6 Self-publishing tips

Self-publishing using desktop publishing software offers textbook authors a viable alternative to traditional publishing methods. Patrice Morin-Spatz, self-published author of the McGuffey Award winning textbook cpTeach Expert Coding Made Easy!, and Mark Lerner, professional desktop publisher, recommend that authors use programs such as InDesign or QuarkXPress, or hire an experienced desktop publisher to arrange text, images, tables, and charts into a polished and professional finished product.

Morin-Spatz and Lerner offer the following six tips to help ensure that your experience with self-publishing is a success:

  1. Find an artist. If you don’t plan to create the graphics for your textbook yourself, there are many professional artists available for hire. If your budget is limited, consider contacting the director of a local college art department to inquire about hiring a student artist. Be sure to have a contract with your artist that establishes your ownership of the art that he or she creates for you.
  2. Get your numbers. Contact R.R. Bowker for an ISBN number and get in touch with the Library of Congress for an LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number).
  3. Copyright your work. Be sure you have copyrights over every portion of your textbook, including text, cover design, and all artwork. If you decide to license any component of your textbook, get an intellectual property lawyer to help you negotiate a solid contract.
  4. Know your competition. Know who and what your competition is. By understanding this, you can determine your market, your price point, and why your book is different.
  5. Find an editor. Browse TAA’s Professional Directory or do a Google search to find an experienced editor that specializes in books in your field and offers the services you need. For example, if you want help spotting and solving problems related to clarity and writing style, find a substantive editor, whereas if you need an expert to correct spelling and grammatical errors for you, seek out a copy editor.
  6. Consider a professional desktop publisher. Professional desktop publishers can help you prepare your layout and perfect the visual presentation of your book. Moreover, many desktop publishers are knowledgeable about the process involved in self-publishing and can help bring your project to fruition.