If you’re reading this, the answer is pretty simple. At the most basic, nothing you don’t already have—if you have content.
According to Bowker, the company that will be happy to sell you some ISBNs, nearly a quarter of a million books were published—self-published—last year. So you don’t need anything more than all those other publishers do. A computer, sufficient software to create the book block (all your content) and your cover, and an Internet connection. That’s it.
As I said in an earlier post, the barrier to entry is pretty darned low—so low that last, dying ant in my kitchen could drag a dog over it.
The one thing you won’t have that a “real” publisher will have is a sales force. Yes, Amazon or whoever else will “stock” (virtually) your book, but it is highly unlikely that it will get into brick and mortar bookstores because you will have no leverage to make that happen.
So why would I want to do this? Good question. I’ll see if I can answer it one way or another. Stay tuned.
Go on tour, do lots of readings with local writers that can draw a crowd at mom-and-pop bookstores (there are some left!), get the small bookstores to stock your book. Have a penny jar out for donations for gas money. Couchsurf. Sounds liberating. (Can you tell I have four kids and a full time job?)
If you do this, then I wish you good fortune. Perhaps hope will triumph over experience.