Monday, March 31, 2014



How To Get Started

The best time to design and implement your marketing plan of action is before you even start writing your book. It takes time to build relationships, learn your readers wants and needs and develop a base of rabid fans that clamour for more.
Grow your readership as you write your book, and when it’s time to launch your baby, you’ll already have an invested and eager audience waiting.

Great advice, except my book is already written. Now what?

Even if you already have your book in hand, don’t panic! The process is still the same. It just may take a little longer to see the book sales come rolling in. :)
So, let’s skip past the year or two (or five) of blood, sweat and tears that were required for you to pound out, edit and polish your masterful novel, and assume that it is indeed worthy of personal recommendation.
The next step is to get your share-worthy work noticed and shared by the right people. Here are a fey key things to remember:
  • Focus more on discoverability rather than selling. Your work is important, so help those who can benefit from it, find it.
  • Accept responsibility for the marketing and promotion of your book. Even if you choose to outsource some of the work, your book’s success depends on you taking action.
What follows is a list of 71 tactics to add to your book marketing arsenal. Not every strategy will work for every author, so pick and choose what makes sense, adapt what you can, and after you’ve gone through the list, you may come up with some of your own marketing ideas to implement.

Promote and Market Your Book Like a Master

1. Identify your audience. This is a vital step in the promotion and marketing of your book, and–if done right–will make the rest of the process infinitely easier. Find out who your book appeals to, get to know those people well, and be where they are, both online and off. (Bonus points for authors who do this prior to writing their book!)
2. Establish a budget. How much money are you able and willing to spend marketing and promoting your book? Include everything from paid advertising to travel costs.
3. Create a marketing plan. Don’t skip this step! How much time can you devote to establishing and maintaining your book promotion strategies? What marketing tactics do you intend on implementing first? What are your goals and how will you measure them?
4. Get creative. Use your book’s theme, location, or time period for inspiration and making marketing connections. A character’s hobbies, occupation, lifestyle, values and interests can be jumping off points for developing promotional strategies. Brainstorm (with Google), companies, experts, businesses, organizations or groups that you can approach for joint marketing ventures.
5. Tell your author brand story. Write an author biography that succinctly defines your reason for being; keep it to two or three short but memorable paragraphs that will resonate with your readers. Show some personality and give your readers a reason to care.
6. Create your hook. Having trouble summarizing 40,000+ words into a few, attention grabbing sentences? Here’s a couple of resources to get the creative juices flowing: Think Fast! 10 Minutes to the Perfect Elevator Pitch and Writing Loglines That Sell.
7. Build your email list. Invite people to subscribe, and make it worth their while by providing remarkable content. Use your list wisely to create and build buzz for your launch. Engage your tribe early, keep them ‘in-the-loop’, and ask for feedback so they become invested in the successful outcome of your book or project.
8. Make it easy to buy. Ensure your author website includes book links that are clear, easy to find, and go directly to your listing at every retailer you’re listed with (Amazon, Smashwords, B & N, Kobo, or Apple iBookstore).
9. Link your book to trending topics. Write articles that tie your book topic or genre to current popular interests.
10. Schedule social media. Decide when and what you will share on your social media platforms. Optimize your profile on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Pinterest. Select the most effective time for reaching the most people with Tweriod, Sprout Social or Buffer.
11. Promote your ebook for free. Here’s a list of free sites from Mediabistro.
12. Set up online book giveaways via Goodreads. Or try a member giveaway at LibraryThing.
13. Time your release. Time the announcement of your new book with an important, relevant news event, blockbuster movie or trade show.
14. Create a readers guide at the end of your book. Use your book’s description to let people know that your book contains a helpful discussion guide at the end.
15. Learn some copywriting principles. Marketing isn’t just storytelling. It’s also about getting your readers to take action. Hone your copywriting and content marketing skills and turn your audience into book buyers.
16. Host and record author hangouts on Google+. Not sure how? Try this comprehensive post on demystifying Google+ hangouts from The Future of Ink.
17. Think outside the ‘box’. Gain marketing information and insights from outside the writing industry that you can tweak and apply to your book marketing strategy (music industry, small business start-ups).
18. Get a professional and distinctive author photo. Use this image across all your social media profiles, on your site, at the end of your book (along with your author bio) and on your print materials.
19. Create a press release. A good press release will include the information needed for a reporter or blogger to understand the news value of your story. Make sure it’s clear what you are announcing, why the reader of the press release should care, and where they can get more info if they’re interested. Then submit your press release to free press release distribution sites.
20. Get media savvy. Develop a relationship with local media, including radio, newspaper and tv connections. Find an angle that hooks reporters and will benefit their readers or viewers. Pitch articles, interviews and relevant blog posts. Here’s an awesome post by Patrick Garmoe at Copyblogger to help you out: 109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media.
21. Read marketing, blogging and social media roundup posts. Save time! Take advantage of resources provided by other bloggers and writers that scour the web for you, and dish up the best of the best around the web. Try Kristi Hines’ Fetching Friday on, Ana Hoffman’sWeekly Marketing Skinny at Traffic Generation Cafe, or The Writer’s Weekly Wrap-Up here at Your Writer Platform. (If you’d like the Wrap-Up delivered straight to your inbox, join the mailing list here.)
