How to...publish a book online

So you’ve penned what you deem to be a bestseller, and you want to share your literary masterpiece with the masses. But with so many pitfalls and disappointments facing the unpublished author, getting your manuscript seen, let alone read, can be an almost insurmountable challenge.

Countless rejections from publishers are enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. But it may surprise you to learn that it’s not just the unknown author that can be served some serious knock-backs when trying to publish their work. Several famous authors have also bared the brunt of indifferent publishing houses. Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull was turned down no less than 140 times; Margaret Mitchell’s epic Gone With the Wind given the no-no at least 38 times, while J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was turned down by 12 publishers—guess who’s crying into their manuscripts now? But if you truly believe in your literary dream—and have an entrepreneurial spirit—there’s no reason why your work can’t be published. Arbitrary tastes of publishers or the perceived “saleability” of your book should not stop you either. The net comes to the rescue Advances in the digital world mean that many writers now have the ability to tap into a market that would otherwise have remained a dead-end. Today, any author who feels their work is of value and of interest to others, can go down the road of self-publishing. Self-publishing offers several advantages. Once you’ve had a book published, even if it’s done off your own bat, will raise your profile as a writer and get you known in the right circles—your most fierce critic, the general public, included. Furthermore, when you self-publish you stay in full creative control of your manuscript, and the ultimate look and feel of the end product. Plus the time taken to transform a manuscript into a book is drastically shortened—you could have your book in your hands in a matter of weeks, whereas a publisher could take at least a year or more to publish. Sites like Lulu.com can help you turn your literary labour of love into a tangible reality. Unlike many self-publishing sites, Lulu.com doesn’t charge any up-front fees and you won’t be tied into making a minimum order either. The process is painfully simple: upload your manuscript by following the on-screen instructions to choose your book’s size, design, price and/or commission. Lulu will then take 20% of your book’s cover price. You’re then free to sell your book via Lulu, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or through your own website perhaps. Booksurge.com is another alternative. An Amazon.com company, this site offers manuscript development services, marketing and publishing. You can build a market for your books, create sales and control your books\' trajectory while keeping your options wide open. There are also a growing number of authors opting for print-on-demand (POD). A relatively new technology, it allows a book to be created in a matter of minutes. Books are ordered in small quantities, so the scope for waste is drastically minimised. Publish and be celebrated.