Working with a publisher
Don’t send your completed book to a publisher. It is better approach a publisher in an earlier stage. Just send them your book idea, (working) title, back cover, table of contents / structure and maybe an introduction or first chapter. The publisher will also want to know your social media ‘reach’ – how many followers you have on social media, your mailing list size and the access you have to your target audience.
I received these guidelines for a book proposal from an American publisher. This may give you an idea about about how many major publishers think.
Take a good look at the website of the publisher you plan to approach and follow the guidelines given there. A reaction can sometimes take up to 3 months: most publishers get a lot of manuscripts to review.
It helps to make contact via social media. Publishers who are active on Twitter, for example, appear to be much easier to approach.
If you work with a publisher, be open to feedback. You may be an expert on your topic; a publisher knows the book market.
Always discuss the contract that you receive with another author to see if what is being proposed is OK. The standard seems to be a percentage of 8 to 10%. Unfortunately you don’t get rich from writing a book…
Specifically define what you do and what the publisher does. Are you going to source photos for your book, or does your publisher do that? Who takes care of the design? Who decides what will be on the cover? These are not generally things that are in the contract, these agreements arise from discussions with the publisher.
Agree on regular check-ins to find out where you are or whether you are on the right track. Coordinate this with what YOU need.
You don’t need a publisher; you can also self-publish. The process is very straightforward, but I would recommend getting some expert help and following a set format in the self-publishing process.
Printing on demand (POD)
POD is a great option for printing your book and making it available where and when you want, without much effort and without major investment. In contrast to bulk printing, printing on demand means that only books that are actually sold will be printed. You do not have to invest in a pallet full of books and you also have no hassles (or costs) for storage. Everything is possible: direct shipping to the buyer, or a personal message in a book.