Publishing III

Explore what to publish, how to publish, and where to sell what you publish. Raise your awareness of publishing to the next level for business or career success.

Course Code: BWR303
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Share your expertise by self-publishing your own commercial non-fiction book

  • Get your expertise out into the world and change lives by learning how to self-publish non-fiction with mass market appeal.
  • Use a non-fiction book to help support your business goals and get your name in front of new audiences and clients.
  • Learn how to write a book proposal, do competitor analysis, and frame a business plan for your book.

Get started on your publishing journey with this guide to self-publishing books for DIY, self-help, how-to, cooking, and other non-fiction genres.

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. What to publish in commercial non-fiction
    • The difference between non-fiction and commercial non-fiction
    • Using strong voice and narrative
    • Types of non-fiction
    • Non-fiction genres
    • Using reader interest and expectations to help decide what to publish
    • Identifying a perceived need
    • Using cost and profit-making potential to make decisions
  2. Planning a New Publication : Developing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal
    • Why self-publishers need a book proposal
    • Considering the publisher/business perspective
    • What the author wants vs. what the reader wants
    • Questions to ask and answer in the book proposal
    • Starting the publication process
    • Editing and proofreading
    • Typesetting
    • Standard book sizes
  3. Financial Management and Costing a Publication
    • Overview of potential outside services required for self-publishing
    • Print vs eBook
    • Market analysis for publishing in print
    • Competitor analysis
    • Estimating initial print run
    • Creation costs
    • Production costs
    • Marketing costs
    • Distribution costs
    • How royalties work
  4. Managing Resources and Expectations
    • Comparing resources for print vs ebooks
    • Print on demand
    • Just-in-time printing
    • Overview of print expenses
    • Resources required for ebook publishing
    • Analysing the market
    • Developing a business plan
    • Business plan framework
  5. Risk Management
    • Financial Risks
    • Scalability and Risk Management
    • Production
    • Copyright
    • Legal risks
    • Protecting intellectual property, including DRM and IRM
  6. Managing Writers and Illustrators in the Freelance Market
    • Types of freelancers and their services
    • Working with publishers, writers, and illustrators
    • Why authors choose to write
    • Specialist professionals and consultants
  7. Managing Production, Distribution, and Author Promotion
    • Sales agencies, PR, and conferences
    • Establishing an author platform
    • Networking
    • Social media
    • Media releases
    • Timing of production and distribution
    • Quality control
    • Marketing approaches, including total market approach, market segmentation, and developing the marketing mix

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the important considerations that affect the decision of what to publish.
  • Describe the process of planning the publication of a non-fiction book.
  • Discuss the financial requirements to produce a new publication.
  • Develop procedures for managing staff, freelancers and other resources in a self-publishing business.
  • Demonstrate insight into the different types of potential risks in a publishing business, including legal and financial risks.
  • Develop an improved capacity to work effectively with colleagues in the publishing industry.
  • Develop procedures for the management of production, and distribution of a publication.

How to Decide what to Publish  

Reader interest and expectations
There is no single guideline for determining what is desirable content. However, it can be very useful to examine general guidelines by which news publishers choose what is or is not newsworthy (worth publishing). While the criteria may be different, in many instances, the factors that make for newsworthy items may also help determine what makes a good novel or magazine article.

There is no agreed-upon definition of ‘news’, for what is news is determined by many factors, including:
  • The people who publish it
  • Social values and expectations concerning news
  • The political and economic environment
  • Information-gathering and reporting technology
  • Reader interest.

When deciding what is newsworthy, publishers look for articles that will take and hold readers’ interest, and stimulate some kind of dialogue or debate. Reader interest is said to be the main factor determining what news is published. However, there is some debate as to whether the media respond to reader interest, or create it.

News values
Factors that the news industry generally agrees stimulate reader interest are called news values. These include:

  • Conflict – riots, wars, violence, assaults etc that upset social order and arouse emotional responses;
  • Radical changes – progress, successes, developments, rapid or unexpected gains, or failures, disasters, sudden losses of wellbeing or fortune;
  • Consequence – the degree to which events or people affect us or a community, or the perceived importance of the effects;
  • Prominence – fame, infamy, popularity, influence, authority attached to a person, event or place;
  • Sex – private details of a sexual nature, exposes, romances, deviations etc, especially in regard to prominent people or groups;
  • Timeliness – current events are considered more newsworthy that previous or possible future events. For instance, events that provoke great public controversy one week may not be considered newsworthy a week later, though the issues have not been resolved;
  • Proximity – our geographical closeness to the events. For example, a strike in our small community might feature on the front page of our local newspaper, and not even get a mention in the nearest large city;
  • Novelty – anything that deviates (is different) from the norm: Siamese twins, multiple births, unusual practices etc.;
  • Human Interest – these are stories about individuals or communities that may not have any of the above factors, but appeal to our emotions or curiosity (elderly lady forced out of her home because of council fees; hospital for injured wild animals; community support for a burned-out family etc);
  • Special interest – any topic that interests or informs readers: animals, fashion, alternative health etc.

Many of these news values are also relevant to creative writing. Stories that feature a strong storyline will be more warmly received by a publisher than those that lack a good story line. Again, there is no general agreement on what makes a good story.
However, it is generally agreed that a basic storyline contains conflict (internal and between individuals or groups) and changes (developments, reversals, growth and resolution) that are seen to have consequence for the main character or characters. 

Good non-fiction can also contain a strong storyline, which the writer creates by careful  selection and organisation of information. In fact, in many ways, non-fiction writing such as biographies, auto-biographies, histories and news features can be considered as created as fiction writing. Publishers (or editors) select from the many bits of information what is to be included, what overall tone or mood will be developed, even what meanings are to be drawn from that information.

Perceived need
Based on market analysis and simply keeping attuned to what’s happening in publishing and society, publishers can often identify specific needs, such as the need for quality text books relevant to students in their own country, or self-help articles in magazines.  Learning the market - what is wanted, what is lacking – is essential to developing special or niche markets in response to need.

Cost and profit-making potential

In the end, most publishing decisions end here.  Even the most brilliant and exciting concept and most skillful writing might not be sufficient to outweigh financial considerations. Every innovation, every branch into new areas by a publisher, every exciting project must be weighed against the publisher’s evaluation of the risks involved, the cost, and the continuing financial viability of the enterprise. (More will be said on this in lesson 3.)


Who can benefit from taking this course?

People looking to put out their own publication, online or in print. This may include everything from a newsletter through to a glossy magazine.

Freelance writers, authors, and illustrators seeking a better knowledge of the industry and its ethical and legal considerations.

Editors wanting to improve their specialist knowledge of publishing or shift into producing publications.

At the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the scope and nature of the publishing industry
  • Have an understanding of how to identify publishable material and manage writers
  • Understand a standard publishing workflow, and details of marketing and distribution systems including publicity and quality control

Next steps:

Want something more in depth? Learn about our certificates and higher qualifications in writing and journalism here.

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Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rachel Syers

Rachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture.
Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea.
Rachel has a B.Journalism.

Rosemary Davies

Businesswoman, Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher, Consultant for over 30 years.

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

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