Unless you are a celebrity or best-selling author already, it’s unlikely the big publishers will take one look at you – sorry! However not to worry, as many of us prefer small indie-published books anyway, so here are a few tips. Don’t spend your life savings on vanity press publishers. In short – only publish a book if you can write a good one that people will want to read (!), and don’t expect it to sell more than a few hundred copies. Anything else is a bonus!
How to Be Published is a lovely guide that covers all the basics. Published (nicely done) by an indie publisher, this is an unbiased guide to the pros and cons of self-publishing, along with other options.
Writing is a calling. Prepare for a life of intense work at curious hours, likely obscurity and regular self-doubt, punctuated by periods of wonder that somehow make it all worthwhile. If this doesn’t appeal, try local government. Paul Kingsnorth
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet – then you must write it. Toni Morrison
Thanks to social media, people can take pointless pictures and pollute the world with their dumb shit faster than ever before. Everyone thinks they’re entitled to their 15 minutes of fame. And it’s that narcissism that makes people (who have no business writing a book) think they can write a book. Oliver Markus Malloy
Help to Publish Your Book
- How to Market Your Book is for all writers that are expected these days to help promote their book – something that fills introvert scribblers with dread. This book has interviews with writers who give advice on how to market (without gimmicks) and includes an overview of book marketing tips.
- If you have a great book but no money, Unbound is a crowdfunding platform where if your pitch is good enough, it goes on a site where people pitch in to help you publish, getting something in return (like a signed copy). Paul Kingsnorth did this for his book The Wake, and was nominated for The Booker Prize!
- Most self-published books bomb. So if you are determined to self-publish, at least make money on those you sell. YPS Publishing (Yorkshire) is a small-run press. You do pay more upfront for the copies, but then you keep all the profits (they can also set your books up for wholesale distribution).
Publish Your Own e-Book
These are not as popular for people who prefer real books. But if you are considering say a how-to guide to save trees, Studio Loire offers nice templates using free Canva software. Also ideal to make online courses, you just drag-and-drop your content and images, then duplicate pages (and delete ones you don’t want) to avoid the hassle custom design.
Why Does Everyone Want to Publish a Book?
Here’s the rub: most people who think they can write – can’t. So avoid writing a book for your ego, as it will likely get smashed when the bad reviews come in! Janey Bennett who wrote The Pale Surface of Things spent years researching and two more years finding an agent and publisher. It had rave reviews, but today most people have forgotten about it. You seriously have to love your craft to write!
Joseph Epstein says that 200 million Americans believe they have a book in them. The mind boggles. Things fare better in Iceland, where 1 in 10 of the population has published a book. Writer Solvi Bjorn Siggurdsson believes it’s because it is a nation of storytellers, when it’s dark and cold, and there’s nothing to do. After independence from Denmark in 1944, literature helped define our identity’.
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster. Isaac Asimov
Traditional publishing is even worse. You have to sell out for the cover, get your book edited, then after a few months, unsold copies will likely get pulped or end up in The Works bookstore at £1 a copy. Talent is no guarantee of success. Many wonderful writers likely visit food banks. But the author of Fifty Shades of Grey sold over 125 million copies. She may be a lovely person, but many say this is one of the worst books ever written, with lines like
‘I reach for the orange juice, drinking it down too quickly. It’s delicious, ice cold, and makes my mouth a much better place.
His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel .. or something’.
I must be the colour of the communist manifesto (?!)
He has a coffee which bears a wonderful leaf-pattern imprinted on the milk. ‘How do they do that? I wonder.
Her eyes are brown, like bourbon, but flat.
Another book that is badly written is Hitler’s Mein Kampf. As well as being a hateful autobiography of ramblings, today’s students say they give up reading it, simply because it’s too awful. One wrote ‘The whole thing is incessant, dull ramblings which even Mussolini called boring’.