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by Mary Embree

Would you like to publish a chapbook of your poetry or short stories? Do you want to compile your recipes into a cookbook? Have you written your memoir, a novel or a how-to book and want to see it in print? Self-publishing isn’t all that complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. The cost of getting your book ready to send to the printer depends on how much you can do yourself. If you can do the cover and page design and the typesetting yourself on computer, all that you will have to spend money on to this point will be the Adobe Acrobat program. You will need this program to convert your document to a Portable Document Format (PDF) and save it on a disk or CD to send to a printer.

Then you can choose a digital printer that will print and bind as few as 25 (or less) perfect bound (paperback) books. The fewer the number of books you have printed, the more the cost per book. But if you can’t sell 1,000 books, why to pay to have so many printed? You no longer have to use a traditional offset printer as in the past. A digital printer will probably be more cost effective for printing up to 500 copies of your book. They might charge about $1,500 to print 500 copies of a 200-page book while an offset printer would have to charge nearly $3,000. If you choose to have over 1,000 of your book printed, however, it will be less expensive to go to an offset printer and the quality will most likely be better.

If you want to sell your books you will have to set up your own publishing company and get a seller’s permit. In California you must obtain a sales tax permit whether your business is commercial or home-based, sales or repair-oriented. This is probably the case in most other states. For more information, contact your state’s Board of Equalization. You will also need ISBNs, a PCIP, an LCCN, and a bar code. All those initials may be bewildering, but they are explained below. You should also get your copyright registered.

Setting up a publishing company, in the beginning, is not difficult and you do not have to consult an attorney to do it. After you have decided on a name for your publishing company you must file the Fictitious Business Name with your county, checking their records to be sure that the name is not already in use. They will require you to publish the FBN in a local newspaper for a period of time. You may also need to get a city business license. Call your city’s business license department for information on that requirement. Then you can start filling in the publishing forms and applications and sending them off to the various entities. They need to be done in a specific order. For example, before you can apply for your PCIP you will need your ISBN and LCCN.

Following is a list of the forms with a brief explanation of each one. For more detailed information on self-publishing, I recommend Dan Poynter’s book, The Self-Publishing Manual.

See the detailed list of where to apply for Copyright, ISBN, Advance Book Information, Bar Code, Library of Congress Card Number, Publisher's Cataloging in publication.

© 2002 by Mary Embree Mary Embree is a literary consultant, editor, speaker, and author of The Author’s Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Book and other nonfiction books. Mary Embree, SPAWN's Founder, is a writer, editor, and publishing consultant.



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