How to

Here’s an article I wrote recently for the student paper which I’ll share with you here.

may appear that the world of self-publishing is a dark, unknown, not to mention
an expensive place to venture. But it doesn’t have to be that way. For anyone
who has ever wanted to write and publish a book, there is nothing stopping
you. All you need is a little money, a lot of dedication and a few simple steps.

Writing your

I can’t tell you how to write. Any advice I could give would
take up more words than I have here. However there are some great resources out
there to help you. Personally I did a creative writing course, read numerous
books and watched hours of YouTube videos. This will only advise, writing is a
craft, a skill which must be practiced. The best way to learn is by doing, get
it down, and don’t get hung up on the quality. Not yet anyway. Most of what you
write will be changed or even scrapped all together. But with dedication you
will have a very rough but complete manuscript. Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on
YouTube were a great start for my writing, I would highly recommend them.


Now your manuscript
is ready for critique. Don’t be too precious about it, or you won’t be prepared
for what comes next. This is the stage where major overhauls can be made. The
plot can change drastically. Chapters cut, or even added. Characters may metamorphoses into something completely new. It is
essential to find someone who knows what they’re doing, in short someone with
professional experience. I was lucky enough to find someone who was very good,
while being very reasonably priced. I would personally pay no more than £60-£80
for a critique. It is worth it and invaluable. If you ignore this stage, it
could create huge problems at the latter stages. Your typescript comes back
with all the suggested changes. If you’re smart you’ll pay attention and in
pretty much every case heed their advice.


had to make some pretty big changes, based on that all important critique. It
takes time to re-build. You’ve re-read the re-written the typescript and
finally you’re satisfied that you can submit it for editing so that you won’t
be totally embarrassed by there being too many mistakes. Editors are all different
and offer services from strict editing — looking at grammar and punctuation, to
more ‘copy-editing’ services, where suggestions will be made on how to change
your copy. Make sure you know what kind of service you’re getting. Again this
does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. For my current novel I paid about
£200. The edit comes back and it’s riddled with red, You can’t believe how much
you missed. This is why it needs a
professional edit. Get working on those changes. Remember it is your book so if
you feel strongly about something, you can keep it, though 99% of the time the
editor is right.


Luckily my editor also did the proofread for my novel, which
was part of the £200, Pretty good considering. There are far more expensive
options but the quality is much the same. Now a publisher won’t just have one
person read a book before sending it off to the printers, so why should you?
Just because you’re self-published doesn’t mean you should lower the bar, raise
it. Multiple proofreaders is the way to go. Friends and family who will do it
for free and have a good eye for detail. Three in total is good. Four or five
can be better. Just remember you’ve got to go through each proof and consider
who is right. There are some instances where capitalisation and other issues
can be debatable. Don’t keep changing it. My rule is to always follow the professional
I’m paying for. The other proofreaders are there to catch anything he/she may
have missed, because that person is only human, right? Most books I read have a
typo somewhere. Nothing is perfect, yet you should aim for perfection to ensure
next to nothing (hoping for none at all) gets through all those filters.

(International Standard Book Numbers)

I had no idea how to do all this and it took me some time to
sort it out. So here’s the deal. If you want to sell your book anywhere or even
have it in a library, you’ll need to get your ISBN. A unique 13 digit
identification number found on all books. In the UK you buy them from ‘Nielson
UK ISBN Agency.’ Unfortunately you can’t buy just one. They come in packs of
ten, and last time I checked they were £125 for the ten pack, but it does
change every year. There’s plenty of information on the website. You can get a
free ISBN when you publish with Amazon, I think. But I never did it this way as
I wanted to make sure I retained all rights. It worked out perfect for me as
I’m writing a series of five books and I needed one for each e-book and one for
each paperback, equals ten. You apply, pay and they send you your ISBNs along
with some useful information.


How do I get a barcode? The barcode on the back of your
book, is derived from your 13 digit ISBN. You’ll only need this if you want to
print. Simply type ‘barcode generator’ into your search engine and you’ll see
plenty of options to generate and save a high resolution image of the barcode
that identifies your book.

and ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). Sometimes called TIN.

