Good morning! If you have arrived on this article, it means that you plan to self-publish a novel (or a book, a comic strip, whatever) in the near future. I’m not here to convince you that self-publishing (or self-publishing, call it what you want) might be THE solution for the manuscript that’s been rotting in your drawer for 1 year, I’ll start from the principle that you have already made your choice.
A little reminder, however: self-publishing/publishing consists of making your own book, without going through a publisher. So, we have to roll up our sleeves! I personally experienced self-publishing through the publication of my novel Mon Amie Gabrielle, I talk about it a little more in detail in this article in December 2016.
Perhaps you wonder if you have the capacities to make your own book? My answer is simple: yes!
1. Budget your project and find funding
This is the sinews of war: money. As you read the rest of the article, you will see that self-publishing your novel may cost you money. You can get away with it for nothing if you opt for a digital publication, but maybe that’s not your plan.
If you are planning a paper publication, you will have to try to plan the various costs to avoid unpleasant surprises. And think about your financing and return on investment. If you print 100 copies, how many copies do you need to sell to get your money back? Are you going to use your personal money? Saving money with your birthday and Christmas money? Organizing a crowdfunding campaign? A kitty?
If you have no idea of the costs, I simply invite you to continue reading this article. Normally by the end you should have an idea of the options available to you. Knowing that you can perfectly decide to do everything yourself, without the slightest cost!
Personally, I chose to do a crowdfunding campaign. I made a video with Ulla on this subject that I invite you to watch 😉
2. Correct your novel
It’s very important. Depending on your level of spelling, syntax, conjugation and grammar, you can of course perform the correction yourself. My personal advice is to read the text upside down, starting at the end. You’ll pay less attention to the story and maybe see your faults better (at least it works with me). Moreover, you can use a great correction software like Antidote which will be of great help to you.
Depending on your degree of requirement (you have the right to decide that it doesn’t matter if there are still a few mistakes!), I invite you to hire a proofreader. It can be someone you know or a professional. Prices vary, especially depending on the number of pages.
For a homemade correction, you can arrange with friends or exchange services with a fellow writer. I correct your book for you and you correct yours; everyone meets there.
And beyond the correction, get absolutely proofread! Outsiders will be able to tell you if there is something wrong with your plot, if there is an incomprehensible passage or other small problem that you may have missed.
Remember one thing: we do not claim free correction on social networks and we do not pay for visibility!
3. Create a cover
Again, it is possible to make your own cover! If you have talents as a photographer or designer, painter, you’ve won!
If graphic design is not really your thing, you can start with an easy-to-reproduce design (colored background, title). If you opt for a photo, you can search the royalty-free and free image banks (like Unsplashed).
If you have a small budget, you can buy a photo from an image bank or place an order with an illustrator, or why not a photographer.
In any case, we do not use an image found on the Internet without asking the creator or the creator. And again, we do not claim coverage against payment in visibility. If your best friend offers to offer you a drawing for your cover, that’s good for you, but it’s not up to you to ask for free work.
To make your own cover, there are plenty of tutorials on the internet. With just a few clicks, I came across the article Creating a Book Cover: The Basics. By searching a little, you will find the tutorial that suits you.
Of course, you can hire a graphic designer if you have the money.
Just think that the price of your book must be written on the back cover, as well as the ISBN number;) And be careful to create your cover in CMYK (colors for printing).
4. Layout your book
Again, if you have the budget, you can hire a layout artist to do your own layout in InDesign.
Nevertheless, it is possible to easily make a layout of your text on software as simple as Word. Personally, I used Scrivener which allows you to manage many parameters. For somewhat original layouts, it will probably be necessary to use InDesign.
You will have to choose your font and its size yourself (do printing tests). Then the bulk of the work is in my opinion: the management of margins and page breaks. You will probably tear your hair out, but it is done! And you’ll save a little money (which is always nice). Again, I found you an article of advice for a basic layout in Word: right there.
Regarding the layout of books that are not 100% textual, like comics, I don’t really have any advice because I’ve never experienced it. All I did was put illustrations on a full page to separate the different parts of my book (and when I think about it, I didn’t even really pay attention to whether it was centered or what, I just pasted my ill).
5. Have your books printed?
The question to ask yourself: do you want to print your books? How many copies? Do you have the budget? Do you have a place to store them? You can perfectly go to a digital-only version of your book, that’s no less good. Think carefully. It would be counterproductive to spend 1500 euros to print 500 copies and have them end up in your cellar.
A. You want to print books
We need to find a printer. Search the internet, ask other authors and ask for quotes. You will of course need the number of pages of your book, the format and the number of copies. You can perfectly request several quotes for different volumes of books. Make an estimate for 100 copies, another for 250 and another for 400 for example? Know that the more books you order, the lower the price per copy.