22. Guest post frequently and strategically. Guest blogging is one the best ways to increase visibility, gain influence in your genre or topic and draw targeted readers to your online ‘bookstore’ or author site.
23. Get early/pre-release reviews. At least three months prior to publication, make a list of book bloggers and reviewers in your book’s genre, read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and start sending your manuscript out for early reviews.
24. Create bookmarks. Old school, but still effective. Include an image of your book cover, your hook or logline, as well as your website and contact info. If you think your audience will understand and use a QR code, include one on your bookmark or other print materials. Check outHow to Create a QR Code in 4 Easy Steps by Corey Eridon at Hubspot.
25. Be friendly. Introduce yourself and get to know the owners and staff at local, independent bookstores. Contact genre experts and well known book review blogger sites. Who do you know? Who do you need to know? Step outside your comfort zone and devise a plan to reach out to these people.
26. Tempt your readers with more. Insert sample chapters from the next book in a series at the end of your current book to pull your readers in.
27. Understand Amazon’s system and use it to your advantage. Use categories to streamline and increase discoverability. Test out your new copywriting skills and create sizzling book descriptions. For more help with your Amazon descriptions, try Author Marketing Club’s Amazon Description Generator.
28. Write a series. Obviously this won’t work for every author or book, but when possible, creating a series is a very powerful and effective way to develop a presence, gain reader loyalty and boost sales of earlier works with subsequent novels. For more on this, read Jonathan Gunson’s ‘Series’ – The Single Most Effective Career Strategy A Writer Can Employ.
29. Advertise your previous works in each book you publish. One of the best places to advertise your previous work is at the end of your current book, where you’ve got a happy reader, eager for more.
30. Create a promo kit. Include graphics, images, links, excerpts, and sample Facebook shares and Tweets, that can be sent to bloggers upon request.
31. Participate in a podcast tour. Do some research to find author friendly podcasts, or use your connections to create your own podcast tour.
32. Attend live networking events, conferences and expos. Attend, or write a proposal to present at an event, to gain connections, increase you credibility and develop a supportive network of influencers.
33. Update your email signature. For every email you send, ensure that you include info on your new or upcoming book and a link back to your blog or book website.
34. Develop a workshop based on your books content. Especially for non-fiction writers, teaching your book’s content can further solidify your expertise in the minds of your readers and your peers.
35. Design or re-design a book cover that sells. Commission a professional to design a cover that is not only striking, but clear and readable even as a small thumbnail.
36. Design a launch strategy that works. Your book launch requires a lot more prep and strategy than several Tweets and a beseeching email to friends and family. Plan a party, launch at a unique venue that relates to your book’s content or team up with other authors announcing their new release to heighten the excitement across several author platforms and audiences. Here’s a great post via Firepole Marketing on book launch strategy.
37. Sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program. Add to your income by earning fees on all qualified purchases through your affiliate link (not just on your books).
38. Add a ‘contact the author’ section at the end of your book. Give details on how readers can connect with you via email, your author website or through social media.
39. Writing is your business. Make sure your on and offline presence (website, social media profiles, print materials) is professional and doesn’t portray a hobbyist. If you’re not committed, neither will your readers be.
40. Submit your article to a link roundup. If you are creating exceptional content on your author blog (you are, right?), then make a list of related, popular blogs that do link roundups (like #21 above, but in your topic or genre) and submit your article. It may not always be accepted, but when it is, you will get a back link as well as an influx of high quality visitors to your site.
41. Participate in or organize a virtual blog tour, blog hop or sharing contest. For a description of the pros and cons of each–and what to expect–read this post by Donna Brown at Author Promotion: Blog Tours, Hops & Sharing Contests.
42. Create urgency. Use time-limited coupons, giveaways and contests. Host a contest on your website. Offer bonuses or special extras to readers who purchase your book prior to a certain date.
43. Join forces with local merchants. Team up with store owners and other businesses to offer certificates, prizes and merchant coupons to be shared or given away during your book promotions. (Advertise these perks on your site and on printed materials).
44. Time and coordinate promotions. Try to time your guest posts, author interviews, giveaways, advertising and other promotions  to run at the same time, so that each promotion gains momentum from the other. The perception of ‘being everywhere’ will strengthen your chances of creating the word of mouth marketing momentum we’re looking for.
45. Become a subject matter expert. Even if you’re a fiction writer, you can still tie concepts in your book to topics that require expert opinion.
46. Don’t stop promoting one book to start writing another. The buzz and excitement of a launch can be exhilarating, but the marketing and promotional effort for a book must continue far beyond the initial days and weeks of ‘getting it out there’. Include in your marketing plan a schedule that allows for ongoing promotional activities of your previous work, while providing time to write your next bestseller as well.
47. Try Fiverr. Find some quality gigs that will submit your book to free websites, submit your press releases or have someone (relevant) share your most recent–and fascinating–blog post.
