THE PROCESS IN A NUTSHELL
There are essentially THREE main aspects to self-publishing:
1. Writing: producing the text
- Writing process: drafting the novel and polishing it
- Preparing it for publication: development editing; copy-editing; proofreading
2. Publishing: producing the finished product
Some things to think about:
- What kind of books do you want to publish: print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks; ebooks; both paperbacks and ebooks?
- How do you want to sell your books? Are you happy selling online only or is it important to you to see your books in bookshops?
- If you don’t have the skills/time for anything except the writing part of the process, you might want to consider using an assisted publishing service (they cost money up front but can do a lot of the work for you; they are more likely to get your book into bookshops).
3. Marketing: selling the finished product
This is the single most important aspect of self-publishing (aside from having a good product). If your goal is to make money (it’s not everyone’s), getting discovered is crucial. Ideally, marketing needs to begin as the novel is being written and continue throughout the entire process, the biggest push being made once the novel is published and afterwards.
Main online marketing platforms:
Here’s a list of useful resources about all aspects of self-publishing. It’s important to do as much research as possible. All the books listed are available from Amazon.co.uk both as paperbacks and ebooks.
You might find it worthwhile to join the Alliance of Independent Publishers (ALLi). Once you’re a member, you get access to various member forums, the most useful of which is on Facebook.
On publishing in general (with chapters on self-publishing):
Publishing for Success: A Practical Guide by Anne Tannahill (published by NIPR, The National Collection of Northern Ireland Publications, 2014). A new updated edition of this booklet, first published in 2008, is available in paperback format from the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, and as a free PDF download from the NIPR site here.
Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Guide to Getting Published by Harry Bingham (Bloomsbury, 2010).
Self-publishing books and blogs:
Alison Baverstock, The Naked Author: A Guide to Self-Publishing (Foreword by Mark Coker; 2011).
David Gaughran, Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should (Kindle; 2011).
There is lots of self-publishing advice on the ALLi blog
Catherine Ryan Howard has a useful collection of blog posts on her site about self-publishing, although much of it may now be out of date.
Book marketing for self-publishers:
David Gaughran, Let’s Get Visible: How to Get Noticed and Sell More Books (2013).
Joanna Penn, How to Market a Book (2013).
Here is a small selection of companies that offer assisted publishing services:
Silverwood Books: http://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk/
There are many others, but research these very carefully to find the one that suits you. ALLi have produced their own guide: Choosing a Self-Publishing Service. See also the Writer Beware website (link below).
If you want to take a more independent route, picking and choosing services for each aspect of the process, here are some of the main ones (but do research your own):
Bookbaby (print & ebook): http://www.bookbaby.com/
CreateSpace (print only): https://www.createspace.com/
Smashwords (ebook only): http://www.smashwords.com/
Draft2Digital (ebook only): https://www.draft2digital.com/
Last, but not least…
Without intending to make you completely paranoid, here are the main sites that alert writers and self-publishers to scams, schemes and pitfalls:
Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/
Vanity Publishing: Advice and Warnings: http://www.vanitypublishing.info/
Preditors & Editors: Warnings: http://pred-ed.com/pubwarn.htm
ALLi also actively campaigns to make full service companies accountable for their sales pitches and charges, and alerts its members to the various schemes and scams going around.