How to publish your own book. Includes legwork!


Self publishing is something I have left as a last resort, but if you’re now at that point then you may wish to consider which is through Amazon. Then there’s which also allows you to sell your stories. I’m not sure what sort of success rate they have, but it’s worth a try just to get your book out there.

Something that’s a little more DIY and should give you more results, is to have your books printed up and circulate them to bookstores yourself. This is a long hard process but certainly worthwhile even if you sell only a few books – it actually means people want to read what you write! Matthew Reilly did this before he was able to obtain a publishing deal. He printed up 1,000 copies but I’m pretty sure the number sold was quite low, around the 80 mark.

I don’t know how he went about self publishing, but I spoke to a friend who is a manager of an Angus and Robertson store and asked him how he would like to be approached from an independent author.

There are two main options available; the first (which is the advice I received) is to find a printing company that will print you 50-500 books at a low cost but still deliver quality bound books. Oh, and I should mention that this is assuming you have finished the book and have a print ready PDF, or at worst a MS Word document.

Once you check over the proof (rough-copy of a physical final product) they have supplied you, you will sign it off as okay. They will then print you your finished bound books of what ever quantity you decided on. Make sure you include the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) Check this site out for an explanation: or and this for more on EAN13 barcodes:

Hunt down a place in your country that can supply you with one as either a vector file, which you can place into your book through your desktop publishing program. Or a sticker that you can stick onto each of your books.

But, make sure you check a sample first with a bar code reader at a bookstore/distributor. You don’t want to get something printed and find it doesn’t work!

Now comes the hard part: Bookstores don’t want to ring YOU if they are going to make an order, they want to ring a distribution company. Which is what they already do for the majority of their books (although this will differ from independent stores to chain stores to privately owned chain stores).

So now you need to find a distributor that’s happy to have a box of your books sitting in their warehouse with your ISBN on each one. Your business details will stay with the distribution company, so you will of course need a business identification number (ABN if in Australia).

At this point you will strike up a deal with the distribution company regarding what they make if a book is bought buy a book store. How much you make from each sale will depend on what the distributor is willing to part with – don’t be too strict on the deal; they’re your only hope! This is a venture to get your book and your name out there, not to make millions of dollars.

The distribution company will then take care of invoices, distribution (obviously), phone calls, etc. Plus it will appear more professional to your buyers. Lastly, you will need to have a brochure printed up (We Print It have some good prices, or use the same company that printed your bound books). This brochure will be what you arm yourself with when visiting all the stores in your area.

The brochure will show the front cover of your book, retail price, synopsis, the distributors details and maybe some details about you. If you are unsure of what to put on your brochure, walk into a book store and look at their brochures that advertise their books. Then model yours on the same wavelength but with only your book on the front.

When you arrive at a book store, ask to speak to the manager and show them the brochure. If they seem interested in your book then you may be able to sell them a copy/s right there and then and not use the distributor for that particular sale. Or if you don’t mind parting with a sample, give them a book and tell them you’ll visit again in a week to pick it back up, and they can make a purchase after they’ve read it. Or, during that week they can call the distributor instead and order copies if they want to have it in their store before you return.

You can also post off the brochures to book stores that are not within driving distance, in and around your country and possibly even follow it up with a phone call to the manager to make sure the brochure was received.

When visiting a bookstore, try and be there when the manager is there. You will find that he/she is there most days, but will have two days off during the week. You can ring up before hand and make sure they will be there, or just turn up on a Monday, they are there most first days of the week.

Any advertising or self promotion after that is entirely up to you.

The second option with self publishing is to approach a company that does everything for you, depending on what you want to spend. They can have a designer take care of your front cover, they can organise the bar codes, they can set up print on demand for you, they can even have something set up for you where you/your book are promoted in your country as well as others. The cost will grow depending on how much you want done for you, and realistically I don’t think it is money well spent. Plus you will never be able to gauge what people think of your book if you’re not doing the work yourself.

In saying that, having someone, or a company, set up your book with professional typesetting, cover design and proper use of bar codes will give you a more professional finish and also free your time up for other things, such as writing!

One issue with print on demand is that you will only get a dollar or two for each book sold. But I guess at least your book will be out there!

You will need to decide on what is best for you. I’m still not sure if I’m going to venture into the world of self publishing myself at this stage. Time will tell.

P.S. A print ready PDF is an Acrobat PDF that is at the correct size you want it to print at, is in cmyk format, includes page numbers, chapter headings, title and will include all the information in a standard novel. Everything will be in its correct place and set with the font you want it to print with. You will also need to have cover pages ready and illustrated and included within the document. If you have more questions let me know. I worked in the printing industry for over 15 years so I should be able to help you out with any and all questions. I also have some designer friends that I can put you in contact with. These people also have printing contacts (so do I, but I don’t want to appear as if I’m selling anything on this blog. This site is just a place of information, nothing more).


Good luck!


About matclarke

Writing became a hobby at the age of ten, boredom being a great catalyst. Whenever I had an idea I would put words to paper until something interesting was produced. I have always loved dreaming up and writing new stories. I wrote from the age of 10 and also built or designed unusual contraptions and created tools for working with assorted wood products. Creativity has always been my thing, however, no other person within my extended family harbours this same creative gene, so I always assumed I was odd rather than artistic. My non-fiction work has been inspired by my letter writing to government bodies and assorted companies, either to request information on a current associated issue or to offer a solution to an ongoing problem with (if a local government) traffic, public transport, spending, banks, etc. And (if a company) an idea for the product so that it could become better accepted by consumers, or in some cases, healthier for consumers. In December 2009 I came across a story I had begun a month earlier but so far written only a single page. I read it again and realised the story was not only interesting but also had the effect of creating excitement as to what would happen next. I immediately decided this could be a great beginning to a piece which could become my first full length novel, Wake (working title). The idea for Wake was born from a writing retreat on the outskirts of Bendigo, Australia. I had taken a break from punching keys on my laptop and walked from the small cabin into the night. Now standing in the silence with the tree canopy looming above, I watched the breeze adjust the leaves ever so slightly—barely enough to create a rustling. It was a creepy, lonely night; isolating beyond anything I had experienced. I smiled. An idea seeded: What would it be like to wake in the middle of nowhere with no memories and no idea of how you came to be there. Wake, is my first completed novel and I am currently 45,000 words into its sequel. I am also editing, Citylife, my second completed novel, and finished writing my third novel, Blue, whilst on a return trip from the US where I visited for book research. You’re welcome to have a read of some of my short stories on my website. Let me know if you liked them. In addition, my writing group and I have completed two anthology of short stories, with another to be completed in April. See my website for more information.
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