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Self-publishing means that an author publishes their book without the involvement of an established publisher. This means that the author is not only the writer but also the publisher.
Self-publishing was a real challenge years ago, but the process is much simpler now with digital distribution and Print on Demand services. Nowadays, the barrier to entry is almost non-existent, and everyone can easily self-publish a book!
However, this simplification of the process has generated another type of problems. The new authors are now not able to clearly see what is required from their side to produce a book they will be proud of. It is not unusual for first-time authors to totally regret their first edition as soon as they see the first review.
Thus, self-publishing is a great opportunity for everybody, and in fact a very rewarding one, but only if you take the responsibility of learning how to do it well.
To answer this question properly, we suggest you move your focus from looking for the exact strategy to an assessment of your specific situation.
It is crucial to get clarity on what you can and cannot do.
For instance, self-publishing is a great fit for you if you:
- Want to keep control of the copyrights on your manuscript, and
- Have the will to invest your time and money in producing your book to industry-standard level
In evaluating the option of publishing with a traditional publisher, keep in mind that for both fiction and non-fiction books, it is very hard for a new author to find a publisher who will publish your book if you do not have:
- A superb manuscript, that arrives under the right eyes (not an easy goal itself)
- A big following or a valuable and visible position in your sector
Without any of these two elements, your chance of receiving an offer from a traditional publisher is almost nonexistent. A good example is J.K. Rowling, who had her novels rejected by several publishing houses before she was offered a book deal. J.K. Rowling now runs her own publishing house. Thus, if you are relying on the income from your books, you better look for something more than 10-12% of the book price, which is usually a maximum of 2.5 euros per copy. That is what traditional publishing houses offer you in the very best-case scenario.
In contrast, self-published authors can receive 3 to 5 times the royalties traditionally published authors get. However, the downside to self-publishing is that it is difficult to reach bookshops and you will have to manage the entire promotion process autonomously. Also, if your main goal is to gain visibility and become an authority in your field, then there is no doubt you can achieve that goal quickly with a renowned traditional publisher.
The other case where a traditional publisher can be the right option is when you are not willing to spend any money. In this case, you have no other option than hoping that your manuscript will be selected by a publishing house. If this is your case, our suggestion is that you take a more active approach and release your book as an eBook first (to reduce costs) and gradually embark on your journey of self-publishing. If you still cannot give up on your dream of being published by a traditional publisher, you can first self-publish to gain some visibility and use that to get a deal with a publishing house in the future.
Self-publishing a book properly is not easy. Despite this, at least half a million books are self-published each year. Thus, though self-publishing has its own difficulties, it is by no means impossible.
The good news is that technology nowadays can be of great help. Along with the help from Print On Demand services, digital distribution, and a publishing consultant, it is now possible and affordable to design an effective strategy to self-publish and launch your book. Starting with an eBook first can also make your adventure in self-publishing easier.
It all depends on what you can and cannot do. If you are technically savvy, you can use software like Calibre or Vellum (only Mac) to create the eBooks yourself. However, if you are not, you will have to get familiar with the various software yourself, which usually requires a significant amount of time and effort.
We do not suggest taking shortcuts, such as using platforms saying they can “magically” convert your Word document into an ePub, especially if it is your first time creating an eBook. The outcome of taking these types of shortcuts often do not produce professional results and have the potential of numerous technical issues that you will have to deal with later on.
The alternative solution is to work with a professional who can populate your content in the right format. The cost of the production of an eBook is much lower than the cost of producing a printed book.
Do not underestimate the importance of a professional cover. Your eBook will have to compete and be selected amongst a vast number of other eBooks with cover designs; you want your cover to make your eBook stand out from the crowd.
You also have to choose the platforms to distribute your eBook. There are many platforms to sell your eBook, so take your time to choose the right one for your target audience. The most popular platforms are Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP, run by Amazon) and Ingram Spark. If you want to publish only in the format of an eBook, a fairly good solution nowadays is to use one of the following platforms: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, or PublishDrive.
Yes. The industry is full of authors who rose to fame after self-publishing their works. Some of the most famous self-published authors include: Joseph Malik, Jean Joachim, Amanda Hocking, and Mike Omer. All of these authors were previously rejected by publishers but found their success after they turned to self-publishing.
In order to be successful, it must be clear to you that merely publishing a book will not necessarily attract readers, and that no book will sell itself.
Because of this, the most important task before you self-publish your book is to define what success means to you. Assess your situation, acknowledge your capacity, and write down your publication plan and goals.
The chances are, your first book will not become a best-seller, especially if you are a new author. However, to increase your chances of becoming successful, we suggest you to not stop after your first book but instead keep on writing. You can even create a series for your book, which can be done with both fiction and non-fiction books. It is a common practice for self-published authors to write and publish multiple books to test the audience, and most importantly, to have more sources of income.
Getting an expert to look over your work will also help. This will make sure you avoid mistakes, accelerate your publishing process, and receive professional opinions from a qualified individual on the major decisions you will have to take regarding the publishing of your book.
Always remember that your book will have to compete with other self-published authors but and foremost, with what big traditional publisher are producing; it is crucial to make your book stand out in some way!
