So you’re there. You’ve written the manuscript, redrafted and are thinking of getting your book published. You may also have decided to get it self-published, for any number of reasons, but this can be hugely expensive. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some ways that you can reduce the cost of self-publishing, as well as what you do and don’t need.
One thing that you need to start as soon as possible is marketing your book. As soon as you have a first draft, or strong plan and some writing in place, and you’re positive you will be publishing, it’s time to start PR. Many authors leave this until too late, when the book is already done, edited and published, then have to start from scratch with a published run of books.
Marketing does not need to be expensive, just cleverly done and utilising sources already at your disposal. A simple way to begin this is by telling all your friends and family about the book, as they may be completely unaware, and then letting them spread the word. It is important that you decide beforehand whether you will be giving free copies to them, however, as copies can quickly go with no recompense for you!
Another tool you can use to raise awareness is social media. Effectively used, this can easily spread knowledge of your book to many potential buyers. Focus on creating interesting posts that people will want to share, and again get family and friends in on the act! Once more, it is important to start early to build hype before your book is released for sale. You can even post extracts from your writing (if you’re comfortable with this), perhaps a particularly intriguing snippet to pique curiosity. You can also keep potential buyers up-to-date with all the developments surrounding the book, such as edits, cover design and when it is actually being printed!
There are traditionally three stages of editing, which are developmental editing, copy-editing and proofreading. These are all different and are done at various stages of writing, which I will go into more detail about in a different blog post. In a nutshell, developmental editing comes first and involves working with the actual content, shaping it into a more readable state and ensuring the storyline or order makes sense. Copy-editing will involve checking grammar, spelling, punctuation and consistencies, such as characters’ names and capitalisation. Proofreading is a final check of the work when it is otherwise all prepared for printing. This is a very important stage as it is the last chance to catch an error before going to print.
If you are happy with your book not being exactly publisher standard (as you may well decide you are), some editing can be done by yourself. There are writing workshops that will cost less than developmental editing but should still help you catch some mistakes.
Copy-editing may be cheaper if you use someone with less experience, or if you really can’t or don’t want to spend money on developmental or copy-editing, you could try using a beta reader. Some of these may charge, but it will be much less than editing. They can read your work and offer feedback, but be aware that this can be variable in quality.
Proofreading may also be less expensive if the proofreader has less experience, or you can have a final reread yourself. A useful technique here is to read your book backwards, line by line, sentence by sentence, or even word by word, so you are not so focused on the content and mistakes stand out more.
You could also try reading your work aloud to see if anything is jarring, or even better, have a friend read it aloud for you to listen to. They are less likely to automatically correct any errors you might still have.
So you’re happy with the text, but what about an appealing cover to hook readers’ interest? These can also be cheaper if you use a student looking to build their portfolio, but ask to see some of their existing work. This doesn’t need to be commissioned work, just classwork or similar to ensure you like the style and quality. If you are going to be selling your book digitally, don’t forget that the cover will need to work on all screen sizes.
Formatting and Layout
In addition, it’s necessary to consider how your book will be formatted. Good formatting makes your book look more professional and readable, and can be done by you if you are relatively computer-savvy. There are templates and tutorials for word on DIYBookFormats which also has instructions for other formats, such as epub and mobi formats for ebooks.
Do you need an ISBN? It depends on what you want from your publication. Books do not legally have to have an ISBN, but it is this that allows booksellers and libraries around the world to identify a specific book and publisher. If you are self-publishing, the publisher you are using to print may just add their default ISBN to your book, but you will not be identified as the publisher. Alternatively, you can buy your own from Nielsen BookServices, currently £89.00, including VAT, for an ISBN.
The US ISBN agency is Bowker where ISBNs are currently $125.00. You do not need a new ISBN for a different country, they are international and simply assigned locally.
Distribution can be done by you, following the individual instructions from retailers, or there are companies which will handle this for you, but will charge royalties. You could also consider going into local bookshops and asking if they would be interested in selling them, then working out payment with them. It would be best to do this at a relatively quiet time for them, obviously!
If possible, encourage natural reviews that you can add to your website or social media (remember to ask the reviewer for permission). You can also go to sites such as Amazon and find reviewers there, then contact them directly. First determine if they normally read your genre of writing from past reviews, then offer to send them a complimentary copy to review. Remember to keep marketing as well! This will help spread the word even further and encourage more reviewers and buyers.
None of this is set in stone – think about what works best for you, what you really need and what you are happy to do without. It’s your book, so it’s all your choice, however works best for you. Good luck!
Want help proofreading your work? Contact Carmine Proofreading for a friendly, professional service from a qualified proofreader.