing house works differently, and it is they who decide which rights they want to buy from you. What you should expect, and it should be explained in a contract, includes:
The type of rights the publisher is buying from you: print, audio, foreign, even film;
The type of rights to the rest of the intellectual property: titles, characters, series names, novels, content, etc.
Planned publication formats: hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, electronic, audio and other.
Circulation, royalties and an advance.
Let us analyse these three because of their connection. Let’s say you have a contract for your book. Your book will have a print run of 1,000 copies. The type of printing is trade paperback. The average price of trade paperbacks is about $13-$14. You are offered a 10% royalty. This means that for every book sold at $14, you will earn $1.4, and if every copy is sold, you will total $1400. The advance you get from publishers is usually 10% of that, so, you are paid $140 as an advance. (Note: the numbers used in the example are only explanatory and your personal experience is bound to differ. We have put a circulation of 1000 copies to simplify the mathematical calculations, not because 1000 is an average number of print runs)
4) How to look for a publishing house
Once you know what you can expect from a publisher, it is time to start the arduous task of finding the right publisher for your book. Keep in mind that even if you find what you think is the perfect match, you may still receive a rejection letter. Here are some things to watch out for:
Make sure that the publishing house or publisher actually publishes books in your genre, if you are writing fiction or something niche, if you are writing non-fiction. Some publishing houses publish only fiction, or non-fiction, others specialise in different genres: literary, science fiction, poetry, drama, romance, paranormal romance, and so on.
Make sure the publisher is interested in the manuscript you provide, in the sense of location and scope. For instance, do not send an unsolicited manuscript (without an agent) if the publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts a priori. Or, if the publisher focuses on local coverage, do not send them a manuscript if you are not within the said local scope.
Third, and most important, do not get lost when looking for a publisher. There are many online resources and yellow pages that list many different publishers. Some of these online resources are free, some are paid, and some only list publishers that are local to New York, for example. In other words, if you reside in Europe, write in English and have your eye on a New York publishing house that is only interested in solicited manuscripts from the US, do not waste your time and their time by sending them an unsolicited manuscript. Also, when it comes to online resources, do not waste your time on a resource that focuses only on science fiction publishers when you want to publish a romance novel, for instance.
Some of the online resources include QueryTracker, Ralan (which, incidentally, focuses on science fiction, for example), then Poets&Writers (if you are writing poetry and literary fiction). There are many others, both online and in your local library and yellow pages (depending on where you live, of course).
Do not be discouraged: it may be difficult to find the right match and, as we said before, you may receive a rejection letter even if the publisher is interested in publishing books in your genre or niche. This does not mean you should give up. Keep writing and get as many eyes on your writing and stories as possible, listen, try to get constructive criticism, improve and try again
5) Tips for sending manuscripts directly to a publisher
We will talk about literary agents later in this section, but before that, let us talk about sending unsolicited manuscripts directly to our chosen publisher.
It is important that the publisher accept unsolicited manuscripts, first of all.
Secondly, make sure you follow the guidelines on how to submit your manuscript. As we live in the digital age, an electronic abstract and a few chapters or the complete manuscript may be requested.
If you do not follow the guidelines, you will give them the impression that you have not really read them and, because of this, your book might not even get a look, even if it is a masterpiece.
It is like sending a cover letter for a job you are interested in – make sure you know what you have to send and what they want to know from you (manuscript, summary, synopsis, just a few chapters, etc.).
Familiarise yourself with current standards for formatting, word count, etc. In case the publisher you are sending your manuscript to does not have official guidelines, you should be familiar with the standards, as this will make you look more professional. So, do your research on font type, word count and other details about sending manuscripts to publishers – in your specific genre. Remember to search specifically for your genre. The rules for romance novels are different from the rules for fantasy, science fiction and so on.
6) When and why you might need a literary agent
There are two cases when you might need a literary agent. The first is when you want to approach a publisher who does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. The second is when you want to have a literary agent who will make proposals even while you are writing your book. The second case can be useful for non-fiction, however, it can also work for fiction. Getting a good agent to sign you up definitely increases the chances of your book being traditionally published, however, just because your chances have increased, this does not mean that your success is guaranteed. Meanwhile, you have added the task of finding a good agent to yourself.