48. Do book readings or author visits live or via Skype. Try schools, your local bookstore, library or community college. Get people interested before you get there: create a packet that gives a summary of what to expect during your visit, printed materials like a flyer and book order form (that can be photocopied) or other promotional materials (like bookmarks).
49. Connect with your readers offline. Gain exposure through book signings, book clubs, writing groups, school visits, workshops, library readings and local area meet-ups. For tips on book signings, check out JA Konrath’s post on Book Signings: Everything You Need to Know.
50. Make your vacations work for you. If you’re heading to a new locale, why not do a little advance research and set up some readings and visits at your destination’s local libraries, schools or bookstores? (Are you starting to see a pattern here? Get out from behind your computer, and meet your people! :) )
51. Take it further with video. Record your readings and share on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.
52. Promote others. As you help promote other authors in your genre, by sharing their blog posts, reviewing their books and the like, you will build good will and a strong network of peer support for your current and future projects.
53. Create a vanity URL for your book. is a link shortening service that can also give you stats on the number of clicks on your link and where it was shared. Use to create a link that is easily shareable (not super long or a jumble of letters and numbers) for your book. Here’s avideo how-to.
54. Purchase advertising. Set up a Google Adwords account, or try Facebook or blog ads. Other advertising options include sites like BookBub or EReader News Today.
55. ‘Free’ sells. Giving away your work for free is controversial, but often free now can mean increased sales down the road. Freebies might include free chapters, free signed copies of your book or other giveaways.
56. Add a Hellobar book teaser to the top of your author website.
57. Create a virtual bundle. Package together a print book and ebook, an ebook and course, or an ebook with videos and a workbook to add more value and options for your reader when purchasing your work.
58. Encourage your fans to market your book. Your fans can earn a little extra income by enrolling in Amazon’s or Smashword’s affiliate programs and adding links to your books on their websites or blogs.
59. Repurpose content and reach more people. Take your popular posts, useful insights, inspirational quotes, noteworthy results, chapter outlines or key points and repurpose them to share as a presentation on Slideshare or short videos on YouTube.
60. Slideshare. You can embed your presentation on your site (or others can embed it on their site), and you can embed YouTube videos–including your book trailer–into your Slideshare slides. Remember to add hyperlinks so viewers can get in touch or visit your author website.
61. Rock your book trailer. Show your creativity, humour (if appropriate) and personality. Try to avoid the jacket-flap blurb over a photo montage, and consider incorporating your overall message and brand. If you don’t feel you have the skills to create a book trailer that steals the show, you can hire a company to make one for you–just do a little cost analysis first to see if the marketing benefits outweigh the price tag.
62. ‘Consign’ your book. Consider trying a consignment style approach in gift shops, specialty stores, boutiques and galleries. The store owners may not want to purchase your books outright, but may display and sell them in their store for a cut of the profits.
63. Partner up. One of the best things about being a writer is that your only true competition is yourself. There are no ‘winners’, just insatiable readers that will devour a book in hours that took you a year or more to write. Use your connections or develop new ones to help cross promote with other authors, illustrators, musicians, designers, experts, events, charities, interest groups and so on.
64. Sell some ‘merch’. Give your fans the opportunity to promote you and your work offline by creating and selling themed merchandise on your site.
65. Use Vine. Vine is an app that allows you to make short video loops, and forces you to get to the heart of your message quickly. Fun to make and easy to share, your Vine videos can include a myriad of images and behind-the-scence glimpses of your writing process, your brand or even your personality.
66. Donate. Build goodwill (and good Karma :) ) by getting your book into the hands of people that might not normally have access to your work. Considering donating your book to hospitals, shelters, churches, libraries, doctor/dental offices, hair salons, organizations or clubs.
67. Back of room sales. Promote your work when giving lectures, speeches, and teaching at workshops. Have a selection of your books with you and available for purchase.
68. Sell your books using Pinterest. Use Pinterest to relate to the fans you already have as well as intrigue new readers with ‘visual’ stories of you, your brand and your work. Your incentive? Pinterest has 70 million users, with approximately 80% of those being women. And stats show that about 70% of Pinterest members use the site to get inspiration on what to buy. (Plus it’s fun!)
69. Have a Google+ online launch party. Use your new Google+ hangout skills to set up an online launch party for your book, or for the launch of several books by authors in a related genre. As an example, here’s a press release for an online book launch party.
70. Reconnect with your University Alumni. Your university, college or even high school can be a great resource. Notify your alumni of any upcoming events, check to see if they have a listing of alumni books (so you can add yours), and ensure that they are on your press release distribution list. You can even offer to do a presentation for faculty or the students.
71. Have fun! Take a moment to breathe, and realize that not everything on this list needs to be done today. Concentrate on the first three steps so you can frame your marketing strategy moving forward, then add tasks and tactics as you have the time and attention to do so. Enjoy it! You are finding ways to get your work noticed and shared by hundreds, maybe thousands of people who will then share it with even more. Go, word of mouth marketing!

