Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book
By Julia Fellner
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Table of Contents
&Introducing the Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book series &&3&
&Parting of Ways: whether to get your book published traditionally or via self-publishing &&3&
&The Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-publishing &&4&
&10 Questions to help you determine whether you want to self-publish &&6&
&Creating your own “publishing house”: the different Departments &&7&
&Introducing the Editorial Department &&9&
&The different stages of editing &&9&
&Self-editing Step I: the bigger picture &&12&
&Self-editing Step II: language &&13&
&Self-editing Step III: proofread &&13&
&Self-editing the checklist &&14&
&When to get a professional editor &&16&
&Finding an editor&& &&16&
&Introducing the Production Department &&18&
&Hiring a professional or DIY &&18&
&Hiring a cover artist I &&19&
&Hiring a cover artist II &&20&
&Evolution of a Cover &&21&
&What is a book jacket and why does it bleed? &&26&
&Other Book parts &&27&
&Writing the author bio page &&28&
&Writing a copyright page &&29&
&Production research &&31&
&To hire or not hire a typesetter &&31&
&Formatting a printed book &&32&
&Tips for using InDesign &&33&
&Formatting an E-Book&& &&33&
&Introduction to the Legal Department &&35&
&Getting all the permissions &&35&
&Introducing the Distribution Department &&37&
&Different Distribution channels &&37&
&Things to consider when choosing a distribution channel &&37&
&Distribution via website &&38&
&Delivering your book&& &&39&
&Introducing the Sales & Finances Department &&40&
&Introducing the Marketing Department &&42&
&Planning the release &&42&
&Press Kit &&43&
&Checklist for the Release &&44&
&The Release&& &&44&
&Making your marketing efficient &&46&
&Social Networks &&46&
&Virtual Blog Tour&& &&47&
&Review Management &&48&
&Building a Platform &&48&
&Further Marketing Ideas&& &&49&
I’m introducing a new blog series called Handbook to Self-publishing your own book, which takes you step by step through the self-publishing process. My advice is based on the experiences I made when I published my novel To be a Hero.
I will start off by giving you tips on polishing your manuscript via self-editing. Afterwards I will give you tips on finding a professional editor. The next step will be how to produce a book, ranging over topics of what to consider when hiring a cover artist to what you should keep in mind when sending you manuscript to the printers. Then, I will discuss the issues of choosing a way to distribute your book and cover some basic financial terms. Finally, I will give advice on how to market your book, online and offline.
So you have your finished novel or maybe a novella, short story or other type of text and want to get it out into the world, available for anyone to read?
There are three basics paths, which you can go down. Two of them are traditional publishing paths and the third one is self-publishing.
#1 Getting an Agent
If you want to reach one of the really big publishing houses, the kind you find in every bookstore, you need an agent. This kind of publishing house doesn’t accept unsolicited submissions.
How do you get an agent? Luck, patience and lot of works.
You will need to write lots and lots of query letters. Apart from a cover letter for your query, you most likely will need to write a synopsis and maybe attach an excerpt from your finished manuscript.
Then you hit send and wait and wait and wait. This process of waiting can take from weeks to months. In this time you will probably get a lot of rejections.
But don’t let yourself get down by rejections. Literary agents only keep a very small lists of writers they represent. They will only take on a new one, when they are absolutely passionate about the manuscript. And that’s good. You don’t want someone, who’s not excited about your work as you are, to represent your work.
Another possible reason is that your manuscript simply may not fit into the agents’ catalogue. This is often the case with genres of stories, which are considered to be difficult to market to a mainstream audience. In such a case, the other two options are a better chance at getting published.
If only rejections and not a single letter of interest has arrived, you stand at a crossroads. Is it because the story wasn’t strong enough, needs more revising or is it because no agent at the moment would be interested in it?
If your answer is that you believe your story, after rounds of revising and feedback from other people, is already the best draft it can be (without a professional editor), then you should consider the next two possible paths.
#2 Independent Publishing Houses
In theory, there are two types of independent publishing houses: the “good” and the “bad”. The good ones operate on the principal that they want to tell stories that would get overlooked on the book market of larger publishers. Maybe, they are simply passionate entrepreneurs who run smaller publishing houses, which receive fewer submissions because they aren’t that famous.
Then there are the bad ones, the so-called vanity press, the publishers whose business models is to find authors who are so eager to see their book published, they won’t notice how they are being robbed blind.
Therefore, if you do choose to go down this route, it is important to be careful. If the publisher requires a fee for even looking at your submission, doesn’t provide an editor or demands you to organize a cover artist, typesetter or another publisher’s duty yourself, it’s better to give that particular publisher a pass and try another one. Of course, there still is the third option: self-publishing.
[*#3 Self-publishing *]
Self-publishing requires a lot of hard work and a certain amount of money and there is no guarantee your book will sell well enough to reimburse your expenses. Nevertheless, it gives you the freedom to publish your book when it may not be considered publishable on a mainstream market. When you are the publisher, you get to make all the decisions all yourself. If you are interested in the publishing industry in general, publishing a book yourself will also reward you with a wealth of new skills and knowledge.
So if you decide to go down this path, welcome on our journey, where I take you step by step through the publishing process.
Self-publishing is a costly and time-consuming business. It requires a lot of research and developing certain skills. However, depending on the different types of self-publishing, which will be explored in the next instalment of this self-publishing series (links to different paths of self-publishing, being your own boss allows you to publish your book the way you envisions it. So here are some advantages and also disadvantages to help you decide, whether you want to self-publish your own book.
Niche market: If your book is part of a genre which is considered to be difficult to market on the mainstream book market, self-publishing may be your only opportunity.