What a good literary agent should and should not do
A good agent:
Based on your query letter, he asks to read your book;
Offers you a contract to represent you
He puts you in touch with other authors he has successfully represented without missing a beat
However, before sending a query letter to an agent, do your research well. And even after that, a good agent will NOT:
Will not ask you for a fee to read your manuscript
Won’t ask you for a fee to ‘read your manuscript before others because he has a huge pile of submissions’
Will not ask you for money before you have been accepted by a publishing house
will not refuse to put you in touch with other authors he represents or has represented in the past
Will not offer you a contract to realise more than 15% of domestic sales and 20% of foreign sales (if the contract rises to 50%, this is a very clear red flag)
He will not refuse to offer you an agency contract unless you pay him for his time. Literary agents make money after selling the rights to your book to a publisher.
For this reason, do your research well. Some of the sources we listed above for publishers can also serve as resources for agents. However, there are other online resources where you can search for your agent. Make sure, even before you send them a letter of enquiry, that you have found the best person for the job. The agent should be interested in your genre, your novel and your work. If at any time the agent does not show enough interest, you will waste time signing a contract with them.
On the other hand, once you have found what you think is a good match, feel free to proceed with sending a query letter.
Tips for sending query letters to literary agents
Do your research first. The agent may only accept query letters, or they may accept a blurb, outline, summary or sample chapters.
Proceed to write the query letter, during which make sure you follow the right guidelines for writing one.
In the first paragraph, start with a short description of your book and make sure it is engaging and interesting. Specify the genre and themes of your novel, the word count and emphasise that you did your research and chose them because you know their publishing history.
In the second paragraph, focus on your book. Write a short synopsis that focuses on the plot and characters.
In the third paragraph, briefly introduce yourself, but don’t forget to list your official experience: previous publications, awards and more.
In the last paragraph, the agent knows that a detailed description and sample chapters (and even the entire manuscript, if necessary) will be available upon request. At the end, thank the agent for their time and for considering representing you as an author and your book.
A word of advice: never settle for one agent or one publisher. Try to find as many matches as possible (in terms of genre) and, after careful elimination, send query letters to at least a few different agents.
After that, there is nothing you can do but wait. Agents do not appreciate being pestered for feedback or a response – and neither do publishers, regardless of whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts or not.
7) Beware of paid publishers and partnership publishers posing as traditional publishers
What can a paid publisher do for you?
Basically, and at first glance, it seems that using a paid press is just another form of self-publication, or even traditional publishing. A paid press will offer you the same services as a traditional publisher, with the difference that you pay them instead of paying an advance and later, royalties.
However, when you dig deeper, you will discover the following: you pay the press to publish your book – and you get your rights to your intellectual property. They will offer you a deal that includes editing, cover art, ISBNs and even distribution to booksellers through various channels. However, the problem here is that the paid press owns the ISBN for your book and also the rights, so you might not even get a penny from the actual sales of your book. The same goes for partnership publishers. They will offer you a contract in which these facts are cleverly disguised – and you probably won’t catch these tiny differences in the wording that will get you ripped off by them without a lawyer specialising in publishing and intellectual property.
In other words, if you really want to publish your book but can’t find a publisher or agent, opt for self-publication and stay as far away as possible from paid presses and partnership publishers. How can you tell the difference between a paid press and a traditional publisher? If they ask you for money upfront for everything related to publishing your book, and if you do not get a contract specifying and advance and royalties, know that you are dealing with a paid press and do not sign any kind of contract with them.
Part 2: Self-Publication
Writers decide to self-publish for many reasons. Some writers have already been traditionally published and may already have a large fan base. In this case, when they want to experiment or try something new that the audience may or may not like, they go for self-publication.
Then, there are writers who have never been published before but have been rejected many times and decide that self-publication is a much better option than sitting around waiting for a miracle.
This, however, does not exactly mean that self-publication is easy, although it seems incredibly so at first glance. Let’s take a look at what self-publishing really means.
1) What is self-publication?
Self-publication means when a writer decides to publish his or her own books and novels. Today, self-publication is very popular among authors who have been published in the past and also newcomers. What it means is that the author undertakes the publishing process and covers everything from printing (if they publish print copies and not just eBooks), to the cover, formatting and typesetting of the novel, the editing process, marketing for the book and many other tasks, such as getting an ISBN code for the novel and more.
