Updated from my first blog on self-publishing in 2014 when I printed in China, to 2024 where I now use Print on Demand and a local printer for my printed soft and hard cover books.
I had a dream; it was to write and illustrate children's books. After two decades of rejection and thinking 'Maybe I'm just not enough?' I had a new thought; What if people don't care if that I'm not the best writer in the world, or the best artist in the world, what if all that matters are that they are My Stories? What if? And that thought changed my plan. I decided to give myself a chance to do the things I loved; painting and writing.
I wrote a book, then I wrote another and included my paintings, then I started several more, and now I'm in the process of creating and completing. Along the way I began my own publishing company so I could publish my books. I learned how to be a publisher, how to navigate a printer, booksellers, bookstores, editors, graphic designers and a whole host of new skills demanded my attention. It was fun, it was challenging, and it allowed me to create and expand in the way I wanted to.
Several friends have asked how I did this; so I wrote this blog detailing my steps in the hope of supporting other people to live their dream.
I wish you all the best on your journey, and if you also suffer from 'Maybe I'm not enough' syndrome, then join me in letting that go. Remind yourself that all you need is you and your story. All that other stuff (the details) can be figured out. Never give up. You just don't know how your story will help others.
First step is to Write your Book.
This is the hard or the easy part. Write your story to the best of your ability. Get help where you can. Writer support groups, colleges and courses will help you find your voice and the story you want to write.
When you have your finished manuscript, you can go a billion ways, but here are three ways that have worked for my author friends and myself.
1. Send your manuscript to a traditional publisher who will pay you from 1 - 4k dollars advance, create a contract that allows you to keep your copyright. A traditional publisher will pay for the editing, graphic design, printing costs and give you royalties once you have reached your advance. If a publisher loves your work and asks you to handle some of the costs, they are not a traditional publisher. Walk away and do more research. Join author and illustrator groups to educate yourself.
2. Write your manuscript and go to a printer who handles the editing, graphic design, book binding, printing and distribution of your book. You pay for all of these services, but beware of charlatans who trick you into thinking they are offering you a publishing contract. If you are the one paying, then YOU are the publisher. Check out your printer who pretends to be your publisher and charges you a lot of money. Go online and ask other authors about the printer you are considering. Compare and contrast. Don't sign anything until you are certain. A printer works for you. Check them out througoughly.
Recently I illustrated a book for a client, and they used a local printer Inhouse Publishing, to do the editing, graphic design and printing. They did all the right things, charged a reasonable rate, and did a fabulous printing job. I will use them again.
3. Become an independent publisher and do all the work yourself. Use a printer or a Print On Demand (POD) service to print and sell your book. This is what I do. It was a steep learning curve but I love my work.
How to Become an Independent Publisher
After you've written your book...
Edit your book
Cut out redundant words, check spelling and grammar. All writing is essentially re-writing. After I have written my book to the best I can, I send it to my editors and use their suggestions to improve my work. Look for writing centres that can help you find editors and support your journey..
Adding Photographs and Illustrations
If your book has pictures that don’t belong to you, you will need to ask permission from the photographer or artist to publish them. You can use your own photographs, but if you have used models they will need to sign a model release form. You can also hire an artist to draw or paint the illustrations you need for your book. You can find illustrators from Illustrators Australia and there are Facebook groups with illustrators for hire. Find an artist whose work you love and references of reliability.. You might pay from 100 - 600 per page. Or you might be lucky to have a talented family member who wants to collaborate with you and is willing to accept half the profits.
Check the copyright of your book before selling your book.
Read more about Australian copyright.
In Australia, all of your writing and art work is copyright without having to register it.
Although copyright protection in Australia is not dependent upon formal notice, it is best practice and advisable for copyright owners to place a copyright notice in a prominent place on their work. There is no set form of words for a copyright notice, but such a notice may state:
This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission from the author and or publisher, (add the year in which the work was made).
