Book publishing is one of the oldest businesses in the world. It started with the invention of writing and the introduction of printing centuries ago and to date has remained a relevant and profitable industry.
Book publishing is the production and distribution of books of all kinds. It is making available printed works like self-made books, textbooks, newspapers, magazines, journals, e.t.c to different readers. It begins by turning the idea of an author into what can be accessed by a wide range of people.
With the advent of digital information systems, book publishing has expanded from print to digital. It has paved way for PDFs, e-books, websites, blogs, online journals, print-on-demand, etc, and has gone from offline to online. Also, it is now a wide profession that requires the coordination of different stakeholders to turn a manuscript into a book.
It is a much-patronised business, with authors creating their publishing companies in order to self-publish their own works. Also, investors and entrepreneurs venture into it to independently serve the need of the general market. Whichever way it’s looked at, a book publishing business is a profitable venture owning to the influx of authors and the demand from the masses.
If you want to venture into a book publishing business in Nigeria, this article comes in handy on everything you need to begin.
Book Publishing In Nigeria
Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software, and other content available to the public for sale or for free. It can also involve the act of distributing written information through print and digitally.
Book publishing is one of the major aspects of publishing. It involves taking a book from an idea stage to what can easily be accessed by a large group of people. A book publishing company is a company that deals in the production of any print and digital work such as motivational books, fictional books, storybooks, textbooks, newspapers, magazines, e.t.c.
Book publishing starts with soliciting and accepting of marketable manuscripts; proofreading and designing; printing and distribution of books; then selling to book retailers or directly to the final consumers from the website. In this context, there is a contractual agreement between the author and the publishing company on the payment or commission pattern.
Beyond the profit, the industry is an impact and result-driven one. The fundamental purpose is to pass on knowledge from one generation to the other by bringing to reality the author’s dream of continuous intellectual development.
With technological advancements, it is easier than ever to start and run your own publishing company. It is more affordable and less complicated as long as you know your onions.
Kinds Of Book Publishing
There are different kinds of book publishing business in Nigeria. Some of which are;
Trade Book Publishing
Trade book publishing involves publishing books for a large group of readers. Here, publishers produce industry-specific books and distribute through book stores, booksellers, book departments, and book clubs.
In trade publications, the general needs of the readers are met, such that, publishers know what the audience needs, and tailor the books to their needs.
For example; fiction novels, novels, picture books for children, biographies, current affairs, cookbooks, do-it-yourself, religious, motivational, etc.
Educational Book Publishing
Generally, educational books are textbooks for instruction in schools, colleges, tertiary schools, and other institutions of learning. They are primarily for academic learning, and can also be a scholarly/academic book.
Educational book publishing is one of the most profitable areas in the business because the government, teachers, students, and parents mostly invest in it. Because every student is required to buy a textbook for their school activity. Also, university academics publications can also be categorized under education books.
Reference Book Publishing
This is an expensive kind of book publishing that publishes material by building on a body of information. It involves the hiring of specialists to serve as authors for the topics or as consultants for general areas of knowledge.
Their markets are majorly public and private libraries where people go to look up information. Some reference book publishers use sales representatives to sell their books.
Examples include; dictionary or thesaurus, Britannica, encyclopedia, e.t.c
Having simplified the basic processes and publishing types, let’s look at a step by step plan on how to start a book publishing company in Nigeria.
How To Start A Book Publishing Company
Every business needs planning, and planning involves getting as much information as you can about the business. This will help you determine if you have the capability to deliver in the business.
In the process of planning, research, and decide on the niche you want to focus on. Will you be printing textbooks, notebooks, newspapers, magazines, motivational books, novels, religious books, e.t.c In addition, decide on the format; will it be print or digital services?
Also, in the process of planning, before you begin to think of what to publish, you need to first know how to publish. Hence, there is a need for training on how the business operates if you do not have the experience.
Register The business
The authorized agency in Nigeria that deals with the registration of businesses is the Corporate Affairs Commission. You can register as limited liability, a business name, etc, depending on the ownership structure of the business.
To start the registration process, log on to the official website of CAC, and follow the due process. In case the process is difficult for you, contact ReDahlia. ReDahlia is a stop center for entrepreneurs; from providing beautiful co-working spaces to business consulting services, business registration services and helping businesses achieve global visibility.
After registering your business, ensure you are tax compliant and get all the necessary licenses and permits you need to operate your business.
Get An ISBN Number
If you paid attention, you will discover that every book you get from a book store has an ISBN number. This number stands for International Standard Book Number (ISBN).
It is an identification number purchased by publishers from the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) in order to track book sales. Previously it was 10 but now a 13-digit number broken into four sets with each representing different things.
Therefore, if you want your published books to be sold in a registered book store, it must have an ISBN number. You can log on to the NLN website and find out the best ways to get the number allocation.