Creative decisions: If you are self-publishing, most creative decisions are your own when you use online self-publishing publishers. If you don’t have to rely on one of them, even more of the decisions are fully your own.
Publishing industry: When you have a book published traditionally, many decisions are taken from you, such as publishing date and maybe even as what genre your book is sold. Furthermore, you have to compromise on many decisions, from cover design to even the content of your book.
Acquiring new skills: This might very well be the best advantage. When you succeed in such an enterprise as publishing your own book, you learn new skills from typesetting, over calculating prices to marketing. You will learn skills, such as using programs like InDesign, which you can list in your CV but you will also make experiences what it is like to run, albeit on a very small scale, a business. Additionally, you will learn a lot about yourself because you need to practise self-discipline, push your own limits and learn how to deal creatively with problems
Disadvantages (and how you can overcome them)
The costs: Producing a book is very expensive.
Solution: Producing a quality book is never free. You will need an investor or find the funds yourself. However, there are ways to save money. If you have the time and dedication you can do such tasks like typesetting yourself. It also pays off to develop a network in the publishing industry, which may enable you to get certain jobs done more cheaply. Not to mention that having professionals in the industry, who can give you practical advice, can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Distribution: Usually, a publisher would take care of this issue.
[_Solution: _]When you self-publish you can use a platform like Smashwords, iBook or one of the countless other options. However, in these cases you will only get a certain amount of royalty, while having to pay all the expenses. But if you are confident enough in your own marketing abilities or already have a considerable platform on a social network, you can also distribute your book on your own website or blog.
How to get the knowhow: The mostly likely scenario is that you are not a professional publisher. So how do you obtain the knowledge to successfully self-publish your own book?
Solution: Well, reading this series of articles is a very good start. The Internet offers a wealth of information on self-publishing, you only need the time and research skills to use them effectively. As with every type of research, you also have to be careful what kind of information is helpful and which articles may be trying to sell you something.
Bad news first: Self-publishing a book is a very time and money consuming project. However, the good news is that it is a wonderful experience, which allows you to learn about the publishing world and how to run a business. It also allows you to grow as a person.
But one should be sure to choose the right time to endeavour on such an exciting project to ensure success. Here are 10 questions to help you determine whether the right time to self-publish your own book is now:
If you have a positive answer to all these questions, then congratulations. You are on the right path to publishing your own book. If you can’t answer all these questions, maybe take some time to think about them. Being as prepared as possible when heading into this project will save you from a lot of chaos and help you work more effectively and successfully.
When you publish your own book, you obviously have to take care of all the tasks and jobs, which the publishing house would do if you went down a traditional publishing path. Therefore, it is advisable to divide your to-do list into departments, since it helps you keep track of what you have to do and when.
This department is likely to cost you the most money. If you want to publish a quality book editing is vital. And no, your mum doesn’t not count as editor. You need to make sure you have the best possibly draft of your novel, so that there are no plot holes or other problems with plot, characters etc. Preferably, you should get feedback by a content editor at this stage, if you can afford it. Then you need a copy-editor to make sure the grammar and spelling are consistent and correct. To achieve this goal, there is no other way than to hire a professional copy-editor.
In production the book is – what a surprise – produced. Therefore, production involves typesetting for print and E-Book formats, cover art and a book jacket if there is to be a printed version. For this step you may require a professional typesetter and/or cover artist.
You will not only need a copyright page for your book but you will also need to make sure, you are careful when you mention any trademarks or brands in your novel without permission. Furthermore, you need to make sure you have the rights for the cover art or any illustrations in the book.
[*Sales & Finances Department *]
The first question is of course, how do you get the budget for your self-publishing project. It would be a pity if you had to stop half-way through because your money runs out.
Since you have a significant amount of costs, which you will have to pay yourself, pricing is a very though decision. On the one hand you want to get back the money you invested, while on the other hand pricing your book too high, might result in no one buying it. Additionally, you have to consider that when using online distributors, your freedom in choosing prices may be restricted or depend on your royalties. If you distribute your book via your own website, online payment transactions may require a certain fee. With printed books, shipping is of course also an issue. Therefore, you have to calculate these costs in as well.
You should also check what the tax regulations are in your country and how they may be applicable to your book or its sales.
*Distribution Department *
The distribution of your novel depends on whether it is a printed or E-Book format. Based on what you want and how much royalties and freedom in your choices you want, you have to make the decision between online distributers (Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo etc.), selling it via your own website or blog or coming up with your own creative solution.
Without marketing your book will go under in the sea of books published daily. Contrary to what some may thing, the importance of marketing is omnipresent. It starts with pre-publication marketing, such as announcing the book release and creating as much excitement as possible around it. Then there is the release marketing. With post-publication marketing you take on the challenge of selling your book, when it has lost the excitement of being brand-new.
In a traditional publishing company you would probably have two editors working with you. The first would give you feedback on what they expect you to change. In the second step they’d look at the manuscript on a closer level, taking care of issues like unclear sentences and getting rid of redundancies. Once the absolute perfect draft in this aspect is finished, it goes to the second editor: a copyeditor who edits on a micro level, correcting grammar, punctuation and syntax.
When you are self-publishing a book you still have to take care of all these steps. But before it’s important to edit your manuscript to the best of your abilities in order to save money, when you hire a professional editor later on.
Since most writers tend to overwrite, cut every scene, sentence and single word you are not sure you need from your final manuscript. If you calculate how much money each scene or sentence you might cut is worth and think about whether this scene/sentence is worth paying this amount of money, you end up cutting redundant scenes and sentences which slow down the pace of the book. Even if you do it with single words it adds up in the end.
In the next blog entries the different stages of editing will be explored, followed by blogs about how to self-edit your book, concluding with articles about hiring a professional editor.
