What steps are involved in self-publishing a book in Australia, and what’s the self-publishing process?
We’re often asked by new Australian authors what is the self-publishing process. It’s easy to forget that we were all new once, and while self-publishing seems straightforward to experienced self-published authors, it can be pretty intimidating for new authors.
If you’re planning on writing and publishing a book, you have three options:
- Traditional Publishing – You write the book, hire a book agent, and the agent shops your book to traditional publishers, hoping they publish it. It can be highly rewarding but time-consuming, and only a small percentage of authors will ever sign a book deal with a traditional publishing company. Typically, traditional publishers cover the costs of editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing, and you receive either an advance on royalties or ongoing royalties, depending on what contract you sign. In addition, they retain the rights to your work for as long as the contract stipulates.
- Hybrid/Vanity Publishing – Hybrid or vanity publishing combines traditional and self-publishing. They’ll organize each step in the publishing process, but you’ll pay for it. Typically, they put your book into the same distribution channels as you would get from self-publishing yourself. However, most hybrid or vanity publishing companies take a percentage of royalties and retain the rights to your book for a fixed period depending on what type of contract you sign or who you sign with.
- Self-Publishing – When you self-publish your book, you’re paying for all steps in the self-publishing journey and managing them, and in the end, you have control over your manuscript. When you self-publish, you retain all the rights to your book, and you receive 100% of all royalties.
Please note that not all hybrid, vanity, or traditional publishing companies offer the same contracts, and it’s essential to read and understand any contract you sign.
In the following article, we’ll be breaking down the self-publishing process and what you need to know as an Australian author before you self-publish your first book. We’ll cover the following:
- Professional Editing
- Book Formatting
- Book Cover Design
Writing, Writing, and More Writing
The first step in the process is writing your book. For some people, this is the easiest part of the self-publishing process and one that they can handle themselves. For others, they may have a good idea for a book but not the time or experience to write a book, and hiring a professional ghostwriter may be a better option.
If you choose to have someone else write your book, you’ll be working with a ghostwriter. Typically, your ghostwriter will work with you to develop the outline of your book and character profiles and then start putting the book together.
Whether you write your book yourself or have someone else write it for you, once it’s written, you’re ready to move to the next step in the self-publishing process, which is editing.
It’s Time for Professional Editing
When it comes to editing your manuscript, you have several professional editing services to choose from, depending on your genre, budget, and experience. First, let’s look at the three steps in editing:
Manuscript Evaluation/Appraisal – A manuscript evaluation will involve a professional editor doing a complete read-through of your manuscript. They’ll look at different factors such as theme, title, premise, opening, genre, voice, style, format, flow, tense, dialogue, plot, character development, setting, writing habits, size, and overall strengths and weaknesses. It’s a great way to get a big-picture look at how well your manuscript is written and if it needs any additional work before moving to the next stage of editing.
Copyediting – A copyedit looks at grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, tense issues, and fine-tuning flow and consistency. You’ll be able to reject or accept any changes as the editor makes them. It’s a cost-efficient way to get your manuscript edited if you’re on a budget.
Developmental Editing – Developmental editing is the Rolls Royce of editing. It looks at structure, character development, narrative, style, voice, pacing, and pages or sections which might need a little extra attention. Typically, your editor will make a lot more changes, and most developmental edits involve the editor working closely with the author.
Proofreading – Proofreading is done once your manuscript has been thoroughly edited and formatted. We’ll talk more about formatting in the next section. Your proofreading is a final look through your book to catch all those annoying typos and grammar mistakes that have slipped past the first round of editing. Proofreading is done once the manuscript has been formatted, as it’s often easier to read a completed book that has been professionally formatted.
Once your manuscript has been professionally edited, it’s ready for the next step. While you can edit your own manuscript, most experts recommend against it. It’s easy to focus on your work, but making the hard decisions when it comes to editing your own work is even harder. A fresh set of eyes and a new perspective is the best way to catch any of those errors in your manuscript.
It’s Time to Make Some Self-Publishing Decisions
At this stage of the self-publishing process, you’ll need to make some decisions. First, you need to decide the following:
- What trim size will your book be? – You’ll need to check where you plan on self-publishing and what trim sizes they offer. Not all self-publishing platforms offer the same trim sizes, but for most fiction books, you’ll find common trim sizes.
- Where are you planning on self-publishing? – Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are the two biggest self-publishing platforms, but there are others. Amazon KDP offers the biggest direct-to-customer market, while IngramSpark offers the biggest global distribution network to schools, libraries, and bookstores.
Book Formatting and Interior Design In the Self-Publishing Process
Now that you have a fully edited and polished manuscript, it’s time to move on to the next stage in the self-publishing process, professional book formatting or interior design.
