Over the years, Clark has had a lot of calls from people wanting to publish a book. Most didn't know where to turn after they'd been rejected by all the giant publishing houses, or contacted by fake publishing houses that were more interested in their money than their book!

Then in the late 1990s, bookstore chains and other legitimate players got involved in the self-publishing business. 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. But she's the exception rather than the rule.

So You Want To Be An Author!

Lulu and Blurb are just two of the more respected elders in this new 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, Kiplinger  magazine recommends sites like CreateSpace.com, Lulu.com and Smashwords.com where you can 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 percent 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:

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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