This article breaks down the separate steps in the editing process. They may differ slightly between writers, since different writers have different ways of editing their work. Therefore, I focused rather on what has to be edited than how in the outline below.
Once you have finished your manuscript you should let it rest for a couple of weeks at least, before starting with the editing process
Stage 1: Done by the writer
Editing the bigger picture (plot, characters etc.)
Stage 2: Done by the writer
Editing on a smaller scale with a special focus on the language (cutting redundancies, making the writing more active)
Stage 3: Done by the writer
Proofreading and editing of punctuation, syntax, grammar and vocabulary
Stage 4: Done by a beta reader
Giving your manuscript to a beta reader
A beta reader shouldn’t necessarily by your mother or a friend. Find someone whom you can trust to give you an (brutally) honest opinion and who knows what they are doing. Maybe look for a critique partner in a writing club online or offline.
Stage 5: Done by the writer
Considering the feedback from your beta reader and implementing changes
You don’t have to change everything they tell you to but you should at least think about it. Maybe certain character’s actions aren’t so clear to someone who doesn’t know a characters’ backstory the way the writers does?
Receiving feedback is a very important stage, which gives you a valuable insight into how a reader experiences your text, which can be very different from the way you see it.
Stage 6: Done by the writer (and beta readers)
The following process can be repeated ad infinitum.
Stage 6a: Done by the writer
Once you have completed implementing the changes from your beta reader, repeat stage 1 for the entire manuscript and stages 2 and 3 at least for those parts your rewrote or revised.
Stage 6b: Done by the beta writer
Have the same or another beta writer read over you new manuscript.
Stage 6c: Done by the writer
Consider and implement necessary changes.
Then start over with 6a or move on to Stage 7.
[*Stage 7: Done by a professional editor *]
This is where you hire a professional editor. Depending on your manuscript, it might be a good idea to get a manuscript review first.
Stage 8: Done by a professional editor
Stage 9: Done by the writer
Implement improvement suggestions and repeated editing stages 1-3
Stage 10: Done by a professional editor
Content editing on a language level
Stage 11: Done by the writer
You receive the annotated manuscript by the editor and have to implement the changes
Stage 12: Done by a professional editor
Stage 13: Done by the writer
Viewing the changes made and final proofread
[*Looking for someone to give you feedback? *]
I myself offer professional editing services if you are in need of a manuscript review, content editing or copyediting. I also offer a free sample edit of the first 500 words of your first chapter.
For more information see: http://www.juliafellner.com/index,202.html
In the first step of self-editing you focus on story and characters, mostly ignoring the language because you need to keep in mind you might have to rewrite certain passages anyway.
The questions below are only a beginning. Depending on your story, there might also be other issues you should pay special attention to.
By now you should have a clear idea of who your characters are. But when you are editing you need to step away from all the background knowledge you have as a writer. You need to view the characters from the readers’ point of view, with the knowledge they have in mind. Then ask yourself:
Are your characters’ actions credible?
Do the characters’ actions move along the story?
Are your characters’ motivations clear?
Have the characters developed?
Is your cast of characters balanced in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation?
Does the pacing of the story work?
Have you cut superfluous scenes or storylines, which slow down the story?
Have you created suspense efficiently?
Are there any plot holes?
Is there tangible conflict?
Is the resolution understandable and not too rushed?
Have you resolved all subplots?
Is your narrative act successfully executed?
Have you used foreshadowing and other literary devices appropriately?
What was your authorial intention when you started out and what is it now? Have you expressed it in an appropriate manner?
Have you brought out themes, motifs and symbols, which support your story?
Have you made use of any other literary devices? Could you enhance your story with more literary devices or distinguish those you already used even more?
Are you being continuous in everything, including, for example locations, character’s eye colour etc.?
In this step you look at a smaller scale, directly at the language level. The questions below are only a beginning. Depending on your story, there might also be other issues you should pay special attention to.
General narrative issues
At this stage it is a very good idea to read your manuscript out loud. When you hear your text spoken, it is easier to spot unclear sentences, awkward phrasing and other issues.
In this stage you sure the grammar, punctuation and syntax is correct. Since you are not an official copyeditor (and even if you are, you should have another professional editor look over your manuscript), this is probably more like what you would call proofreading.
The questions below are only a beginning. Depending on your story, there might also be other issues you should pay special attention to.
Here’s a summary of what to watch out for when you edit your manuscript yourself. Next will be more information on how to find a professional editor.
Self-editing Step I: the bigger picture
Self-editing Step II: language
General narrative issues
Self-editing Step III: proofread
An editor is very likely going to be the biggest expense, therefore you want to make the right choice when and who you let edit your work.
First of all you should make sure that your manuscript is in the best possible shape you can bring it in yourself. In the process of producing your final draft, you should also cut ever superfluous scene and even every word which does nothing to advance the story or its characters. Also cut all repetitions and redundancies. Since editors usually calculate their price by the word, money is a good a motivator to cut every excessive word.
Once you have done all of this, it is important to think about which kind of editor or what kind of editing services you need. One thing is for certain, depending on your writing experience, you are going to need at the least an editor for the copyediting if you want to produce a quality book.
Considering that you are going to trust an editor with your story, which you have worked on for so long, you want to make the right choice.
You should also make sure that the editor treats you fairly. Although hiring an editor is expensive, the rate should still be reasonable for what they offer. What exactly they offer should also be made very clear, before you pay any money. An editor shouldn’t demand any fee before they even decide to take on your editing project. Neither should there be any hidden fees.
A potential editor should be enthusiastic and preferably have experience in your genre. They do not have to outright praise your story – that’s not their job – but they should believe in the story’s potential.
Most important however is that you are on the same wavelength with your editor. You need to trust them with your manuscript and to be confident in the feedback they give you.