It means pretending to be an editor, in essence, and for some writers, this is not an option as it takes away a lot of time that the writer would ideally spend … well, writing.
For this reason, authors often self-publish copies that have not been edited properly, have a spare image with a Photoshop dash on it as a cover, and the composition and formatting would make a decent book editor flinch and pull their hair out. In other words, writers often do not have the time or the knowledge to pull out a book for self-publication and make it look professional.
On the other hand, there are plenty of success stories: of writers who self-published their book, which caught the attention of a publishing house, and then ended up being traditionally published anyway. And those are the lucky ones.
Today, there are so many books that have been self-published, and writers do not even have to cover the costs of printing the book, especially with the recent development of the POD service – print-on-demand – which allows authors to make only as many copies as they need.
2) Pros and cons of self-publishing
There are pros and cons to self-publishing, just as there are pros and cons to traditional publishing.
Let us first take a look at the pros. They include:
You can keep at least 70% of what you produce, depending on the self-publishing service you are using;
You don’t have to depend on a reader, editor or agent to enjoy your book;
You will control everything about the process and also your story;
You will publish your book faster than if you published traditionally;
Your book will remain published until you decide to remove it from the listings;
You have all the rights for TV adaptations, film adaptations, comics, audio, etc.
However, there are also downsides to self-publishing. Cons include:
Your book will need a professional publisher. Although you can do it yourself, a professional editor will help you when it comes to structure, voice, dialogue and many other details, big and small, that you are capable of missing, especially if you are a first timer.
You should hire an illustrator for a good cover, and good illustrators are not cheap.
You might have to hire a publicist, a lawyer and other people whose services you get automatically, without paying anything, when you traditionally publish.
As a result, it may actually cost you more than you initially thought.
You should run your own website and social media sites, to try to generate more attention and make more sales.
Most self-published authors report that they feel they are running a small business and most of their time is spent on marketing and publicity for your novel or book, rather than writing.
Your book gets less prestige from the start. Self-publication seems so easy that anyone could do it. In today’s world, a book that has traditionally been self-published has a better reputation and readers are more likely to think it is good. Not so much for self-published novels.
You still depend on luck, even when you self-publish.
You will have to learn all the tricks of marketing and invent new ones, because everything will depend on you.
You will have limited distribution channels, which are especially important if you publish your book in print;
You do not have the same experience as a traditional publishing house. Even though you may have foreign rights to your novel, this does not mean that you have the ability to sell these rights.
3) eBook publishing on demand
There is a slight difference between eBook publishing and print-on-demand, or POD, as it is commonly called. Let’s take a look at their differences.
When you publish an eBook, you can go to the online retailer or service of your choice, like Amazon, for example. Amazon is the largest platform for self-publishing eBooks, but there are also others. When you publish an eBook, the process ends with the digital publication of your book. You will have to provide a manuscript – or, your book – in a certain format, be it PDF, epub, mobi, depending on whether you are publishing for Kindle users or want a wider reach. You will get your ISBN code, which, if you publish via Amazon’s CreateSpace, you can get for free. The ISBN code is a number that links a book and its publisher and you must have one to self-publish your book. Then, you have to follow the guidelines of your chosen platform in formatting your book, word count, price (often based on word count), and you are the one who has to provide the cover and take care of all the other details, especially the marketing aspect. However, once finished and published, your book will be available on Amazon almost instantly.
POD works a little differently. Amazon has its own POD, but there are other platforms that will offer POD through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others. This means that you will have to provide almost the same things as when you publish an eBook, mainly your manuscript in a certain format, an ISBN code and a cover, first of all. Then, one of your books will be published, not yet available for purchase or still in stock. It works a little differently. For a certain period of time, your book will be in pre-sale mode. This period can be two months and longer. It is commonly believed that a longer pre-sale mode allows you to spend more time strictly marketing your book and promoting it as widely as possible so that your potential readers can pre-order your book. Once a certain number of copies are requested by potential readers, who have pre-ordered your book, the book is printed and will soon have a stock status on retailers’ websites. So, when interest wanes, your book will go into out-of-stock status. This means that your potential original readers will receive their copy within 28-48 days and beyond, depending on various factors such as sales, pre-sales and other POD backstage factors that you will not be able to control. However, do not underestimate the fact that the out-of-print sign next to your novel on retail sites will discourage potential readers, especially if they are not inclined to read an electronic version.
