As a self-publisher, your aim is to mirror the trade publishing process as closely as possible in order to produce a top-quality product that you can be proud of.
Publishing houses obviously have many team members to make each book happen, and understanding those roles will help you plan your time. If you can recruit friends or relatives to help, or you choose to employ professionals, it will reduce your workload, but many authors are keen to embrace the project and learn new skills.
It’s advisable to get outside professional assistance for areas such as editorial and design work, as they will lift your book from an amateur to a polished, professional level – this will make a huge difference to your book’s sales potential. As an author you have a contract with your reader, the person paying for your book and committing their time to reading it, to produce the best possible product. You’ve already put huge effort into writing it and you don’t want to let yourself down by cutting corners and producing a product that is less than the best that it can be.
Here are some of the key roles that you need to consider as you begin your self-publishing journey:
Self-publishing Project Manager
You have invested time and energy into writing your book – you will now want to oversee all the elements of the process. Envisage yourself as the project manager. Ensure you have the
tools needed to keep track of your conversations and decisions with your printer, designer, bookshops and the press, so that you have a clear, manageable timeline, and a realistic budget. If managing and organising is not for you,
don’t fret, Lettertec can do the heavy-lifting for you. All our authors are given the option of using our professional publishing consultant, who is happy to manage the various stages of the process for them.
In trade publishing there are three parts to the editorial process: structural or developmental editing, line or copy editing and finally proofreading.
Developmental editing involves the editor reading the author’s manuscript, before making a series of detailed suggestions for changes and improvements.
Copy-editing is a detailed sentence by sentence edit of the manuscript. When copyediting, the editor will examine each sentence carefully, making extensive changes and corrections.
All stages in the editing process are important, and hiring professional editors is always advised. Friends and family can provide authors with useful feedback and advice, but nothing really substitutes for professional editing services. A professional editor will give you an accurate assessment of your book, as opposed to telling you what you want to hear. As the best-selling fantasy writer Neil Gaiman remarked, ‘everybody can tell when they don’t like a book, the challenge is to determine why you don’t like it’. That is where the professional editor comes in; the ‘why’. The general reader knows what he or she likes, but the professional editor knows ‘why’ he or she doesn’t like it; the ‘why’ is key. Lettertec works closely with some of Ireland’s most accomplished editors, and we are happy to provide our authors with premium developmental and copyediting services. Contact us directly for more details.
It is vital your book is proofread immediately before the design work/typesetting starts. It is the FINAL polish – if you are still seeing areas that need attention at this stage, fix them, but be aware that it may need proofing a second time. Once it has been typeset changes are time consuming and more expensive. You will get a chance to have a quick read of the designed book before it goes to print.
Lettertec can provide this service for you.
They say people judge a book by its cover, and they do! A well-designed cover will help attract readers and sell your book. A cover is vital to communicate what your book is about. Take time to look at covers that you like, as this will help your designer in their job. Take time to consider the title, cover quotes and the ‘blurb’ – the back cover text that describes your book. This can take a long time to get right, so take your time writing it and look at similar books online for inspiration.
Lettertec’s in-house designers are very experienced, with book design and layout costs clearly shown on our website.
As well as your cover designer, the design team will include a typesetter who will design and typeset the interior. The typesetter will put your draft document into book format with page numbers, chapter headings and more. They will help you choose an appropriate font and make your book interior look professional.
It is important, if you choose to use an outside designer or typesetter, that they have the technical knowledge necessary to design and typeset a book to print quality. Don’t design it yourself unless you have done it before and know you can do it properly. While you might be an artist or a graphic designer, book covers are a very specialist area; what looks great on the screen does not always look good when printed. A specialist designer will understand the formats your design needs to work across, so ensure you choose the best person for the job.
Marketing and public relations are vital to sales, and understanding this process is essential. If you do your own publicity, you will be contacting the media about your book, organising speaking opportunities and trying to get as much exposure as you can. Think about what makes your book different; think about what your story is. We detail more on this later, but PR is an ongoing process lasting the lifetime of the book, not just immediately after publication. Drafting a press release can be tricky for anyone who hasn’t written one before. Lettertec is happy to offer to write one with your order (subject to terms and conditions).
This role overlaps with that of a publicist in many ways, as they both spread the word about your book. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube) are ideal platforms to get the message out about your project – we have some tips later on in this book. It’s crucial on all of these platforms that you do not continually shout about your book, but instead engage and build relationships. Every connection is a
There are many places you can market your book: via blogs and websites, your local media (both print and radio), specialist press and through your local library. Think outside the box and be creative.
Book Launch Organiser
Your launch will probably fall to you to organise, but if you can find someone to help you, you will enjoy the event more! We have lots of tips later in this guide to help you organise the event. Tie it in with your publicity and make it the key point of your marketing campaign.
Getting books into bookshops is always difficult, but often local independent bookshops will support you and stock your book.
Typically, bookshops look to pay you a cost price of 50–60% of the retail price of your book and usually take books on a sale or return basis. To persuade a national distributor to take on your book you need to have produced a top-quality commercial product and have a media plan in place.