When you are looking for an editor personal recommendations of fellow writers are always useful. If you don’t have any writer friends who can help you, you can look up directories of editors or editors’ guilds in your country online and contact editors via those or paste your project as job there.
Before you decide on an editor, don’t be afraid to ask the potential editor about past projects they have worked on. Since hiring an editor is very expensive, don’t be afraid to ask all your questions, before making the editing project final.
In this section of the series the production of a book will be covered. Some of the blogs will apply to E-Books and printed ones, while there will also be articles focusing on each of these two options separately.
The first big topic will be about designing the cover and hiring a cover artist. Then there will be articles about the book jacket, which you will need for printed books. Afterwards I will talk about the inside of the book, writing articles about what pages you need other than the actual story. Finally, there will be a section on formatting, going into detail on E-Books as well as printed books.
Naturally, hiring a professional costs money, which may stretch your budget but if you want to have a qualitative book in the end, it might be more reasonable to invest the money. Because if the cover does not live up to the quality you promise, you will sell less books and your other investments will go to waste.
Figure out what you want and understand the different formats
First of all, you need to decide whether you want to publish an E-Book or a print book or both. That decision will define your needs.
For a print book you will need not only a cover but also a book jacket, as well as typesetting. For an E-Book you will only need a cover but typesetting depending on how many different formats you want to offer, considering different e-Readers require different formats.
The quality of the cover is especially important since people do judge a book by its cover. It is what attracts their attention and should ideally give them already an idea about the tone and style of the story.
Depending on how much knowledge you have with formatting, you can find online resources to do the formatting yourself. However, you should make sure that the formatting is impeccable, since a poorly formatted book will lessen the reader’s experience.
Things to consider if you want to do everything yourself:
Things to consider
Considering you probably want to sell your book online, consider how the cover is going to look as small icon. The cover should also be still clearly discernable in black and white, since some E-Book devices do not support colour.
Naturally the cover should be eye-catching. It also should convey the genre and the tone of the book effectively. At a glance, the reader should have a good idea about what the genre or mood of your book is.
Is it a gritty thriller or a light-hearted romance? Think about the different covers you would associate with these two genres. The first would probably be in black and grey colours, maybe with blood-red writing. The second would most likely be kept in warm colours and have playful font.
What should be on the cover?
Think about what information should be on the cover. The way you present the title is an important part of the cover. If the book is part of a series, you should also consider adding the series title. Of course, you shouldn’t forget your own name either. You could also add awards or prizes you have won.
*Figure out what you want *
Before you even start looking for a cover artist, you need to be sure about what you want. So here are some things you should decide on what you prefer and what fits your book
If you are looking for inspiration check out this database of book covers (http://bookcoverarchive.com).
When you have found a cover artist to hire, you need to make sure you communicate clearly what you want your cover to look like.
You can look for book covers of the same genre or similar stories as reference points. If you prefer a photography-based cover, you could look through online stock image databases for images you would like. Depending on your drawing/photoshop skills you can even do a sketch of what you have in mind.
Additional information you should give the cover artist
To make sure the cover artist catches the book’s atmosphere accurately, it is also very reasonable to provide them with a copy of the book. If they do not have the time to read the book, you should at least send them a blurb and synopsis.
Make sure the cover artists knows
Reaching the final version of a book cover takes time. There are many steps of trying things out and finding out what works and what doesn’t.
This was one of the first designs my cover artist Julia sent me. When I agreed it was the prefect design, she drew it again and coloured it in.
This was one of our first attempts to figure out the colour combination and font. Obviously this would have made a bad cover since the writing is barely readable. But it’s a process of trying things out, so we continued.
In this draft Julia added textures to give the cover depth. We also turned the font white so it would be easier to read.
Although I already really liked this cover the evolution had to continue because once we did a test print we discovered the colours were far too dark to be discerned away from the high resolution of a computer screen.
With this draft we lightened the background, so it would be more discernable. We also tried to be clever and turn the figure all black because one of the protagonists who dresses up as a hero in my novel TO BE A HERO calls themselves “Shadow.” But upon showing this draft to people who didn’t know what the story was about (always a good way of finding out how potential buyers might view your cover), they thought it was much darker than the story actually is. So it didn’t convey the tone of the book accurately. Hence, we decided to make the cover lighter yet again.
This is the final book cover. As you can see it is a lot lighter than earlier drafts. However, we only made the final decision once we had checked the test print from the printers.
Check out more of Julia’s amazing artwork here: http://juliaisaglobetrotter.tumblr.com/tagged/the%20globetrotter
When you want to produce a printed book you will need more than just a cover, you need an entire book jacket. A book jacket consists of the cover, the spine and the back cover. Apart from having to design the spine and back cover, don’t forget they should include information on them as well.
Everything outside the pink and purple lines is the bleed margin. There should also be additional bleed margin on both sides of the spine.
When you are designing these, you need to keep in mind that you need a bleed margin. A bleed margin is a certain amount of millimetres (how much depends on the thickness of your book and size of the paper, so make sure to check back with your printers) where the design continues. There shouldn’t be any writing or important parts of design inside the bleed margin, since it gets cut off during production.
You’ve got your story written and professionally edited, ready to go. Congratulations. However there are still some other parts of your book you need to finish.
You can use this structure as a guide but you can also leave out certain parts or move them around, depending on your needs.
Other book parts you may want to add in somewhere:
When you have compiled all of the necessary book parts, don’t forget to proofread them several times.
When people have finished reading your story, they might want to learn more about you. Depending on whether you are using a penname and how much you want to share about yourself your author biography could contain the following:
Where to go for further information
You reader might want to learn more about your writing or keep up with future books your writer. So don’t forget to include:
If you look at any book, whether it is a printed one or E-Book, you will notice that one of the first pages is the copyright page. Take the copyright page from my self-published novel To be a Hero as an example.
