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Self-publishing a book: The basics

How does self-publishing work? What does self-publishing mean? In need of some answers? Self-publishing a book offers an alternative way to achieve your writing ambitions independently.

The nuts and bolts of self-publishing a book:

self-publishing a book

Dictionary definition: A writer who publishes their own work independently and at their own expense.

Self-publishing is also an alternative to traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing is the process where you submit your manuscript to a publisher/agent to see if they want to take it on. After this, they then pay you for the rights of the work and oversee the running of the project and marketing campaigns. Generally speaking, a traditional author gets around 8-20% royalties.

Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages and a lot of people come to self-publishing because of rejection. Alternatively, some writers have got major book deals through starting their career by self-publishing, (Andy Weir, The Martian).

 How does self-publishing a book work?

self-publishing a book

First, you need a cracking story that will blow the socks off anyone reading it.

Done that? Good.

(If you’re still at this stage, take a look at our writing technique articles on worldbuilding and creating engaging characters).

The next step is to create the best product possible whilst sticking to whatever budget you set yourself. When self-publishing a book, the author pays for services which they feel would be best overseen by a professional.

If you’re a wiz on InDesign and can create a smashing book cover, go for it. On the other hand, if you feel your talents are best reserved for the writing (don’t worry they’ll be much more of that to come), then we advise writers to always seek professional services.

Although ALL aspects of self-publishing a book need to be slick, the two services we absolutely urge you to gain professional assistance with are copy-editing and cover design.

You may have heard bad things about self-publishing, how it’s about vanity and for desperate writers who are clogging up the shelves. This has stemmed from badly produced books.

If you nail a watertight story and an eye-catching cover, a lot of the hard work’s been done. Furthermore, it gives you the best starting point when going up against the traditionally published books next to yours on the shelf.

 Once the book is made, what next?

self-publishing a book

Authors will decide to go various routes after their book has been produced. This is the beauty of self-publishing, it’s so flexible. The important thing is to make it as easy as possible for people to find your book.

Self-published authors get their own ISBN from Nielsen and set it up under a chosen publisher name, i.e. Willow Tree Books, or, Smithson Press. This then belongs to you.

Ideally, to keep all royalties and control the author will set up their own website as their ‘front of house’ to sell their books. The author then manages everything.

Depending on demand, self-published authors pay for distribution services for both bulk and POD (print on demand) orders.

Some authors prefer that someone else handles this end of things and hire the services of a company. This does mean they lose control and also will have a chunk of their profits taken, however.

And if sales are slow?

self-publishing a book

Feeling rejected?

Good. That’s proof you’re a writer. The trick is to stay motivated and keep writing.

The most valuable skill that sets you apart from other business start-ups is your writing. This is a valuable skill that sets you apart from other business start-ups and something you can access this with ease. So, make the most of your talent with one of the most tried and tested methods of promotion: more writing.

Make sure you’re blogging, active on social media, and most importantly writing more books! Getting as much writing out there for any business is a number one marketing tool. And, it just so happens that you’re an ace writer – you were born to do this.

 Self-publishing a book

You may not have the budget of one of the big five publishing houses, but if you choose to self-publish, you have flexibility.

Nothing says you won’t get a traditional contract eventually, if that’s what you want. But with acceptance rates very small, don’t waste any more time, and get that book out there!

If you’d like to learn more about self-publishing, feel free to ask any questions, big or small. Just give us a call or shoot us an email.

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