There are lots of variables to consider before you choose to self-publish, here is a roundup of just some of those considerations…
Be conscious of your budget from the start.
Get comparable quotes and assign these to each of the areas of self-publishing such as editorial, publicity, marketing, launch and so on. Be aware that the cheapest option might not be the best! Don’t forget costs like printing, postage and advertising. Include in your budget a small number of books to give away free as review copies to the media, sample copies to booksellers and a copy for the guest speaker at your launch. Take these into account when deciding on how many books will be printed (your print run) and working out what your retail price will be. Ensure this is competitive with similar books in your genre.
The type of book you have written will influence when your book should be launched. Inspirational mind/body/ spirit type books are perfectly positioned in January. Lifestyle books need to be in shops in March or April to catch that summer market. Is your book a summer beach read? Think about publicity in the spring.
Gift books work well in the run up to Christmas and need to be available from October. If your book is connected to an anniversary, ideally you want finished books on sale at least two weeks before the relevant date.
Staying on schedule will be vital to PR as you don’t want to miss your opportunity. The printing of the book can take over three weeks. Design and proofreading can sometimes take much longer than you think. Ensure everyone involved knows their deadline, but factor in extra time just in case there is a hiccup.
Book Title and Subtitle
Make the title catchy and commercial. Look in bookshops for similar books and look at their titles. Have brainstorming sessions with your friends and family if you are struggling; throw out lots of ideas, even ones that seem a little silly, because you never know what they will inspire.
Consider a subtitle, something that explains a little more than the title. Once you have a shortlist of titles, go to Amazon and see how many other books there are with the same title – if someone hears you on the radio and googles your book title, how many others will
they find? Try to be as unique as possible.
Format for Print
Ensuring your book is formatted correctly will help your interior page designer and save you money in the long run.
In trade publishing, style choices vary from house to house and are known as ‘house styles’. Many are available online for reference– the key with whatever style you choose, is consistency throughout the book. For instance, there are several variations on the way dates may be written, such as:
Monday 1 January 2019
Monday, 1 January, 2019
Monday, January 1, 2019 Monday 1st January 2019
Decide what you prefer and stick to it.
Another style consideration is how you approach numbers. Generally, the rule is that you spell out numbers one to one hundred except in lists, so ‘fifty apples’ but ‘50 apples and 23 bananas’.
Numbers bigger than 100 are written in figures.
It is easier and less expensive for you to consider formatting before you submit, rather than asking your editor or proof-reader to change everything later.
Consider your reader – are you targeting an English or American readership? Will you use US spelling? Will you write ‘neighbour’ or ‘neighbor’, ‘centre’ or ‘center’? The first is UK English, the second is American. In Ireland we traditionally use UK spellings. Apply your
decision to any words where there is a choice. Do you write ‘realise’ or ‘realize’? ‘Recognise’ or ‘recognize’? Again, the first is UK/ Irish spelling, the second is American.
Italics: Italics are good for emphasis but lose impact if they are overused. Italics are not always easy to read so avoid full pages unless there is a specific reason.
In fiction your prologue may be in italics, or your character’s internal monologue (thoughts). Ensure you italicise the titles of books/albums/paintings/boats.
Inverted commas: Use single inverted commas for chapter titles/poems/songs, e.g. ‘The Lake Isle of Inishfree’, and also for speech.
Use double inverted commas for quotes within speech.
Chapter headings: Not necessary in fiction, but are very useful in non-fiction. You can have a subtitle that explains a little more if necessary. Be consistent throughout the book.
Exclamation marks: Involve us in the story by showing what happens, don’t tell us. Take out all exclamation marks! Definitely NO DOUBLES!! Good writing guides suggest you are allowed a maximum of one exclamation mark per chapter, no more! (Can you see how annoying they are for the reader?)