How to Self-Publish and Promote Your Book

Publishing Your Own Book May Be Easier Than You Think

It's become drastically easier to publish your own book in the past five years. With the ease of print-on-demand, and the availability of Amazon, you can now get your book out to almost anyone in the world.

There are lots of reasons you might choose to self-publish. Maybe you’re part of a popular online fandom that has a large audience for your work, but mainstream publishers don’t pay attention to it. Or, perhaps you’ve written a family history and only need a handful of copies to give away. If you want to write literary fiction, self-publishing might be a way to get more experience and attract the attention of a traditional publisher.

Woman writing in a cafe
Publishing your book may be easier than you think
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Whatever your reasons, here are some benefits and disadvantages to self-publishing.

Benefits of Self-Publishing

  1. There are no gatekeepers. You don’t have to wait around for a publishing house to pick your book.

  2. You can build your own audience through your blog or social media and connect to them with your writing.

  3. Selling your book yourself means you can keep more of the profits.

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

  1. You won’t have a professional editor who will help you shape your book and hold it to a high standard. You also won’t get feedback on what works in your story and what doesn’t.

  2. Self-published books don’t have the same prestige as books from established publishers. This means it can be difficult to get your book stocked in bookstores. Plus, you may not be eligible for literary prizes.

  3. You need to pay upfront costs of printing and distributing the book yourself.

The good news is that there are ways to overcome some of these disadvantages and publish a top-quality book. Here’s what you can do:

Hire your own editor

Don’t skip this crucial step. A good editor will work with you collaboratively to get the result you want. But you need to know what kind of editor is right for you. A content editor will look at the book’s structure, voice, and ideas and give you suggestions for improving the content. Their advice can turn a good book into a great book. After they have finished with it, you’ll need a copyeditor and proofreader. This is someone who will proofread your work for grammatical mistakes. They’ll make sure the spelling and capitalization is consistent, and the manuscript has no typos.

So how do you find a good editor? You can join a writer’s community and ask for recommendations for editors from other writers. Or contact a professional editing association in your country, such as the Institute of Professional Editors. They have a directory of experienced editors across Australia and New Zealand and you can find one that has experience in the subject you are writing about.

Hire a graphic designer

An important step to making your book look polished and professional is using a graphic designer to layout your book and design an attention-grabbing front cover. They have a lot of knowledge about the best fonts to use to make the text look modern and easy to read. They can design a beautiful front cover for you that will make your work stand out.

You can look up graphic designers in your area by searching on Google or ask for recommendations from friends.

Crowdfund the publishing costs

If you don’t have the money for a good editor and graphic designer upfront, consider pre-selling copies of your book on a crowdfunding platform. This won’t just give you money to get it finished, it’ll also give you publicity and make people excited about your book. Some platforms are designed specifically for artists, like Australian crowdfunding site Pozible.

Five Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book

So you’ve finished writing your book, and now you want to get it out there. Here are your next steps.

  1. The first thing to do is buy an ISBN. This is a 13 digit number similar to a barcode that identities each book. Having one means that your book will be listed on the Books in Print database and can be stocked in bookshops and libraries around the world.
    You need a separate ISBN for each edition and format of your book. For example, you would need a different ISBN to publish your book as an e-book, hardcover, paperback and audio. In Australia you can buy ISBNs either as a single or in a package here.

  2. The traditional way of self-publishing is to find a specialist book printer and ask them to print the books for you. Choosing this option means you’ll most likely have to do a print run of several hundred books, and have room to store them in boxes. You’ll also have to package and post each book as orders come in. On the upside, the quality of the book will probably be higher and you’ll have more control over what kind of paper is used.

  3. The alternative option is to use a print on demand service. This means that you can upload your files to their website, and when an order comes in, they will print one copy and post it to the customer. You can also order a small print run to have copies on hand to sell at events, or to give to friends and family.

    Choosing Print on Demand means your book will be available on big online retailers such as Amazon and anyone in the world can buy a copy. You can also sell your book as an e-book, so people can buy it and download it immediately.

    There are lots of different options for print on demand services, some examples are: IngramSpark, Smashwords, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Blurb and lots more. Your graphic designer can help you format the files correctly to be uploaded.

    Tip: When using Print on Demand, always order a test copy of your book. The quality of the paper and ink can vary, so it’s worth doing a test to check how your book looks in real life.


  4. Create a catalogue record. This contains the information on the author, publisher, date of publication, ISBN, and subject. You’ll need a catalogue record if you want your book to be available in libraries. In Australia, just fill out this online form through the National Library and it will be shared with thousands of libraries and Trove.

  5. Lastly, store a copy for eternity. It’s not widely known but in many countries there is a legal requirement that one copy of all publications must be sent to a national library to preserve it for future generations. In the United Kingdom, you should send a copy to the British Library. In Australia a copy should be sent to the National Library of Australia. Their aim is to keep this collection forever, so your book will live on for years to come.

How to Promote your Book

Don’t forget this last crucial step. In fact, this could take you more time than writing your book.

Set a target goal of how many copies you want to sell over 6 to 12 months and then plan a series of steps to market your book. It might take a while for people to find your book through word of mouth.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Create a website that profiles your book.

  2. Contact your local library and ask them to stock it.

  3. Write a press release to the local paper telling them about it.

  4. Send copies to bloggers and ask them to review it.

  5. Find the online audience in your niche and promote it to them.

  6. Organize a launch party in your favorite local bookshop or library.

  7. Collaborate with other writers or small businesses and organize a prize pack to giveaway your book in a competition.

Publishing your own book can be a lot of hard work but the results are incredibly rewarding. What are you waiting for?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash