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Sultana's Dream
May 2012


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So You STILL Wanna Be a Writer!


This article provides tips on how to self publish your book in Australia. However, itís a notoriously complex subject and you will still need to undertake your own research.  

  • Editing: When you are ready to self publish your book the first thing you need to think about is editing. While you may have friends or relatives to help you with a structural edit: plot holes, characterisation, dialogue etc, you still need someone experienced to undertake a copyedit and ensure that grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are correct. If no one in your circle has this professional experience, you should hire a professional freelance editor from the Society of Editors or seek a recommendation from your local state writersí centre.
  • Cover: Graphic designers working for traditional publishers design at least three mock-ups of each cover so that the marketing and editing department can make a final decision. If you are following the self-publishing route, do lots of research and examine covers that are in your bookís genre to identify the successful design elements. You can use on-line tools or hire a designer. Some print service providers have software you can use for free, to design your own cover. Either way itís best to test your cover on a target audience to see if it successfully markets your book.
  • Printing: There are a few print options you can undertake: seeking a printing company to produce your book, or using print on demand. If you use a printing company you will usually find that the more copies you order, the cheaper it is per unit. However, donít get caught in the trap of over-ordering books that you canít store or sell. If you use print on demand, copies are only printed as they are ordered, and you receive a royalty for each book sold. Companies like Amazonís CreateSpace offer free listing of titles so you can begin publishing with no start up fees.
  • Bookstore distribution: When bookstores order books from traditional publishers they buy these on consignment which means they pay for copies sold and return unsold copies. You will need to provide the same service and negotiate a price so that the bookstore receives a percentage of profit. Retailers look for a minimum profit of 40% of RRP.
  • Book Distributor: You can also contract a distributor who will be able to sell your books to stores for 25% of the RRP. Your book will be listed in their catalogues, however, you still have to undertake your own promotion.
  • General distribution: These days you can also organise sales of your book on-line either via your website with PayPal payment buttons, and via Amazon or eBay.
  • Promotion: Seek endorsements from authors who write in your genre. The best way to do this is to approach an author you admire with a personal letter and ask if they would read your book. Put their endorsement on the cover and use it for publicity. Create a media kit including your book, a media release and articles and reviews. Target your media kit to outlets for interviews and reviews. Follow up politely and remember the leapfrog principle: use every publicity opportunity to leapfrog to something else.
  • ISBN: The ISBN number is a thirteen-digit number that uniquely identifies your book internationally. While it is not compulsory to have, if you donít you will not be able to offer your book for sale via any on-line bookstore, bricks and mortar bookshop or submit to libraries. You will need to register and pay for it from the ISBN agency and insert it on your cover so it can be used as a reference to sell your book. Publishing-service providers also offer free ISBNís as part of their service, but you will need to get a new ISBN if you move to a different publisher-services provider. Also you need a new ISBN for each new format your book is published in, i.e. paperback, hardback, audio book or ebook.
  • Legal deposit: Books published in Australia are subject to legal deposit law and this means a copy needs to be submitted to your state library and the National Library of Australia.
  • Cataloguing-in-Print: This is a free service offered by the National Library of Australia whereby a publication is catalogued by topic/theme. This is inserted on the reverse side of the title page and is used by libraries/bookstores to categorise and search for your book. 

I hope this article is a helpful first start on your publishing journey. Check back soon for the third instalment on digital self-publishing.


Self-Publishing Made Simple by Euan Mitchell (out of print, but can be found in libraries)

I would like to thank Liz Davies, self-published author of Flying Over the Rainbow, who kindly shared her knowledge.

Amra Pajalic