Self Publishing your novel – a critical and practical review

by richard on June 10, 2011

back cover crop 300x224 Self Publishing your novel   a critical and practical review

Okay, so you’ve written something magnificent, and you’d like the world to see it. You’ve sent it to a few publishers and agents, even entered it in some competitions, but unfortunately no one’s taken up your book. So what are your options?

Self-publishing has often been seen as a bit of a poor brother to the big publishing houses, but there are some important things to consider here.

The positives of self-publishing.

If no one has an opportunity to see your book, how will you become a success?

Self-publishing does not mean paying someone huge dollars, only to be left with a thousand copies of your book piled up in the garage.

Self-publishing can still get you access to on-line stores such as Amazon, The Book Depository etc, that can enable you to be seen by thousands of readers.

The Royalties for self-publishing are typically way higher than going through a publisher.

As an unknown author, a publisher would expect you to spend a lot of time and even money self-promoting yourself and your book before they put any investment into the process. In that case why not do it yourself and keep higher royalties?

In the digital world of book reading, you can easily make your book available to customers with all types of electronic readers, for little or no cost.

But how do you do this? I’m going to show you how.

The easy and inexpensive way to publish your book yourself.

There are a number of companies around that help you to self publish, but I’m going to use one as an example – Createspace. Firstly, let me say that I am in no way affiliated with Createspace, other than I used them to publish a book of mine. I feel I can therefore give you an unbiased and real view of my experience with them, and how you go about doing it.

Createspace (I believe) was purchased by Amazon to provide a ‘print on demand’ facility for their stores. That means it is very easy for your book to be listed on if you use Createspace (In fact it is done automatically, and for free). You can also get access to other major suppliers, such as The Book Depository.

Do some, or all, of the set-up work yourself – your choice.

I liked using Createspace, because I could do as little or as much work preparing the book as I wanted to. I have a good handle on software such as Word, Photoshop, and Indesign, so I decided to do all the setup myself. It’s not that hard to create the files for hard copy books – the website gives you plenty of tutorials and videos to show you how.

I also had a friend who was a professional editor, so I used her (and a bunch of other friends) to edit and proof read my manuscript. I had heaps of fun designing a cover, and even found a tutorial on the web to help design my cover.

Createspace do offer professional services for interior design, editing, marketing, etc, but it is up to you if you want to use them or not. When you have created your account, and uploaded your manuscript, you can then order a proof copy to make sure all is looking as it should (I managed to get a free one from a promotional code, so keep an eye out for those). Once you are happy you can sign it off, and order copies for yourself. The price will of course depend on the book size, and number of pages, but I found it to be extremely good value. For my 95,000 word novel, it was US$4.78 a copy. The thing that hurts a little is postage, but is was still cheaper to have a copy sent from the U.S. than for me to ship a copy to Sydney from Melbourne (thanks so much Australia Post!). You can order as many or as few copies as you like, and you can order more whenever you want.

They offer a “pro-plan”, which makes it cheaper to buy your book, increases your royalty, and gives you expanded distribution. For US$39 per year, it was a no brainer for me.

Creating Digital Versions of your book for e-readers.

To get your book into digital format, Createspace offer a service to do this. You may also consider using a company called Smashwords, that will convert your book into a number of formats suitable for all types of e-readers, and even give you your own page on their site. They have a great tutorial to help show you how to do it, and best of all, it’s free! I used this service also, and found it quite easy to use.

The end result.

If you would like to see how these companies portray your book on their sites, visit my “book” page of my website and have a look – There you will see links to Amazon, The Book Depository, my Creatspace page and Smashwords. If you have an iPad, you will find my book in the iPad bookstore as well. As you can see, there are many effective ways for customers to find and purchase my book. My job now is to help them become aware of it!

And against self-publishing?

Let’s be honest, most of us would prefer to be published by a big publishing house, and be able to see you book on bookshelves across the country. Unless you are willing to spend time dropping into bookstores and sell them on the idea of stocking a couple of copies of your book, this won’t happen with self publishing. If your book does well with a publishing house, they will put more and more resources behind you to make the results even better for your future work. They will take over the marketing, and you can spend your time writing, or attending readings and book signings, chatting with your adored fans. However, if you find it difficult to get your manuscript read at a publishing house, or have been knocked back so many times you are starting to wonder if your book will ever see the light of day, consider self publishing.


The companies I have mentioned here a just a couple of many that will help you get your book into print. For virtually no cost, you can have your book available through large book companies in a number of formats. The need for vanity publishers who command high fees to make your book a reality is a thing of the past – self publishing can now be a fun, inepxensive and rewarding experience.

Richard Jagger formerly worked in the biotechnology industry, and has completed his first novel “The Cure”. Apart from writing his second novel, he works as a professional photographer. He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and one joint painting exhibition. Further information can be found at

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