How to get your book published

Ways to publish your book

Writing a book involves considerable effort, research and time. Moreover, finding a publisher for your book can equally involve much effort. This article is aimed at people who are looking for ways to publish their first book, as it can be assumed that those who are already published authors are aware of the steps to getting their book published.

If you have expertise in a particular subject and are well known to a publisher, you may be fortunate enough that the publisher asks you to write a book. However, this rarely happens with a first-time author. A more likely situation is that you submit your book to a publisher and ask them if they are interested in it. If the publisher thinks that your book has a good chance of selling a reasonable number of copies, they will probably agree to publish it. Publishers are in business to make a profit, so your book has to be good, otherwise they might not be prepared to risk losing money on the project. For this reason, it is wise to ask someone to proofread your book and to give you an honest opinion of its quality and readability before you submit it to the publisher.  

Advantages of using a professional publisher

If a publisher thinks that your book is of sufficient quality to be published, they will not make you pay anything upfront; also, the publisher will design the cover page and arrange the distribution of the book to retail outlets. They will fix the price and the size of the print run. Most large publishers employ their own proofreaders, so even if you have the book proofread before you submit it, the publisher may proofread it again in order to ensure that it complies with their own style guide which ensures standardisation. The publisher will agree to pay you a royalty which is a fixed amount per book sold. This is usually about 10% of the sale price. You may think that this is a very small amount considering the time and effort you have put into it, but please be aware that out of the revenue from the book sales, the publisher has to pay for the printing process and pay their staff, and also that the retailer takes a proportion of the sale price. At first, you are not likely to make a great deal of money out of your book, unless you become a famous author and your books become national or international best sellers. 

What about self-publishing?

If you are unable to find a publisher, you may wish to consider self-publishing. This involves submitting your book to a printer and paying the cost of the printing yourself. You would be responsible for finding a proofreader and ensuring that your work is correct. The main advantage of self-publishing is that you guarantee that your book is published. However, the main disadvantage is that you take the risk of losing money if you sell only a small number of copies. Another disadvantage is that you will probably be responsible for distributing the book to retailers ­– as well as taking the risk if retailers are prepared to sell your book. You would also need to negotiate how much you would give the retailer for selling your book. Distributing copies of the book yourself is fairly straightforward if it is of local interest, as you can drive around the bookshops yourself. However, if your book is of national or international interest, then it is not so easy (maybe impossible) to distribute it yourself. Nevertheless, all is not lost, you can hire companies who arrange the distribution for you, although this would of course involve extra cost. 

Publishing online

Publishing books online is rapidly become more popular. There are many companies who will arrange this for you. Their services include design, proofreading, advertising and dealing with online sales. Although many companies publish exclusively online, some firms will publish a printed version for you. However, you need to consider how much this will cost you, and balance the royalties you will be paid with the cost involved. It is worth searching the internet to find what such companies offer.


When getting a book published, it is important to consider all the options – professional publisher, self-publishing, online publishing. Be aware of the possible financial risks.

There is real satisfaction in publishing your first book – seeing your name on the cover.

If you book sells well, you may well find the publisher asks you to write another. One day, you may even become the author of a best seller.

The Ultimate Proofreader is a leading UK-based provider of book proofreading services & book editing services.