As you can see, pieces of information that should be included are
When you are unsure about certain aspects of production, for example where the page numbers are supposed to go or what do other books’ title pages look like, you can do the same thing I did: Simply walk to your bookshelf (if you want to research printed books) or access it electronically (when researching E-Books) and take out books by different authors, which were published by a variety of publishers. If you want to publish a young adult novel for example, it’s a very good idea to focus on what the young adult novels on your shelf look like.
Things you can learn for example are
Whenever you feel unsure about such a decision, just look at other novels and decide what you like best, maybe try to remember whether whatever feature you’re looking at made reading it easier or encouraged you to buy the book.
Typesetting (= formatting) your book is a very tedious, time-consuming job. If you do it yourself you will probably end up blinking at the screen, wondering if there’s a period or dirt on your laptop screen or you’re just going mad on multiple occasions.
It’s once again a question of resources. If you have the money to spare, you might want to employ a typesetter. If you would rather save the money, typesetting is a skill you can pick up fairly easily if you already have basic formatting skills in programs like Windows Word, as well a lot of patience and enough time.
You should be aware that if you want to produce a print book, as well as an E-Book, that means twice the work, since every medium has different requirements. This article however, will focus on the print version.
There are a number of typesetting programs online. For example, there is InDesign, which is used by many publishing companies. There is a free test version for 30 days. But you can also use other programs, like for example Windows Publisher, which your computer may already have.
Whatever system you end up using, keep in mind that it needs to be compatible with whatever program the printers use. For example, in my case, I ended up using the PDF file exported from InDesign because my version of InDesign wasn’t compatible with the older one used by the printers. So before you choose a program, make sure to check compatibility (also which version of the program) with the printers.
Before you even start typesetting, you can do a lot of pre-formatting with a basic text-formatting program. However, before you start, you should make sure that program is compatible with the typesetting program you are going to use.
It’s very good idea to make a list of different text types you are going to have (chapter titles, first paragraphs, consecutive paragraphs, text messages characters send to each other etc.). Then you can use that information to create a table with what format each of those text types is going to have, so you can make sure everything is formatted consistently.
In that table you can mark down formatting features such as
If you are unsure about the compatibility of the programs you use, you can do a list of for example all italicized words and passages using the “search” function in your original document and then double check that those words are still in italics.
With formatting a printed book, you also have to keep in mind to add features you don’t need for an E-Book, namely a header and footer. When you do research in books from your own shelf, you will see that there is a great variety in where page numbers go or even if all pages are numbered. Sometimes the header will give the author name, book title or chapter title. Ultimately, all of these little decisions like where to put the page numbers are a question of taste. But also keep the reader in mind and think about which format provides the most comfortable reading experience. For example, is it really necessary to have the book title on the header? The reader probably can remember what book they’re reading. So keep in mind aesthetics should not be the only factor but also the reading experience.
I had never even used InDesign, before I downloaded the test version to learn typesetting, so here are a few tips I had to learn through hard work.
Finally, always make sure to have safety copies of the different files, so that if you do something irreversibly wrong, you can always go back to the previous version. Also check none of the pre-formatting you have done was changed during the transferring process.
Formatting an E-Book can be a lot of work, depending on how many different formats you want to produce.
The biggest issue with different e-Readers is the compatibly with E-Book formats. For example Kindles are usually only able to display Mobi files, while other e-Reader brands mostly don’t support Mobi files. Most e-Readers should however be compatible with ePub files. Therefore, you can for example decide to produce Mobi and ePub files to make sure a potential reader can download a file compatible with their e-Reader.
Depending on how you decide to distribute your E-Book, the online distributer (such as Smashwords) may have an online function to format your book. Others (for examples CreateSpace and Lulu) offer instructions on formatting. When you are using one of those online distributors, you need to keep in mind that they may have a style sheet or certain formatting requirements.
Free software to format your E-Book you can use is Calibre, which allows you to convert E-Books (also from Word docs to E-Books) and format E-Books directly.
In this shorter section of the Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book I will cover certain legal topics you should keep in mind. These topics cover such areas as permissions for images, copyright and mentioning brands in your writing.
Before you release your book, you should make sure that you have all the permissions for the work of other people you use.
Especially with the cover it is important to have all the right permissions. Did you use stock images? Make sure you have the right permissions to use those. Did someone else create the cover for you? Then they are still the ones holding the copyright to it. Therefore, make sure you have a written agreement with the cover artist declaring that in exchange for a certain amount of money and credit on the cover, you are allowed to use the cover on the books you sell and for promotional purposes (e.g. uploading it to your website, making bookmarks of it etc.).
Using brand names
Using brand names of companies in your book can become problematic. You may not consider it a big deal to write about what brand of clothing your character just bought or what brand of fast food they eat but you may be committing trademark infringement or defamation. The problem is if the brand is portrayed negatively or misrepresented in your writing readers might become “confused” as to what services and products the brand offers. Considering your self-publishing project will be on a small scale, you could speculate that no one will care. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you should avoid using brand names or make up your own fictional brands.
A very important thing to check, before choosing a way to distribute your novel, is what happens to your copyright and your right to use the text of the story (commercially). You have to be careful that you do not give up the copyright to your own text, which is something certain online distributors may try to trick you into.
Another difficult topic you should be careful about is a limitation to your rights of usage of the text. Some distributers limit your right of usage to their own website, once you have published it there, even if only for a certain amount of time. This also limits your reach to potential buyers if you can only sell your book on one platform. Yet another limitation may be that online distributors who only distribute E-Books do not want you to sell the printed version somewhere else.
