Are you an aspiring Owell or Austen? Have you got your nom de plume’s Twitter handle primed and ready? Are you sleeping on the next big thing in the book world, only held back by a lack of wherewithal about how to get it onto the Waterstone’s shelves?

It’s something so many of us dream about; finally making good on our fertile, furtive imagination and going public with the great piece of fiction we’ve been working on, or cashing in on the esoteric speciality subject that we would make our own on Mastermind if only they’d let us. Well, we say the time is now, with these; our 7 IDEAL tips for self publishing a book.

THE PROS & CONS

It’s first important to ask yourself why your heart is set on self-publishing as opposed to finding a publisher. As with anything, there are pros and cons to both paths, and it’s up to you to carefully consider them before going forward.

The most appealing aspect of self publishing is the control that it grants you over every part of the process; the content of the book, the way you promote it, the cover, the royalties….it’s all your own! Autonomy never felt so good.

Of course, there are cons; without doubt you are not your own worst critic, and the total sovereignty you have over the book’s content means it might veer into self-indulgence or lose focus. You’ll also miss out on valuable contacts and exposure by not going through conventional channels. It’s up to you which elements matter the most; artistic freedom and integrity, or the clout of a more commercial operation.

FIND AN EDITOR

They say that you should write with fire in your belly and edit with ice in your veins. Here’s one thing that shouldn’t be in your jurisdiction, then.

You need an editor, preferably one with no vested interest, allegiance or emotional ties to the project. A completely impartial eye cast over your work is absolutely essential in getting it to the very best version it can be, ready for publishing. Of course, trusted friends and family can give your book the once over and offer their opinion, but a proper, paid for editor is also needed. Price predictions vary, ranging from about  £500 to £2500, depending on the length of your book and the quality of your writing. In short, this is something you shouldn’t be scrimping on.

CLAIM COPYRIGHT OR ADD COPYRIGHT LANGUAGE

You don’t actually have to ‘copyright’ your book, as such. In essence, as soon as you write your book, it’s been copyrighted; the evidence is there, on your hard drive, of the date the content was first conceived. However, you want to be safe with a commodity as precious as your ideas and imagination.

You can register copyright on the government’s website. You should also add copyright language to your book, usually found on the inside cover and at the back. You’ll need to include publication info, copyright notices, a warning statement and fiction disclaimer.

GET AN ISBN FOR EACH BOOK FORMAT

Assuming you’re planning on publishing a hard copy as well as an ebook version, then you’re going to need to get an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for each format. This is a unique, ten digit number which identifies, internationally, your book to sellers and buyers and is your back cover’s barcode.  Pretty important, then. Without it, no sales can be recorded and no money will ever reach your pocket. The U.K supplier of these magic numbers is Nielsen.

TO PRINT AND TO PRINT ON DEMAND

Once your book is finished (congratulations by the way) you need to distribute it. Luckily, with the help of the internet, it’s never been easier to get your words in front of people. There are plenty of e-book stores like Kindle, Kobo, Nook Press and Google Play where you can upload and submit your books. This DIY way of distribution is usually free and relatively simple. You can hire a third party to handle the distribution of your ebook, but they’ll either expect a one time fee or ask for a percentage of the royalties.

Since e-books make up 30% of all book sales on Amazon and readers may be likely to take a risk on a new author in this format due to the low price and immediate availability, self-publishing an e-book is a no brainer. Of course, it’s more tangible and professional to distribute your book by print and demand, too. This means your book is printed as and when customers order it. Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark allow you to self-publish your books in paperback (using POD) and sell it via their platform. 

THE FULL PACKAGE

Another part of the process which you’ll want to spend dedicated money on is a professional cover design. If you’re proud of your book and want it to look the part, unless you’re also a graphic designer, this isn’t something to take into your own hands. Getting one designed could cost anywhere between £250 and £500, and in our view, is worth it. As we all know, first impressions count, so consider also investing in professional packaging for delivery of your book, such as the sturdy book wraps you’ll be used to receiving if you order your books online. Not only will a wrap ensure that your book arrives to the customer in perfect condition, but it will reinforce the professionalism of your newly found self-publishing skills.

DON’T GIVE UP

Writing a book is hard. Self-publishing a book can be even harder. The process involves so much bureaucracy and so many small details requiring your attention that you might be put off. But don’t be. Publishing your own book, and taking care of every creative and humdrum step, can be hugely rewarding. So, what are you waiting for?