CAUTION: This is not a short answer, Megs!
In the old days (before the technology for book-making kicked in), the only way to have your book published was to submit it to endless publishers and hope that one of them would take it on. The "royalty" publisher would pay for all costs. Nowadays, there are other options. Hang on and I'll try to show you the differences, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the "do it yourself" method and going the traditional royalty route.
All of my CCA, CCB, and Goldtown books are published by Kregel Publications, a traditional, CBA (Christian Book Assoc.) royalty publisher. They pay ME for the privilege of publishing my books. They pay all the printing, editing, and design costs, do all the marketing and distributing (worldwide), and make sure the books are in Christian bookstores and on places like CBD, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Other publishers in the Christian market like Kregel are Moody, Zondervan, Cook, and Thomas Nelson (there are lots more). When Kregel sells my books I get part of the profits. This is called "royalty" payments. Just to let you know--it's not much. Which leads me to the advantages and disadvantages of the ROYALTY publisher.
ADVANTAGES: It doesn't cost me anything and I don't have to do any work (except write the books and revise them, of course). I get professional editing, cover design, and formatting, and except for one or two teensy typo-errors (which were corrected in the next printing), I never see any mistakes in the text. They can get my book to South African bookstores (and they have).
DISADVANTAGES: The chance of a publisher taking your manuscript in the 21st century is close to the chances of winning the Lottery. With bookstores on the decline and costs going up, it's tough to convince a publisher to take on your project, especially as a brand-new author. You have to go to writers conferences and somehow network and pitch your story. A lot of work. Another disadvantage is even though you can give input, the publisher (who is taking all the risks) makes the final decision as far as page count, price of the book, and yes . . . even the series title, book title and cover design. So, basically, you give up control in exchange for having all of the advantages.
|My "Lulu.com" book that I wrote when I was a kid.|
It varies. I can only tell you from what I have done. I hope Rebekah M. can "re"-chime in with a comment on this post on how this route works for her.
There are dozens--I might even say hundreds--of printers on the internet who would be more than happy to publish your book for you. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of do-it-yourself publishing:
ADVANTAGES: If a royalty publisher will not take your book, you can still have one! I tried it with the book shown above . . . a story I wrote as a young teen. This route is a lot of fun for kids and teens who want to write a book and give it to Grandpa and Grandma for Christmas and "hold" a book in your hand. It was "free," as in . . . it cost me nothing to upload and design the book. The book itself cost about $4.00 plus a bunch of shipping. I enjoyed doing it, even though it was a lot of work. If you are serious about publishing your own book for other reasons (not just for a few fun copies), here are more advantages: You have to pay all the costs, but when you sell it you get to keep 100% of the sales (rather than a very small % the royalty publisher sends you when your book is sold. They take the risks; they keep the major portion of the sales). YOU choose your title, cover, how the book will look, the page count, basically everything about that book is YOUR decision. If you like control, this is the way to go. However . . .
DISADVANTAGES: With that control comes all of the responsibility. You have to find (and pay for) a professional editor to look over your work. No matter how many times you read it over, your family reads it over, and your friends read it over, nothing takes the place of a professional editor and proofreader. Many skip this (all-important) step, and the book shows it. I don't think I have ever read a self-published book that did not have some kind of spelling, grammar, or formatting errors in it. Another disadvantage is that you have to pay for everything. My self-published, fun book cost me pennies; other "custom" publishers will charge you thousands of dollars to edit, design, and typeset your book. You also have to market (sell) all of the books yourself or talk a bookstore into carrying it (nearly impossible unless you are a local author at your local bookstore).
And there you have it, Megs. No doubt this is way more than you wanted to know, but the 21st century has opened up so many possibilities. Nowadays, it's true: everybody's an author. This is a good thing for authors, but sometimes not such a good thing for hapless readers. Truly, the old adage holds true: You can't tell a book by its cover . . .