You’re writing a book. You have decided to self publish it, perhaps because you view it as a possible path to traditional publishing or perhaps because you are committed to staying as a self published author. You are going to publish it as an ebook on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo etc but you are wondering about getting books printed and onto the shelves. You know that lots of readers still prefer to read it in a hard copy and people still expect to see the book on bookshelves in shops so what are the steps in self publishing a printed book? That’s exactly what we are going to look at today.
Much of it is similar to an ebook – you still should get a professional to illustrate your front cover, you should hire an editor and unless it is all text and simply laid out (ie a novel divided into chapters), you may need help with the formatting too. However, the prospect of spending a large amount of money on a print run can be daunting, not to mention if you are wondering about the quality of the finished product.
Options for Getting It Printed
More and more authors are using print on demand services as it limits the risk of having 300 of your 500 book print run sitting gathering dust in your attic for evermore. It also means that you don’t have to make the financial investment or secure a loan (or run a crowdfunding campaign to raise finance). Many authors use the Create Space model on Amazon – as an author, you can order multiple copies at cost price (although, as far as I know, there isn’t a discount the more copies you buy) and you can then stock the shelves of your local bookshop. This can be a cost effective way of trialing the success of a printed book via an ebook and paving the way towards getting your book into all bookshops.
The other option is to be brave and order a print run for your own book from a printing company. This can have a significant cost which is why more authors are using crowdfunding to part fund the printing cost and secure some pre-orders. It can also be the case that the cost to print 500 copies is very close to the print cost for 1000 copies which provides another reason to crowdfund – as it ‘saves’ money in the long run.
I opted to use a local printer, Naas Printing. Apart from the fact they were recommended to me, I recognised some good quality self published books on their website and when I called in, there were shelves full of their printed books. This was useful as I could check the quality and show them exactly the type of matte cover and matte finish on the pages that I wanted. It may have been more cost effective to look at sourcing a printer abroad but I wanted to be able to talk to them in person, ask questions, and see the quality of their printed products.
Self Publishing Companies
Many companies now help authors to self publish their own books. They will review, edit, format, design and publish your book either as an ebook only or as an ebook and a printed book. Emu Ink is an Irish company offering this service and their price of €1495 to do a triple edit, typesetting, cover design, provision of ISBN numbers and publish a book on all ebook providers seems fair. It is difficult to estimate what this might cost if doing it all independently (hiring a professional editor, illustrator and formatter individually) but it is unlikely to be less than €1000. If you wish to print your book, this cost will be additional but Emu Ink does offer a print on demand service. Kissed Off Creations also offer a self publishing service with prices starting from £200.
Personally, I prefer to travel the steep learning curve, learn by my mistakes and benefit from my learning for future books but it can be helpful to have someone holding your hand with your first book and that’s where these companies are very useful.
Crowdfunding With Self Publishing Companies
I crowdfunded with an Irish crowdfunding company and then self published independently and separately but there are now plenty of companies that provide a crowdfunding service specifically for books and within the self publishing service. In effect, you are asking people to pre-order your book and the company will indicate how many need to be ordered before it can be deemed a success, i.e. your book goes into publication. In essence in terms of finances, it is a little like getting an advance from a publisher. It should have all the advantages of crowdfunding in terms of securing income, raising your self confidence, spreading brand awareness and securing sales. It will also require a loyal following to generate those pre-orders and ideally, that following should be on social media as it is easy for them to click once to the site and pledge. It has the advantage of having advice and help from those working in publishing and self publishing.
Although these companies will provide advice and support on the crowdfunding and will publish your book, they don’t necessarily offer an editing service. You have to submit your finished and edited manuscript for approval. They decide on the cost per pledge (the pre-order price) and the number of pledges/orders required. Once that is achieved within a specified time period, they will publish the book and you can dispatch the printed books to your pledgers.
However, it is unclear how much ‘profit’ the writer makes on each book. According to the Britain’s Next Bestseller details, the authors get £1 for each book preordered above the minimum target set. They promise significant marketing help if you surpass the pre-orders but I’m a little bit sceptical – you can easily do much of this marketing on your own. It’s unclear at this stage if they remain as your publisher and what the percentage the royalties willbe. Yes, it is helping you by holding your hand along the way but I would prefer the independence of crowdfunding separately to the self publishing. Pubslush and Authr are more such companies and there seems to be many more.
Self Publishing your own book can be very exciting, liberating and successful – it can also be extremely terrifying and expensive. It can take considerable time for sales to roll in and to recoup your investment. Every situation is different and I hope this post has helped to make the choices somewhat clearer. If you have any questions, do ask in the comment box below. If you have self published, I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Do check out my post on ‘How to sell your self published book’ too – lots of tips in there for when you receive your print run. If you would like to consider crowdfunding, do look at these articles reporting on my tried and tested method.