People have been asking how we self-published Dream Culture : Bringing Dreams to Life. I’ve just updated this article for my new book God With You at Work. Why self-publish? Did we had publishing offers? What does someone need to do to publish a book and how much does it cost? Here’s our story…

Become an author

© ra2 studio – Fotolia.com

We chose to self-publish primarily to retain ownership of the message. We did have a couple of offers from well-known Christian publishers. At one time I was about to sign a contract but on praying about it, decided to self-publish. It would have been easier to use a publisher and I will not exclude using one in the future should I feel peace about this.

The following is the process of writing our first book. I have added UPDATE(s) for the new book.

1. Write the manuscript

The first thing we did was to write the book itself. Originally Danny Silk had asked me to write a manual for Dream Culture as part of my internship – so that people could take what we are doing at Bethel Church and reproduce it elsewhere. This turned into a 50-page document by the time we had thought through the different steps, values and dream-coach development involved.

On presenting the document t0 Danny he was a little surprised  (he’d expected 10-12 pages). He then said,”This is not a manual, it’s a book.” Hence we were given the manual back and went back to writing. We took the next six months to change it around into a format that would result in Dream Culture becoming a coach and companion to readers on their journey to bring dreams to life. The ‘manual’ part has yet to be reproduced!

A great resource to help you in clarifying your subject and outlining your book is Aaron McMahon’s website and also his resource: How to Write and Publish Your Book. I did his class at Bethel that greatly helped me in the process of writing.

UPDATE: God With You at Work took a year of setting aside 2-3hours per week. Writing the book is the easy part. Editing, formatting and marketing the book take up more than 50% of the overall process.

Once we had completed the book manuscript we did the following:

2. Find an editor

We ended up with two. The first one went through and checked our punctuation, grammar, clarity of writing. She made recommendations that we then went through and either accepted or rejected. The second editor(s) took the document to a whole new level by asking “how do we re-write this so that it would be easier to understand or translate across cultures?” Our first professional editor cost $300 and the second….. free (thank you R&M). I understand other authors pay up to $7,000 for an editor depending on the level of editing required – from ghost writing through to taking rough notes and combining them into a flowing manuscript.

UPDATE: For my new book God With You at Work, my wife edited the book, then a personal friend who has excellent literary ability (for free!). I then used Fiverr.com for a ‘third’ edit. This cost $120 and gave me an excellent result. You decide yourself by reading the book!

UPDATE: I again used Fiverr.com to get five different people to read and review my book: What was the chapter they like the most and why, the chapter they liked the least and why, anything that was unclear, whether they would buy the book and whether they would refer it to a friend. For a total of about $25 I had random strangers review my work and give me some great feedback to make it relevant and clear.

I also gave the manuscript in draft form to a number of friends who I trusted to give honest feedback. This was again an outstanding (but not always easy) part of my process.

If you have a tight budget:  Who do you know that has excellent reading and writing skills and would be willing to do this for you?

3. Find a graphic artist or formatting genius

We had a friend offer to do this for us….free. She is a graphic designer by occupation and worked with us to choose a cover image, font type and trim size and general layout. Now that we have completed a book in Spanish and also a workbook, we understand this can cost between $500 and $1000 if you pay for it to be done. Alternatively you can do this for yourself in Microsoft Word and most of the self-publishing service providers (www.createspace.com and www.lulu.com) have title page graphic help. Hint: use an industry standard book size (trim) as it will be cheaper to get printed.

UPDATE: For God With You at Work I used Brad Webster for cover design and Jonathan McGraw for the internal formatting. The total cost was less than $1500 and that involved me making some post-production changes.

If you have a tighter budget: 99 Designs is a web company that designs logo’s, websites, books, magazines and more. Graphic artists compete by each contributing a design – you choose the one you want. Costs $300-500. Also check out companies like Greenerside Digital. For $159 you can get your book converted to electronic format and for an additional $59 they will design the cover. Once complete you will have the book in all electronic formats (PDF, MOBI, EPUB). Create Space also has formatting and cover creating help but will only give you the MOBI format. EPUB is the e-book format for Apple’s iBooks.

4. Review Your Work

You are the one with the greatest investment in your book. You are the one with the most to gain (or lose) so take the time to re-read the manuscript and check over the formatting to ensure it represents you well.

5. Upload it to a Self Publishing Platform

We used Create Space because they are a print-on-demand subsidiary of Amazon and came recommended by a friend who has published eight books through them. Create Space gives us the benefit of full access and control of our book on Amazon – we set the price.

Check out the Create Space website to find the royalty calculator. It shows you how much you will receive relative to the details of your book. For a book 5.5″ by 8.5″ and 184 pages, with a retail price of $15.00, you would receive $5.95 per sale. This compares to less than $1.00 if you went through a traditional publisher.

6. Order Your Proof – review copy

This is exciting. You are about to hold your ‘just about complete’ book. This is the time to double check your work and make any changes necessary before letting it go ‘live.’ It is rare not to find something that needs adjusting or a slight formatting change. Make the necessary adjustments then upload the reviewed book to finalize…..Then order your first batch of books!

With Create Space you pay the same author-price per book whether you order 1 or 1000. (It is also considerably cheaper than buying back your own books from a publisher). We found that if we want to order a large quantity of books, it is cheaper and slightly higher quality to use a printer – we used Book Printing Revolution and purchased in lots of 1000.

7. Celebrate!

You have achieved a major success just in getting this far. Take your book and some friends and go celebrate!

Other self-publishing resources and comments:

Michael Hyatt : Should You Consider Self-Publishing? – The reason why Thomas Nelson (#1 Christian publisher) launches a self-publishing division

Michael Hyatt : Interview with Kevin Weiss about Self Publishing:

  1. What is self-publishing and how does it differ from vanity publishing?
  2. What advantages does self-publishing have over traditional publishing?
  3. What kind of authors can benefit the most from self-publishing?
  4. Who are some examples of self-published authors who have succeeded?
  5. What should an author expect to spend to self-publish a book?

Rachelle Gardner – literary agent – Book Writing/Publishing Website Recommendations