Take Action

For those of you who have already begun your book marketing and promotion, what strategies have you received the most return on? What tactics were a complete flop? Any advice you would care to share with those writers who are just beginning their journey?

And for those of you just starting out, what part of the promotional process are you finding the most difficult? Please share in the comments below.



Book publishing[edit]

Print on demand with digital technology is used as a way of printing items for a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical copy printed is higher than with offset printing, the average cost is lower for very small print runs, because setup costs are much higher for offset printing.
POD has other business benefits besides lower costs (for small runs):
  • Technical set-up is usually quicker than for offset printing.
  • Large inventories of a book or print material do not need to be kept in stock, reducing storage, handling costs, and inventory accounting costs.
  • There is little or no waste from unsold products.
These advantages reduce the risks associated with publishing books and prints and can lead to increased choice for consumers. However, the reduced risks for the publisher can also mean that quality control is less rigorous than usual.

Other publishing[edit]

Digital technology is ideally suited to publish small print runs of posters (often as a single copy) when they are needed. The introduction of UV-curable inks and media for large format inkjet printers has allowed artists, photographers and owners of image collections to take advantage of print on demand. For example, the National Gallery, London installed a print on demand system in July 2003. The system increased the number of images available as prints from 60 to 2,500.
Some companies specialize in POD booklets, catalogs, and/or magazines. It is not yet commercially viable for single copies on newsprint or newspapers.

Service providers[edit]

The introduction of POD technologies and business-models has fueled a range of new book-creation and publishing opportunities. The innovation in this space is currently clustered around three categories of offerings

Self-publishing authors[edit]

POD fuels a new category of publishing (or printing) company that offers services directly to authors who wish to self-publish, usually for a fee. These services generally include printing and shipping a book each time one is ordered, handling royalties and getting listings in online bookstores. The initial investment for POD services is usually less expensive for small quantities of books when compared with self-publishing that uses print runs. Often other services are offered as well: formatting, proof reading and editing, and so on. Such companies typically do not spend their own money on marketing, unlike traditional publishers. Some POD Players are focused on serving this author segment. Their offerings are tailored to disintermediate classic publishers (such as Penguin, McGraw Hill). For authors who wish to design and promote their work themselves, POD companies focus on the low-service, low-cost end of the market.[citation needed]
For authors, the potential benefits of POD publishing are several. They include editorial independence, speed to market, ability to revise content, and greater share of royalties kept compared with traditional publishing.

POD enablement platforms[edit]

While amateur/professional writers are targeted as early adopters by players like Infinity Publishing and Trafford Publishing, there is an effort now to make POD more mass-market. A class of horizontal technology platforms like LuluBlurb, Peecho and QooP have chosen to be "author agnostic" and drive POD technology across the chasm, extending from its early adopter writers, to a broad mass-market of ordinary citizens who may want to express, record and print keepsake copies of memories and personal writing (diaries, travelogues, wedding journals, baby books, family reunion reports etc.). Instead of tailoring themselves to the classic book format (100+ pages, mostly text, complex rules around copyrights and royalties), these new platforms strive to make POD more mass-market by creating tools/APIs within which a range of different text and picture entry systems can be transferred into a POD paradigm, and delivered back to the consumer as finished books. The management of copyrights and royalties is often less important in this market, as the books themselves have a narrow audience (close family and friends, for instance), and the real value proposition is around the ability to get a physical copy of a digital journal, blog, or picture-collection.
The major photo storage services (e.g. Kodak's Ofoto and Shutterfly and HP's Snapfish) have included the ability to produce picture books and calendars. However, they focus on monetizing digital photography. Blurb and Lulu bring this paradigm to a larger volume of creative work (primarily text, as written in personal blogs), and include the capability to embed photographs, and other media. QooP and Peecho take on the role of an infrastructure service provider, allowing any partner website to leverage its pre-designed payment and printing functions. Next to an API, Peecho provides an embeddable print button, very similar to a "Facebook Like".
As of 2006, print on demand book publishing is growing in popularity. In the consumer market, this growth is especially strong among first-time authors as an affordable and easy way to get a book into print.

