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Ask the Expert: How can I self-publish my book?

How do I find a self-publishing company for my book that can solve my problems without requiring thousands of dollars up front before we even start?

Answer by Laura Peterson, Lakeside Press

To successfully self-publish your book, instead of starting with a large cash payment, let’s start with questions that can guide you to real success with your publishing endeavor.

The first thing you need to determine is whom did I write this book for. In other words, who is my audience? Is this a family history book? Is this a memoir? Is this a work of local history? Is this a novel for a broader audience? Is it a how-to book? If it is a novel, is it romantic, historical, etc.? What age group did you write this book for – children, juvenile, young adult, adult? These examples are only a small sampling of the questions that need asking to determine the audience for your book.

Having a general idea of who will likely be reading your book will help you to determine most elements of your entire project. For example, do I need an editor? If it’s a family book, why spend the money? If it’s a work where you are expecting a general audience to purchase your book, you should certainly consider hiring an experienced book editor and not just a friend who is pretty good at grammar.

The Lakeside Press family. From left, Linda Lopez (graphic designer), Tim Peterson (pressman), Avery Peterson (Tim and Laura’s daughter), Laura Peterson (general manager/graphic artist/marketing analyst), Mark Peterson (editor/production manager) and Marie Peterson (editor/customer service). Photo by Scott Thoma

The next step, with or without editing, is to design the book. Whether you choose to do-it-yourself or hire it done, there are important things to consider. There are two major elements in book design: interior design and cover art. Interior design includes typestyle, type size, leading, gutter width, photo and caption placement, design elements such as icons, color and page numbering. Cover art includes many of the same elements as interior design but with the additional visual responsibility of selling the book from front cover art to back cover copy. All of these design elements, including interior and exterior design, typestyle through back cover copy, create a book that speaks to your target audience.

Your book is almost ready to print and there are still questions to be asked such as: Do I need proofreading? How do I format for printing? What kind of paper do I use? Do I need soft or hardcover binding? What quantity should I print? These questions need to be asked and answered in order to determine what publishing company best fits your needs. Do everything you can, buy what you can’t.

Every step is critical with self-publishing, and it’s important to be able to pick and choose which services you need without paying for services you don’t. Getting sucked into an all-or-nothing company can hurt your pocketbook and your project.

Lakeside Press is an á la carte company that is willing to help you ask the questions and answer them. We are willing to work with you, whatever your personal book printing needs are: be it editing, interior and cover design, proofreading, or printing. We pride ourselves on only doing what you need, when you need it.

To Learn More

To learn more about Lakeside Press, Inc., call 1-800-371-5849, email, or visit their Web page at

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