In response to some queries I’ve been receiving recently from writers thinking about self publishing, here is an update on the nuts and bolts of what it entails.
Self publishing offers exciting opportunities for writers …
- You get to be in control of everything, including
- When you publish
- What you publish
- The look of the book, including cover design
- The price
… It also entails a certain amount of hard work, but depending on your inclination and your budget you can get other people to do all or some of it for you. Here’s what you need to do:
- Write the best book you can and have it professionally edited and proofread
- Hire a professional cover designer
- Convert the manuscript into ebook for Amazon and other online retailers
- Publish the ebook on Amazon direct, and/or through Smashwords
- Design and publish the paperback
- Market it!
Amazon is the leading online retailer but there are other important outlets as well, including Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks. It is possible to publish your book on all of them for free.
There is also Ingram Spark. They publish and distribute ebooks and paperbacks globally. The pros and cons of IS are
- Their worldwide distribution is better than Amazon’s
- The quality of paper and print is marginally better than Amazon’s
- You have a better chance of selling your book through retailers who don’t like Amazon
- They have print outlets in the UK and in Australia, as well as the USA
- Unlike Amazon and the rest however you will need your own ISBN. These are available to buy in a minimum of 10 through Neilsen (in the UK).
Marketing your book is a challenge, there’s no doubt about that, and the more writers choose to self publish the harder it is to get anyone to read your book. In my experience non fiction is easier to market than fiction as you can target a specific readership. That said, you can do as little or as much marketing as you like depending on whether you are hoping to make money out of your writing or are just happy to have your book out there.
For more information on the whole process, plus how to find people to help you, please click on https://patsytrench.com//2015/08/16/self-publishing-for-family-historians/
If you are serious about self publishing you might consider joining The Alliance of Independent Authors. They have a private Facebook forum where you can get advice on all aspects of independent publishing, and there are also regular online conferences and physical meetups. Click on the ALLi sidebar on this page to find out more.
Good luck with your indie publishing enterprise, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
On Tuesday evening courtesy of ALLI (The Alliance of Independent Authors) we had the pleasure of a talk from Andy Bromley from Ingram Spark.
When I first published The World Country in the World back in 2012 the only option for indie publishers was Amazon. Ingram, a family firm (then and now), existed as book distributors only, and their print arm Lightning Source was aimed largely at traditional publishers.
All that has now changed with the ‘Spark’ added specifically for independent authors.
The great advantage of Ingram Spark is that they have print outlets not just in the US but here in the UK (in Milton Keynes) and in Australia (Melbourne). This cuts down on both shipping costs and delivery time (although paradoxically ordering a book to be sent from the UK to Australia is, though quicker, more expensive if printed there – due presumably to GST). I’ve had my latest novel The Unlikely Adventures of Claudia Faraday printed by both Ingram Spark and Amazon Createspace and quality-wise there’s very little to choose between them except that the print on the IS version is very slightly clearer.
Ingram Spark is growing all the time and, much as we all love and hate Amazon it’s very good to see some competition. Submission is almost as easy as with Createspace, the only differences are:
- The submission costs on Ingram Spark are $US49 for ebook and print or for print only, and $US25 for ebook only (ALLI members get a discount), as opposed to free on Createspace.
- Amazon Createspace provides its own ISBN, for free, but this means your book will have Createspace printed on it, which tells everyone it’s self published. With Ingram Spark you provide your own ISBN (in the UK from Neilson, minimum of 10 costing £144), but you get to create and name your own publishing outfit so nobody can tell whether you are self- or traditionally published.
- International – ie outside the US – distribution is cheaper and easier through Ingram Spark.
Received wisdom, confirmed by Andy Bromley, recommends for print versions of your book to use BOTH Amazon Createspace AND Ingram Spark. If you submit your book to Createspace and DON’T click on Expanded Distribution then all sales outside the US will go through Ingram Spark, under your own publisher’s name.
And another thing for Australian writers: The Book Depository (owned by Amazon) is apparently about to open up in Australia, and offers free worldwide delivery. Since Australian Amazon handles ebooks only it’s good to see another online company providing competition for print retailers such as Booktopia.
Also on the heels of Amazon is Wordery, an online bookshop handling print books only and offering free worldwide delivery (and currently better deals on both my books!).