This guide gives you expert answers to all your questions about book publishing and the book market: from finalizing your content and cover, to choosing the right publishing channel, to marketing your published book. In principle, anyone can publish a book. It is only important to know some basic rules of book publishing in order to publish a professional and successful book.
Step 1: Prepare for book publication
Is my book ready for publication?
“How would I know?” an uncertain debut author might respond. An already very experienced author, on the other hand, would say, “My book is thematically unique and is guaranteed to be a big sales success.” When we talk to authors at tredition, we hear both equally often. Anyone who has worked on a book for months or years naturally has a very close bond with their text. It is then difficult to judge one’s own work with some distance and self-criticism. So if you are thinking of publishing a book, you should give it to others to read before publication, from whom you can expect an honest assessment and constructive criticism. Of course, it’s also important that you would accept criticism from these people – because, as we all know, that’s not so easy to do. After all, you yourself are the supposed expert in the field. But often this feedback helps for a good self-reflection, whether rework is still necessary. Of course, “test readers” who are also involved in the topic of your book are ideal. For example, if you have written a fantasy novel, it would be best if someone who is passionate about fantasy texts also read this text.
Niche expertise required for technical and non-fiction books
With technical and non-fiction books, you may not find a 100% suitable expert as a test reader, but it often helps to have someone with an academic background take a look at it who can then also give an assessment of the topic. In the field of scientific publications, test reading is usually even mandatory. The so-called “peer review” is a quality feature of a scientific book. In this way, you feel your way to the answers as to whether you are ready and whether your book is really ready for publication. If you are still at a very early stage of writing, our article “Developing a book idea – 5 strategies for the sparkling idea” can be valuable.
Finishing the book
Many authors underestimate the work that is still necessary on the “home stretch” to book publication. Be it that your test readers still discover inconsistencies or that you yourself discover that the plot, the character constellations, etc. are still in need of revision. Please let your text literally “mature”: A few days after writing a long passage sometimes works wonders. Then reread the text and revise it for inconsistencies or spelling and punctuation errors.
Professional editing: a sensible investment
In the end, authors often can’t see the forest for the trees. By this we mean that you can go through your book a hundred times and still find mistakes. By this we don’t just mean spelling mistakes, but logical errors as well. Especially in complex plots with several parallel storylines, there is a risk that you will miss something. However, a reader will quickly notice such plot errors and be disappointed. Therefore, it is important to consider whether you should use proofreading or editing services for the final work on your book.
It is usually good for the linguistic and content quality of every book if you once again commission the view of an expert for the written word. If you want to publish your book with a traditional book publisher, the publisher will usually do the proofreading anyway. In self-publishing, on the other hand, it is your decision to have your book proofread. You can find out more about this below. By the way: At tredition, you can also book a proofreading or editing service if you wish.
How do negative reviews affect book sales?
Studies have shown: A single negative review (e.g. on an online retailer like Amazon) keeps about 22% of interested readers from buying. With three negative reviews, it is already 59% interested readers who do not buy a book for that reason. Therefore, a detailed quality control has a direct influence on the success of your book.
What do I want to achieve with my book?
Assuming you’ve written a nutrition guide that you’d like to use to gain notoriety as a fitness coach, you should carefully consider which publishing channel is appropriate for that purpose. Perhaps the reputation of a publishing brand plays an important role for you. In addition, you may need professional support when creating your book, which is demanding in terms of content and graphics.
If, on the other hand, you have written a family chronicle that is primarily of interest to your personal and perhaps local environment, then you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time looking for a publisher, but can publish the book through self-publishing. Self-publishing a book – note: this is not self-publishing – is the most challenging and has few advantages.
For both of your book publishing goals, publishing or self-publishing may be the best way to go.
Where can I publish a book?
There are several ways where an author can publish a book. The traditional way to publish with a book publisher is the most difficult. Only 0.02% of all submitted manuscripts are published by publishers as a book. Self-publishing is gaining in popularity. Every year, the number of new publications in self-publishing grows by about 25%. Another option is pure self-publishing. Here, authors are responsible not only for content creation, but also for production (printing, e-book) distribution (bookstores, online stores), advertising and billing. This is the most elaborate way to publish a book.
Which publishing channel is the right one?
