Steps to Publishing a Book

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Hello there!

I’m Gail Woodard, CEO and Publisher at Dudley Court Press, a contemporary hybrid publishing company.

At my company, we turn thoughtful people into successful, professionally published authors.

Unlike most publishers, we don’t start with the manuscript. We start with people.

We know that to succeed as an author, you need passion, a platform, persistence and a book that is well-conceived, well-written, well-edited and well-produced.

The seven steps of our Successful Author System, if followed assiduously, guarantee that you will become a successful published author.

The Seven Steps of DCP’s Successful Author System

The full text of Steps to Publishing a Book is included on this page.

However, we know that some people don’t like to read long documents on their computer screen. If you’d prefer to download a PDF to print and read away from your computer, click the link below.

Download the PDF

WHY DO PEOPLE WRITE BOOKS?

In a recent survey, we learned that people who want to write a book want to feel that:

  • They have been heard
  • They’ve had an impact on the world
  • They have given something to the world
  • Through their book they are changing people’s lives
  • They’ve positioned themselves more strategically in their industry
  • They’ve achieved higher status in their field
  • They have left a legacy
  • They are fulfilled
  • They have shared their ideas and wisdom

If you are feeling the call to write a book, and you decide to answer the call, you first have to create and then you have to share. Writing and publishing are the creation phase. The sharing of your work comes through marketing.

When you master these jobs, you will have fulfilled your calling. You will have offered something of yourself to the world and it will have been received.

Dudley Court Press has developed a seven-step Successful Author System to provide access to the often mysterious and confusing path of publishing a book.

WHO IS THIS SYSTEM FOR?

The Successful Author System works for:

  • Writers of any genre who contemplate self-publishing
  • Memoir writers who want to know what to expect as they publish their work
  • Nonfiction writers who are not professional writers, but want a professional outcome for their book
  • Any writer who wants to know the right path to follow so their book is successful 

The Successful Author System

The benefit to you as an author in completing Step One is that you will:

  • Find out if you have something of value to say
  • Find out if you have what it takes to write and publish a book
  • Discover if your work is good enough

Here’s how to accomplish Step One:

Spend some time writing out your “Why?”

Why are you writing this book?

And then answer these questions fully:

  • What do you want to accomplish with this book?
  • What makes it important for you to complete this book?
  • What’s the payoff you’re looking for with this book?
  • How does this book fit into your life, business or brand?
  • How do you know if you’ve got something unique to say?
  • What do you have to invest in terms of time, energy and money to get your book done?
  • Which publishing path makes sense for you – amateur or professional (self, traditional or hybrid)?

Who are you writing for?

Write a description of your target audience. (Hint: Your audience is NOT “Everybody”)

  • What are their demographics?
  • Psychographics? 
  • How large is your audience?
  • Where do they hang out? 
  • Why are they your audience?
  • What will compel them to read your book?
  • How do they consume books like yours – in what formats? in bite-size chunks or cover-to-cover? for business or for pleasure?

 

To help you write your book more easily, create an avatar, or representative, of your ideal reader. Write 300 words to describe that single ideal reader – what they look like, how they spend their day, etc. This will help you write with more clarity and vitality as you imagine yourself in conversation with this one specific person.

BONUS: Start building your relationship with your prospective readers now! Unlike your social media fans, likes and followers, your website and your email list are assets on which to build your business as an author. 

What are your credentials for writing this book? 

  • Write your bio (for marketing purposes).
  • Create a long 500-word bio and a shorter 50-word bio to begin using in your marketing.

 

What are the top 5-10 books in your genre or category – your biggest competition?

  • Name them. 
  • Study them. 
  • Figure out how your book is, or can be, different. 
  • Read their reviews. 
  • What do people like and dislike about the competition’s books? 

 

How are you and your message unique?

  • What is missing from other books in your genre that you can provide? 
  • What angle can you take that is different?

 

What are your resources for completing this book project – time, energy and money?

How committed are you to this project? Are you ‘kind of’ interested, or are you truly serious?

How does this book fit into your business or life? Is it important?

Your platform includes any and all ways that you connect to your readers and prospective readers.

Your author platform can include your:

  • website
  • email list
  • video channel on YouTube
  • regular newsletter sent to your list
  • podcasts (as presenter or guest)
  • articles – online, in print, on your own website or other(s)
  • memberships in relevant associations
  • positions of authority in relevant organizations
  • social media presence and connections
  • family and friends’ connections

To build your platform, follow these steps:

  • Assess your assets
  • Choose your priorities
  • Create the foundation
    • website
    • your email list
    • social media
    • speaking/interviews/podcasts
    • blogging/guest blogging/articles
    • resources, referrals
  • Manage and grow your platform continually

Be very clear on the message you want to share and write directly to your intended audience.

