There are three main ways that you can self-publish your book:
- in print
- as an (electronic) e-book
- as an audio book
For now, this info blog focuses on how to self-publish in print or e-book format using the ‘DIY’ method based on my own experience.
Self-publishing involves quite a steep learning curve but with a wide range of free and low-cost tools and templates — along with generous communities willing to chip in with advice — it is perfectly possible to do most of the legwork yourself once your final manuscript has been written, professionally edited / illustrated and proofread. And if the tech side of things feels too much, there are some fabulous and reasonably priced freelancers out there who you can call on to check your files at the last minute if you run into trouble.
Self-publishing in print
In the early days of self-publishing (‘vanity publishing’) aspiring authors would pay a vanity publishing company to create and publish their work. This was not only costly, but would very often leave the author with a stock of books to try to sell once friends and family had been exhausted. Happily, for today’s authors there is another way — which is using ‘Print on demand’.
As its name suggests, with ‘print on demand’ your book gets printed after the customer places an order. This is made possible by digital printing, which has none of the set-up costs and high volume print-run requirements associated with traditional printing in order to make it economically viable.
Digital printing on demand is music to the self-publisher’s ears because orders as small as a single book can be fulfilled without affecting your retail price. You can read about the popular print on demand options here.
As well as, or instead of, self-publishing in print, you can choose to self-publish electronic books — formatted for the Kindle, Kobo and other e-readers. E-books can be downloaded instantly across all borders, which makes them an attractive proposition for both buyer and seller. In addition, the royalties that authors can earn on e-books are significantly higher when compared with a print equivalent. You can read about self-publishing to Kindle and other e-book formats here.
Audio books / podcasts (Mini update March 2022)
Audiobooks have seen huge growth in recent years, as I am sure you are aware! There are clearly enormous potential markets for audio books, including:
- those who are visually impaired
- walkers and runners
- commuters and holiday travellers
- unable to read due to illness
- anyone else too busy to find the time to sit down and read!
I created the audiobook of The Secret Lake in 2018, hiring out a studio and self-narrating. On balance I wouldn’t recommend this for fiction as it’s extremely time consuming and exhausting. I go into detail on this and all of the options for self-publishing audiobooks in How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book (Second Edition)
But if you’re after some instant info, the links below to Joanna Penn’s website offer a good overview of your options for self-publishing audiobooks using ACX (an Amazon company which limits your distribution to Amazon, Apple and Audible) and Findaway Voices (recently acquired by Spotify), which allows you to publish anywhere you like, including on your own site, and make your audiobooks available to libraries. I talk about these different options in my book above too, including the royalties you can expect and more.
- How to self-publish an audiobook (blog post on Joanna Penn’s website)
- Audio book marketing and distribution tips from Joanna Penn (blog post on Jo’s website)
- How to create a PodCast (by Joanna Penn – opens in new window)
An early recording of The Secret Lake on YouTube
Back in November 2012 I created a YouTube reading of the first three chapters of The Secret Lake using Garage Band and iMovie on my iMac. I definitely read too quickly and it’s a bit ‘hissy’ but it’s worth taking a listen to see just what you can do from your office at home! This really was really a case of playing around with Garage Band and iMovie until I worked it out. For a simple marketing tool it’s worth investigating. Here is the link – please do share with your children age 7/8-11!
Karen Inglis reading Chapters 1-3 of The Secret Lake