Are you considering the self-publishing process for your book? We hope you’ve been looking at our packages and services, but it can be hard to see where they all fit into the self-publishing process and decide what you need.
Your choices will, naturally, be influenced by your budget and how you feel about doing things yourself. We want to help you make an informed decision.
It’s worth noting that ‘publishing’ is different from ‘getting your book out there’. There are various ‘DIY’ ways to get your book on sale online or physical stores. However, not all routes take into account every step of the self-publishing process. We’ve tried to set it out in a way that answers the most common questions we receive.
Most writers will have friends or family members cast an eye over their book before deciding to take it further. The more input you can get at this stage, the more work, time and money you’ll save down the line. We recommend that you don’t just use friends and family. Share extracts with a local writers’ group, use online beta readers and find as many ways as possible to get a variety of opinions about your work.
How we can help: we offer a critique service where we provide an opinion on aspects like plot, characters, tone, pacing, etc.
After you’ve collected your feedback you’ll want to refine your draft until you feel ready for developmental editing. This type of editing looks at the big picture and includes in-depth suggestions for your writing style, characterisation and plot development. This is a major piece of work and takes some time. It’s a very specific skill, which is why we don’t provide this service at Help For Writers.
While you’re getting your work edited, it’s a good time to think about your cover design. By this time, you know where the book is going: the main themes, the characters, the atmosphere you want to convey and the key scenes. If you start work on the cover design now, it’ll be ready along with the rest of your book.
You should also start thinking about your author bio and any dedication and/or acknowledgments you want. These can also get looked at during the next few stages.
Where developmental editing looks at the big picture, copy-editing looks at the fine detail. Our copy-editing page goes into more detail about exactly what is involved. Along with cover design, this is arguably the most important thing when getting your book ‘public-ready’. It can make the difference between coming across as amateur or professional.
How we can help: our Director is an experienced copy-editor who loves working as part of the self-publishing process. We would be happy to do a sample edit and provide you with a quotation.
In ‘traditional’ publishing, this takes place after the ‘proof copy’ of the book has been typeset. It focuses on removing any errors before the final print run. This includes any errors that have been introduced by the typesetting process or which weren’t obvious before the text got onto the printed page. If your book is destined for digital distribution only, a ‘proofread’ is a bit of a misnomer. With a reflowable file on an e-reader there are different considerations from print. Many people think they need a proofread when what they would really benefit from is a copy-edit or its hybrid cousin the proof-edit.
How we can help: our Director is also a qualified proofreader, so if you’re interested in this service, do get in touch!
If your book is destined for hard copy printing, you’ll need to get it typeset – this means getting it to look exactly as you want it on the printed page. It’s very hard to do this successfully in Word; we recommend Adobe InDesign as a good typesetting software. If you’re doing it yourself, our top tip is to pick a book you like the look of and copy its style and layout. Remember: readability is key! Readers are quite conventional when it comes to the internal layout of books – conventions tend to exist for a reason. So now is not the time to get all wacky and way-out with your font choices. Try to resist the temptation to make line spacing and margins narrower to reduce the page count and save money.
How we can help: we can typeset your book in Adobe InDesign. Along with a good cover design, this gives your book that professional-looking edge.
After typesetting, your book will go down one of two routes: either a print run or print-on-demand (POD). The difference between these is that with POD, books are printed as and when customers place their orders. Someone can go into Waterstones or onto Amazon, order your book and the store will send their order to a POD company, which will print the relevant number of copies (even if it’s just one) and send them to the store for the customer to collect (or, in the case of Amazon, directly to the customer).
A straightforward print run has a less complicated supply chain. You send the typeset file directly to a printing company and they run off ‘X’ number of copies for you. They get delivered to you and you sell them yourself or use them as you see fit, e.g. promotional giveaways. Going down this route may have a lower per-unit cost, leaving you with more profit from each sale. But the down side is that you won’t have your book available through the big high street stores. They only have shelf space for a relatively small number of titles. However, you may have luck getting local independent bookshops to carry some copies, which you can replenish if needed. It does mean that you’re responsible for storing and distribution, and you may find yourself with leftover stock.
Even if you’re getting your book printed, you’ll probably want to make it available as an ebook too. In fact, printing can be such hard work that many self-published authors opt for releasing their book as an ebook only. To do this you need to convert your manuscript file – often in Word – into formats compatible with e-readers. This includes, ePub and MOBI. MOBI is the format used by Amazon Kindle and ePub is used by all others. Although some authors opt to release their book on Kindle only, we recommend you make it available in as many stores as possible.
How we can help: we can get your book converted into ePub and MOBI formats for you. This saves you a lot of time fiddling with the formatting and guarantees a quality output – we check all our files manually rather than using automated software.
After the book has been converted, no doubt you’ll want to check how it looks on your own e-reader. We send the converted file back to you. If you do spot any errors that were introduced during the conversion process, we’ll make sure they get sorted out before your book goes on sale in stores. (Unfortunately, any errors that were in the original manuscript, like typos, are your responsibility, so do make sure that you’ve had your work thoroughly checked – whether by us or someone else − and are happy with it before you get it converted!)
Time to send your book to online stores!
How we can help: it’s true that you can send to a few stores yourself, but we recommend you cast your net as wide as possible. Amazon Kindle, for example, doesn’t have such a strong hold on the market in all countries. We can get your book into over 60 stores, most of which you won’t be able to deliver to yourself.
This is mentioned last, but actually you need to start your marketing right at the beginning of the process, and it lasts for the whole time up to and beyond the book launch. You should start the marketing while you’re still at the stage of getting feedback and finalising the first draft, to start building up the ‘buzz’, growing your online following and generating interest.
How we can help: we offer bespoke marketing for your book because we know that a ‘one size fits all’ approach has limited value. We’ll talk to you about your book, your fans and your requirements and take it from there.
We hope this has clarified the self-publishing process for you and helped you to see where we fit in. Now you know the best order to do things, you can decide what to do yourself and what to get help with.
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