From The Australian Govt. Guide to copyright
Now that your manuscript (story) is ready, and you've created or hired someone for your photographs, drawings, or paintings, you are ready to bring these together to create a book.
Here you hire a graphic designer take you to the next step.
Illustrations will need to be scanned by a professional printer, or professionally photographed to be placed as a digital image into your manuscript.
Your graphic designer is likely to use a program such as InDesign to place your text and images to make your book. You will need to decide on the size of your book for your designer to set up the pages.
You will need an illustration for the front and back cover, and your graphic designer will create the cover for you.
During this process you can be searching for your local printer, or consider the next steps for POD.
Once you've chosen your printer, you will need to discuss or decide how many grams you want for the paper, what type of paper you want, and is it hard cover or soft cover?
Is your book colour, or black and white? What kind of binding do you want?
I went to the library and looked at all the books I liked to choose my binding, paper type, weight and book size.
Printers will send you samples of paper type, grams and binding.
As a self published author, you will need to purchase an ISBN.
You can purchase your ISBN In Australia from Thorpe-Bowker and later, register your book in the library catalogue.
Even when your book is print ready, it's up to you to approve it.
Print a copy and make sure it is how you want it to be.
Check the placement of pictures, the flow, the spelling and grammar.
You might need to make changes, edit or add text. You might make adjustment for weeks (months or years) before you are happy. You might change the picture layout or combination several times.
When your book is ‘perfect’ it is ready for printing.
If your book is a novel with black and white illustrations
A novel in black and white costs less to print. Your local printer will probably do an awesome job, especially if you are happy with black and white pictures. Call them and discuss your project and compare quotes.
If you want colour in your book, you can compare prices with your local printers or check out prices of printing in China through Alibaba.com I went through China for my first books, but since 2018 I print through KDP publishing and Ingram Spark. Recently I used a local printer Inhouse Publishing, and like I said above, I liked them.
Choose the printer that has the right services and price for what you want. Check out your printers references and ask them to send you a sample. You will pay for postage for the sample.
Most printers will expect you to pay a 50% deposit to begin your job. If you are sending your job overseas, you will usually pay direct into their bank account which means you need to set up an account for international transfers. Some printers accept PayPal or Western Union.
Ask the printer to send you a sample of your book before you say ‘go ahead’ with final printing. If you don’t have time to wait for the book to be mailed to you, have a Skype session and ask printer to show you the cover and each page to make sure they have printed on the correct side and everything is ok.
If you are printing OS you will need to consider shipping
If you are printing OS your printer can organise the shipping from their country to yours and you will need to organise a ‘freight forwarder,’ someone to organise your shipment through customs and delivery to either their warehouse or your door.
There are extra costs involved like GST and customs. I used David Broughs in Brisbane to ship my book from China to their warehouse and then we picked them up ourselves (to save truck costs). They were fantastic and really looked after me.
Customs cost me more than the shipping and printing.
I no longer print OS for the high costs of customs. The cost is lower printing through Alibaba, but I had to buy 1-2000 books and customs charged me $1k to get them out of the dock.
I've had good success with KDP and Ingram. I print 50 books at a time and sell as I go.
Each book works out to be about $8 each to print and post.
If you have decided to print through KDP and/or Ingram Spark. You will need to set up an account, fill in all the details of your book, and upload your print ready files. This is another step on its own, Your graphic designer will have set your book to be print ready, and this step may not have any glitches, if it does, ask your graphic designer to help you.
Once all is complete, order a copy of your book. If you are happy, and no more edits or adjustments are needed order a bunch of book and CELEBRATE!!
The book launch is SO MUCH fun, please have one. You will sell lots of books at your book launch.
Then there is the marketing aspect to sell your fabulous book, and that is another blog.
Best of wishes for the success of your book.
LINKS to Monica's books
If you have a recommendation,or questions for me to add to my bog, please place them in the comments.
GreetI am a yoga teacher, author and artist.
Blogs by Monica
Growing Emotional Intelligence