This is where your hard work starts to look like a real book for the first time. Here at Author Services Australia, we start with paperback formatting first using Adobe InDesign. Then, we’ll lay out your complete paperback and get it ready for printing at your desired trim size. Both major self-publishing platforms, Amazon KDP and IngramSpark, offer their own trim sizes, so it’s essential to choose the right trim size before you start formatting and cover design.
Once the paperback book formatting has been approved by you, it’s finalized, and then we use that approved paperback interior file to create your ebook file.
Now, your paperback book is where all the glitz and glamour are. It’s fancy, with beautiful-looking chapter headers, drop caps, and décor. Your ebook is the workhorse. It’s designed to be functional across multiple devices, operating systems, and displays. Your ebook is a basic version of your book that allows readers to adjust fonts, font sizes, and display sizes to suit their reading preferences.
At the end of formatting, if you choose ebook and paperback formatting, you’ll receive an ebook file and paperback file ready for uploading to your selected self-publishing process.
Once your paperback is uploaded and published, we highly recommend ordering a physical proof copy of your book to give it one final lookover for any errors.
Professional Cover Design
Now, professional cover design can be started before the formatting of your paperback is complete. Still, you will need to know your final page count before finalizing your paperback cover.
Ebooks require only a front cover, but paperbacks require a full wrap cover which includes the front cover, back cover, and spine. The size of your spine depends on the thickness of your book or how many pages it is. Smaller books may have a spine, but that spine will not have any writing on it.
Most self-publishing platforms have their own cover templates. Your cover designer will design your book cover to those template specifications. However, your actual cover design is based on your manuscript and desired preferences.
At Author Services Australia, we start our cover design with the author filling out a design brief. It covers all the different elements of your book and helps our cover designer create a beautiful cover design. First, we create two various drafts, giving you the choice of either or, then we make design changes from there. You can also add an option for additional drafts if you prefer.
Once we have the cover design approved, we’ll create an ebook cover and paperback cover, plus you’ll receive a free 3D mock-up of your book for promotional material.
Self-Publishing Platforms and Printing
By this stage in the self-publishing process, you should have committed to a self-publishing platform or process as to how you plan on selling your books.
The two biggest options are Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. However, while they provide a similar service, and you can use both platforms simultaneously, you need to pick which one will handle distribution.
Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are the two biggest self-publishing platforms, but there are others. Amazon KDP offers the biggest direct-to-customer market, while IngramSpark offers the biggest global distribution network to schools, libraries, and bookstores.
Personally, we choose to self-publish on both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. We upload and publish our paperback and ebook to Amazon first, without expanded distribution, and then we add our paperback to IngramSpark with expanded distribution.
While Amazon KDP only sells books in their marketplaces, IngramSpark works with various self-publishing platforms and online distributors, including Kobo and iBooks, among many more.
Now, this part of the self-publishing process is handled by you. You simply open accounts on Amazon KDP or IngramSpark, fill out the required information, and when your book files are complete, you upload them, and your books will be published and available for sale.
Both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are print-on-demand (POD) platforms. What does this mean? When someone buys your book, they will print and ship it directly to the customer. You have no part in the process and simply receive your royalty minus printing and shipping costs. You can read more about POD in our article, What Is POD for Authors, here.
Another option is to self-publish and also sell independently. You can build a website and sell your books online, get physical copies printed, and then ship those directly to customers. It will require you to do more of the work, but it can be quite rewarding.
You will need to purchase ISBNs for each format of your book. Now, while Amazon KDP does offer free ISBNs, they’re only for use on their platform. If you own your own ISBNs, you’ll be able to self-publish on multiple platforms and not just be limited to Amazon KDP. You can read more about ISBNs in our article Do I Need An ISBN in Australia?
Marketing Your Book
Once everything is done and your book is available for sale, it’s time to complete the final and arguably hardest and most time-consuming aspect of the self-publishing process, marketing. Ask any self-published author what the hardest part of the process is, and 99% of them will tell you it’s marketing.
There are a lot of different aspects to marketing a book. Regardless of what type of book you write, marketing it can be a real challenge. However, as a self-published author, there’s a lot that you can do yourself, even on a tight budget.
Social media, author interviews, blogs, videos, podcasts, public speaking events, and so much more! Connecting with other self-published authors in the author community is a great way to not only build connections but also learn valuable marketing insight.
What Is the Self-Publishing Process? – Conclusion
Hopefully, now you clearly understand the self-publishing process and what’s involved. We understand that the process can be daunting, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Still, when you work with Author Services Australia, our team will be there to assist you through each step of the process until your book is available for readers.
If you have any questions about the self-publishing process, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us directly. Our professional team is more than happy to answer any of your publishing questions.