Therefore it’s very important to read the small print in the terms and conditions, even if it is exhausting and, when in doubt research the legal situation online or ask a lawyer.
In this section of the Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book we will cover certain legal topics you should keep in mind. First the different possible distribution channels will be covered. Then I will give advice about things to take into consideration when choosing a distribution channel. Then, I will write about ISBNs and finally cover how to sell your book directly via your website.
There are many different ways of distributing your book. One option, which will be explored in further articles, is distributing your book via your website. This article will focus on online distribution channels.
These online distributors sell your book for you on their websites and also on other online retailers’ websites. Here there are many differences, depending on what you want. For example, some of these distributors only distribute E-Books or don’t allow you to distribute print versions somewhere else.
You have to be very careful because there are online distributors who try to take advantage of writers with little experience in the publishing world. So make sure to compare how much you receive in royalties, what services are provided and if there are any additional costs.
This article gives a great review of the advantages and disadvantages of the biggest online distributors: http://www.cnet.com/news/self-publishing-a-book-25-things-you-need-to-know/
There are different advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing a distribution channel.
Some general questions are
The biggest issue is of course, unsurprisingly, the money
Ultimately money is the biggest factor. It is a good idea to make a list of expenses you might have or are covered by each of the distribution channels of your choice. The next list should be about how much is left for you with every book your sell.
Obtaining an ISBN (and therefore also a barcode) can be very difficult but has several advantages. Having an ISBN not only makes your book look more professional, it also makes it easier for people to buy your book. An ISBN is also a requirement for your book to be sold by retailers.
Getting an ISBN
Some online distributors provide an ISBN like a traditional publishing company would. However, some of those distributors demand money. In my case, I got the ISBN through the printers, who printed the paperback version. You can also buy an ISBN online.
When I self-published my novel To be a Hero, I decided to distribute the book via my own website. In this case the biggest issue is figuring out the logistics.
First of all you need an online provider who processes the payment, for example PayPal. With such a service you usually get a link or “buy now” button you can integrate into your website.
Then you need a download page to which the buyer is redirected so they can download the E-Book. With printed books you need the buyer to give you an address to ship the book to.
The topic of how to ensure the book is delivered will be covered in the next article.
If you are planning on selling your book via your website, one big issue is how to deliver your book once a reader bought it.
When a reader buys a book, there should be a box where they have to type in their address and a contact email, before they can buy it, so that you know where to send it.
E-Books are a bit trickier. In an age of instant wish gratification, readers will expect to receive the E-Book the moment they have purchased it. First of all, after the payment transaction is finished the reader should be directed to a download page, where they can download the book.
If you can upload the E-Book to your website and make sure the download page is only visible to those who have the link, problem solved. However, if that’s not a possibility, it gets a little more difficult.
There are websites which provide safe downloads, where only those people who actually paid for the book can access the download page. Some of these are for example e-junkie, Indiemade or payloadz. The disadvantage is that they cost money and if you are not sure about how many E-Books you will sell this is a drain on your resources.
Another option would be sending them an automated email with the E-Book to ensure the reader receives it immediately.
In this shorter section of the Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book we will cover certain basics of finance you need to know. I will write about the expenses to expect and discuss pricing in detail.
When you are planning your budget you need to be aware of what expenses to expect to know how much you can spend on each item. It’s a very good idea to keep a watch on your running costs to make sure you stay within your budget.
It starts with editing, depending on how much editing is required you will need to pay a copy editor and other editors. Then you might need to employ someone to design your cover and typeset the book. Acquiring an ISBN may cost surprisingly much as well. If you are producing a printed book, you also have to expect the printing to cost a lot, too.
Promotion costs can vary a lot, depending on what type of marketing you want to approach. A book trailer can be a very useful tool but even a short clip can be very expensive to produce. Placing ads in newspapers or online often cost money as well.
Keep a small part of your budget for unexpected, miscellaneous expenses, for example postage for sending an ARC (advanced reader copy) to reviewers or other small expenses.
When you set the price for your book there are a lot of factors to consider.
Firstly, you have to keep in mind that you need to get back the money you invested in the production of the book. But there will also be new expenses that come with every sold book that you need to calculate in the price:
Research the prices of similar books in bookstores and online. What’s the average of, for example, a contemporary young adult novel with about 70k words? You also have to keep in mind that when you go into the genre section of a bookstore, offline or online, the first hits will be bestsellers that are maybe even being turned into films. That is a completely different level than self-publishing on a small scale. You also have to keep in mind that it’s very likely that you will need to set the price for your self-published book higher because you have more expenses to cover and only one book to cover the costs, rather than a whole publisher’s range of books.
A break-even point is the point where you have covered all your expenses with your sold books and start making actual profit. If you go online you can find a lot of tutorials on how to calculate the break-even point based on the fixed and variable costs that apply to you. Ultimately, figuring out pricing is very difficult because cheaper books supposedly sell more easily while the lower the price is set the longer it takes to reach the break-even point.
In this shorter section of the Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book we will cover three important kinds of marketing. Firstly, I will discuss pre-publication marketing. Secondly, I will cover the release of your book. Thirdly, and finally, I will discuss how to promote your book after it has been published and how to keep up its promotion.
It’s best if you set your release date (a realistic one you can really make) as early as possible because then you can start with the pre-release marketing. You shouldn’t just throw your book into the world without prior notice. You need to build up excitement and start building an audience, before the book is even available.
Step 1: Social Networks
Get as many social networks as you can manage to update started. Make sure to have links to your website and information of your upcoming book online. Add pictures and other useful information. Then start getting active, engage with other people and start posting information, for example about previous works of yours.
