Googling for Book Publishers opens the floodgates to over 14,700,000 entries which predictably by tomorrow will have already grown by several hundred more.

Browsing through the glitz of ads and special offers or strategically structured sales pages of celebrity testimonials can leave you feeling helpless and blatantly manipulated. Online marketers come from a long line of offline advertisers who are notorious for being able to sell ice cubes to Alaskans and hot toddies to Arizonans.

With all this high-pitched hyper-link hysteria, how do you go about choosing the right company for your book? Which publisher among the multitudes is going to do your work justice and also give you the best bang for your buck?

Ask your colleagues

Most people will tell you that word of mouth is one of the best ways to gather information about a product or service. Be discerning, however. Personal referrals can also send you down a rabbit hole. What may work for one writer may be a potential disaster for another.

Jamie’s Manuscript

Jamie just finished writing a fiction work that has a straight text interior—no graphics or diagrams. He also owns book cover design software.

Jamie is not concerned about books sales, so he doesn’t have a marketing budget. “Writing is a hobby,” he candidly admits. “If someone likes my novel, great! I don’t expect to get rich from it, and chances of me becoming a best-selling author are—well—let’s say fairly remote.”

Jamie is honest. He’s told you his goals and expectations. He’s also told you his focus is not on writing and selling books. In fact, he really doesn’t care about numbers. He just likes to write.

Jamie decides to publish with a budget online “turnkey company.” He tells you that all he has to do is upload his designed interior and cover files and Voila! he has a printed and bound book drop-shipped to his home.

Margie’s Manuscript

Margie is also a fiction writer, but she’s clueless about book design and layout, and meticulous when it comes to editing and proofreading.

Unlike Jamie, Margie wants to sell her book when it’s published; in fact, she wants this book to launch her writing career.

Margie doesn’t have a marketing budget and her publishing budget is also limited. With two small children, she’s chosen to be a stay-at-home mom and her husband’s high school teacher’s salary is stretched to the max.

Margie is thrilled to learn from Jamie about a low cost publishing company that he likes. The ads are enticing and the company certainly gets good recognition. Wherever you go on the internet, anything related to "books," "writing" and "publishing" seems to be linked to this company. It claims to publish thousands of books annually, and the price is certainly right.

Before signing in with Jamie’s publisher, Margie decides to wait for Jamie’s first printed books to arrive until she can evaluate a finished product. She’s glad she did.

Even though Jamie used a spell check, the published book was still loaded with glitches, such as “though” instead of “through,” “two” instead of “to” and “sow” instead of “so.” Most of us know what happens when we do not carefully proofread a manuscript several times before it’s designed and laid out.

Jamie also didn’t bother to proof his pdf files, where he may have caught some of those errors before the book was set up for printing.

Although Jamie does know how to use publishing software, every professional book designer will tell you there’s much more to the process of design and layout than simply converting one file to another. Jamie’s margins were irregular; he forgot to insert running heads; the copyright page ended up on the right rather than the left facing page… and as for “widows and orphans…”

Margie decided to save up her money and place her book in the hands of a publisher that could give it plenty of Tender Loving Care. Another friend recommended a boutique co-publisher and Margie loved the appearance of her friend’s book.

This company also provided Margie's friend with a wealth of reliable information about marketing and promoting books.

Your Book

Your book is not fiction and it is longer than Jamie’s and Margie’s novel. It also includes graphics, photographs, tables and charts and requires an index.

You are well aware that you need a bona fide “publishing company” and not just a company that provides “publishing services.”

A publishing services enterprise prints your manuscript exactly as it is delivered to them. It simply pours the files into their book making machine, which prints the interior, front and back covers and binds both together with a printed spine. It looks like a book, even though it may not meet book industry standards.

Also, a publishing services company does not provide an ISBN number for your book and it does not register it with the U. S. Copyright Office or Library of Congress. Too late, many authors discover they cannot sell their books through many of the online retailers if it doesn’t have an ISBN number.

Check List

Here is a checklist of Must-Haves, if you wish to have your manuscript published by a bona fide publishing company and if you are writing to publish for profit:

1. A project facilitator (not a robot, but a live person) who will work closely with you and make sure each step of the publishing process is completed satisfactorily before moving to the next one

2. Registrations (ISBN number, LC number and registrations with the appropriate agencies)

3. Editing and proofing of your manuscript when it is still in MS Word

4. Professional layout and design; proofing and “tweaking” of the pdf file before it is sent to you for your own proofing and signoff

5. Revision of the interior pdf file if necessary, before the file is set up for printing

6. Professionally designed book cover

7. Revision of the book cover if necessary, before the pfd file is set up for printing

8. Book proof or sample of the digitally setup book

9. Revision of the book proof, with another setup of the cover and/or interior if necessary

10.Sufficient printed copies to be sent to the registration offices and to have on file for potential review and foreign rights requests (I suggest ordering 100 copies initially, with approximately 30 copies to be kept with the publisher for their own sales and promotion.)

Be prepared to pay more for quality services; you will get what you paid for if you choose to work with an expert online co-publishing company.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.

Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.

Additional Resources on Publishing can be found at:

Website Directory for Publishing
Articles on Publishing
Products for Publishing
Discussion Board
Carol Adler, The Official Guide to Publishing