Publisher use[edit]

Print-on-demand services that offer printing and distributing services to publishing companies (instead of directly to self-publishingauthors) are also growing in popularity within the industry.

Maintaining availability[edit]

Among traditional publishers, POD services can be used to make sure that books remain available when one print run has sold out, but another has not yet become available. This maintains the availability of older titles whose future sales may not be great enough to justify a further conventional print run. This can be useful for publishers with large backlists, where sales for individual titles may be low, but where cumulative sales may be significant.

Managing uncertainty[edit]

Print on demand can be used to reduce risk when dealing with "surge" titles that are expected to have large sales but a short sales life (such as celebrity biographies or event tie-ins): these titles represent high profitability but also high risk owing to the danger of inadvertently printing many more copies than are necessary, and the associated costs of maintaining excess inventory or pulping. POD allows a publisher to exploit a short "sales window" with minimized risk exposure by "guessing low" - using cheaper conventional printing to produce enough copies to satisfy a more pessimistic forecast of the title's sales, and then relying on POD to make up the difference.

Niche publications[edit]

Print on demand is also used to print and reprint "niche" books that may have a high retail price but limited sales opportunities, such as specialist academic works. An academic publisher may be expected to keep these specialist titles in print even though the target market is almost saturated, making further conventional print runs uneconomic.
Many of the smallest small presses, often called micro-presses because they have inconsequential profits, have become heavily reliant on POD technology and ebooks. This is either because they serve such a small market that print runs would be unprofitable or because they are too small to absorb much financial risk.

Variable formats[edit]

Print on demand also allows for books to be printed in a variety of formats. This process, known as accessible publishing, allows books to be printed in a variety of larger fonts, special formats for those with vision impairment or reading disabilities, as well as personalised fonts and formats that suit the individuals needs.[4] This has been championed by a variety of new companies.


Profits from print on demand publishing are on a per-sale basis, and royalties vary depending on the route by which the item is sold. Highest profits are usually generated from sales direct from the print-on-demand service's website or by the author buying copies from the service at a discount, as the publisher, and then selling them personally. Lower royalties come from traditional "bricks and mortar" bookshops and online retailers both of which buy at high discount, although some POD companies allow the publisher or author to set their own discount level. Unless the publisher or author has fixed their discount rate, the higher the volume sold the lower the royalty becomes, as the retailer is able to buy at greater discount.
Because the per-unit cost is typically greater with POD than with a print run of thousands of copies, it is common for POD books to be more expensive than similar books that come from conventional print runs, especially if that book is produced exclusively with POD instead of using POD as a supplemental technology between print runs.
Book stores order books through a wholesaler or distributor, usually at high discount of anything up to 70 percent. Wholesalers obtain their books in two ways; either as a special order where the book is ordered direct from the publisher when a book store requests a copy, or as a stocked title which they keep in their own warehouse as part of their inventory. Stocked titles are usually also available via sale or return, meaning that the book store can return unsold stock for full credit at anything up to one year after the initial sale.
POD books are rarely if ever available on such terms because for the publishing provider it is considered too much of a risk. However, wholesalers keep a careful eye on what titles they are selling, and if authors work hard to promote their work and achieve a reasonable number of orders from book stores or online retailers (who use the same wholesalers as the bricks and mortar stores), then there is a reasonable chance of their work becoming available on such terms.
Although returnability lessens the risk for book stores and helps POD authors get through the door, such authors should also realize that there is only a certain proportion of stock that can be returned.
This difficulty with lack of returns can make bookstores less enthusiastic about POD books. This though is set to change in the future, as the industry is currently debating a move away from sale or return altogether, which will do much to even things out.[citation needed]
Another issue with print-on-demand titles is the fact that they are often debut works.[citation needed] Many book stores are reluctant to take a risk on an author's first, untested work without the endorsement of a commercial publisher.



