If you're looking for ways to publish a book without going through a big publishing house, here's whatyou need to know!

Years ago, many bookstore chains and other legitimate players in the industry started to get involved in the self-publishing business. And now, it's possible to hire a publisher for around $500 and have your book published. Occasionally, a self-published author will end up with a huge hit, such as J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series. She's really more of an exception rather than the rule, but the bottom line is that there are several easy and affordable options these days for self-publishing.

Self-publishing resources

Lulu and Blurb are two of the more respected elders in this new(ish) world of self-publishing that's booming -- thanks to the power of the Internet.

With these kinds of services, you can do any number of arrangements. At Lulu, for example, binding your first book can be as low as $4, plus 2 cents a page. Blurb has several more features and the costs are a bit higher. But these are legitimate alternatives to the mega-publishers.

Remember, these do-it-yourself services are ideal if you're publishing in small batches, such as a family history for a limited number of relatives. 

If you're interested specifically in the e-book format, CreateSpace.com, Lulu.com and Smashwords.com are all highly recommended services that allow you to create a free e-book out of your finished manuscript. Then the really hard work begins: Getting people to buy what you've written! If you can manage that, you can reportedly retain between 60% and 90% of your sales, with the rest going to the publisher or distributor.

Several of the more popular self-publishing houses are listed below:


Due diligence helps you avoid the scams

One special note here. During his more than 20 years on radio, Clark has had to repeatedly warn hopeful authors away from all of the self-publishing scams out there. Up until about 1998, the "vanity press" industry would charge people outrageous sums to publish a book. It wasn't unusual for someone to pay $8,000 - $12,000 to these phony publishing houses.

The best advice Clark can offer is be skeptical. Use the collective wisdom of the Internet to help you steer clear of rip-off artists. Special thanks to one listener who suggested the following resources to vet out the bad guys: