For self-publishers who want, you know, a book

We recently posted a long and comprehensive piece by David Gaughran which is your navigation guide to the world of e-publishing. The post is all about how to get your book up on to Amazon, how to format it right, how to market it right, how to avoid the scammers. It’s an excellent piece. Anyone wanting to build a career as an independent author will almost certainly do so electronically: I now can’t think of any recent example of authors who have successfully self-published in print only and gone on to forge a meaningful career for themselves. (Though I’d love to know of any exceptions: get in touch if you’re one.) At that same time, there are now very numerous examples of successful e-published authors: that is, ones making a good-t0-fair living from their work, even without the help of a regular publisher. We’ve even helped a few of those fine creatures take flight, and we’re proud to have done so.

But there are many possible reasons for self-publishing and making a fortune selling on Amazon isn’t the only one. If I’d written a book of local history, for example, I’d want physical books on the shelves of the town or area I was writing about. If I’d written a memoir, I’d certainly want physical copies of the book for everyone in the wider family. Heck, if I’d published something electronically, and still just wanted to see my name on the cover of a real book, I’d get the damn thing printed up and have my name in gold letters across the front. And why not? It’s your project; be proud of it.

That said, there are some horrible scammers out there. There’s a whole stable of horribleness in the form of Author Solutions now, shockingly, under the wing of Pearson/Penguin. I won’t go into the horribleness here – though you can read more about it here – but suffice to say that the company is very sales driven and the services it sells may not be either well-priced or of any value to you whatsoever.

So, avoid anyone with a pushy sales approach. Be deeply sceptical of anyone who promises too much. Do Google the company and make sure you look beyond company-owned or controlled sites: that’s the way you’ll find out what customers are really saying.

And stick with the good guys. We’ve long recommended Matador, a firm we believe to be completely trustworthy. We’ve recently come across Completely Novel, a specialist in print-on-demand, and they look useful and have a decent advice library here. And then of course there’s CreateSpace, part of the mighty Amazon empire, which offers a low cost route to get your book ready for POD distribution via Amazon (but note that wouldn’t be a natural route for getting your work into actual bookshops.)

And the old tips still apply:

  • Keep your expectations modest
  • Keep your costs low
  • Don’t buy a service unless you know what it does and whether it’ll benefit you
  • Do your research
  • Try to talk to other writers who have used the service in question

If you have had notably good or bad experiences with any self-publishing firms, do let us know. We like to be able to praise the good guys and plaster Do Not Enter warnings across the doorways that lead to bad places.

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