So there are basically three ways to publish a book:
- You publish with a traditional book publisher
- You self-publish, i.e. you get your own ISBN.
- You publish through a self-publishing service provider.
How do you find a publisher?
There are two ways an author can find a publisher for their book: either by submitting to a publisher directly or through a frahlingur. With a publisher, an author must hope that the manuscript will attract interest. In the case of a frahlingur, the latter must also consider the planned book title to be promising. In this case, the agency uses its direct contacts with editors and decision-makers about book publications in publishing houses to present a manuscript to suitable publishers. In the positive case, a publishing house pays for the mediation activities of a frahlingur.
The book publication in the traditional publishing house strives still many authors, whereby there is to increasing extent a change to the Self Publishing. Authors hope that a well-known publishing brand will give their own book a boost. However, it is extremely difficult to realize this desire. A survey of fiction publishers found that only one in 5,000 unsolicited manuscripts ends up being published by a publisher.
Publishers simply do not have the time to sift through and read the large number of book projects submitted. Popular licenses from abroad or follow-up books by regular authors find their way into the publishing program more often. So it’s extremely difficult to find a publisher.
A perfect fit when applying to a book publisher
If you still want to try your luck with a traditional book publisher, it all depends on your application: On the one hand, you should check in advance whether your book fits into the publisher’s program in terms of genre. On the other hand, most publishers do not want to receive a complete manuscript, but a synopsis with a short project description and an informative partial manuscript of about 30 pages (as pdf).
Self-publishing? A delicate mission
If you decide to self-publish your book on your own, the first thing that means is that you need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Without an ISBN, your book cannot be sold in bookstores. You can get an ISBN number from the ISBN agency for about 90 Euros. It is important that you apply for the ISBN before you have your book printed. This is because the ISBN must be printed as a barcode on the outside of the book so that it can be read by scanner cash registers.
Self-publishing a book has the disadvantage that you will have a hard time making your book available in bookstores. An ISBN is the basic requirement for this, but to actually be orderable in a bookstore, your book must be available from book wholesalers. However, these wholesalers do not conclude supply contracts with self-publishers and small publishers. On the contrary, wholesalers (so-called bar assortments) greatly reduce the number of books they keep in stock, as it is only worthwhile for a few titles that are doing well. Only titles with good sales figures are kept in the assortment or only from well-known authors and publishers are included.
Self-publishing service provider: A popular alternative
Finally, you have the option of publishing your book through a self-publishing service provider. In recent years, more and more book authors have chosen this publishing route.
The number of new publications in self-publishing in the German-speaking market is currently growing at about 25% per year. The number of new titles from publishing houses is falling by an average of 5% per year. In self-publishing, authors therefore publish in a dynamic, popular environment.
The big advantage is that you don’t have to take care of everything yourself, as you would with self-publishing. Rather, the self-publishing service provider takes care of publishing on your behalf and selling your book. The services offered by self-publishing service providers differ significantly in some cases. Only you can determine your criteria for choosing a self-publishing service provider. These criteria can help you to evaluate:
- Material: Do you have a sufficient selection of paper types and binding types (softcover, hardcover)?
- Distribution: Where will your book be available? Everywhere in bookstores or only at online retailers.
- Marketing: What tools will be offered?
- Support: if applicable, do you have contacts if you have questions?
- Experience: How do other authors rate the vendor?
Step 2: Publish the book
Now it gets exciting! You’ve finished your book, you’ve set clear goals (such as gaining notoriety with your book, sharing your knowledge, or realizing your dream of owning your own book), and you’re ready to get started! We’ll explain what’s involved in publishing your book with a publisher versus self-publishing, so you’re well informed and can publish your book with ease.
How does book publishing work?
In a book publication, the contents of a book are offered for sale or, in rare cases, free of charge. For this purpose, an author transfers the exploitation rights to a publisher or uses a self-publishing service provider who carries out the publication for the author. This ensures that a book can be ordered in bookstores or offered for download as an e-book in e-book stores. The transfer of exploitation rights to publishers or self-publishing service providers can be exclusive or non-exclusive. In the case of the latter, an author can then still publish his or her book in other ways.
How long does it take to publish a book?
