Self Publishing Guide
Publishing a self help book is a great way to put your knowledge and
experience into a written form that will allow readers to absorb your
information at their own pace.
Putting your information into the hands of readers is a big benefit that can reap many rewards.
Self help books are a great way to provide readers with a portable reference source, for when they need it most.
Below, we’ll give you an outline to help start the publishing process.
Where to Start
If you haven’t written your manuscript yet, there are a few things to consider about the book you want to publish.
How Do I Write a Self Help Book Manuscript?
You home or office computer is a perfect place to start. Since most of your book will likely be text, any one of the word processing software packages like Microsoft Word, WordPerfect of Works should be fine.
We recommend creating an outline, perhaps even a table of contents first to give yourself some objectives and goals in writing each of the chapters of the book. Since a book like this will normally consist of many chapters, it is important to note that for the final printing we will need one contiguous file of your work. If you are going to write your book in separate chapters they will ultimately need to be cut and pasted into one final file for printing.
Selecting software to write you manuscript for most books that are primarily text is quite simple. As noted above we recommend one of the more popular word processing packages. See below for some pros and cons of different alternative software options.
This is one of the most common software packages used to write and layout self help manuscripts. It’s easy to use and will produce kind of results most authors of this genre of book are looking for.
The only real drawback of Word is that it does not handle images and graphics well, but in most cases self help books are text so the few number of graphics you may have will probably be fine.
This is another one of the more popular word processing software options, and for a self help book this software would be great. It handles text similar to Word and would work fine for any manuscript that has limited numbers of graphics in it.
Adobe InDesign and Quark Express
These software packages are best for self help books where complex page designs, graphics and layouts are involved. They produce excellent results when used for images, graphics and illustrations that need to be included in your book. For books where most of the content is text, these options are probably more than most people would need. The only real draw back of these programs is that they have more options, therefore take time to learn and are expensive.
Editing and proofreading your self help manuscript for printing
Editing is particularly important for books that are primarily text, and one of the first pre-printing tasks you will need to be concerned about is the quality of your written self help manuscript. We cannot stress highly enough the value of proofreading and/or editing of your manuscript before any printing is undertaken.
Self Help Book Size Layout
The paper your book will be printed with comes in a variety of sizes. In order to optimize the paper and keep printing costs effective it’s best to stay within standard book sizes. If your book is gong to be sold in book stores, they will expect your book to conform to standard book sizes that are preferred by bookstores, and readers.
If your self help is going to be either hardcover or soft cover, the common sizes and ones that most book stores will prefer self help books be printed at are generally 5.5”x 8.5” or 6”x 9”.
Self Help Binding Types
There are two main ways your self help can be put together or “bound”, and here they are with their pros and cons.
- Perfect Binding
(soft cover): Approximate number of 40 to 300: Although these types of
books are soft cover, they do retain much of “book look and feel”
because of their square back. Most pocket books, for example, use
“perfect binding”. Advantages, less expensive than hard cover to
produce while still looking appearing attractive (particularly with a
color cover). Disadvantages, the covers will tend to bend a bit under
different climatic conditions (this is standard for this type of
plastic laminated cover), and they are not as robust as hard cover if
they are heavily used such as reference manuals.
- Hardcover: 50 to 1,000 pages: The most expensive to produce but hard cover books are also the most valued because they look excellent, and last a long time. They demand a higher selling price in book stores and are considered the premium book product. Disadvantages, just the cost and excess weight for shipping.
Self Help Covers
The cover of your printed book is a very important element of your entire book publishing project.
If the content of your book is good and you are confident that readers are purchasing a quality piece of work, then the cover should also represent a quality piece of work.
Although we recommend lamination for better wear and tear on the book, laminating the cover will result in some covers arching or bending from time to time, depending on weather conditions. This is a normal process which is caused when the plastic lamination blocks the flow of moisture through the book cover creating a small amount of pressure on one side of the cover and making them arch slightly. This is the normal action of cardboard covers with plastic lamination, and can really only be solved by going to hardcover.
The front cover should have the title of the book and the author’s name, and when required other text and images may be added to enhance the cover. The back cover could be left blank, a description of the book, or a paragraph about the author. What ever you put on the back, we recommend that it be something that is … “in aid of selling or promoting the book”. Each book and each author will have different needs as to what is contained on the back cover.
In terms of size, the cover of the book will need to be slightly larger than the actual book you are planning on printing. This is to allow for the final trimming to make nice clean lines on all three exposed book sides. If you are going to be making a “perfect bind” book, you will also need to allow for the thickness of the back of the book (spine) as determined by the number of pages in the book.
If you will be using any images or graphics on the cover that need to print with high quality, we recommend using a professional graphic program like Adobe Photoshop for best results.
We highly recommend color covers, and we also recommend that the covers are laminated to help make them less vulnerable to daily wear-and-tear.
Finding a suitable artist or illustrator (or at least one who knows the ins and outs of book publishing) can be a challenge, and finding one that does the style of work you need, can be even harder.