Finish the book. Hire a copy editor to polish style, fact check and ensure your manuscript is free of typos and grammatical errors. Lay out the book yourself if you have the skills, or hire a graphic artist. Hire a cover designer or create the cover yourself. The cover is the "face" of your work, so spend some time to see what's selling in the marketplace. Whether you handle every aspect yourself or hire help, make sure the finished product is professional.
Decide whether you want to publish an ebook, a print book, or both. The decision you make will determine the platform you decide to use. An ebook is less expensive to publish and offers wider opportunities for distribution. Ebooks are growing in sales as reading devices become more functional and drop in price. Publishing a print book is more expensive and some readers find it more rewarding. You can also use print-on-demand to eliminate warehousing and distribution.
Publish your ebook on one of the many ebook platforms available. These include Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad and Sony’s Reader. Submit your ebook to each of them yourself. Or use a service that converts your book into the proper format for each reader, and submits them for you. One such service is Smashwords, which takes a percentage of your profit and also allows you to offer your ebook for free. Lulu has a similar service. You have to use a service like Smashwords or Lulu to get into Apple’s iBookstore. Sell ebooks as PDFs or Word documents from your own website, or through a third-party site such as Clickbank or Scribd.
Publish your print book using a print-on-demand (POD) publisher. Books are printed as they are ordered so you don’t have to worry about storing a large quantity of books. POD publishers handle all the details for you such as editing, book cover, ISBN and typesetting, with packages ranging from $500 to more than $5000. You can purchase your own International Standard Book Number, a 13-digit commercial book identifier, for about $125 from R.R. Bowker. Publishers will make your book available at Amazon and other online stores. Such companies include CreateSpace, Lulu, iUniverse, and AuthorHouse. Other POD companies aimed at the Christian and religious markets include ACW Press, Bethany Press and Xulon Press. Lulu and CreateSpace allow you to upload your book for no upfront fees. Both take a percentage of each book sold.
Form a publishing company for maximum control, using POD only to print the book. You make more money if you go this route, though it involves more work. Lulu and CreateSpace are printer options. Some self-publishers opt to go directly to Lightning Source. You'll have a learning curve and some upfront fees, including buying your own block of ISBNs. Many authors find that it’s worth it. Working directly with Lightning Source results in a lower print price per book. The company also provides ebook formats.
Upload your properly formatted manuscript. Whether an ebook or a print book, it is critical to upload a properly formatted file. Each publishing platform has its own guidelines. In the case of print books, the company will send you a proof to review and approve before publishing the final product.