Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kennedy from Somerset, KY. Kennedy Wonders, “How do you publish a book? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kennedy!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you walk into the library? If you stand in the middle of the largest room, you can look all around you and see hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books. Could you ever read them all?

Isn’t it amazing to think of all the stories those books hold? And there are more published all the time. With over seven billion people on Earth, new stories are written every moment of every day. Will the world ever run out of stories? We don’t think so!

Do you have a story you would like to share with the world? If so, you may have thought about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and writing a book. Once your story is complete, you’ll probably want to share it with the world. But how do you go about publishing a book?

Today, there are more options for publishing a book than ever before. The first decision most people have to make is whether to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing.

Traditional publishing involves a publisher. They handle editing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book. Self-publishing, on the other hand, shifts most, if not all, of those tasks to the author.

Do you want to see your book in bookstores across the world? The best way to avoid much of the work (besides writing it, of course!) is to take the route of traditional publishing. Most authors who choose this path first find an agent to represent them. This person helps guide them through the process.

Agents will help prepare the manuscript (fiction) or book proposal (non-fiction). They also send a query letter to publishers who might be interested. An agent’s expertise can be invaluable. They know how to target the right publishers for each type of book.

If they like the book, traditional book publishers will offer a contract. This means they buy the right to print, market, and sell the book. They may do so via bookstores, websites, and other retail outlets. In addition to an upfront payment, authors can expect to receive royalties based on sales of their books.

Nowadays, many authors are choosing to pursue self-publishing. Often, this means authors invest their own time and money to edit, buy a cover, format, print, market, and distribute their books.

This can be very expensive in terms of both time and money. Plus, not all authors have the skills to succeed at these many tasks. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways you can get help with one or more aspects of self-publishing.

For example, print-on-demand (POD) publishers will accept any work for a fee. Books are then usually marketed via websites and social media. As orders are placed, POD publishers print and mail the requested books, paying royalties to authors for each sale.

Sometimes, people simply want to see their work in print. They may also realize their book has a very limited audience (such as might be the case with a family history). They may consider a vanity publisher. Also known as book manufacturers, vanity publishers will print and bind books for specified fees.

New self-publishing platforms arise from time to time as technology progresses. Amazon, for example, offers quick and easy self-publishing tools that help budding authors turn their works into ebooks that can be listed for sale online in a day or two. You can self-publish to many platforms using Draft2Digital, too. 

Of course, you don’t have to write a book to publish your ideas! Thanks to the Internet, you can also publish your material via blogs and social media. If you amass a following, you can offer your work to your followers. This can help build a fan base that would pay for future works.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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