Create A Business Plan
A business plan is a document that is essential to the growth of a business. It’s a road map that signals the next line of action at every point in the business. It details the vision and mission, aims and objectives, pricing, company structure, market strategy, financial projection, competition, and a detailed analysis of the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the business.
A viable business plan should be a well-written document of the plans, and how well you can achieve them. Your findings from feasibility studies, research, and planning will help you write a compelling business plan.
With a business plan, you can access loans from financial institutions for your startup capital. Also, you can reach out to investors with your business plan and pitch your idea to them.
If you can provide the needed funding for the business, instead of creating a business plan, you can create a business model using a template like the business model canvas. The business model will cover every aspect of the business and help you look at the business as a whole. Besides, it helps the team to understand the vision of the company and how to achieve it.
Set Up An Office
For a publishing business, you need a physical office where you can close deals with clients. Your office should be accessible and motorable for easy carriage of printed materials.
In setting up an office, you need a computer, printer, dedicated phone, etc. Also, the design of the office should be modern with designated workspaces.
To operate a book publishing company, ensure that the authors own the original manuscripts that you’re publishing so you don’t get into trouble. Also, terms of the business transaction need to be agreed on. To take care of these, they need to sign legally binding documents prepared by a lawyer.
A book publishing company involves the collaboration of different creatives to become a whole entity. You need different skill sets at different stages before the manuscript becomes a published book.
For instance, in every book, grammatical blunders are first eliminated by editors. Afterward, graphic designers will design the cover before it’s produced by printers (if it’s print) or published online for digital books. Subsequently, marketers will then promote the books to the right audience.
You can have in-house employees to do all these work or they can be outsourced while you focus on major aspects of the business like printing and distribution.
Also, you will need sales personnel who can bring in more authors and close deals for the company. n addition, you need administrative staff to help with bookkeeping and other administrative duties.
Stages Of Book Publishing
Basically, manuscript pass through certain stages before becoming a book. The stages are;
Editing And Proofreading Stage
Most times, authors work with editors to improve the quality of the work. Some publishers maintain an in-house style. So, in-house editors prepare the manuscript to match the standard of the publishing company.
Editing can involve eliminating grammatical blunder, creating a particular structure, spell checking, dotting the i(s) and crossing the t(s), punctuation, and fact-checking.
Design A Book Cover
Once the manuscript passes the editing stage, the next stage is to design the visuals. Depending on the kind of book, the design can be restricted to the cover design or may require a comprehensive image and illustrations.
It is usually done in a very creative way by a graphics designer.
Print The Book
During the design, the format of the book is decided, whether it should be print or digital format. If it’s going to be in a printing format, then printing begins. First, print a pre-press proof for a final check in case of omitted errors at the previous stages.
When printing, it can be printed in large numbers at once, printed on demand (POD) or web-to-print. Large print means producing a large number of units of the book at once. Printing on demand is the printing of books in units based on customer demand. While the web-to-print is a more streamlined way of connecting customers to printing through an online medium.
After printing, stack the sheets together through the process of binding.
Distribution And Book Promotion
As established, a publishing company is responsible for bringing a book from the ideation stage to the last point where it gets to the reader. Hence, book promotion is also part of the responsibility of a publisher. As soon as you sign a contract with the author, you are to ensure that all terms and conditions are fulfilled by your company.
Therefore, once the book is printed and packaged, as a publisher you need to create varieties of channels on how to distribute it. It can be through booksellers, other retailers and other channels. You will be responsible for ensuring the book gets to the target audience.
Once the book publishing company is ready, the next thing is to look for clients. Paying clients is the lifeblood of your business, so you have to develop strategies to get customers who need your services.
Firstly, create a website. A website will make your contact, work samples, and all your information accessible to people all over the world.
Also, you have to have a good digital footprint so that you can easily be found on Google when keywords related to your industry are used.
To improve your online presence, list the company on business directories, create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and other social media pages.
In addition, make a list of published and unpublished authors you know. Create a channel to approach them, and look up other writers on social media platforms. To penetrate the market, offer discounts, coupons, or other mouth-watering offers to prospective clients.
Next, make sure you have a well-designed logo, business card, and printed marketing materials that speaks volume about your business offering. Attend industry-related events and distribute your marketing materials. Market your business at any given opportunity.
Also, ensure to imprint your email and contact address on all your published works.
A standard book publishing company makes the delivery of quality service their priority. They accept manuscripts with commercial potential, design it in a very creative way, and bring authors’ dream to live.
In this business, you do not need a huge capital to start but you need to work hard and be determined. Collaborate where you lack the strength.
Do you wish to own a book publishing company someday and you find this article interesting? Or you already own a publishing business and are looking to scale? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments. Also, share this content with your friends and family.
Best of luck.