A Complete Guide To Publishing Your Own Book

Preparing Your Book for Publication

So you’ve got your book idea and are looking to make things happen. Unless you’re gifted at writing flawless prose, your book is going to need some external care and attention, i.e. editing.

We’ve researched and pulled together all of the best advice from experts in the publishing and book reviews fields. It doesn’t guarantee success, but following these pointers is a first step in getting your idea into the hands of readers, whether it’s via eBook or hard copy.

Proofreading and Copy Editing

It’s incredibly difficult to proofread your own work. You’ll subconsciously remember how the sentences end, where the story is going, and won’t notice the niggling errors that have crept in.

This is especially important if you’re pursuing the print publishing route, as you only get one chance to make a first impression with a publisher. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “A poet can survive everything but a misprint”.

If you’ve got a friend or two who can write well, then ask if they will review your work. This can give you both a proofreading service and feedback on your style of writing, for free.

If you’re seriously looking at publishing a book a proofreader or editor is essential to make sure you’re submitting the highest quality document that does your work, and creativity, justice. For a general idea of cost, a 10,000 word short story will be looking at around £80-120, and a full novel in excess of 100,000 words will often start from £300.

For information on what you can expect from a professional editor, check out this amazing resource from a group of New York publishers with over 15 years experience apiece.

Remember to double check exactly what the proofreading or editing service is offering you, as some companies’ definitions or features will differ. Finding an editor who has experience in the field you are writing about is vital, as they’ll have knowledge of other work available in that genre which they can use as a benchmark.

Top tip: Approaching teachers or academics outside term time can lead to a great proof read at an excellent price.

Bubblecow.com/

If you’re looking for simple pricing and upfront honesty, bubblecow is a great little company. There are three clearly segmented packages so you can pick the depth of editing you want, and the pricing and time of delivery are clear.

Tax Tips For Writers

No one enjoys talking about taxes, but it’s a crucial part of the publishing process for both those looking for a career or those simply using writing as a hobby.

It can be complicated to decide even the most basic things, such as “What is tax deductible?” There’s a great little guide here which should point you in the right direction for your tax considerations.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Even novels can plagiarise, so it’s important to keep a clear record of everything you do related to your book. For a work of fiction, note down any resources you used which you can include in your book’s acknowledgements. Non-fiction books will need clear footnotes and endnotes of every resource, study or quotation that is present in your work.

Take care that you don’t inadvertently copy/steal/borrow any ideas from existing works in your genre. Even if it truly was your idea, proving this to a court with a scribbled note of when the idea came to you won’t stand up well against an existing book with the same idea.

Read around your target genre and get inspiration, but always ensure your book retains a unique side that is yours, and only yours.

A comprehensive guide to all kinds of referencing can be found here which will give you everything you need to know!

Copyright

Three cheers for copyright, it’s free! Copyright needs to be considered in two forms:

  1. when can you breach others’ copyright
  2. how to deal with people violating your copyright.

On the whole it’s very difficult to breach copyright unless you’re actively trying to reproduce someone else’s work. Most fiction writers shouldn’t have to worry and those trying to parody an existing work can actually use a surprising amount of the original.

It’s worth noting that facts cannot be covered by copyright, but the way those facts are presented can be. Turning to our experience with printers for an example, there are a number of publicly available facts about HP ink cartridges which you’re free to use however you please. But if my company were to take these figures, present them differently or relate them to some other knowledge, you could not copy our interpretation.

Non-fiction writers are more likely to run foul of plagiarism. It’s an issue taken seriously by academic institutions and employers, so you need to be very careful about how you reference other works in your own. A comprehensive guide to all kinds of referencing can be found here which will give you everything you need to know!

Protecting Your Own Works

There’s a great breakdown of copyright information here which should give you a good idea of what’s acceptable, and what’s not.

To quickly summarise the important points of copyrighting your work:

Mark Your Work As Copyrighted.

Lovely simple advice, the rationale behind this being to make a potential infringer think that you take the issue seriously.

Copyright has three sections:

  1. The copyright symbol, abbreviation “Copr.” or full word “Copyright”
  2. The publisher or company name
  3. The publication year of the work

So, copyrighting this guide would be © Stinkyink.com 2012

Keep Evidence of Your Work As It Develops

This can be done through a number of established companies who will register your copyright for a small fee or by keeping notes and old drafts to show an “evolution” of your ideas.

Little industry tricks, such as leaving a dated copy of your work at a bank or solicitor, or posting a copy of your work to yourself by special delivery and leaving it unopened can also help prove possession and/or ownership at a certain date.

Ultimately, it’s far more likely you’ll experience an eBook copy of your book being shared illegally than a physical copy. There are some clear steps to take if you feel your work is being illegally shared.