A common misconception is that you are forced to do all the work when self-publishing, but that you would be free of worries when you secure a contract with a traditional publisher because no additional work such as editing, promoting, and marketing will be required from the author. This is simply a myth and far from reality. In the current market, it has become increasingly difficult to secure a contract with a publishing house. However, if you do get offered a contract, remember that publishing houses will not risk losing their money by heavily investing in new authors. Unless you are a world-class author, you will have to promote your book yourself because the marketing efforts made by publishing houses are usually very limited or non-existent. Also, if publishing houses do not explicitly state on the contract how much effort they will put in promoting and marketing your book, then they really won’t; publishing houses will distribute your book on Amazon, bookshops, and other online retailers, but will not put in further effort to market your book. Thus, giving up control on the manuscript, design, and sometimes even the content of the book is a tradeoff an author is accepting when publishing through publishing houses, in exchange for the distribution in bookshops that they provide. In conclusion, even if you are published by a traditional publisher, you will have to work hard to promote the book yourself if you care about the final success of your book. Taking all this in serious consideration, we suggest you to carefully evaluate the consequences of selling your rights to a publishing house.
Reviews can be very important to a buyer when deciding which book to buy. That is why you should strive to have your book reviewed before you launch. Companies like the San Francisco Book Review will review a selected amount of work for free and can help sway buyers to purchase your book.
Before you start the process of self-publishing a book, you need to make a checklist to follow. Attend a course on how to self-publish, or talk with a publishing consultant can help you plan for all the unknowns in a project like this. The process can be long and challenging, but you can achieve success by being organised.
There are so many ways to market your self-published book online including investing in a website, growing your social media profiles, pushing for more online reviews, spending some money on advertising your book and building your presence on Amazon and within reading communities. Look at what your competitors are doing and try to best them.
Yes, Ireland is known for its creative people and this applies to self-publishing. According to the Irish Times, Meath, Wicklow and Kildare have the most self-published authors per population but Ireland does not keep track of exact figures. What is clear though, is that the Irish media have written extensively on successful Irish self-published authors for the past five years and are showing no signs of running out of advocates.
If you are torn between self-publishing or using a publishing house, consider that self-publishing is faster than normal publishing as you set the pace. You also set the price without worrying about a publishing house taking their cut of the profits. The cost of self-publishing can be as low as €250 if you are careful so you can save money by using this route.
You can self-publish a book on many different platforms like Amazon, LuLu, and Writer’s Garage. The first step to getting your book self-published is to put your book together and then you can decide how much help you need with the publishing side. Amazon gives very little help, Writer’s Garage is with you every step of the way.
Yes self-publishing can be profitable but only as profitable as you make it. If you put no effort into the promotion and marketing of your book you will see little return. But if you spend time devising a great publishing marketing strategy with a trained professional you can be sure that you will find success from your project.
Yes you can self-publish on Amazon. This is a free service that Amazon provide through Kindle Direct Publishing. You can reach your target audience quickly and publishing can take less than 5 minutes. Kindle Direct Publishing ensures that your work will appear on Kindle for people to find when they browse.
Yes, a pen name or pseudonym can be used in self-publishing just like in traditional publishing. Normally this is more common in fictional work, as non-fiction relies on the authority of a person to back up the facts brought forward in a piece of writing. Though for any type of work a pen name can be used.
Yes, self-publishing is worth it if you strive for control over your writing career. Self-publishing is an investment as you choose how much time and money to devote to it. Without including other parties in the publishing process you can ensure you have more say in your brand and receive more royalties.
Our in-house designer will design a customized internal layout to meet industry standards. The internal layout will display a clear hierarchy of sections withing the book, a readable typeface and up to 20 image placements. For illustrated books, this will include a bespoke combination of coloured text, graphics and photos/illustrations. This process will include sending you a PDF proof for approval, and feedback will be accepted throughout the process. To learn more about our internal layout service, click here.
The number of ISBNs you need depends on how many versions of your book you want to publish. An ISBN is assigned to each separate variation of a book. Therefore, when you are publishing your book in print and as an eBook, you will need to purchase two separate ISBNs. You will also need separate ISBNs for hardback and different versions of your eBook (eg. ePub and mobi).
Epub and mobi are the two most common eBook formats in the world.
Epub is the most widely-accepted and industry standard eBook format. It is compatible with Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Google e-readers. It is based on HTML and supports many features. It can optimize your text size to fit that of the screen you are using, whether it’s a tablet, phone or computer screen. It can also embed images, audio and video clips, and allow you to bookmark, highlight and use the text-to-speech function. You can upload your book’s epub file to almost any eBook retail platform.
Mobi is the format using by Amazon’s Kindle Store. You can read an eBook bought from Amazon on a different devices only if you are logged into the account you bought the book from. As Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world, they can insist on having their own format.
As answered in the previous question, Epub is compatible with most eBook readers, while Mobi is only used for Amazon’s Kindle Store. If you want your book to be compatible with most e-readers, go for Epub. However, we would recommend having a Mobi version of your book available to purchase from the Kindle Store as Amazon is one of the biggest eBook retailers in the world. If you are selling your eBook through Amazon, you don’t need to sell it anywhere else – that’s how wide Amazon’s audience reach is.
There is always the option of having both Epub and Mobi versions of your book. In this case, please note that you will have to purchase two ISBNs, one for each version.
We are happy to provide you with bespoke consultation and advice on how to approach bookshops with a proposal on stocking your book and selling it.