Being a hybrid publisher, I’m not fond of being called a self-publisher. But for the sake of getting the more important point across, our definition of self-publishing today will be anything that is not traditional publishing.

Succeeding at publishing a book on your own, without the middleman, depends on how well you match the services you pay for with the objectives you have for your project. “Self” publishers vary widely in terms of services, quality, and price. Connecting and contracting with an industry-leading publishing services company, when your objectives are quite limited and defined, may result in a great deal of frustration. Contracting with a services company that provides minimal services, when your intentions are varied and perhaps global in scope, could be a complete waste of money.

So first things first. Determine and spell out your objectives. Let me help with these questions.

·      Do you expect exposure to bookstores apart from Amazon? Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million? What about libraries? Will you be scheduling signings in stores in your city? Or the cities you’ll be visiting?

·      Do you anticipate needing global distribution? Foreign language publishing support?

·      Will you be selling your book? At conferences where you speak? Through your website?

·      Do you anticipate selling a lot of books? >500? >1000? >10,000? This will determine how you print your books.

·      Will you need storage for your books? Someone to ship them? Someone to bill bookstores, provide customer service, and reports?

·      Will you need an eBook? Audiobook? Paperback or hardcover?

·      Is it essential that you capture the names of people that buy your book for marketing and engagement?

·      Do you anticipate giving some books away as a means of marketing your brand or engaging media outlets?

·      How important is the design of your book to you or your business? It’s editing, cover, logos, etc.? Do you want reviews in periodicals, etc.?

·      Are you going to be pursuing podcasting and other live interview opportunities?

Do you see where I’m going here? There are many facets to publishing a book, especially when your book is part of your business marketing strategy, and book sales are essential. Professional book buyers that buy on behalf of large retailers know what a professionally published book should look like. They can't be fooled. In fact, they won’t be approached except through an established sales relationship. For my part, I won’t sign a client until I know the answers to these questions, and I can serve them with the services they expect, or refer them to a friend or associate that can.