Apparently, we’ve all got a book inside us. For many of us though, we never quite get the time, energy or confidence to put pen to paper and write it. But the time has never been better to get yourself published, with many different ways to do that – and no need to worry about publishers not responding to your carefully written synopsis.
As a freelancer, writing a book and self publishing it is a brilliant way to publish the manifesto of you. Get out there and tell the world what you are about. It’s a magnificent marketing tool and it creates something tangible that your prospective customers can see and use.
You will have your moments of doubt. ‘Is anyone going to want to read what I have to say? What if my book doesn’t sell? But the stakes are much lower now and it’s even possible to print books as they are bought online.
Self-publishing is the best thing that ever happened to writers. Although the publishing industry still holds its sway, primarily because they have the marketing power, there’s no question digital publishing is where it’s at. There is a shift of power from the publishing establishment intelligentsia towards a more democratic arrangement, where we, the public decide what is best to read.
But, of course, self-publishing is still a relatively new way to do things, and not quite that straightforward yet. Here’s our quick guide to get you up and running as an author.
1. Self-publishing via Kindle/iBooks
EBooks. One of the most transformative tools for self-publishing. Amazon’s Kindle and Apple iBooks are the way to do this. All you need to do is write a book, sign up to the service, upload it and set your price. Simple? Of course, they don’t do it for free and you will need to give Apple or Amazon a cut of the proceeds. In most cases this is 30 percent. The trick is to get great reviews, to push yourself up the search rankings, so you’ll need a social media plan too.
Don’t underestimate how much effort is involved in promoting your book. Of course, this is why the established publishing industry is still so powerful, because they know how to market and have the deep pockets to sustain a marketing drive particularly for niche subjects.
Unbound is the creation of QI’s John Mitchinson, Justin Pollard and author Dan Kieran. It works in a similar way to other crowdfunding platforms, and is specifically designed for established and emerging authors to pitch their book ideas directly to readers who then pledge their support with money. Authors upload their ideas to Unbound.co.uk and readers then choose the ideas that they like and pledge their support (from £10 to funding the entire book). Once the idea has enough supporters, the book is written and supporters receive a clothbound limited Unbound First Edition with their name in it.
What’s different about Unbound is that it not only gives you the same royalties of self-publishing on Amazon, but the credibility of a more traditional publisher. This is because Unbound features established authors, with their fan bases and heritage, which means you will be in good company. The big advantage of Unbound is that you have to create your community of advocates in order to get the book published, which is your marketing programme sorted. The only downside is that once amongst other, more established authors, it might be a bit more difficult to get noticed.
3. Self-publishing books you can feel
Let’s face it, some of us still like to touch and feel a book. Yes, we still exist. And if that’s what you want to do, there are a few platforms that will help you do that. There are also several ways to publish your book in the physical form.
The most popular platforms are lulu.com and blurb.com, both of which will take you through a step-by-step process to publishing your book, including getting an ISBN number – your unique publisher identifier. You choose how to publish it, what size, more or less everything including the price it will be sold at. They even have support to help you promote the book when it’s ready.
So what’s holding you back? Well, apart from the self-doubt, the time etc. It’s pretty daunting and despite the fact that platforms such as these have made it much easier, it’s still difficult to know where to start.
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki is a great read and a superb resource that brings everything you ever needed to know about self-publishing together in one place. Guy Kawasaki, reckons that a successful self-publisher must play three roles: author, publisher and entrepreneur (hence APE). His view is that self-publishing is an inexpensive business, but you still need to write a good book and market it well. He says that it’s much like launching a start-up. Entrepreneurs must create a product, test it, raise money, recruit talent and attract customers at the same time.
Anyway, I’m off to the shed at the bottom of the garden to start putting pen to paper. Or is that fingers to keyboard. Anyway. Laterz.