1. Consider whether or not you want to do it yourself. There’s huge advantages (you keep the money, full creative control, and things happen on your timetable), and huge disadvantages (you either do it yourself or pay someone). I’ve had so much less time and energy to write myself since I started publishing.
2. Unless you get with a big publisher – and maybe not even then –
people are going to have to order your book. If that’s the case, DIYing
it with Createspace or Lightning Source’s “Spark” program is probably
worthwhile. LSI is much more difficult to work with,
though, especially if you don’t already know the difference between RGB
and CMYK, for one example. LSI’s setup is also more expensive, but you have
more options – hardcover, for example, and other trim sizes.
3. Own your own ISBN, or have someone you trust do it. That makes them (or you) the publisher of record. See http://ideatrash.net/2012/02/barnes-noble-amazon-your-isbns-and-who.html for details as to why I think “free” ISBNs are a bad deal for indies.
4. Agents are great for finding more deals and promoting your book.
CAVEAT: All it takes to call yourself an agent is to call yourself an
agent. Look at other books and see who represents established authors
you respect so that you can approach appropriate agents. And do not
forget to check Preditors and Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/
5. In the current publishing climate, you will want to ALSO get a lawyer
who deals with literary contracts. Laura Resnick has a great resource
here about that: http://www.sff.net/people/laresnick/about%20writing/writers%20resource.htm#Lawyers
6. Always dissect the contracts. The reason I mention literary lawyers above is because contract law is a thing unto itself – and current publishing contracts have gotten a lot
more … interesting … as of late. Even my lawyer friends are often
puzzled by them. I dissect the basics of what should be in a
publishing contract at http://ideatrash.net/2013/08/looking-at-your-contracts-compendium.html
What questions do you have about starting to get published (or doing it yourself)?