This doesn’t really cover peer-to-peer file sharing, which you’re probably all aware of from the issues in the music industry with illegal downloading. This is far more difficult to stop, but there are some common sense approaches to limiting the potential occurrences:

Firstly, Does it matter?

File sharing in small numbers is not too dissimilar to one person buying your book then passing it on when they’re finished. Ultimately it still generates word of mouth and possible reviews, and not many authors mind that.

In fact, many ‘pirates’ go on to write reviews and often purchase your book later, so a little illegal activity may turn out to be good marketing.

Is There a Reason People Are Taking Your Work Without Paying?

Taking a common sense approach to the mindset of a file sharer can actually highlight the root cause which can be addressed.

For example, check out this research into the movie and film industry, an industry that is heavily hit by illegal file sharing. This research highlights a tremendous correlation between films having a split release date between the Americas and Europe, and the number of times it is illegally shared.

Though not particularly relevant for eBook file sharing, it highlights how consideration of your target market can lead to increased gains for you and a limitation on illegal activity.

Take a simple example of pricing. Is your book price extortionate compared to similar books in your area? What about availability, can your book be purchased from numerous vendors or is it actually difficult to get hold of?

If you think this may be the case, consider offers like giving away the first chapter of your book as a teaser. Little things like that can make the difference, but we’ll discuss these more in our book marketing tips!

There are a number of resources you can go to for further information about copyright. Some educational institutes such as Columbia and Stanford provide excellent guides that cover most areas of the law. There are also some charities who also offer insight.

If you’re looking for advice and current happenings in the realms of online property (which as a potential eBook author you ought to be) the EFF is an interesting charity to keep an eye on.

Please note: We in no way endorse illegal file sharing, but there are certain ‘market benefits’ to distributing your work for free.

DRM

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technology that helps you limit the use of your digital contents once it has been purchased, and is an important consideration for anyone looking to publish an eBook.

An example of a DRM restriction is to limit the ‘cut and paste’ function in a document.

To be honest, DRM below the level of the Stephen Kings of this world is probably not something worth paying much attention to at present. At its worst, DRM is often broken very swiftly, and can quite often annoy and alienate your fans by restricting what they can do with a product they’ve purchased.

If you require any further information on DRM, and how it can be applied to the different formats of eBooks, check out these two helpful posts:

Purchasing an ISBN

Standing for International Standard Book Number, an ISBN is a unique identifier for every book that is sold. ISBNs are crucial if you plan to make your book available on retailing channels or stores.

An ISBN is made up of the following sections:

  • A “978” prefix
  • A number to identify a group or country associated with the book
  • A number to identify the publisher of the book
  • The title identifier, which is for a particular title or edition of your book
  • The final number is a “check digit”, which validates the ISBN.

This should leave you with an ISBN looking like 978-0-470-25312-0 (yes, that’s a book on my desk).

You actually need ISBNs for different formats of the same book, so in all likelihood you will end up needing a maximum of five ISBN numbers for a single book:

  • Hardcover
  • Paperback
  • Amazon Kindle eBook format
  • ePub eBook format
  • PDF format

If you’re only distributing your book on a personal website you could possibly make do without an ISBN, but we’d advise having one just in case, as it always makes things easier if your book ever becomes popular.

The majority of publishers or digital publishers will provide an ISBN free of charge. If you are going down the self-publishing route, you can buy your own ISBN for under £100 quite easily from many different publishing websites.

Where to Buy Your Own ISBNs in the UK

  • Myidentifiers.com

    Though it’s expensive for a single ISBN ($125), we’ve shown you that in all likelihood you’re going to need more than one! This website has a fantastic offer of ten ISBNs for $250, making it the perfect choice for ISBN purchasing.

Creating a Barcode For Your Book

The barcodes on the back of books are actually just an ISBN in scannable form. These will again be supplied by any publisher you sign with, or by the vast majority of digital publishers if you go down the assisted self-publishing route.

If you’re aiming to self-publish then you’ll need to purchase your own barcodes. A company we’ve seen suggested numerous times is Barcodegraphics.com, where you can purchase the necessary barcode for around $10 in a process that takes only a few minutes.

Once you register, you’ll be taken to a products page. You should see the third heading says ‘Books’ and the top option is the barcode you want, ‘Bookland EAN’.

Writing a Good Bio

An author biography is your chance to get the reader to open your book and find out more details. A bio done badly can be a book-killer; not many readers are going to give a book a chance if the author’s introduction makes them yawn.

Check out this guide for brilliant tips

and how to get the most out of it

Now You’re Good To Go

Your book should now be prepped and ready to go! If there’s anything you’re still concerned about then drop an email to info@stinkyink.com and we’ll research and update the guide accordingly.

The following chapters outline the publishing options available to you, and whichever one you decide upon, the best of luck to you and your soon-to-be bestseller from the Stinkyink team.


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