Book Printing UK are here to help you answer that age-old, internal question for authors on taking the self-publishing route to getting your book on the shelves and sold online. Whilst every case is different, we hope to help you gain insight as to whether self-publishing is right for you.
Deciding if you should self-publish your book or try to find a main line publisher can be a confusing one. So, in order to help ease those headaches, our publishing partner Spiderwize have put together a guide that you can download for free. What did they call it? Quite simply, the Guide to Self-Publishing. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? To help you get started, here is an excerpt from the guide, which should help you start to decide what method of publishing to choose.
Is Self-Publishing Right for Me?
This depends on what you hope to achieve from publishing your book. What are your expectations? You need to create a list of the pros and cons of self-publishing, and how each factor affects you.
If you are expecting the publisher to take charge of your book, pay you an advance fee before the book is published, take charge of marketing your book; sell/promote your book to distributors/bookstores, then clearly the traditional way of publishing your book is what you are looking for.
If you have never tried submitting your book to a traditional publisher and feel your book would be marketable to a wide audience, then we encourage you to submit your book to the most suitable publisher. Traditional publishers will always have more marketing clout. Please be aware that most publishers will not accept book submissions direct from authors.
You will probably need to use an agent. A list of mainline publishers and agents can be found in the latest copy of The Artists' and Writers' Year Book, which you can obtain through most bookstores, and certainly from Amazon. A word of warning, however: finding a mainline or traditional publisher that is willing to consider your book is like searching for a needle in a haystack - which is why finding a reputable agent is probably the best route to choose. An agent will know which publishers are most likely to look at your book, in terms of genre or category. The Artists' and Writers' Year Book also has a section on how to present your manuscript.
Seeking a mainline publisher (or even an agent) can be an exhausting process, and requires commitment, perseverance and a firm belief on the author's part that his or her book is genuinely saleable. In days gone by, traditional publishers placed as much emphasis on the quality of the writing or narrative, whereas in today's world with its economic pressures, saleability is the main factor for most mainline publishers. In other words, will the book sell, and to whom? What constitutes the target audience?
If your book is repeatedly rejected by mainline publishers, it does not mean it is not a good book, and that it does not deserve to be published. That is where self-publishing comes in and it has happened more than once that a self-published book is eventually discovered by a mainline publisher who publishes it with successful sales. Some best sellers began as self-published books.
If your target audience is made up of your own family and circle of friends, then self-publishing is the most logical route to follow. The book is made available to order either from online bookstores, through bricks-and-mortar bookstores (if it has an ISBN number), or from stocks that you have purchased at the author's discount from the printer/publisher.
Additional Thoughts on Self-Publishing
With any luck, that above excerpt will help get you into the right frame of mind for thinking about self-publishing, or rather, what route may be better suited to yourself. It may still be the early stages of your writing, but if you are serious about your work, it’s always worth being aware of. Envisioning the end goal can often help motivate and drive you in times of struggle or writer’s block.
The main premise of this is to get you thinking about your purpose: are you writing for yourself, or others? Similarly, how much time and money do you want to invest in this project? Spiderwize can help you with whichever route you take.
This is a very important and personal decision. Sometimes it’s about checking out the facts, speaking to publishing companies to see what they can facilitate for you and if that’s right for you. Remember, companies want your business; so feel free to ask as many questions as you like, ask for a guided tour of their offices and printers, and don’t be afraid to shop around and ask to speak to different people. The more you ask, the more you know – the better.
Self-Confessions of the Self-Published
We spoke to author of Loulabub Zoolabub, Kenny Dowling described his experience dealing with Spiderwize and opting for self-publishing after a few bad experiences with mainline publishers:
“After a few emails were exchanged I spoke to Laura on the telephone. I was met by this enthusiastic bubbly voice who spoke with a clear passion about what she did [...] she walked me through all of the different packages available from Spiderwize and answered all my questions.
Laura was able to tell me about one of their packages which was everything I was looking for. Not only could they print the book to a high quality but they also had an illustrator and designer who could bring the story and its characters to life. More than this, once the book was complete they could make it available to buy around the world through huge companies such as Amazon, Book Depository, iBooks and Amazon Kindle. Customers would also be able to walk into high street brands such as WH Smith and Waterstones and order my book! They would help with marketing the book by producing posters and bookmarks and even by helping with a book launch!
This was definitely the package for me, but, was this all too good to be true? I like to think of myself as being quite intelligent, so I wasn't about to jump in and sign on the dotted line right there and then, to which Laura provided no pressure to do so. I went away and drew up a list of questions and did my due diligence on the company. Laura answered all my questions when I got back to her and hid nothing, she was totally up front on the things Spiderwize could and couldn't do. To put myself at ease though I asked if I could visit the Spiderwize offices, meet Laura and the team in person and get a tour of the Book Printing UK printing facilities. This was no problem at all and I was soon on a train to Peterborough.
Throughout the entire process I was kept fully updated and nothing was signed off without my approval. I was able to make changes and tweaks to illustrations and design and the team could not have been more professional, proactive or friendly. Nothing was too much trouble. I was sent proofs to approve at all stages of the process and I felt fully in control of my project.”
Kenny discusses his concerns and was not afraid to ask any question that came to him, which is exactly what anyone thinking of self-publishing should do. You need to be entirely sure that the company you are working with are right for you. Ensuring you are comfortable to move forward with your project is priority number one.
But y’know, after all the research, and questions, and time thinking, you just get that gut feeling... Sometimes, it’s all you ever needed.
For more information and tips on self-publishing, you can download Spiderwize’s free Guide to Self-Publishing. But, of course, you’re only ready to self-publish once your book has been printed. So check out our free resource, the BPUK ’Am I Ready to Print?’ Checklist, to ensure you know everything about your book (inside and out) in order for it to be sent to the printers. Stop putting it off and start your journey today.