Self publishing is becoming a strong competitor for traditionally published books through publishing houses. A lot of authors are seeing the benefits of remaining in control of the rights to their own work and deciding when to sell and how to promote. Companies like Lulu and Reedsy offers writers a viable alternative to see their work published on their terms.
Even though there are several companies (including Reedsy), there are a few general tips and tricks that apply to most self publishing ventures and the industry.
All self publishing companies require manuscripts to be formatted for publication before uploading it to the platform. While there are some general formatting guidelines, each of these self publishing companies will have their own specifics. Be sure to check your individual self-publishing company before uploading what you consider a ready-formatted book – their guidelines might be a little different.
High Resolution Images
Always use high-resolution and high-quality images for your book cover. Again, also check the formatting guidelines for what the individual self publishing company will need your book cover to be. (Even though you’re self publishing, a lot of writers are not professional cover designers – and it can pay to spend some of your budget on getting in a secondary cover artist to help.
In addition to finding a cover artist or designer to help, it can also pay to find a professional proofreader who can check over the finally formatted version of your manuscript for errors. There’s a lot of debate out there on whether or not self published writers need to subcontract professional proofreaders, but the best answer is a definite yes. (Even professional proofreaders and writers have issues spotting errors in their own work, and that’s why it’s always best to get in someone else just to be sure.)
Write a Blurb
A “blurb” is usually only a few sentences or a paragraph in length, and this is the part of the book description that tells readers what this book is all about. On paperbacks, you’ll find this part on the back.
Ideally, when you look at publishing a book yourself, you’ll have to handle writing the blurb of the book yourself.
Look at some practical examples, or hire another writer who can assist.
Set a Price
As a self published author, you’ll have to set the selling price of the manuscript yourself. This can be hard for a lot of writers who might not have a background in sales or promotion, but isn’t really as tough as it looks.
There are a few essential factors that you’ll have to take into account when setting your price. As a guideline, look at the current market price of new books through retailers, consider how much your self publishing company will need to add (some add a percentage on top of sales) and how much you’re looking to make from your “investment” in publishing this book.
If you hired a proofreader or cover designer for their work, this cost can factor into your book sales, too.
These factors all contribute to what the end-price of your book is. (For promotion some authors introduce an introductory discount coupon, which a lot of companies allow you to do).
Proper Manuscript Length
A lot of great self publishing companies don’t put a requirement on word count and will let you publish stories of any length you like, but this isn’t always a good idea. Readers are used to certain lengths (and so are most writers). Self published or not, it’s best to stick to the industry standards for things like formatting and manuscript length.
Know the difference between novels, novellas and short stories before jumping straight in.