It’s a joy to hopefully make this easy for anyone out there
because it wasn’t easy for me. This only applies if you want to publish through
Createspace- Amazons Print On Demand (POD) service. At you will be guided through the entire process
for taking your book all the way to being available in paperback on Amazon. You
will need Your TIN number. This is what you do.

Sign up with Createspace and they’ll give you an account

Message Createspace and ask for a letter to confirm that you
are publishing with them.

On receipt of this letter, go to and download a
W-7 form.

Fill out the short form and send it with the Createspace
letter and either your passport or driving license. You have to send the
original to the States, so make sure you’re not going on holiday anytime
soon. I know it sucks, but once it’s
done it’s done.

I’d strongly advise you to send this as soon as you can as
it can take anything from 1-3 months for you to get your TIN number.


If you’re using Createspace then you can download their
template which has all the margins, guttering, everything that you’ll need to
get the layout of you book right. The best way is to copy and paste your
chapters one by one into the template. You shouldn’t have any problems when
their software checks for layout errors. Nothing looks worse than a book that
is badly formatted. If you are printing it another way there is plenty of
advice on the web on how to set up your copy.

Book cover

You will need to decide on the size of your book.
Createspace will give you the options. Then you need to design your cover. This
is where you need to find someone who knows Photoshop or similar software. If
you provide the content, a book cover can be created in no time at all. The
imagery is going to be your biggest hurdle, unless you have excellent art or
photography skills. For a small price you can purchase the picture or pictures you
require from a stock photography site such as iStock. Another good option is to
search and contact artists on email, and ask them for a quote
for your requirements. some can be expensive, others surprisingly cheap £30-£50.
Some artists are quite keen to get their work published as a book cover. Sketch
out how you want your book cover to look, taking inspiration from what’s out


So you have your art. You should have decided on the name of
the book and obviously your name will also be on the cover, You have your ISBN
and barcode image for the back. Createspace will tell you exactly how thick
your spine will be, depending on the amount of pages you have. The only thing
left to do is write a blurb to put on the back cover. The best way to get to
grips with blurbs is to read them on books with a similar genre to your own.
Study them. You’ll realise they give only enough to tempt the reader and draw
them into the story, sometimes postulating questions. They never give away the
ending or tell the whole story. Write and rewrite and ask friends and family
what they think. A blurb is possibly the most important copy of your entire
book, it’s the only part most people will ever read, so take your time. Once
you have your artwork for the book cover, which will be one image, front
cover-spine-back cover, from right to left, upload it onto Createspace.


The time has finally come. It’s time to publish. Once you
have jumped through all the hoops on
Createspace you can order a proof copy. I strongly suggest you do this
and follow the advice on their site to make sure there are no errors and
everything is to your satisfaction. The same applies if you are printing it
yourself. Once you are sure you can publish. Createspace automatically gives
you an option to create a Kindle version. It takes about 12-24 hours to see your
book approved and ready to buy on Amazon.


If you look in the documentation which Nielson sent you, you
will discover as a publisher (which is what you are now,) you have a legal
obligation to send a copy to the main libraries in the UK. Don’t worry the
library police won’t come for you, but it is cool that you can have a copy of
your book in these respected institutions. There is also a contact for your
e-book. If you so wish you can send one to the ‘The British Library’ and
another five copies which get distributed across the major libraries in the
country. Print them yourself or buy them on Amazon. If you do buy your book for
this purpose or to sell yourself, make sure you get someone to buy it for you,
as they don’t count as actual sales on Amazon, if the author purchases them.


You’ve published your book, but what about selling it.
Marketing and selling is a whole new topic, too big to cover here, and does take up a lot of time. Like most
things though, if you do a little often,
you’ll make good progress. You definitely need a website and business cards. It’s also a good to explore
flyers and things like bookmarks. The important thing to remember is that
everything should look the same. Cast
from the same mould — this is your brand
and it must be consistent, to identify who and what you are. Again there are
plenty of ideas on the web on how to promote and sell your book.


You can put a lot of work into this or a little. I would advise
you make some effort using twitter and perhaps join a reading group such as Goodreads.
Not only is this fun but it can pay off when you least expect it. Also, there
are conferences all over the country where you can network with other
self-publishers. Some of the advice of other self-publishers I’ve met have
proved to be invaluable, Just because you’re going it alone doesn’t mean you’re on your
own. Make sure you create a support network to help you get where you want to

Good luck