To help you stay focused, write a 300-word description of your book, and then write a 20-word description, or blurb. The blurb is especially helpful to concentrate your writing with an eye to your target message.

A blurb is similar to what you would hear an announcer say just before a commercial break: “Coming up after the break we’ll talk with John Smith, author of a fascinating new book that … (in 10 words that will keep the audience hooked) …  So stay tuned!”

Get professional writing and editing help if you don’t know how to write. Don’t settle for amateurish writing in your book.

You can find a writing class near you or online. You can find writing groups everywhere. Books about how to write your book abound. Read some of them.

If you really don’t want to write all those words on your own, hire a ghostwriter. Especially for non-fiction authors, working with a ghostwriter is a very common approach.

Get professional advice on structure, style and content for your particular audience so you don’t write the wrong book for your purposes. A developmental editor is helpful at this stage.

You can talk your book – use a digital recorder or app on your phone. You can also record someone interviewing you or telling your stories. Have the recording transcribed ($1/minute – check online for transcribers). Use the Word document you’ll receive from your transcription service as your first draft.

Edit. 

Edit. 

Edit.  

Revise and edit again. 

Use a professional editor after you have completed your own first and second drafts and after you have used Grammarly.com or Hemingway.com to clean up your basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Become an educated consumer of publishing services. Learn the basics about: 

  • ISBNs 
  • LCCNs 
  • BISAC 
  • Amazon listings 
  • Amazon and Kindle categories 
  • book formats (hardcover, paperback, eBook in Kindle and ePub formats, audio book)
  • metadata essentials 
  • registering your copyright 
  • book printing economics 

Decide if your book will be an amateur or professional product.

If you choose the amateur route, which self-publishing service makes most sense for you? Investigate Amazon’s KDP.com, Lulu.com and others. Read your contract carefully to be sure you know what you are getting with the service. Be careful with the huge self-publishing service companies that prey on unsuspecting authors. They will hound you and attempt to sell you an array of services you do not need.

If your project is personal and you don’t intend to sell it or use it professionally, you can benefit from the free and low-cost publishing options today.

If you are creating a book to enhance your business or professional status, be sure to create a book that reflects your status – don’t produce an amateur-looking book!

If you intend to build a career as a writer, by all means learn everything you can about being a publisher too. In the long run, you will benefit from today’s technologies.

If you are writing one book, consider how much time you want to give to learning to publish too. It can be a costly mistake to proceed with publishing on your own unless you are serious and capable of publishing a quality book. 

Books can be published today at any budget level: for free ($0), low cost (up to $1,500), moderate cost ($1,500 to $15,000) and high cost ($15,000 to $35,000 and up). It all depends on what services are provided and at what quality level.

If you need a professional product but want to do it yourself, at the very least invest in professional editing and design for both your cover and interior files. You can still use KDP.com or others to produce your book. You’ll upload the files that your professional designer creates. 

If you want a professional product and don’t want to take on the job of publisher, investigate a hybrid publisher like Dudley Court Press. 

We partner with our clients, working closely together – from strategy and book concept through writing, editing, design, production, publicity and marketing.

Start your marketing well before your book is published.

Commit to marketing your book actively for at least a year. Create a plan with quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals, as well as daily tasks to accomplish those goals.

Decide what kinds of marketing activities suit you best – there are far more ways to market than one person can implement. Focus on the methods and actions that you prefer so that you are more likely to do them!

  • Do you like to use social media? Learn to use it well as a marketing method to sell your book.
  • Do you like to speak? Learn to promote yourself as a speaker where you are paid or can sell your book at the back of the room.
  • Do you enjoy blogging? Learn to make your blogging pay off in terms of book sales.
  • Do you have the funds to work with a publicist? Find a good one who will ensure the results you expect.

If you run out of ideas, search online for “ways to market my book.” You’ll find nearly 4 million articles – many of which offer 10, 50 or a hundred ideas. Pick a few and be consistent in your implementation of those ideas.

Here are some very simple ideas to start with:

  • Obtain your front cover JPG from your designer and use it on your website, in your newsletter, and on social media to build interest.
  • Change your email signature to include something like: “Watch for my new book, title, coming in the spring of 20xx.”
  • Or, after your name, add: “Author of the forthcoming book, title of your new book.”
  • Build your list with intention and consistency with weekly actions that create their own momentum and results over time.
  • Develop a superb Amazon Author Page and Amazon Product Page.
  • Learn how to maximize Amazon’s merchandising opportunities to help sell your book.
  • Get people to post reviews of your book on Amazon. All reviews help. Reviews from “verified purchasers” are especially well regarded by Amazon.
  • Consider marketing your book to libraries and to foreign rights buyers.

Keep marketing your book every week until you no longer want to share it.

Best wishes to you for a very successful book!

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