Self-Publishing – A Beginner’s Guide

Once I’d made the decision to publish my book, the most immediate question was whether to go down the traditional publishing route or to self-publish.

With the caveat that I am very new to this, I’m struggling to see the benefits of traditional publishing. The principal upsides seems to be the kudos attached to it, and you get your work edited and book produced, but there are a lot of downsides: you write endless query letters which often result in rejection letters; you have to do your own pre-marketing and have a ready made following before publishers will consider you; you get very little in the way of post launch marketing and you are likely to loose control over the content of your book. In addition, this can all take years to achieve and the royalties seem to average a paltry 14% or so.

Given I’m a bit of a control freak and patience has never been one of my virtues, self-publishing seems to be the way to go. Until recently I had only heard of Amazon and Kindle and this was as a reader not as an author and so I needed to do some research.

This is what I’ve learnt so far: There are three major platforms for publication: CreateSpace, Kindle and Smashwords. Others exist, but these three will get your book to a wide population.

CreateSpace / Kindle
CreateSpace and Kindle (KDP) are both part of Amazon, with CreateSpace providing hard copies of books (Print on Demand), while Kindle publishes ebooks

• If you sign up for CreateSpace, they will offer you the option of publishing your work on Kindle and will do the reformatting free of charge

• CreateSpace offer services for editing, proof-reading, cover design etc, but it isn’t particularly cheap

• You don’t have to use these services to use CreateSpace, you can do the work yourself and publish with them at no cost

• CreateSpace offer free ISBNs, but these will list CreateSpace as the publisher

• Many book stores will not supply CreateSpace published books, and so it might be worth buying your own ISBN and creating your own publishing imprint

• You can buy ISBNs from CreateSpace cheaply and use with your own publishing imprint, but you are still restricted to using CreateSpace as your printer unless you pay a premium for a more flexible ISBN

• You can buy ISBNs from Bowker, and although this is more expensive, it gives you complete freedom with regards to printing and distribution. You can still use CreateSpace if you choose this route

• Ebooks are significantly outselling print books on Amazon and KDP is the major player in this market

• Be wary of using Kindle Select unless you know what you are doing as it has a 90 day exclusivity period which means you can’t upload your book to other sites during that period

Smashwords will place your ebook onto other platforms such as Kobo, Nook, Apple etc, and has better distribution to developing countries than Amazon

Google Play
Google are relatively new to publishing and are out to take share from Amazon

• Google often discount the list price of books, which can impact the royalties you get from Amazon, depending on your list price

• If Google discount a book, Amazon will price match it. However, if you list your book on Amazon at the lowest price to qualify for the 70% royalties, but Google discount it and Amazon price match, your royalties will be cut to 35% of the lower price

• Publishers such as Wattpad and Lulu are available

• Wattpad allows writers to post work a chapter at a time, if they don’t have a finished work

Barnes and Noble have struck up a deal with Author Solutions to provide author packages for their self-publishing arm, Nook Publishing, although this is only available to authors in the US

• Author Solutions don’t seem to have a good reputation, and are reported to overcharge for their services. For further details can be found on the following blog

• Lulu also use Author Solutions

• Whichever platform you use, read the small print to know what you’re getting (and signing away)

Finally, I continue to read that you should always have your work edited and get a professional cover design. The problem is obviously one of cost and knowing how to do this in a cost-effective way. Something I plan to look into soon.

What is your experience of self-publishing. Have you used the platforms above? Please let me know in the comments.

If you want to know more about the Ambition & Destiny Trilogy, visit my website here.


About Val McBeath

Born and raised in Liverpool (UK), I live in Cheshire with husband, youngest daughter, and cat. In addition to family history, interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club. Prior to writing, I trained as a scientist and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. In 2012, I set up my own consultancy business and now split my time between business and writing.
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4 Responses to Self-Publishing – A Beginner’s Guide

  1. Timothy Pike says:

    Great article here, Val! This is a great place for any author to start because it clearly lays out the basic options of self-publishing and highlights the pros and cons of each.


  2. Val McBeath says:

    Thanks for your comment Tim. Appreciate it!


  3. Pingback: 14 Job Roles Indie Writers Need to Master to become Successful Authors | From Story To Book

  4. Pingback: 14 Hats Indie Authors Need to Wear to become Successful Writers | From Story To Book

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