It depends on which book publishing route an author takes. Self-publishing is the fastest, as an author decides when to publish and a book is available in bookstores within a few days. With a publisher, the decision alone as to whether a title should be published at all can drag on for several months. After a positive decision, it can take several years before a title is included in the program. In self-publishing, i.e. publishing without a publisher or self-publishing service provider, an author also holds the reins himself. However, he or she must set up the distribution channels to bookstores and online stores as well as printers themselves. Selecting these partners also takes time. The easier and safer way is definitely self-publishing via a good service provider.
What is the process of publishing a book?
- Write your book quietly and take your time.
- Check your book for spelling mistakes and logic.
- Get your book proofread or at least corrected.
- You decide on the way of book publication, i.e. self-publishing or classic book publishing. Self-publishing, which involves a lot of risks and effort, is not advisable.
- Depending on the publishing method, you now create the cover and design the interior. In self-publishing, you do this yourself. In the classic publishing house, the publisher takes over the activities.
- Start marketing. Even if you have published with a traditional publisher, you should not leave success to chance and also activate your network so that your book gets attention.
Procedure of book publication in a publishing house
When applying to a traditional book publisher, it can take many months before you receive a response. If you are pleased to receive a positive response, you will be offered an author’s contract in the medium term. This contract regulates which rights are associated with the publication of the book, how much you will receive as an author’s fee and which obligations you will enter into. It is then important that you thoroughly discuss all open questions with the book publisher about how they will publish your book. This includes, above all, questions about the contract before you sign it. If you are asked to pay high four- to five-figure sums as advance payments, your alarm bells should ring. You may then be dealing with a printing allowance publisher. Haven’t heard the term yet? In this article, we’ll explain what a printing allowance publisher is all about.
A lengthy process
After taking a long time to find a publisher, you should be aware that the process of getting a book published can be very lengthy. It is not uncommon for it to take another year or two before your book is actually published, even after receiving positive feedback from a publisher. This is mainly due to the fact that book publishers classically work with semi-annual programs, i.e. they launch a new publishing program once in the spring and once in the fall.
Putting your manuscript to the test
When you are ready, the first step is for an editor to read and revise your book thoroughly. You must expect that entire passages will be deleted or rewritten, or that you yourself will have to revise many passages of the book. So your book may be changed a lot without you being able to prevent it.
After the text has been revised, it is passed on to the production and typesetting department, where the text is professionally typeset with everything that goes with it: page numbers, paragraphs, headings, and so on. After that, you may be asked to make further cuts or changes, and at the same time a proofreader will meticulously check the spelling and grammar of your text.
At the same time, the editor, marketing department and illustrators will work on the selection of a book title, a cover or the complete design of the book jacket. Then your book can go to press and be published. This all sounds attractive, but it takes a long time as described, and you have to be willing to not want to stick to your exact content to do it. If you don’t want that, the self-publishing route is probably better for you.
Book publication with a self-publishing service provider
If you publish your book through a self-publishing service provider, the process is a little different. The good news is: Self-publishing is usually much faster than traditional publishing. You don’t have to submit a synopsis, apply, or wait months for a response. But that doesn’t mean that self-publishing is a foregone conclusion or that you shouldn’t pay just as much attention to the professionalism of your book.
Easy book creation without waiting
Self-publishing service providers usually offer authors the option of submitting a book directly online. In the case of tredition, this is very easy. You are guided step by step through the publication process. You decide for yourself which tools you want to use. These include our cover designer, automatic book typesetting, imprint generator and metadata optimizer. Depending on your book genre, the entire process is already preconfigured. We suggest the appropriate book types (softcover, hardcover, e-book, large print) for your book project. There are always several. So you don’t just publish your book as a softcover, for example, but simultaneously or staggered in several book types. This gives the reader more choice. You will also receive recommendations for suitable paper types, binding types, sales prices, and much more. If you want, you only have to click on “Next” and do not have to set anything yourself.
In general, in self-publishing you have full freedom to decide on far more details than with a book publisher, such as the design of the cover, the structure of the content, the blurb or the selling price.
Print to order
Your book will be available on the book market within a few days, as we cooperate with all major book wholesalers. In concrete terms, this means that readers can order your book from a small bookstore as well as from chain stores and all major bookstores on the Internet. Unlike traditional book publishers, self-publishing service providers like tredition work according to the print-on-demand principle. This means that as soon as a customer orders your book in the bookstore or online, it is printed and delivered to the bookstore or customer. This guarantees that you, as a book author, do not have to pay in advance for a print run that may not be sold in the end.
