How to publish your own book

12/03/2009 at 1:56 am 1 comment

I am always getting publishing requests from people or letters begging for advice on how to self publish their work. So, I have created a self publishing guide.

You can self publish in one of the following ways:

Start a blog – this may not seem like self publishing but it is an excellent way to get know and build a following. You might want to look at this as an option, at least for your first work. The trick to blogging is to do it regularly. Make sure you post a new blog entry at least once a week. You might not make any money off of book sales, but you can put something like google adwords on your site once you become popular enough and can earn some money that way.

Do it with – amazon is promoting digital books like mad since they released Kindle. And with version two of Kindle out now we can’t see it going anywhere. Problems with’s digital books – as far as we can tell Kindle only has a black and white screen. This means that it is not conducive to anything will colour illustrations or designs. Also, you must have a paypal account in order to get paid. This is rather sucky for anyone in South Africa as paypal doesn’t work here.

Try a print-on-demand company – these guys specialize in printing really small quantities of your book so that you are not sitting with a heavy printing bill. Problems with print-on-demand – it’s up to you to market the book and spread the word about it. This is not as easy as it sounds and can often be expensive. Also print on demand tends to be a lot more expensive per copy than bulk printing which means you will have to sell it for a higher price and you will have to take a smaller cut.

Print it yourself – If you have loads of cash, you could print a bunch of books and distribute it to stores yourself. This leads to a whole lot of issues. Costs and taxes – in South Africa printing is rather expensive. Apart from that anything that you print and hold stock of is considered an asset by the tax man. So you get taxed on it, even if you don’t sell it right away.

Storage – You have to find somewhere to put all the books that you publish. This usually leads to you hiring a distribution and storage company.

Distribution – in SA you have to sell your book to each Exclusive books store as if they were not related to each other at all. This is a lot of time and effort and because they are so busy they don’t want to see independents, so it is best to get a distributor. The sad fact of the matter is that once you have created it and managed to get it into the stores you now have the shops taking 50% of the money for the book and the distributors taking 20%, leaving you with 30% to cover all the costs of production.

You could try the CNA, but they will probably try and strong arm you into giving them a huge discount and then still taking 50% of the cover price. Frequently asked questions Where do I get a barcode? You call the national library (at least in SA) and ask them to fax you an isbn number (please note that only printed book require one of these) They will send you the number along with a form to fill in. Once you have the isbn you go to google and search for free barcode generators. You will find several different ones. Now you type in your isbn number and it generates a barcode for you which you then save as an image onto your computer. When you lay it out you add the barcode image in on the back cover of the book.

Make sure it is nice an large, so that scanners can pick it up and that there is white space behind and around it. How do I make it look nice? You need to find someone who understands layout and design. Preferably someone with their own desktop publishing software (something like indesign not photoshop).

Chose a paper size (there are standard sizes, phone your printer and ask them what it is. Bear in mind that oversees printers use different sizes to here.) Get this person to do the layout for you. Negotiate a fixed price and make sure that it includes a set of error fixes. This will give you some room to wiggle if you spot problems that need correcting.

Tip: When laying out your work look out for orphans or widows. This is what we call stray words that end up alone on a line. They need to either move to the previous line or a word from above needs to come down.


Entry filed under: Publishing, Writing. Tags: , , , .

Starting the story – a writing tip How to draw hands

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Gianna  |  13/03/2009 at 8:03 am

    Might I say you are indeed right. 🙂


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