Step 2: Share your experiences
Now that you have set up your social networks, you can use them to post bits and pieces about your experience. Write about your emotions, maybe give advice to fellow writers based on your experiences, like this Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book.
Step 3: Start the countdown
A week or so before the release, you can start a countdown. Publish a little bit of information each day and how many more days until the exciting release of your book. These posts could be such things as a blurb, an excerpt, a cover or how you came to write this story.
The closer the release date comes, the more you will get excited or rather, probably very stressed. Therefore, it’s paramount to keep organized and plan ahead for the release.
You should already have built up the excitement with pre-publication marketing. When the big day of the release arrives, you should already have prepared what you want to publish on social networks. Make sure you don’t forget the blurb or link to an extract or where to buy the book.
Concerning the media, you can use a press release that you send to journalists in your area or online magazines and newspaper to get their attention. You can also add ARC (advanced reader copies) in the hopes of getting a review.
You can also start a list with people you want to tell about your upcoming book and who might want to buy it.
Making it an event
The most important factor is to make the release of your book an event since we live in an event-orientated society. Make an event on social networks and be present online during it. If possible, also do a physical event, for example where you read from the book. Whatever you plan, start organizing earlier so you can have people who are important to your and helped you in creating the book be there with you.
And finally, don’t forget to celebrate. You have made an amazing achievement in publishing your own book all by yourself. You deserve a pat on the back, to smile and to accept compliments for the hard work you have poured into this project. Take the time to sit back, to relax after all the stress of publishing a book and bask in the triumph of the moment.
The press kit is one of the marketing aspects you can prepare, before you even start making announcements about your upcoming book. A press kit consists of the kind of information you might also want to put on your website or send to journalists if they make enquires about you.
Elements of the press kit are for example:
The days leading up the go-live phase of any project as well as the actual day of release are the best and the worst of the entire project. It certainly was that way for me. You plan and plan and think you’ve taken care of everything, taken into account every possible thing that could go wrong and yet a lot of things do go wrong and you are exhausted but it’s also amazing to watch your hard work come to life. I think I put it best on the day of the release of my self-published novel To be a Hero:
[*Only one more hour until the release of *]To be a Hero
I’ve been working non-stop on an adrenaline high all day, so I think it’s time to take a moment to reflect.
It’s been around one and a half years since I started this project. I’ll write more about the writing process in upcoming articles but let’s just say it wasn’t an easy one. I went through many drafts with a lot of rewriting. I only started considering self-publishing To be a Hero seriously in September 2013, so since then it’s been a very fast roller-coaster ride of figuring everything out from typesetting the text in InDesign to developing marketing strategies.
I had many moments in which I thought, “I’m just a 20-year-old kid. Who was crazy enough to let me play adult in the business world?” But those moments luckily were only fleeting. They were almost imperceptible, once the awareness of how far I had made it had sunken in.
After having limited publishing experience with one book published traditionally and a very short internship as an editorial assistant, I managed to run my project successfully that far, so giving up was never even an option.
However that doesn’t mean everything went smoothly. I had major last-minute problems with the distribution and changed my plan of distributing the paperback editions entirely only today – the day before the release. In fact, I only finished implementing the buying options into the website 3 hours and 30 minutes before the midnight release. Before this point, I didn’t even know if these options were going to work, having tried out a ton of options all day.
This just goes to show how much I have learned in the course of this project. I certainly practised working with an important deadline looming over me for the past week and especially today, while still attending my university courses. So time management was another thing I learnt. Actually, I think I learnt so many little things about what it’s like to run a business and about myself, about my own limits and how I can overcome them, I couldn’t even mention all of them here if I tried.
This Thursday I picked up the paperbacks from the printers. Seeing my own work in print wasn’t such a heart stopping, life-changing moment as it had been with my first novel. But as I leafed through a copy, I felt genuinely proud that all of my hard work had finally paid off.
I can’t count the immense amount of hours that went into this project and I couldn’t be more excited to finally let go of it and release it into the world. My goal was to produce a quality book and get back the money I invested. So I’m already halfway there and by buying my book, you can help me achieve the other half of my dream, too.
You have published your book? Congratulations! Now here’s the bad news: the work doesn’t end here. Post-publication marketing never ends and the longer it lasts, the harder it gets because your book has lost the excitement of being new.
Therefore I will cover a number of different ways to keep your book marketing fresh and continue building a platform, even after your book’s release is old news.
A lot of writers waste their resources on inefficient marketing. There are two easy ways to make your marketing more efficient, which only require thinking about your book.
A USP is a unique selling point, meaning what is that one unique quality your book possesses that sets it apart from similar books on the market. This can be difficult to figure out but it’s incredibly important since the USP is what makes people notice your book in a sea of new publications.
The first step is figuring out what kind of person is likely to buy your book. What’s their age, gender, educational background etc.? What kind of people buy similar books? There’s actually a function on many online shops that show you “people who bought this book also bought those”. Does your book fit in with those? Look at which target audience these books are marketed to.
The second step is to think about where your target group looks for new books. It is a waste of resources to pay for ads in a magazine, which no one of your target group is likely to read. So find out who your target group is and where to find them.
In the digital age social networks are extremely important to gain a platform of readers. Nowadays running several social networks that make you accessible to readers is almost expected of writers.
Keeping social networks up-to-date can be exhausting when you have to do it constantly. Therefore, it’s important to choose your social networks wisely, according to where potential readers are going to be.
Before you release the book, make sure all of your social networks are up-to-date. If your account comes up in someone’s newsfeed and they click on the profile they want to get a sense of who you are. So keep it short but make it personal and don’t forget to add information about your book, such as a blurb and links to where to buy it or read an extract.
