If you have written a book, recorded an album at home, or made a collection of your best photographs, you may have wondered after you were finished creating your master work, if there was some way to get it published or distributed. Going through traditional publishing channels can be daunting, and let’s face it, the results are rarely fruitful. Competition is stiffer than ever in the fields of publishing and recording contracts, and your chances of becoming the next famous face on the scene are pretty slim. However, if you want to get your stuff out there where people can see it, or even if you just want to make a few professional-looking copies for family and friends, there are plenty of ways to get yourself published.
The trick, of course, is to start with quality content. There is no point to getting professional-looking products made up if the content inside them isn’t worth the money you’re charging. Theoretically you can have anything you want printed, recorded, or bound into a book, but if this is something you want to show off as a portfolio or sample of your work, then you probably want to select the best stuff you have, and take the time to perfect it.
If you are a writer, then don’t just stop at finishing your book or collection of stories — you have to be the editor, proofreader, and cover art work artist as well. If it’s books you want to make (writing, photography, artwork), take a look at a large sampling of other books in that category, and ask yourself what it is you’d like to emulate about the ones you like best. If you want to make designs for t-shirts or other clothing items, learn which designs and colors work well on clothes and which ones don’t. Pay attention to details, and try to get everything looking as professional as possible.
Getting the actual publishing done is the easy part, thanks to a recent explosion of online companies that deal exclusively in small run or on-demand production. A quick search on Google will turn up literally thousands of places in many different countries where you can design and publish anything from novels, photography books, clothing, CDs, artwork portfolios, and even posters that people can buy to put on their walls. The way it usually works is that you upload your content, use one of the provided templates or design your own to assemble the content, and leave the rest to the company. You can either purchase a set of your products from them to distribute yourself, or you can open a sort of online store on their web site, where people can order products directly, and you get to set a profit margin over what the company charges. The company handles shipping, and you don’t have to worry about a thing. Maybe you sell one item, or maybe you sell a million. It just doesn’t matter, because they only produce an item when someone orders one, so there’s no overhead for you.
Self-publishing can be a great option for those who don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time or resources on getting published, or even for those serious artists who just want to avoid the sometimes over-controlling influence of big publishing companies. When you do things yourself, sometimes there is risk involved, but with the way on-demand publishing is structured, usually the only loss to you is the time you spent creating your work, which is time you would have spent anyway. There is no greater reward for an artist than seeing her work published and enjoyed by others, so if you want to get your foot in the door, self-publishing is an easy way to get started.