It is easier than ever to become a published author. Authors can self publish their books using a variety of services. Depending on your needs, budget and target audience, you can choose to publish your book through a print-on-demand service or traditional printer, or you can publish your writing online.
Print-on-demand (POD) publishers prepare your book file for printing, but they print copies of your book only as you or customers order them, even if it's only one copy. POD publishers typically charge a fee for getting your book ready to print, then a set price for each ordered copy. Often you can save money on set-up costs if you know how to create a print-ready PDF file of your manuscript. Some POD publishers will list your book on retail websites such as Amazon.com for an extra fee, and some may offer the option to sell your book through the publisher's online bookstore.
Traditional printers print a set number of books. You must pay for the total book run and store the books yourself. Your first step is to discuss with the printer the kind of book you want, the number of pages, binding, and other elements so the printer can give you an estimate of the total cost. Usually it's more economical to print a higher number of copies at once; however, if you don't have room to store the finished books, you'll pay fees to have the publisher warehouse them for you. In a typical printing agreement, traditional printers only print the book; you have to address other important details such as formatting your manuscript for publication, designing the book and cover, purchasing an ISBN number and getting your book copyrighted, and selling and distributing your book. However, many traditional printers offer these services individually at additional cost. Also, some offer publishing packages at different levels that include extra services as well as printing for one price. Compare these packages to see what you're getting for the money, and never sign a contract unless you're sure every detail is covered, including all costs.
You can publish books online in one of two ways: create a website featuring your book's content, or create an electronic book, or e-book. E-books are PDF files that look identical to physical books but can be downloaded to a reader's computer or book-reading device. Customers usually pay for the book file online before accessing it, although some authors offer samples of their book for free. Some small e-book publishers allow you to download your book without cost, but charge you a percentage of your book's price when someone pays to download it. You can also purchase software to create your own book PDF so you can post it for download on your own site. Explore options and do research to see what's available and what approach will work best for you.