8 things to think about before self-publishing
Are you thinking about self-publishing your first book?
Whether you’re holding the draft manuscript in your hand, or you’ve only just come up with an idea, our Creative Director, Suzi, has the lowdown on the things you really need to be thinking about asap.
Will you print on demand or in bulk?
There are two main ways to get your book published - in bulk or on demand.
Printing on demand allows you to print only the number of books you need, whether it’s one or 1001. This can make a lot of sense. You won’t need to pay the up-front costs of setting up a large print run, and you won’t have to store heavy boxes of printed books under your dining table. It’s also less risky – what happens if you spot an error in a book you’ve just bulk-printed?
However, you will likely find that the cost per book is higher with a print-on-demand service, and you may be limited on choices such as paper type, binding and colour options. If you’re confident that you’ll be able to shift enough copies of your book, a bulk print run might be the best option. Bulk printing usually also gives you better print, cover and paper quality.
Will you use a self-publishing company?
If you’re short on time and happy to throw a little money at the situation it might pay to use a self-publishing company. They will take away the headache of finding freelance professionals that you can trust, and will save a lot of time and effort that you’ll likely spend figuring out the intricacies of the publishing industry.
If you decide to go down this route our advice would be to find a company that charge a one-off fee depending on your project, rather than taking a cut of income. This makes sure you retain all rights to your work.
Who is going to design the cover?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that people really do judge a book by its cover! This means it’s worth putting some effort into making sure yours stands out from the crowd.
Whether it’s a digital copy on Amazon, or a print copy in an indie bookstore, your book’s cover is its first ‘sales pitch’. The text must be clearly readable, and the overall visual style suitable for the genre of book.
You have the choice between hiring a professional illustrator or graphic designer (*ahem* over here!) or doing it yourself. If you fancy giving it a go there are some great tools like Canva, which even offers book-cover-specific templates and tutorials to help you.
Who is going to edit and proofread the manuscript?
Your best friend Janice, who has a degree in English, has offered to go through and spot all the typos for you - so that should be fine, right? Wrong!
Editing is not just about picking up spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, it’s about checking that the structure is sound and polishing the text so it stands on its own two feet amongst all the other books. It’s about checking for inconsistencies and formatting errors and making sure the layout meets publishing standards. Ultimately it’s about saving you embarrassment and reputational damage as an author.
So ask for recommendations and do your homework; don’t be afraid to ask for an extract to be edited so you can see how they work. Above all, start looking early – good freelance editors can get booked up for months. We’re lucky enough to have our very own in the studio, Ali Hull, so get in touch if you’d like to have a word with her.
Who is going to do your typesetting?
We’ve established you want your book to look the best it can be, and you’ve put a lot of effort into getting this far. So it would be very sad to have your typesetting let it all down!
What we mean by that is sticking all your copy in a Word document and thinking it’s ready. A professional designer will use InDesign making pages and chapters look beautiful and margins perfectly in line for the size of book you are producing. They’ll also think about title pages and all sorts of other things you might otherwise miss.
Do you need illustrations?
Obviously this depends on the genre of book you’re writing, but illustrations can break up the text and make the content of your book easier to digest.
Of course they work brilliantly for children’s stories, but we’ve seen great examples of labeled illustrations being used in adult reference books. They make a stylish change from photographs and can add a lot to the look and feel of the book.
Will you be selling the book?
If the answer to this is yes, then there are a few things to think about.
What price will you sell it for? Look at similar books on offer and calculate how many copies you would need to sell to recover expected costs.
To sell a book you will also need an ISBN – this is the 13-digit number you will find above the bar code on all published books. The most cost effective way to buy ISBNs is in packs of 10 or more, but naturally you don’t need 10. That’s why Hullo buys packs and can sell on individual numbers, and even help you order the bar code images if you’d like us to.
What is your marketing strategy?
Arguably one of the trickiest parts of self-publishing (aside from writing the book in the first place!) is shouldering the responsibility for getting your book out there.
Have a think about whether you’re going to set up a website to promote the book, or whether you just need a page on your existing site. Will you arrange a PR launch? Or rely on marketing to your existing mailing list?
Take full advantage of the social media networks – investigate and take part in relevant Twitter chats, and post images, illustrations and quotes from the book on Facebook and Instagram. Why not run competitions or offer a few cut-price copies in return for reviews? The options are endless.
Self-publishing should not be taken lightly. It’s hard work and there’s a lot to think about. But get it right and it can be a great way to get your book out there for the world to read. Not to mention being able to call yourself a published author.
Good luck, and if you need any help or advice please do get in touch.