Printers can send you free examples of books with different papers, types of cover. Because yes, a priori you will be able to choose all that! Your printer can also tell you about the most common formats in publishing if you are undecided.
Your printer will accompany you throughout the printing process, it is important to choose a printer with whom you have good contact, even more so if you are a novice and you plan to print a lot of copies (and spend a lot of money)! Someone who answers the phone, who takes news of the progress of your project, it’s always better.
You will certainly go through several exchanges of quotes, with different papers, etc. Once your choice is final and you have the money, you will place an order. You will receive a BAT (a first test copy) if you have chosen the BAT option (essential if you order a lot of copies!), you can check that everything is ok before printing your 50/100/ 300 copies! Regarding the invoice, with my printer I pay 50% to the proof and the rest before the shipment of all the books.
Think about storing your books, boxes take up space.
There are also print-on-demand services. Usually it’s more expensive per book, but the big advantage is that you don’t have to pay up front! And you don’t have to store books at home either! This is an avenue to explore…
B. You opt for 100% digital
Right away, it’s easier. There are no fees to be expected! To create your book in a digital version, Word, OpenOffice, etc. software all offer a pub export. I know that Scrivener allowed me to manage a number of parameters for the creation of my pub. It’s done in a few minutes.
The free Caliber software will allow you to convert your .pub to any other format (like. Mobi on Kindles).
Whatever happens, I think the digital version is essential when talking about self-publishing/self-publishing. Your book is not going to be in bookstores, so you need another way for readers to get your book easily. What’s better than an eBook that can be downloaded in a few clicks?
On the other hand: we do not put a 20 bucks’ eBook on the internet! Don’t make the same mistake as traditional publishers who sell eBooks for more than paperbacks. Set a reasonable price. You can also choose to distribute your book for free, and set up a small PayPal or other so that people can donate to you ^^
6. The somewhat boring administrative mess
- Obtaining an ISBN (mandatory for the paper version and the digital version) is free. The procedure to follow is available here.
- Submit your book to the Banff, just consult the official site for the information.
- Find out how you are going to declare the sales of your books (well, not if you print 10 copies, eh). It is possible to declare as an individual, author, company, association… There are plenty of statutes, it is to be seen on a case-by-case basis.
7. Distribute your books
This is where it gets complicated. As simple as the first 6 steps were… Distributing your books is going to be quite tricky. You will have to take off your author’s costume and put on that of a salesman and responsible for publicity. I don’t have the dream solution, but here are some ways to distribute it:
- Your social networks, your blog, your YouTube channel. If you already have people who follow your work, inevitably the work is facilitated. When I released Mon Amie Gabrielle, I totally relied on the audience I already had to promote my novel.
- Either way, it’s essential to have an online presence and an easy way to contact people who want to order your book. You can also create a sales site, with a PayPal payment.
- If you have done a crowdfunding campaign, people have already pre-ordered the book: that’s it!
- Forums, writers’ groups, online communities. Be careful though, these are often closed circuits of authors who read each other. But it can be cool to meet other writers.
- The influencers. You will receive few responses, but sometimes there are interested bloggers or booktubers. But do not send emails on the fly and rather precisely target the tastes of influencers. For example, I receive about ten book proposals per week. There is a better chance of getting a positive response if I am offered a reading in my tastes (feminist and LGBT literature for example).
- Bookstores, you’ll have to go to the nerve! Some bookstores, especially independent ones, might accept your book on their shelves. Personally, I’ve never tried, but I know that others have managed to have libraries like that.
- It is also possible to put your book (especially your eBook) on online sales platforms, but I have never looked into it. You will have to check with other authors 😉
- Don’t neglect word of mouth!
I think there are plenty of other ways to distribute your book, but using the web exclusively, I don’t necessarily know them. To tell you about my experience, it is thanks to my social networks and my activities as a blogger that I was able to organize signing sessions myself. And it is also through this visibility that I am invited to literary fairs and events.
I know, it’s complicated and a little demoralizing. You might be tempted to use the services of unscrupulous companies which, for a percentage, promise you distribution in XXX online bookstores or on Amazon. I have only one answer: if nobody knows that your book exists, nobody will find it among the other 4000 books in the catalog. On the other hand, if people know your book and it is not available in any bookstore, we will send you emails to order it directly from you. At least that’s the experience I have.
8. Receive the fruits of your labor
After all that, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy! Respond to emails from your readers, write a new book…
And keep doing your promo because it never stops. If you want to continue to sell, you will have to continue to communicate and distribute your work.
I hope this article was of some help to you if you are looking to self-publish a novel. I have tried to summarize as much as possible and give you concrete advice. Good luck on your adventure as an author! Keep persevering, only hard work pays off. Never wait for someone to pick you up, you risk waiting all your life. Be proactive as they say!
Have you tried self-publishing? Still questions? Do you have any advice to add because I forgot some things? The comments area is there for you.