Mike Shatzkin lists for us the five essential steps to publishing a book.

1. Creating the content, which requires domain knowledge (the world of the content) and, of course, the ability to discern good and effective writing and presentation. And a knowledge of the content world implies a sense of any particular project’s uniqueness and timeliness.

2. “Packaging” the content in a form that is reproducible. That means different things for print and for digital. And it is more complicated for books that are illustrated or annotated with charts or graphs.

3. “Marketing”, or making potential readers aware of the book. This takes in what we used to think of as publicity and advertising, which in the “old days” largely centered around book reviews and the sections in newspapers that carried them, but which is now much more about search engine optimization and social network marketing.

4. Connecting with the avenues of distribution: reaching the sources of printed books their customers might use — bookstores, other retailers, or online merchants for consumers and wholesalers or distributors for those intermediaries, print and e. You have to sell to them and serve them: persuade them to carry or list the book and then deliver, bill, and collect so they can.

5. Selling rights where you can’t sell books. Because many books, no matter their origin, have the potential to gain additional revenue and exposure through licensing for other languages or placing chunks of the book’s content in other venues (what was very simply “serialization” in the all-print days), rights sales and management is another activity that a book publisher has to cover.

This is quoted directly from Mr Shatzkin’s post One big change in book publishing is that it does not require you to have much of an organization to play anymore.

It is true enough that pretty much anyone can be a publisher now. If you include all the self publishers who have blossomed over the past couple of decades — and why would you not? — the number of publishers must be in the millions. Somehow people have managed to translate this fact into a tale of doom and gloom forecasting the end of the traditional book publishing company. It is of course exactly the opposite. The ease of setting up as a publisher doesn’t demand that the publishing company which gets set up be a one-person operation. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. I insist that little publishing companies will continue to be formed as publishing people find their courage, or lose their jobs, or insist on their own point of view. As Mr Shatzkin reminds us, almost all of the functions he lists can be done by freelance labor. But I cannot remember a time when publishing companies did not all use freelance labor. Different publishers will freelance out different jobs, but just because they don’t have a warehouse, or a design department, or a sales force, or whatever, this or that publisher does not cease to be a publisher. The capital requirements for establishing a publishing house have shrunk. Does anyone really think that means publishing will cease to exist?