Becoming a self-published author

‘Everyone’s got a book in them’, is a familiar phrase I hear. It just depends if you want to write it down. People write a book for so many different reasons – it could be a novel with characters that have been invading your brain for years wanting to be heard. It might be formed from stories you told your children or your parents told to you, growing up. A book might be written to share knowledge or experiences that can help others. Books are a wonderful thing – and what a privilege if you are someone who has the talent and takes the time to write one.

In these times of rapidly expanding technology, gone are the days where you need to send your finished manuscript off to publisher after publisher, hoping with fingers crossed that one of the replies will be good news. However, with the onset of e-books and social media marketing, the truth is, publishers need to be very selective when choosing an unknown author. It is rare that someone can break through to the big-time with their debut novel. So, where does that leave you?

Fortunately, there is the self-publishing route. Not so long ago, even just five years ago, self-publishing had a bad image. However, like anything, if you approach it in a professional manner, this can be an excellent method of getting your book published. And, it needn’t cost you the Earth. There are a few key points you need to ensure you have in place and over the coming issues, I’ll break down the steps you need to take to self-publish your book successfully and affordably.

My first question is:
Do you want to write a book or do you want to become an author?
This is very important because it will determine how serious you take the process. If you want to become an author, then you need to treat that as a business. You need a website because you are selling yourself, and your books – readers will want to know who you are, what makes you tick, what books you’ve written and which ones are to come. Think about it, if you have a favourite author – you’ll likely look them up on Facebook or their website to get some more information on them and their books.

The two most important aspects of getting your book(s) right from the start is the cover and the proofreading. How often have you read a book, especially an e-book, and been put off by the numerous spelling mistakes throughout? Go back to my first question – if you are going to be an author, you need to take it seriously. When you go into a bookshop, do you not still gravitate to a book that has an interesting cover? It’s the first impression of the book. The front cover and then the short description on the back cover is what we’ll look at first. Don’t underestimate the importance of the cover in helping your book be a success.
There are a few other things that if followed, will help you on your self-publishing journey. You need to remember – writing the book is just part of your job. You’ll also have to promote it. It’s all well and good to have your book listed on Amazon with its perfect grammar and stunning cover – but if no one knows it’s there except your friends and family – you likely won’t sell many copies.

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I’m often asked, ‘How much will it cost me to self-publish my book?’ My answer varies because it really depends on your answer to my first question: do you want to write a book or do you want to be an author? Because if you want to be an author and are really serious about publishing a number of books, then you need to set yourself up as a serious author from the get-go. This will incur a few more start-up costs – just like any business would – but as you progress, so should your profit. For example, your website and some social media training would only come at the start of your journey. Proofreading, editing and cover design costs will be incurred for each book.

I would estimate that your first book would cost you between £300 and £1000. This includes start-up costs such as a website. If your book is a children’s picture book and requires lots of illustrations, then you can expect to pay more for the number of illustrations you require. There really are a number of parameters, but basically – don’t let anyone try to take more than £2000 from you. It just simply isn’t necessary. Yet there are many companies who you’ll find through Google searching, that will help you self-publish but charge you an arm and a leg. Ask around – especially if you’re on Facebook – ask people in groups that you’re in if they know someone who’s self-published and what their experience has been.

We live in a ‘Review World’ now – everybody loves to leave a review. So, take the time to search out the good and the bad before you make any decisions.

The bottom line is, you CAN self-publish that book you’ve written (or you’re writing at the moment). Don’t be afraid – it is something new, but just take your time, do your research and keep reading these articles for more hints and tips.

For help and advice on self-publishing, contact Sue at

Next issue: What is Createspace?

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