How to self-publish: 5 top tips

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If you know that you have a winning idea – friends and family love it, random strangers you tell about it love it, even your writing group or online forum buddies love it – but publishers don’t, maybe it’s time to consider self-publishing.

One of the advantages of self-publishing is that it takes the power out of the publishers hands and into your own. Publishers have to worry about trends and cycles and how many of a certain type of book they publish each year, but if you’re self-publishing your work all you need to worry about is making it as good as it can possibly be, and then telling other people about it.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of self-publishing.

  1. Choose your format
    Self-publishing exists as both print and digital, and you need to choose your format both to suit your book and to suit your marketing plan. If you want to self-publish in print, you simply format your Word document to the right size, change it into a PDF document, create some cover art and then get a proof back to make sure you did everything correctly. You can do both print on demand or bulk printing, depending what you prefer. Check out CreateSpace and Lulu for inspiration on how to create your print book. If you decide to go digital, then there’s a whole new set of tips and hints to take into consideration – check out my post on how to publish an e-book .
  2. Match your writing to your market
    Amanda Hocking is a self-publishing star
    . In one year, she has written nine books and sold nearly a million copies – without having to pay any agent’s or publisher’s fee. She chose to self-publish her books as e-books through Amazon Kindle, and that was the right fit for her young adult readership. Think about who your readers are going to be, and how they find books (both print and e-book versions). Then decide which avenue you want to pursue.
  3. Decide who will have creative control
    Who is going to create your book cover? Who will design the book layout itself? (Get some great tips on book cover design .) Do you feel confident enough to take this on, and would you feel comfortable handing it over to someone else? What kind of paper do you want to print your book on? How will it be bound? Do you need illustrations? These are all questions you need to consider before choosing which Print on Demand publisher to go with.
  4. Long work hours
    One of the joys of traditional publishing is that you get to hand over the boring, time-consuming tasks that go into making a book. Not only do you have to format the copy and design yourself, but you have to find an editor you want to work with, market your book, worry about sales, respond to customers and find new ones. All that, and keep finding the time to write.
  5. Check up on author rights
    One thing you must be 100% certain about is that you get to keep your author rights, and that you have the power to terminate your agreement with the self-publisher at any time. You should have full ownership of your books, including the ISBN codes, but you may need to do some research into this and be sure you’re getting the full story.

Self-publishing can be an exciting journey to seeing your name in print, as long as you know all the facts. Tell us your experiences with self-publishing here or on our creative writing Forum – we can all figure out the Do’s and Don’ts together!

Happy writing,
Bridget

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