And, if you are thinking of starting a publishing house to have your revenge, keep control, or make money, you might as well start with the 12 step program

For anyone thinking to become a publisher (ie, start a legit publishing house) here is your 12-step to-do list:

  1. Pick a name (stop by a library, look at Writer’s Market, and use Goggle to make sure no other US publisher is using that name)
  2. Get a .com web address in your company’s chosen name.  (.com will make your life way easier, don’t purchase anything else or any other web addresses with the same name but a different extension, it’s a waste of money)
  3. Register the name to yourself. ($7.00)
  4. Put up a webpage (Use if you want a good, reliable easy to use, fully functional, loaded with extras, exceptionally priced host with great customer service — $50/year)
  5. Rent a PO box for deliveries/submission
  6. Apply for a business license. . . ($35-50)
  7. Run a DBA (Doing business as) advert ($25)
  8. Get a Board of Equalization reseller license (free)
  9. Get an EIN from the IRS  (Free, over the phone!)
  10. Establish your business account at a bank (free)
  11. Once you have your bank card . . . .
  12. Purchase a block of ISBN’s, probably 10 or 100  ($250-525), from Bowker.

Now you are set up to do business as a publisher in the eyes of your city/state/country and other publishers . . . .  But, there are additional steps to embark on — because you still don’t have a book to sell.

  1. Purchase Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat) to create your books, logo, etc.
  2. Design your logo and Vista Print some business cards. (optional)
  3. Apply to the Library of Congress to join the PCN program (free).
  4. Set up your BOE account and go to a class so you are sure you understand how it works (free)
  5. Set up with LSI, that’s Lightning Source International.  To handle your printing and distribution services worldwide, including digitally.
  6. You will need separate contracts to deal with Amazon and iBooks.( Barnes & Noble works with Ingram, LSI’s parent.)

Now you can work on the book.

  1. Format the book out with your software.
  2. Create a cover template using LSI’s cover generator (this will include barcode)
  3. Get a LoC Control number (through the PCN program) and be sure to include it in the book.
  4. Set up your title with LSI & Upload (total cost, $75, plus $12 a year for catalog)
  5. Do a short print run, say 5 copies ($40).
  6. Have people read them, and correct any errors. ($40 to re upload the entire corrected book, or cover, so worth it)
  7. Set up the book as an ebook. (separate ISBN)

Not really done yet . . . .

  1. Do a short print run, so you can mail 1 copy to LoC PCN program (required) and 2 copies to LoC Copyright office.
  2. Set up an account with the copyright office (free),
  3. Submit your copyright claim ($35) and mail them the books
  4. Update your website & BowkerLink showing your book is for sale.
  5. Decide if you are going to allow it to be on Google Books (Free)
  6. Create another version for Amazon Kindle (with another ISBN)
  7. Make sure your accounting (Quick books is good) is kept up to date because the IRS and the BOE will care.

If you’re thinking holy crap, yeah . . . that’s what it’s like. And we’re not even talking about marketing here or contracts you have with authors, editors, designers (because we’re going to presume you’re doing it all with the help of concerned family and slightly tech savvy friends.)  But we want to be honest with you  —  This is just the bare bones basics of getting a book to market.  If it sounds overwhelming, it can be.  But basically it’s just step by step, slow and steady.

If you want to put your book into an audio or pod format . . . that’s for another day.  We just want to talk books today.  And if you walk away with no other useful piece of information, remember the name Lightning Source.  There’s a lot of steps to publishing, but if you can’t make and deliver a product, you’re out of business. Basically LSI gets you into hardback, paperback, and ebooks, with a low overhead. If you have the guts and the passion, LSI lets you turn into a real publisher putting out real books on a small scale, or a very large one, all over the world.

We really recommend that if you are going to become a small publisher, you think about going with LSI for 3 main reasons:

  1.  You can start from the ground up, and learn to do it all over time.
  2. You never have to shell out for a book you won’t use.
  3. You have instant access to a host of services that make your life way easier.

We meet a lot of people who start up a company to publish a book (usually their own), only get stuck with a bunch of ISBNs they’ll never need, and worse, a bunch books they paid for but can’t shift that now take up storage space. Basically printing books you can’t sell is money you’ll never get back.  That won’t happen with LSI because you can go POD, until you hit some bigger orders. And sadly, many of these publishers don’t even recognize that if they do get themselves into this horrible situation . . .  it’s still not the end of the world.  There are book overstock and remainder resellers, who will take those unwanted books off your hands so you can then write them off as a loss.

Any here’s a brief list of what LSI does. . . .

Print to Order

  • With this service the publisher sets the retail price, wholesale discount and return policy.
  • We send the data out to our Distribution partners (including leading distributors such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, and others).
  • They capture the demand from booksellers, libraries and consumers and we print to fill the order.
  • We collect the wholesale price, deduct the print cost and pay the publisher the balance.
  • The price for this service is $12.00 a year per title. Just one dollar a month.
  • B&N purchases through Ingram Book Group.
  • As you know Lightning Source titles are listed in the Print-to-Order program – an exclusive service that allows Ingram to display 100 copies on hand at all times. As part of this arrangement, and to avoid book buyers from having to backorder, we at Lightning Source guarantee books ordered by Ingram will be printed and returned to their shipping dock within 8 – 12 hours, generally in time to be included in the book buyer’s regular order.

Print to Publisher

  • With this program we fill orders placed by the publisher and ship them in any quantity to any location. That can be one book to a reviewer or 5,000 to a warehouse.
  • As part of that service we offer Offset printing on paperback quantities of over 2,000 or hardback quantities of over 750.
  • Turn around time on digital printing is days, turn around time of offset is about 7-10 days depending on the books specifics.

Offset printing

  • Offset printing isn’t a component of Print to Order.
  • We also offer traditional printing services for titles that require large print orders.

Pretty amazing. At their site, you can read over various contracts, get a grip on what happens in production, what things cost, learn about print/distribution/marketing . . . . and we recommend you do all that if this is the route you want to go.

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