Do you have an idea for a book? Unless you can find a traditional publisher to fund it (no small feat) your only alternative is to self-publish. There are essentially no standards to what can be self-published. Of course, you fund the project yourself.

There are several companies that offer packages for on the order of $4,000. Among the leaders in the business are:

• Lulu, a very popular self-publishing platform.
• CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon.
• Kindle Direct Publishing.

For your investment vendors provide the book ID (ISBN), carefully edit the text, set the style and deliver a print-on-demand (POD) copy. An alternative is to print offset, a process that runs in quantity. With this you get into the inventory management business.

Few authors get by with the standard package. The publisher’s marketing resources all cost extra and it seems to me that they were a total waste. With offset there are also warehouse fees.

Among the marketing packages offered were services such as professional reviews, Google marketing, and ads in Publisher’s Weekly (PW). The paid reviews tend to be positive whether the book is good or not. PW is an important resource for purchases by Libraries.

Still you are ultimately the chief marketer. Establish a marketing budget and develop a marketing plan. Approach potential buyers, the target market. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

The average self-published book sells 250 copies over its lifetime. In addition the eBook competes with the hard copy. I mistakenly printed 2,000 copies of my book.

After I realized the mistake I tried to back out, and the vendor was extremely uncooperative. I took them to small claims court and got close to half of my purchase returned.

Social media can be very helpful. I have over 500 Facebook friends and over 1,100 LinkedIn connections. You should post observations and articles and occasionally become a “consumer” on these sites, making comments, asking and responding to questions.

I write a lot of articles and have a library of previous articles. These I submit to the EzineArticles site. Be sure to use keywords that are relevant to your book.

So, what advice would I give? Don’t print offset. Live with the POD even though the return is less. Do more research than I did; there are less expensive alternatives, particularly if you are comfortable managing your own marketing. Choose an underserved topic; mine is about business startup and the selection is huge.