What does a book publication cost?
At first glance, the cost of publishing or editing a book varies greatly. Even with self-publishing service providers, the offers vary widely – from free to a few thousand euros. However, the total costs, including editing, cover design, book typesetting, distribution, production are almost the same regardless of the type of book publication. They are only distributed differently among the participants, i.e. publication in a traditional publishing house, self-publishing or self-publishing.
The costs of publishing a book therefore vary. It depends on the way you publish a book. Most self-publishing providers offer you your publication free of charge. The services included vary and each author must decide which service components are important for the book project. However, it should be noted that authors must bear the costs for editing, proofreading and cover design (if you do not use the free cover designer from tredition) themselves. If the book is published by a publisher, the publisher bears these costs.
What do you earn from a book?
A book author’s earnings from a book vary greatly. It depends on how many copies are sold at what retail price. In a traditional book publishing house, author’s fees range from 4% to 12% of the book price after taxes. It depends on the author’s notoriety, the genre, and the retail price. In self-publishing, these fees are higher, but it must be taken into account that an author must also bear the costs of editing, cover design and book typesetting themselves beforehand. A classic publishing run starts at about 2,500 copies. With a selling price of 15,00 $ before taxes an author earns thus between 1,400 and 5,200 $. So you should be realistic if you are planning to become a self-employed author.
You need enough financial leeway to start and, above all, time to write a growing number of book titles.
According to popular opinion, there are no costs involved with a publishing house. Authors even receive an advance, which the publisher “advances”. There are opinions that demonize all publishing services where authors are expected to contribute to the cost of book publication. This opinion is too divided into black and white. Scientific or art publishers publish books that have only a small readership. Without the participation of an author or sponsors, these projects cannot cover their costs. The term “printing cost subsidy publisher” should therefore be used reflectively in relation to the publishing environment. For the publication of a scientific work, a few thousand euros is not frivolous. For the publication of a poetry book in any case it is!
Your rights and obligations as a book author
If you write and publish a book, you are a book author. Congratulations! You can be proud of that. From a purely fiscal point of view, you are a freelancer and must claim your income from book sales for tax purposes. What you have to consider in detail, you can find here: “Tax knowledge for authors”. As an author, you are automatically the creator of your book, which means that you have the corresponding rights. You can find everything you need to know here: “Copyright for authors”.
Step 3: Your book is published – and now?
This phase is at least as exciting for you as the process of publishing the book itself. Because now your book is really available on the market and you might also get first feedback from readers about your book! Important: After publication, the work is not yet done, i.e. don’t sit back, but keep a close eye on the response your book receives, how sales develop, what reviews your book receives, and how your genre and subject environment develop on the book market. All of this can be helpful, for example, in responding to reader comments, entering into a lively exchange with your readers, engaging in conversation, and further promoting your book.
Marketing your book: the nuts and bolts
If you publish your book with a traditional book publisher, it will be featured in the appropriate publisher’s preview and, ideally, by the book publisher’s sales force in bookstores. Still, you can’t assume that your book will immediately be seen in the windows of numerous bookstores. Moreover, book marketing is from the last century. Book buyers make their decision to buy a book based on very different factors than the presence in the bookstore or recommendation of a bookseller.
In self-publishing, you can easily control the really important factors that make purchasing decisions. To stand out from the crowd, it is therefore advisable to use many measures. There are about 2.5 million available book titles in the German-speaking book market. Every year, about 350 million of these books are sold. This means that each deliverable book sells on average only 140 times a year! A book, no matter how good, does not sell by itself, but must be marketed well.
If your published book doesn’t sell as well as you had hoped after a few months, there can be many reasons for this. Perhaps your blurb and cover are not aimed at the right target audience? Or maybe you’ve set a retail price that doesn’t match the going rate in your genre?
Is it a new edition or a series?
If you have published a trade book, then you should regularly check whether a book update or new edition of your book would be useful and important. Especially in the case of current topics or new research results, etc., this can be valuable for retaining existing readers and attracting new ones. If you have published a novel and have had great pleasure in doing so, it might be a good idea to continue the novel or start a whole series of novels. If you are thinking about this, self-publishing is a good way to do it because of the fast and easy way to publish.