1. Do everything yourself
One option is to go it totally alone and, effectively, be your own publishing company. This will mean that you will need to manage all stages of the book creation yourself. Starting your own publishing company has never been easier, but it’s still going to require a lot of time (and most likely a lot of money too). Bear in mind that you will need to take on (or find someone else to take on) designing, creating and producing a PDF of the cover (this requires a certain degree of manipulating PDFs and using design programs such as Adobe InDesign or Quark) and setting up all the relationships you need with printers (you’ll need to learn about book sizes, paper types, binding). You’ll then need to set up your links with distributors and retailers too. This is certainly easier than it used to be, but requires getting to know a number of different systems, interfaces and often costs money to set up.
Main advantage: Starting your own publishing company offers the most freedom in terms of how the finished product will look.
Main disadvantage: Self-publishing this way is likely to be more expensive in terms of time and in terms of the money you will need to spend upfront.
2. Self-publish using online tools
You can also use an online low-cost self-publishing service such as to cut out a lot of the technical skills and time needed to self-publish, but ensure that you still have the freedom to make your book look as you want it to. You may have to spend a little time formatting your manuscript in Word or a similar programme before you upload it, but you won’t need to buy any new software. These self-publishing services are generally linked to print-on-demand printers so there should always be an option to do this for free or at a low cost. Companies such as CompletelyNovel won’t take any rights to your work so you’ll still be able to pursue options for publication elsewhere.
This is generally the cheapest option because the companies will have automated the majority of the processes involved in publishing a book.
Main advantage: usually very little upfront cost and a more flexible option.
Main disadvantage: you may need to learn a few skills yourself.
3. Use a self-publishing house
There are other self-publishing services which will cater for people who have very little time and want to hand over as much of the technical aspects of producing their book as possible to someone else. You will usually liaise with the company directly and there will generally be ‘packages’ offered which may include editing, design and other services. These can cost from $1,000 up to $25,000 dollars for the most expensive ones. You should be aware that they will not necessarily include the actual printing of the books, and it will still be largely down to you to sort out all the marketing and promotion of the book.
Main advantage: Not much of your time needed to get the book produced to a decent standard.
Main disadvantage: You can often end up paying a lot for services you don’t need and it’s not normally very transparent as to who will be providing those services.
Keep your options open
There’s nothing to stop you approaching publishers and agents while pursuing the self-publishing option. If you can use self-publishing as a way to build up your profile, establish whether there is a market for your book and essentially build your ‘business case’ then you could seriously improve your chances.
N.B. Beware of Vanity Publishing
‘Vanity Publishers’ are ‘publishers’ who will tell you that you have a great book and offer to publish it for you but charge you thousands of pounds for what is actually very little value. They may tell you that your book is sure to sell many copies, insist that you pay for a print-run of thousands, and then expect you to take these books and sell them yourself. Many of these vanity publishers will take the publishing rights to your book. They very rarely offer any help with marketing or sales and should be avoided.


“Make sure that when someone searches
for your title on Google or Amazon,
they see your book first!”
If you decide to self-publish, don’t make the mistake of using a title or author name that has been used many times before. You need to make sure that when someone searches for your book either on Google or Amazon or similar, that they see your book, rather than another book with a very similar title or author name. Ideally, it should come up in the first couple of search results. So the first thing to do is to search online for the title of your book. If it’s coming up in lots of search results before you have even published it, you need to have a rethink!
If your name is a fairly common one, you might like to consider creating a pen name or at least adding an initial to distinguish yourself.


“The only way the reader will discover
your book is if the cover explains, at a
subconscious level, what the words
are about.”
Look at the rest of the market
It’s important that your book looks professional and the downfall of many self-published books is that they look, well, self-published! At the very least it is worth taking a good, hard look at how the professionals do it. Study books that have been published in the same genre or subject area as yours – what do they have in common? Then go about making your book fit in.
Unless you are a very experienced designer, avoid a desire to produce something that looks radically different. A book cover needs to be unique, but help align the reader’s expectations to what the book will be about. Think how similar the covers of thrillers are – that’s no accident.
What will your cover look like as a thumbnail?
With online becoming increasingly important for bookselling, bear in mind that your book has to stand out as a thumbnail image because that’s how most people are going to come across it. Shrink your book cover down to about an eighth of its full size. If you can’t read the title or author, and nothing else stands out then you should look at increase those font sizes and bringing up the contrast with stronger colours or bolder text!
Should I hire a professional book cover designer?
It’s not essential to use a professional book designer but some professional input can make a big difference, especially when it comes to creating something both striking and able to fit in with the current trends. Many self-publishing services will offer cover design services as part of a ‘package’. Make sure you compare these prices with those on other services, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the designers themselves (What experience do they have? How much time will they spend on your design?) It’s important to know what you will actually be getting for your money. Don’t go with the first offer you see without checking out other options. You can find out more about the cover design service that we offer here.


