After making the decision to write the historical novel, I realized that I knew almost nothing about the publishing industry. For me the best way to learn something is to go do it. So, while I was busy reading scholarly works on Jewish history, Roman history, and the founding of Christianity, I started turning some other work I had done into a non-fiction book...
I had raised three children in a humanistic way, had produced a web site about humanism, and was performing non-religious weddings. I therefore decided to combine all of this into a book on humanism for parents. At one point while raising my four kids, I had looked for a book like this and couldn't find anything other than some short articles on the subject.
Ultimately, I produced a book called Humanism for Parents - Parenting without Religion and then self-published the book through Lulu. I included a standard ISBN and delivery through Amazon and others and a digital (eBook) form. I also did a formal press release and some targeted emails, both through PRWeb.
This resulted in a number of magazine articles about the book, some book reviews, a radio interview and a number of speaking events.
I can't say that I learned how to get a book published the traditional route, but I did learn a fair bit about the industry. My goal for the book, other than industry knowledge, was to break even financially and to (eventually) sell a thousand copies. I've certainly done the prior and am working towards the latter with roughly 650 sold so far.