Becoming a Book Publisher

How do I become a book publisher?

I tried searching all I could, but could only find out how to

self-publish, not publish other authors. I have a knack for finding

great authors and persons who have stories for great books, and I wish

to contract and publish them. Is there a book or guide to becoming a

Publisher? I am mostly interested in publishing non-fiction (ie:

autobiographies, and biographies)

Tips for exceptionally on topic and helpful answers. Perhaps there's

a process for commissioning an author I believe in, and then selling

the manuscript to a larger publisher. I'd be interested in that line

of thought as well for another $15 bonus (if you answer both


Thank you in advance.

Evan Evans

2 thoughts on “Becoming a Book Publisher

  1. Hello evanevans~

    Your first question is a very difficult to answer, because there are

    so many variables. How a large New York publishing house is begun is

    much different from how a small press is started, for example. But

    since it appears you don't have experience in the publishing industry,

    I'll assume you'd be starting a small press. (A much better way to

    "test the waters.") In that case, you would need to:

    * Hire at least one experienced editor, designer, publishing lawyer,

    and marketing person. You *could* be editor, designer, and marketing

    person, but unless you have experience in these areas, you're

    undoubtedly better off hiring professionals. Your staff could

    telecommute, cutting your costs. A good place to find such folks is at

    * Get the word out. Writers generally contact publishers with ideas,

    not the other way around. Make sure you have a listing in, which is *the* resource writers use to find

    publishers. Other places to get free/cheap listings include, , and If you have particular book ideas in

    mind, you can also advertise for writers in the latter three


    * Take care of legalities. You should have a standard contract that

    stipulates terms about copyright, etc., and also explains the author's

    royalties and advance on royalties. Once you accept a writer's idea

    for a book, this will need to be signed. (For a good overview of what

    should be in a book publishing contract, see "What Not to Miss When

    Drafting & Negotiating Your Book Publishing Contract:" )

    * Let your staff take over. Your editor and designer can get to work

    on the book as soon as the author turns in a manuscript, and your

    marketing person can also begin coming up with a sales plan.

    * Get it printed. Book publishers rarely do their own printing. They

    hire it out. There are several ways to get your books printed. The

    cheapest is to use a POD (print on demand) company. If you look at the

    following Google search, you'll see there are a wide variety of

    companies providing this service:

    :// .

    The other is to use traditional book printers:

    :// .

    * Get it distributed. Most publishers hire distribution companies to

    get their books in bookstores. For a look at some potential

    distributors, see the following Google search:

    :// .

    Your marketing person should also help you get your books reviewed,

    and help design an online catalog.

    You mentioned that you know people with great stories to tell…and

    sometimes people with fascinating stories aren't really writers. In

    such cases, it's prudent to hire a ghostwriter to pen the story. A

    true ghostwriter doesn't receive any public credit for the book, but

    some people find this practice deceitful–so an increasing number of

    writers have their name attached to the book. (For example, "This is

    My Story" by Jane Ilivedit and John Writer. OR: "This is My Story" by

    Jane Ilivedit, as told to John Writer.") You can find ghostwriters

    through Writer's Weekly, Writers Write, etc., as listed above.

    I should also add that it's unusual for a person to become a publisher

    without first having worked in the publishing industry. Therefore, you

    might consider getting a job at a publishing house in order to obtain

    skills in learning about the market, producing books, and marketing

    books. Another option that would be helpful would be to seek out a

    publishing coarse at a university. Oftentimes these courses allow

    hands-on training with people already in the industry.

    I also recommend you read the following books:

    "Opportunities in Publishing Careers" by Robert A. Carter, S. William


    "Career Opportunities in the Publishing Industry" by Fred Yager, Jan

    Yager, Pat Schroeder:

    "Print-on-Demand Book Publishing: A New Approach To Printing And

    Marketing Books For Publishers And Self-Publishing Authors" by Morris


    "How to Start a Home-Based Desktop Publishing Business" by Louise

    Kursmark (which describes how you can do your own designing):

    As well as the free .PDF "Book & Journal Publishing" by The Publishing

    Training Centre:

    As for your second question, you're really asking how to become a

    literary agent. The best literary agents already have contacts at

    publishing houses; they have relationships with editors and know what

    each house is looking for. If you don't have such contacts, you can

    still be an agent, but the going may be tough.

    The first thing you must do to be taken seriously as an agent is to

    join The Association of Authors' Representatives. For information

    about how to join, see "Would You Like to Join the AAR?":

    The Association will list you in their directory, but you should also

    obtain a listing at .

    Authors will seek you out, but you can also seek them out. A good

    place to find authors–and develop relationships with editors–is by

    going to conferences. A Google search will help you find writing

    conferences in your general area:


    Once you have a project to sell, you'll pitch it to editors. The

    writer herself should provide a snappy cover letter and book proposal.

    A good agent can help authors make their proposal even better.

    Here are some links I recommend:

    "How Do I Become a Literary Agent?",,8171-1537262,00.html

    "Becoming an Agent:"

    "FAQ" (How Did You Become a Literary Agent?":

    "The Role of the Literary Agent:"


    "Sample Book Proposal:"

    The above links should give you a good idea about the complexities

    involved in becoming a publisher or an agent. Good luck and kind




    "become a literary agent"

    "careers in book publishing"

    "careers in publishing"

  2. A clarification: I said that the cheapest way to print books was POD.

    What I really meant to say was that it may be financially easier at

    first. Whereas with traditional printing you must buy several thousand

    books at one time, with POD printing, you can buy, say, 500 at a time.

    This means investing less money up front.

    And I agree with Atk that self publishing books/articles do have

    information that will be useful to you as a traditional publisher.

    Kind regards,


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