Printing companies tend to have very strict requirements on how the cover is formatted – amongst other things, you need to ensure that the bleed is correct, the right colour set is being used, the cover is a high enough resolution and the spine width has been calculated correctly.
Unless you have design experience of your own, if you opt to do everything yourself, you will probably need a designer (whether a book specialist or a general graphic designer) to produce a version of your cover which is printable.
Alternatively, online self-publishing services will often provide a ‘cover creator tool’. This is a tool where you design the cover yourself, and the cover creator ensures that the cover ticks all the right boxes when it comes to being printed. Basically, it sorts out all the complicated elements for you.
A cover creator will allow you to upload your own images, crop and move those images around the page and insert and edit text.


“Learning to use some of the more
advanced tools in Microsoft Word
such as page breaks and paragraph
styles is well worth your time.”
You can study professionally published books to find out the relevant standards for typesetting. Most novels, for example, look very similar on the inside, with only subtle differences or embellishments when it comes to chapter headings. We recommend that you take a look at these general tips on how to get your manuscript looking professional and, for further advice, at this advice from a professional typesetter.
Learning to use some of the more advanced tools in Microsoft Word such as page breaks and paragraph styles, as well as taking time to format the main body of your text is well worth your time. However, if you feel like you need a little extra help or reassurance, CompletelyNovel also offer a formatting service to help make your manuscript look as professional as possible.


“Using online communities such
as CompletelyNovel to get feedback
on your book from others can be
really useful.”
If you have spent a long time writing your book, it’s worth spending a decent amount of time editing it too. Of course, you will have been editing it as you go along but it’s notoriously difficult to edit your own work well, so you’ll need an outside opinion.
Feedback from friends and family
It’s definitely worth getting someone to read through your book, at the very least someone who you trust and who can spot the things that you missed.
Using online communities such as CompletelyNovel to get feedback on your book can also be really useful. You can use communities to connect with other readers and writers to get an independent view of your book. There is a wide variety of writers out there with similar interests to you. Why not ask if they wouldn’t mind having a look through your book and sharing their editorial comments in return for you doing the same for theirs? If a reader has started reading your book, ask them for feedback as they go along.
Writing groups
Take it offline and get some group critiques of your work. Writing groups can be very useful and offer a great opportunity to get some honest and knowledgeable feedback on your work. However, there are a few things to bear in mind in order to get the most out of a writing group.


The question of whether professional editing services are worth it is a very good one. We’ve heard from a number of writers who have said that it helped them enormously and that it was exactly the kind ofindependent, informed feedback they needed to get their manuscript in good shape.
You need to have the right attitude and be able to handle some constructive criticism – be prepared for editors advising you to ‘kill your darlings’. Remember that it is just one person’s opinion, but if they are a well respected editor, it’s certainly worth taking it seriously!
How to find a good editor for your book
In order to find a good quality, good value editor for your self-published book, it is best to go by recommendation if you can. Talking to other writers either through writing groups, writing courses or conferences and asking “who should I use to edit my book?” can be very helpful. Here at CompletelyNovel we can always offer a recommendation if you need one – just get in touch via the contact form.


“Print-on-demand is ideal
for anyone wanting to self-publish
at low cost. "
Bulk buying vs. print-on-demand (POD)
As you’d expect, if you buy more books, the individual price of a book will generally be cheaper but you will have to carry a larger risk of them not selling. POD prices have now got much lower so you can sell books at a reasonable price and still make a profit. Print-on-demand is ideal for anyone wanting to self-publish at low cost.
We have more information on print-on-demand and a print-on-demand price comparison chart.
Hardbacks or paperbacks
The amount of information that you need to know about printing will depend on which self-publishing option you go for. In all cases you will probably need to decide between hardback and paperback. Be aware that hardbacks are generally very expensive to produce through print-on-demand (POD) companies and you’ll find it difficult to be able to sell the book for a viable price (and still make a profit).
POD paperbacks are much more affordable. But be aware that, as with all other printers, the quality can vary. Just because the books are printed digitally, it doesn’t mean that they will all be exactly the same. The printers might use different paper or cover thicknesses, and there may be a requirement to print a certain number of copies. Proof copies are essential – make sure you never order a big quantity of books without getting a proof first.


“There are now lots of opportunities
to make your books available more
widely by creating eBooks or using
an online reader.”
There are now lots of opportunities to publish in a very low cost way by creating eBooks or making your work available through an online reader such as the CompletelyNovel BookStreamer.
There are a variety of different eBook formats – ePub has now emerged as the favourite but you may also want your book to be available as a PDF (standard format) and a .AZW file as this is the proprietary format being used by Amazon.
You can pay people to convert your book into an eBook Format for you, or you can use some of the free services available on the web such as Calibre. Doing it yourself may take longer but it is another way of cutting down on the costs of self-publishing. We’d definitely recommend doing some online searches and looking for forum discussions on eBook conversions so you can get up to date with the latest tips from other publishers.
More information on eBooks and electronic readers.


