You’ve written something, and it’s time to publish! Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be - expensive, sneered at as a "vanity" project, and often ignored by booksellers. Now you can bring your writing into physical form relatively cheaply, and it can be as glossy and perfect-bound as you like, or if you prefer, hand-stitched and hand-painted. With print-on-demand (POD) services, you can have one beautiful book printed for a family member or friend, or you can print many to distribute to bookstores. It can also be an e-book - many authors are finding great success with self-published e-books. With a self-published ebook, you can have the satisfaction of getting your book into the hands of readers quickly, via many platforms, and even for free or very low cost. The avenues to self-publishing are diverse!
Because there are so many options, you’ll want to inform yourself as best you can. Things to consider include:
- Do you want your book to have an ISBN?
- How do you plan to market your book?
- Who is the intended audience for your book?
Check out our booklist featuring books about self-publishing. Many of the books on this list discuss these questions, among others, that you should consider as you plan your self-publishing project.
What follows are just a few of the many resources available for you to choose from as you consider your self-publishing process.
If you'd like to be able to hold a print book in your hands, print-on-demand (POD) publishing might be for you. Some popular POD printers include CreateSpace (owned by Amazon.com), Ingram Spark (owned by Ingram, a major book distributor) Lulu, and Blurb. Many POD publishers offer ebook publishing, too.
The services listed above are only a few of many available, and the landscape of these services and what they offer changes frequently. These services, whether for print or ebook publishing, vary in terms of rights that you reserve as an author, costs you may incur, the commission they keep from the sales of your books, the support they provide with formatting and design, among other things. Read up on the differences! Please let us know if we can help.
There some local resources that might be relevant to your project, too:
- Portland State University’s Ooligan Press is a teaching press staffed by students pursuing master’s degrees in the Department of English at Portland State University (PSU).
- Powell’s Books has print-on-demand self-publishing technology in the form of its Espresso Book Machine.
- Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is a membership organization with resources and workshops related to printing and book-making. They also have certificate programs in creative nonfiction/fiction, poetry, and comics/graphic novels.
If you’re interested in making contact with a local publisher or association, you might find the following organizations useful:
- This page about Oregon publishers, from the Oregon Authors website (maintained by Oregon Library Association and Oregon Center for the Book) .
- There’s also the Publishers Association of the West, which is a large professional association that provides links to its publisher members and associate members, listed by service - printers and editorial services, for example.
For advice and news, the Alliance of Independent Authors has an advice blog about self-publishing.
Are you interested in having your e-book available in the library? OverDrive is a service that many libraries, including Multnomah County Library, use to provide access to e-books. Like publishing houses, self-publishers must fill out a Publisher Application found on OverDrive's Content Reserve site. OverDrive has also created a helpful Intro to Digital Distribution pdf for new authors and publishers. OverDrive's public contact info can be found here. If your e-book is added into the OverDrive catalog, you can then suggest that we purchase it.
MCL also selects ebooks written by local authors during our annual Library Writers Project!
In your creative work, you may find yourself wondering about copyright law and how it applies to you. We have quite a few books that provide guidance on these subjects - two of these are The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know by Stephen Fishman and Fair Use, Free Use, and Use by Permission: How to Handle Copyrights in All Media, by Lee Wilson. You’ll find quite a few others under the subject heading Copyright -- United States -- Popular Works.
Have fun, enjoy the process, and feel empowered to get your work into print! As always, please let us know if we can help direct you to books or other resources to help with your project.