Also keep in mind not to only spam people with marketing but share other information, maybe about your life as a writer. Keep your posts varied. People have many posts in their newsfeeds, so it’s easy for your post to get lost. Keep your posts short enough to grab people’s attention and also post pictures.
Finally, try to engage with your followers. Ask them questions, let them know that their opinions are appreciate and reply to their comments.
If you live somewhere where you can’t reach your target audience in person there’s an alternative to doing readings, namely a virtual blog tour. During such a blog tour your write articles relating to your book and have other writers or book blogs publish them on your blog. In return they may ask you to publish one of their own articles on your blog.
Such articles could be
Get as creative as you like. For example, write an interview with a character or make up a newspaper article from the fictional world of your book.
Don’t forget to include information about your book
One way to reach more readers and gain credibility is to get reviews. Even if these reviews criticize certain aspects of the book they could still be useful. Arguably, a review that also mentions negative aspects is more credible than one that praises the book to the point of incredibility.
Getting reviews is difficult. On the one hand you can try to have your friends and family review your book. On the other hand you can try to give readers incentives for reviews, for example that you do a giveaway in-between those who review your book within a certain timespan. Another option is to approach newspaper, magazines or book blogs online whether they would like to write a review in exchange for a free copy of the book.
You should also make sure to use every review as promotion. Post on social networks that there is a new review, make sure it is featured on GoodReads and other pages where readers might to look for new books to read.
Building a platform is one of the keys to making your marketing more efficient, to make sure that your news are seen by your target group and people are encouraged to buy your book.
The first step to gaining a platform is to keep up social networks, so you stay in touch with the readers you have gained.
So the big question is how to get people to follow you on these social networks? The easiest way is to offer things for free. Make short stories available for people to read online for free. Give advice based on your own writing experience, for example creating a Handbook to Self-publishing your own Book.
On your social networks you can also engage with your platform. They can ask you questions about your book and generally about your life as a writer. Additionally, you can you use them to do contests or get creative and write about your character’s life.
There are little rules in marketing. The point is to be creative and original. Aside from writing blogs and getting reviews, here are a few things you can also try:
These are only a few ideas. You can always research how your favourite authors try to stay in touch with their readers and emulate tactics that work. But it still may be most effective to pursue a completely original marketing technique, which makes you stand out.
Sales and Finances
I offer manuscript reviews, content editing and copyediting services. Additionally, I offer a free sample review and content editing of the first 500 words of your story. Send them and a short outline of the rest of the story to [email protected]
Free Writing Advice
I give writing advice and answer your questions on my Tumblr (kittyinthestars.tumblr.com).
Adventure Stories of Pirates, Robots and Coconuts
City of the Dead
Armed with nothing more than a sarcastic stone statue, a Victorian ghost and a humorous skeleton, would you try to solve your own murder?
Revenge of the Ginger
An unexpected holiday, time travel and a cat. – A story from three different points of views and one of those is the cat’s.
Love and Robots
This year the Jane Austen festival is a lot more…modern. Can a love story prevail even under the threat of a potential robot invasion?
Of Sea Monsters and Pirates
At first glance Inverness may seem ordinary, but the city has more than one magical secret.
A Prophecy of Coconuts
Don’t you want to discover the mystery of the coconut?
The Dangers of Gardening
When people start dying of mysterious wounds the rumoured vampires aren’t the only danger in town.
Race Against the Clock
Captain Khalilah’s first mission with her own crew turns into a scavenger hunt for a stolen molecular model amongst legendary riddles.
[*Read for free here: http://www.juliafellner.com/index,172.html *
To be a Hero
[*Valerie has loved stories about heroes ever since she was a child. Now it’s her chance to become one herself. *]
When a masked, self-proclaimed hero called Shadow appears in her hometown, she decides to team up with him and become a hero herself. Valerie is an unlikely adventurer. She can’t run fast and she is a little insecure. But she is passionate about turning her life into an interesting story.
However, soon she has to learn that living a story is not as easy as she had thought. In a small town with no big adventures, the person underneath Shadow’s mask is the only mystery worth exploring. When Shadow’s secrets pile up, she has to learn to face problems without her mask. In a world that believes it no longer needs heroes, can Valerie and Shadow prove it wrong?
For more information to buy To be a Hero and Revealed, visit www.juliafellner.com
Vampires, secret societies and first love – those are things that Anne Watson missed during her first high school experience.
Panthera Academy is not only a place for eccentric characters, but also the home of two secret societies, the panthers and the rebels. There Anne has to deal with midnight meetings, shocking confessions of dark secrets and mysterious deaths as she experiences falling in love for the first time.
Hello, dear reader,
My name is Julia Fellner.
English may not be my mother tongue but, when I fell in love with the English language, I started writing my stories in English.
I was sixteen years old, when I wrote a novel called Revealed, which was later published by Rogue Phoenix Press.
My second novel, To be a Hero, began with the National Novel Writing Month in November 2012. Several drafts and more than a year later, I finished the final draft and started out on my self-publishing adventures of producing a quality book.
Based on my backpacking trip through the United Kingdom, I also wrote a short story for almost every place I visited. The collection is called Adventure Stories of Pirates, Robots and Coconuts.Currently, I live in Austria, where I’m finishing my Bachelor degree in English and American Studies at the University of Vienna.
Based on my own experience of self-publishing my second novel To be a Hero, I have compiled a Handbook to guide you through the self-publishing process. Originally a blog series, the Handbook starts by helping you decide whether self-publishing is for you. Then, in order to produce a quality book, topics from editing, over cover design to typesetting are explained. Next, legal considerations and different distribution channels, as well as financial concerns are addressed. Finally, the biggest section focuses on marketing - the bread and butter of any author, offering advice on how to build up to the release and continue creating impactful marketing afterwards.