On the other hand, once you have an electronic version of your book, it is good to get PODs, regardless of your marketing plans for your book. As mentioned above, some readers prefer hard or paperback copies of books, and some are even willing to wait until they have said copy in their hands.
4) How to choose between self-publishing platforms
There are many different self-publishing platforms out there, and yes, Amazon is the most popular and the easiest to use if you are a beginner. However, here are a few things you should check before signing up on any of them.
Check their formatting guidelines. Each platform will have different requirements for publishing, especially if you include print versions.
Check their rules on fees. Amazon offers a different percentage for royalties depending on the price of your book, which as a first timer could be as low as $2.99, which means you get just 30%. Also, check the royalty payment and when you can receive it, some platforms wait for a certain number of sales, or money, before you can get a cheque or make a bank transfer.
Check their distribution channels. Amazon, as the largest today, has a lot of distribution channels, both online and offline, which is important if you print physical copies, however, there are others that will give you access to marketplaces such as Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Di Più.
Don’t waste your time if you encounter an obstacle. Some books are difficult to format for electronic publication, especially if they are non-fiction books that include tables, pictures, and other graphics. In this case, you may want to hire someone who can do it for you, but be careful, because this type of formatting may be beyond most people’s capabilities.
5) Tips for producing a high-quality self-published book
How to publish your book and make it look like it was traditionally published?
We have already mentioned some tips, but here is what you need to do.
Professional proofreading and editing: if you are confident in your skills, feel free to do it yourself. If you do it yourself, get some good books on how to structure a book, edit description and dialogue, catch repetitive words and phrases and, above all, discover and eliminate plot holes (if you are writing fiction), before publishing your book.
Proofreading: try having a beta reader. A second pair of eyes never hurts, and you might even be able to get beta readers for free.
Format your book according to standards. Some self-publishing platforms do not care about standards and allow you to self-publish a paperback via POD even if the formatting of your book does not conform to the normal standards of font, typesetting, page numbers, etc.
Get a good cover. Or at least a decent cover that won’t look unprofessional. Can you do it yourself? Depending on your skills in digital illustration. If you feel like devoting the time you could use to write to create a perfect cover, then go for it. If not, consider hiring a good illustrator or get a book cover designed for you from an online platform, such as 99designs. Keep in mind that even the best illustrator, to whom you paid a lot of money, may not be able to create the exact cover you had in mind, so try to convey what you are looking for in the best possible way.
Have a long-term plan. If your plan is to be noticed as a good writer, make sure you put the required effort into your book. If you do some research, you might find online authors who claim to publish up to four books in a year. However, it remains a question mark as to how good these four books are. Whatever you publish online, unless you remove it, it will remain there, a mark on your professional record. Whether that mark will be good or bad is up to you. So, don’t worry about spending much more time on your book than you had planned to make it good.
Part 3: Marketing and Advertising
When it comes to marketing and publicity, it doesn’t matter if you are talking about self-publishing or traditional publishing. If you are self-publishing, your sales and success will depend directly on marketing and advertising. If you are traditionally publishing, your publisher may not put enough effort into it. Publishers sometimes do not have the resources to market your book before it is published. This is true for large publishing houses, which might put more effort into marketing their ‘established’ authors, who already have fan bases and make a lot of sales when they publish a new book. On the other hand, a small publishing house might not be financially able to do a good marketing campaign for your novel.
For these reasons, it is necessary to remember that these days, authors have to worry not only about the books they are writing, but also about marketing and publicity.
1) The differences between marketing and publicity
All activities that, whether as a self-publisher or a publisher, serve you to generate more sales for your book, fall into the line of marketing. In simple terms, marketing a book means researching the potential audience and placing carefully prepared advertisements in which the potential audience can be informed about your book and enticed to buy it.
Advertising, meanwhile, wraps up all the activities you or your publisher will do to control the public image of yourself as an author and your books.
For example, let us say you have published a romance novel and have been relatively successful. Now, you want to try your hand at science fiction. Since your established audience liked your romance novel, chances are high that they will also like your science fiction novel. However, in this case, you are crossing genres, and since the author’s name has already been linked to romance, your readers expect you to continue writing romance. Many writers, in this case, choose to publish under a pseudonym. For example, when J.K. Rowling decided to write books about a detective, she used a pseudonym.
