Self-publishing is where everything from the writing and illustrations, acim design and layout, printing and sales are organized by you! Although you may employ some people to help along the way, you don’t have a traditional publisher looking after all these details and decisions for you.
- Having a published book could give you wide recognition and kudos. However, you will still need to promote and sell some copies; in most cases, for a small royalty payment usually no more than 10% of the publisher’s price on your book. If you strike a ‘best-seller’ you might crack volume sales and become rich and famous. You also might win the lottery.
- If you have a few book marketing ideas and feel excited about doing the work, self-publishing can be fun. If you make enough sales, you might have a traditional publisher or two approaching you.
- Self-publishing gives authors much greater control over the production and distribution of their books. Should they be successful in selling their book, they also keep the profits!
What do you want?
A book is a book, right? Well yes but they come in many shapes and sizes, with hard and soft covers, black and white or in full colour and with or without fancy sleeves and jackets. So, what should your book look like? The author that walks into a book printing organization with a manuscript declaring they’d like a published book; but brings no other details is likely to be met with a plethora of confusing questions.
- For many authors the answer to some of the questions may be determined by cost. Producing paperback books in small numbers and with limited colour is probably the most inexpensive option. However, your book style will depend on your market; a paperback may or may not be suitable. You will need to research bookshops and libraries to discover what books are competing with yours. Notice the design, cover, number of pages and approach to the subject matter. You will achieve the best results by sticking to standard sizes and materials. But be sure your book will offer better value than your competition.
- When you meet with potential printers you might wish to discuss the following items that will affect the final presentation and cost of your book: size (this may affect shipping costs also), cover – will it be hardback or paperback, binding – will it be “perfect-binding”, the kind you see in commercial books or a chapbook with staples through the crease for a smaller publication. Also cover design and colours.
- If you haven’t already written your book, this is also the time for you to consider what an appropriate word count will be. If you have already written your manuscript, the above items may persuade you to increase or bring down your word count.
- In addition to printing, you may like to create an e-book version of your title. Some authors only produce electronic versions, which saves dramatically on costs, although you will still need to consider pre-production costs such as those discussed below.
Once you have decided the kind of book you want, it is time to begin the project. There is a lot to consider and knowing what you want will help make the actual process much quicker and easier.
- Printing – you can either print-on-demand or organize an offset print-run. Either option has positives and it really depends on how many books you think you can sell and if you have storage for keeping extra books on hand. The last thing you want is the spare room full of boxes of unsold books that don’t look like they are going anywhere fast! Do your research when looking for a printer and don’t just go with the first option or the nicest person, make sure they are able to print a quality book and possibly store and distribute for you.
- Layout and design – if you’re not a graphic artist as well as a writer (chances are you’re not!), then you’ll need someone to help with the layout of your book. This involves setting-up margins and page breaks based on the size of the book you are publishing, laying out pages and generally making the raw text look like a book. It also includes cover design and possibly illustrations. Most print companies will offer this service, or part of it, at a charge, or they will be able to give you print specifications that a graphic artist can work to. Make sure the person doing this for you knows a thing or two about book design or you’ll waste precious time and money with frustrated printers who are unable to work with the files you have given them. If you, or a friend can layout your own book or partially lay it out, it will save a lot of time and money.