What is Self-Publishing?


Are you a new or aspiring author and you’re wondering, what is self-publishing? Have you decided on self-publishing but don’t know where to begin? Are you a traditionally published author who would like to have more creative control, so are now considering self-publishing?

Then, read on for some valuable information to help you decide if self-publishing is right for you.

Traditional publishing is signing on with a publishing house that will cover the associated costs and provide the expertise to get your book from manuscript to published work. They take on the financial risk, as well as the taking the time and resources to get your book from manuscript to published book. That is why they claim royalties and then pay the author.
*If a publisher asks you to pay for services while also asking you to sign a contract, they are not a true publishing house, and this should be a big flashing warning light.

Assisted self-publishing is when you pay a company to find or provide these services for you. You take on the financial risk, so the companyshould NOT charge you a print cost above the actual printer’s cost, and they should NOT claim any royalties. Also, remember, if they provide ISBNs and a domain name for you, then chances are they are listed as publisher of the book and owner of the domain name, so you should probably get these for yourself.

For true self-publishingyou take it upon yourself to do as much of the above as possibleand to find and pay for the right people to get each of the tasks done that you can’t do yourselfYou again take on all the financial risk, but this time, you will have no company guiding you along the way or putting you in touch with all the right people you need to get everything done. So, if you are new at the game, you will need to be patient, willing to deal with a steep learning curve, and willing to take the necessary time to learn everything you need to learn and find the people you need to get it done.

I would also add a couple of steps along the way for self-published authors.

Steps for self-publishing your book:

  1. Finish your manuscript. Just write at this point. Do not edit while you write.
  2. Put the manuscript aside for a while. Some people suggest a couple of weeks, even months. I’m not that patient though, so I will say at least a few days to a week.
  3. Edit your manuscript.
  4. Get beta readers to read your book. Be specific in what you expect from them.
  5. Edit your manuscript again based on the feedback from the beta readers.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 if necessary
  7. Find and hire people to do the cover and interior design. This process should actually be started somewhere between steps 1 and 6, as it could take a while.
  8. Hire a professional editor to edit your book.
  9. Revise your book based on your editor’s feedback (You don’t have to make every suggested change)
  10. Have your book proofread
  11. Buy ISBNs for each format of your book (in Canada, we get those for free)
  12. Create, or hire someone to create, the cover file(s) and interior file(s) needed to upload to the distributor (often, this is the cover designer, at least for the cover files).
  13. Create an account with your distributor(s) of choice and set it up
  14. Go over your distributor’s style guide to make sure your book files conform to their expectations
  15. Upload your book files to the distributor(s)
    *There is usually some turn-around time needed for the distributor to review and approve your file.
  16. If the files are not approved, fix them and re-submit
  17. If you are selling print copies, have one printed and sent to you so you can make sure there are no problems before releasing it for sale. This is called a proof copy.
  18. Marketing, which can actually start when you are in the process of writing, but should take place during and/or between all the other steps.

DON’T PANIC if this seems like a lot.

It’s because there are so many things to do, and so much I didn’t know, that I used assisted self-publishing for my first book. But if you have a limited budget, patience, and the time to put into it, there are many options and resources available that can make the process easier, and less expensive, for you. I will tell you about some of these in future posts.


In future issues:

  • Further explanations of the above steps and links to helpful resources

Please note that these are my own experiences and opinions. I am not saying my choices would be best for everyone. It is always a good idea to do your research.


Thanks for reading!

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