2) How the way you publish (traditional or self-published) can affect your marketing
As a general rule, when you are traditionally published, it is the publishing house that will take care of the marketing. When you self-publish, you have to take care of everything yourself, including marketing. This means you will either spend some time learning marketing strategies, finding out which marketing strategies suit your book, and then seeing how much it will cost, or you will hire someone to help you with these tasks. Both options can be very expensive, especially if you are hiring someone. The good news is that you can hire companies to take care of everything for you for a fee, saving you some time.
Remember, traditional publishers have entire marketing teams dedicated to marketing your book, and these marketing teams have contacts and a network they can use to generate attention, whether on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Goodreads. When you self-publish, you won’t have those contacts and that kind of network, and you’ll also have the cost of advertising covered. So, think carefully before you decide to self-publish.
3) Tips for marketing your book
It is important to market your book if you are self-publishing. In that case, here are some of the things you need to do:
Create a website and a blog
Create a mailing list for news
Create professional social media profiles (your personal Facebook profile will not do, nor will your funny Instagram account)
Create an author page on Goodreads
Try to get more followers on social media
Investigate your audience, where you find out:
What your audience likes and expects
Where they look for new books (Amazon, Goodreads, social media or local bookshops)
Where you should place your add for maximum visibility (Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, etc.) If you are posting on Amazon, offer your book for free for a limited time
Once you have an established audience and followers, create author giveaways or run competitions where winners receive prizes (books, advanced chapters of upcoming books and other trinkets, which can be bookmarks, stickers and more)
Ask popular reviewers if they would like to read and review your book
Ask your readers to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads if they liked your book.
If you are publishing traditionally, you will be able to do most of the above, however, you may not be able to offer your book for free to generate more sales. However, you can create competitions and giveaways, either on your website or on other platforms. You can use social media to attract even more attention, especially if your publisher cannot afford an expensive marketing campaign for your book.
4) When you might need a book publicist and tips for hiring one
If you are just starting out with your first book, chances are you do not need to hire a book publicist. The reason is because even book publicists have to start somewhere – they cannot be your marketer or publisher for you. A book publicist will ideally help draw public attention to you as an author and your book as the newest positive thing on the market. However, publicists can be a great investment for you if you have already established yourself as an author and now need an amplification to improve what is already (hopefully) a good image.
However, don’t hire a book publicist if you:
Can’t really afford them and expect them to work for the percentage of sales (book publicists are not literary agents)
They are virtually unknown and have not put a single word or publication out there.
Take it easy and be persistent. If you feel you already have a good base to stand on, then you might consider hiring a publicist. Here are some tips on how to recognise a good book publicist:
They have previously worked in your genre or niche;
They have basic publicity plans that you can tweak together to meet your book’s needs;
They will provide you with basic publicity material they have done for other clients;
They will have a network of contacts in the industry and in your genre and can obtain author interviews, TV and radio programmes and more;
Offer full disclosure of results, even if advertising activities are not yielding ideal results.
Just like with a literary agent, you need to be able to trust your publicist and trust that they are doing their best to help you achieve your goals and get more attention for your book.
Publishing a book is hard work, no matter how you look at it. Traditionally, publishing can be a gruelling experience with many rejection letters before a publishing house decides to accept your book.
On the other hand, self-publishing is much harder – while you wait for your book to be accepted and published and maybe write two or three more books while you wait, once you decide to self-publish, you will have to spend so much time on production, marketing, promotion and distribution that your next book might not come out for years.
Or, you might not want to spend too much time on marketing and promotion, you just want to publish as many books as you can. Some authors manage to publish a short book every month or two on Amazon, but even readers know that good material takes time to write.
In conclusion, before you decide which path to take, establish what you want to achieve as a writer. If you want literary recognition and a Pulitzer, for example, work on your craft until you get published, because self-publication rarely leads to literary recognition and awards. If you just want to get your book out there, then opt for self-publication. But before self-publishing, make sure you do your research and homework, and do it well. Your first book, even if it is self-published, will leave a permanent mark on your career as an author, so make sure you do the best you can when self-publishing.