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Tips for writers 4


Self-publishing – is it for you?

The fourth set of our new pages of tips for writers

  1. Do you really want to get your book published? Self publishing offers the chance to control your own publication and, if you are successful, you will make more money.
  2. Have you tried agents and publishers, and made sure that your work is as good as you can get it before submitting it? If so, then you should consider self-publishing or indie publishing as it is often called.
  3. Before deciding to go for self-publishing, you should think through what is involved. Certain kinds of books lend themselves to this approach. If you have a book which you can sell after your lectures, or as a promotional tool, or there’s some local or specialist interest in what you have written, then self-publishing can be a good idea. If you’ve written a novel and want to self-publish, you should think hard about how you’re going to market it.
  4. If you are planning to self-publish you must make sure that your book is in good shape. This involves copy editing at the very least and you might be best advised to invest in a report first. Copy editing should always be carried out on a final manuscript.
  5. The arrival of print on demand some years ago means that self-publishers can now publish their book for a few hundred pounds. Print on demand machines can produce one book at a time and, although each copy costs a bit more than if you ‘batch print’ (which might mean 500 or a thousand copies in one run), you are in a much better position as you have not had to raise the money to finance printing the books and neither do you have to store them. The stock risk, which over the years has dogged publishers, leading to overstocks and remainders, can be a thing of the past. You can order one book at a time if that is what you need.
  6. The advantage of this is that you can set up your book for print on demand and, once it is published with an ISBN, anyone who wants a copy can go into a bookshop and order it, or they can buy it online, from Amazon or another online retailer. The order will go through the wholesaler to the print on demand printer and the book will be printed and supplied in the same sort of timeframe as it takes to get a copy of a book from a publisher’s warehouse.
  7. You should note that there is an absolute distinction between self-publishing and vanity publishing. In the former you are the publisher and you make the decisions about pricing and orders. It’s also up to you to do the marketing for your book, unless you have paid someone to work on this for you. Vanity publishers charge upfront for printing the books. You never have the confidence of knowing whether they have actually printed them and you certainly can’t check whether they are doing any marketing.
  8. Only you can decide whether you want to take things into your own hands and self-publish. If you are successful you can kick-start your writing career and may eventually find a publisher, if this is what you want. If you are less successful, at least you will have the pleasure of seeing your book in print and the opportunity to take things into your own hands and to sell it.

Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.

What is self-publishing?

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Tips for Writers 1: Improving your writing
Tips for Writers 2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers 3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4: Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers 5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
Tips for Writers 6: Other kinds of writing
Tips for Writers 7: Keep up to date
Tips for Writers 8: Submission to publishers and agents