You will need an ISBN if you want your book to be stocked in the traditional retail and mainstream online channels. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Each country has its own supplier of ISBNs who you will need to contact. In the UK it is Nielsen who is responsible for dishing out ISBNs.
If you self-publish on your own, then you will need to buy a set of 10 ISBNs yourself. If you publish using a service like CompletelyNovel, then they will be able to supply individual ISBNs for you at a lower price.


“Self-publishing is a
great opportunity to take your
destiny into your own hands”
Physical distribution
If you want your books to be available in a variety of book retail channels you need to consider how your book will be distributed.
Some print-on-demand companies handle distribution in-house and many will have a website from which customers can buy your book directly. If you sell through these platforms you will usually be able to keep a decent amount of the royalty.
If you want your book sold through retailers, many self-publishing companies can set this up for you. Retailers and distributors will require a cut of the sale price of the book so you will need to sell the book to them at what is known as a trade discount price. This is between 30% and 50% lower than the retail price, so it may mean that you need to put the price of your book quite a bit higher and have a much lower royalty.
In terms of physical printed copies of your book, if you distribute the book yourself, you’ll need to have the books shipped to you. You will then need to contact book chains about stocking your book. You may need to visit each book shop individually, and handle any mail orders on your own. Some book shops will accept a limited number of your books on a sale or return basis, so if they sell, you get paid but if they don’t then you pick them up at a later stage. It’s important to really weigh up the value of your book being in a physical bookshop. Unless your book will get a good spot at the front of the shop, it’s not likely to be worth your while!
Digital distribution
If you have a digital edition, there are a number of different eBook channels that you can sell into. Many have tools for self-publishers to upload and sell their books through this. If you use a self-publishing service, they may offer distribution into these channels too. Check what’s on offer as this is an area which is growing quickly.


“New developments in social media
mean that it’s now much easier to be
your own marketing department.”
If you want to sell your book beyond your family and friends, you will need to market yourself and it is very wise to consider how are you going to do that before you self-publish. New developments in social media mean that it’s now much easier to be your own marketing department.
WARNING: Self-publishers underestimate the importance of marketing at their peril!
It’s probably useful to start building up a network of contacts. We’d recommend that you come up with several different avenues that you can pursue as you are likely to find that some of them work better for you than others.You should consider blogging (and which other blogs you should contact), marketing through other social network such as Facebook and Twitter, online communities and setting up a mailing list.
Consider new and traditional channels – from getting in touch with your local newspaper, to buying Facebook ads, there are lots of options. Don’t rule anything out, even if initially it takes you quite a way outside your comfort zone – it’s often worth playing around and seeing how you get on.


You have to be realistic and remember that even if your book could be a masterpiece, there is a lot of noise and competition in today’s world and it takes real perseverance to make your book successful. However, if you have self-published your book, success will taste all the sweeter when it comes! So, stay focused and positive but be prepared for hard work…and don’t quit your day job just yet!
Self-publishing is an industry which is changing all the time. There are lots of different players out there and printers themselves are developing their technology in a way that is opening up lots of new options. There are plenty of new opportunities emerging online and in terms of digital publishing too. Whatever the future holds for self-publishing, it’s sure to get bigger and better!


The variety of options available when it comes to self-publishing means that the amount of money it costs largely depends on how much you can afford to spend.
Just because you can self-publish at a low cost through online services, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should aim to do everything for as little money as possible. What it does mean is that you can focus your cash on the most important aspects for you.
For example, if you are on a fairly low budget, don’t have an audience ready-and-waiting to buy your book, but do want to give your book the best chance of succeeding you could be looking at something along the lines of the following:
Self-publish using online service: Free
Images to use on your book cover: £20
Order a few proof copies to send to friends to edit: £20
Order copies to give (free of charge) to readers you know who might be interested and can help you generate some buzz around your book: £100
Set-up distribution through retailers: £100 upfront (or a smaller monthly fee which lets you see if it is worth your while)
So, a total of under £250 should get you well on your way.
As the saying goes, you need to speculate to accumulate – hopefully you will earn this investment back (plus some extra) in royalties once your sales start picking up.
The rest of your investment will be in terms of your time spent getting into the social networking game, learning a thing or two about typesetting and cover design, and convincing your contacts to read/buy the book.
Good luck!