How To Publish Your Own Book: Tips For Self Publishers
By Mark Hempshell
There’s little doubt that one of the most exciting things you can do as a writer is to publish a book. (I should know, I’ve had over a hundred books published in my time and it excites me every time.) So here I’m going to explain how you can actually publish your own book…. and make good money from it.
In the past you pretty much had to find a publisher if you wanted to publish a book. But today new technology makes it possible and actually not too expensive to become a self publisher and do it yourself.
And – self publishing can be a very smart choice indeed. It’s affordable (if you know how), fast, pays much better than standard royalty agreements, and lets you keep control over your book too. Publishers might offer you a royalty starting at as little as 5% of the cover price. Self publishers can increase that to 50% or more!
Can the average person successfully self publish a book? Yes they can! There isn’t really any mystery involved. You don’t need to set up a big publishing company – you can do it part time from home. All you need is a saleable subject, good presentation – and determination.
These are the basics of self publishing: Writing your book, preparing it to be printed, getting it printed, distributing the book, getting publicity…. and, of course, counting the profits.
Here are some basic pointers to get you started publishing your own book:
* Choose your book subject. Non-fiction books tend to be much better for self publishing than fiction. Because they sell for higher prices and aren’t usually heavily discounted like novels and so on are.
Try to choose a fairly small, specialist subject to publish on. If your subject is small big publishers won’t be interested in competing with you yet you can still make good money from your book.
* Do some research. Look for competing titles and figure out how to make yours better. Find out what sales of those books have been to see if they are good sellers or not. Tip. Have a look on Amazon to see what similar titles there are, and find out how popular or unpopular they are by looking at their Amazon Sales Rank. Go into some bookshops and ask the staff there if the kind of book you have in mind is something they get asked for often or not.
* You can save money by doing as much as possible yourself. You will need a printer. But beyond that, do as much as you can yourself and just buy in the extra services you need from freelancers. You can even typeset your own book using software such as Adobe Publisher. Use a freelance editor/proofreader to edit your book and a freelance designer to design a good cover. It needn’t cost much if you shop around.
* Decide what format you’d like to publish your book in: Hard cover or paperback for example. Take a look at competitors’ books to get some ideas. Paperback might not look as impressive as hardback but it can cost as little as a quarter of the price.
* Get lots of quotes on printing – since this is likely to be your main overhead. In general, the more copies you print, the lower the unit cost. On the other hand, you don’t want a garage packed to the rafters with your books! Before hiring a printer ask potential suppliers to send you samples of their recently printed books.
* Check out print on demand publishers. Print on demand or POD is ideal for self publishers. Instead of printing hundreds of books in advance using traditional, ink-based offset printing you send a computer file to the POD printer. Books are then printed and bound ONLY as and when you sell them. So there’s very little upfront cash outlay and nothing’s wasted if your book doesn’t sell.
* Get an ISBN for your book. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the standard code for identifying your book in the book trade. Once your book has an ISBN it can be ordered by any bookshop anywhere in the world!
* Decide how your book will be distributed, ie. how it will reach the bookshop or whatever. The conventional route is to go through a book distributor who will do everything for you – but they will expect around a 50% discount on the cover price for doing it. Some print on demand companies can also do it for you.
You can also distribute your book yourself if you want to. If you do, you’ll need to contact book shops directly and ask if they’re interested in stocking your book and handle all the orders. This can be a good choice if your book is a locally-orientated book. It’s usual for book shops to accept books on sale or return. Which means you leave them and if they sell, you get paid. If they don’t, you take them back.
You can also get your books sold on Amazon and similar online bookstores very easily.
* Be prepared to do some marketing of your book yourself. Distributors can do this for you, but you’ll get much better results if you get involved in a hands-on way. A very good way to get publicity is to send review copies to newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations…. better still offer yourself to do interviews. This is totally free publicity that can sell hundreds or even thousands of books if it works out!
Although a few self published books have become best sellers self-publishing is best thought of as a bit of a cottage industry. Then again, if you’re getting 50% from your book rather than 5% you can see that you could make £5,000, £10,000 or even £20,000 a year just from selling a few thousand books!