I have only published two books, so I’m by no means an expert on self-publishing. I made a few mistakes but I also learned a thing or two during the process.
Why self-publish in the first place?
- You don’t need to deal with rejections from publishers
- You’re in control of your book, from size to cover and everything in between
- No promotion and marketing support – as a self-publish author, you’re completely on your own.
When to save and when to spend
Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Know when you can save money and when you should pay for professional help.
- Have a beta-reader, possibly more than one. Offer to be a beta-reader in return.
- If you can afford it, hire a professional editor. Editing is costly, so make sure that you’re happy with your choice. Ask for references, check out a few books she or he already edited, and give her/him a couple of test-pages to see her/his work. If you’re not happy, find someone else. It’s your money.
- You could edit your own work, but it may be difficult. There are books to help you with editing.
- If you can’t afford a professional editor, the second best choice is to find someone who reads a lot and knows a lot about the genre your books belong to.
- Join a local writing group – they can provide lots of help and support, as well as including workshops, etc
- Hire a professional proofreader – don’t try to save money on proofreading. Do not attempt to proofread your book; don’t ask friends to do it.
- One of the greatest advantages of self-publishing is the fact that you can choose your own cover.
- Having said that – BUY A DECENT COVER. (You can hire someone to design it for you, according to your own ideas. No one knows your book better than you. Have a look at other books from the same genre. You’ll get a clear idea what you like and what you don’t.
- You can buy a cover for $100-250. (The price will depend on what you want for your cover. Your choice may be cheaper, or much more expensive than the range given here.)
- If you hire a designer, make sure that you both sign the ownership of copyright for your cover.
- If you consider Print on Demand, don’t forget the designs for the back page and the spine.
- With regards to copyright, you can buy a copyright certificate for your book for about $50 through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home
- Unless you’re a techie, don’t do the formatting yourself. You can hire a formatter who will do your book for $40-$50 per format, and then will upload it for even less. DO NOT PAY hundreds of dollars for formatting and uploading. (Some companies that offer ‘packages’ for indie-authors charge ridiculous amount of money for their services. They offer to help you with everything, from ghost-writing, editing and proofreading, to the cover, formatting, uploading, and even marketing. I contacted one such company to get an idea of costs, just out of interest. We ended up with $7,000 in fees for a book of 25,000 words (100 pages). My books have 250 and 500 pages, for example.
- Another such company offers formatting starting at US$ 475. Amazon and other vendors have strict specifications, so the services provided by these formatting companies aren’t better or fancier than those provided by my formatter, who did it for US $40. My formatter also did all the paperwork for me, including registrations, revenue forms, etc., for Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and iPhone formats, for very little money.
- For an ISBN, the above mentioned companies will charge you between $50 and $100. A Canadian ISBN is FREE. For how to obtain an ISBN check out: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you publish through Amazon/CreateSpace, they will provide the ISBN for you, free of charge.
Join a local writing group (I’ve already mentioned this, I know…)
- I’m a member of CaRWA (http://www.calgaryrwa.com) – the Calgary chapter of Romance Writers of America. You may consider the Alexandra Writers Society (http://www.alexandrawriters.org) as well or some other groups.
- Calgary Public Library (http://calgarylibrary.ca) has an extensive collection of books on writing, publishing and marketing (and names!) as well as FREE online courses for its members. You’ll also find wonderful online resources for writers, from old newspapers to dictionaries, encyclopedias and historical resources. The membership is FREE.
- The Author-in-Residence program at the Calgary Public Library is also a useful resource. The program runs from September to December. This year’s author, Lee Kvern, will be hosting a series of presentations: Get published!; Social Media for Writers and Readers; Becoming a Writer; Speed Editing; Creative Non-Fiction; and The Public Role of a Private Writer.