Skip to Content

Tips for writers 4


Self-publishing – is it for you?

The fourth set of our new pages of tips for writers

  1. Do you really want to get your book published at any cost? Have you tried agents and publishers, and made sure that your work is as good as you can get it before submitting it? If so, then it might be worth considering self-publishing.
  2. Before deciding to go for self-publishing, you should think through what is involved. Certain kinds of books lend themselves to this approach. If you have a book which you can sell after your lectures, or as a promotional tool, or there’s some local or specialist interest in what you have written, then self-publishing can be a good idea. If you’ve written a novel and want to get it published, you should think hard about how you’re going to market it.
  3. The arrival of print on demand means that self-publishers can now publish their book for a few hundred pounds. Print on demand machines can produce one book at a time and, although each copy costs a bit more than if you ‘batch print’ (which might mean a thousand copies in one run), you are in a much better position as you have not had to raise the money to finance printing the thousand books and neither do you have to store them. The stock risk, which over the years has dogged publishers, leading to overstocks and remainders, can be a thing of the past. You can order one book at a time if that is what you need.
  4. The advantage of this is that you can set up your book for print on demand and, once it is published with an ISBN, anyone who wants a copy can go into a bookshop and order it, or they can buy it online. The order will go through the wholesaler to the print on demand printer and the book will be printed and supplied in the same sort of timeframe as it takes to get a copy of a book from a publisher’s warehouse.
  5. You should note that there is an absolute distinction between self-publishing and vanity publishing. In the former you are the publisher and you make the decisions about pricing and orders. It’s also up to you to do the marketing for your book, unless you have paid someone to work on this for you. Vanity publishers charge up front for printing the books. You never have the confidence of knowing whether they have actually printed them and you certainly can’t check whether they are doing any marketing.
  6. Only you can decide whether you want to take things into your own hands and self-publish. If you are successful you can kick-start your writing career and find a publisher. If you are less successful, at least you will have the pleasure of seeing your book in print and the opportunity to take things into your own hands and to sell it.

Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.

WritersPrintShop, our self-publishing service

What is self-publishing?

WritersServices' self-publishing: an Overview


Tips for Writers 1: Improving your writing
Tips for Writers 2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers 3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4: Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers 5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
Tips for Writers 6: Other kinds of writing
Tips for Writers 7: Keep up to date
Tips for Writers 8: Submission to publishers and agents

© Chris Holifield 2008-9