One of the best things about being an indie writer is that you have control over the whole process – what you write and how you write – and you keep total ownership of your book. But what’s actually involved in taking your manuscript and getting it published as a book that can sit on the bookshop shelves? Here’s a brief insight to how we do it, in a nutshell.
The first stage is to get your manuscript complete. For some writers, this involves quite a lengthy mentoring, discussion process on the story, structure, characters, and most commonly, point of view. Once we’ve been through it all, you go back and work on your book until you’re happy with it.
After that, it’s onto a final edit where we take your final Word document (and at this stage, we then have the master document) and we make sure the formatting (such as indents, page breaks and so on) is all correct. At this stage we correct typos, punctuation, and check grammar. Whether you’d like this carried out with tracked changes (so you can see exactly what we’ve done) or not is up to you. If there are any points to discuss, these are highlighted and we then go through your whole manuscript together to agree on the final final Word document.
This final document is then typeset into book format pages. This stage involves designing the pages, deciding the book size, font size, where the page numbers go, what chapter motifs (if any) will look good, whether there needs to be a table of contents, and checking a load of typesetting details (like widows and orphans) that you don’t need to worry about but we do. We then produce the pages in pdf format for you check. At the same time, we work with you to design your cover and write a back cover blurb. Once that is all done, you decide what price you’d like to list your book at, we work out the date of publication, and we register your ISBN.
The next stage is to print out and proofread the pdf pages of the book. We scribble suggested changes and circle any last minute errors that might have slipped through the net, and then go through the print off with you to agree on final changes. These are then made to the set pages to produce the final print ready files that you get to check before we go to print.
At this stage, we usually prepare the eBook files as this gives us all another chance to go through the book and spot any possible errors that have been missed.
Then it’s onto print. There are a few options to consider before going to print as an indie writer. You own your book and you own all books produced. But that means you are responsible for deciding how many books to print. The cost is cheaper per book when you print higher volumes. If you have lots of money you won’t miss and can afford to pay for a few years’ worth of book stock, that’s great. But for most writers, for the first print run, it’s a good idea to work out how many you think you can sell quickly to family, friends, at signings and talks you have lined up for the launch, to bookshop owners you know and any other outlets you have arranged, and then double the number.
If you don’t want to hold a stock of books, then you can consider a print-on-demand option. There is usually a set up fee to list your book, but then the distributor prints and distributes your book, worldwide, in response to orders. You can order low volumes of books for yourself at a decent price to cover events and signings.
Once you have your book, then the hard work really begins. Alongside promoting it, you need to get your book out and about and in front of readers. You can take care of this all yourself, or if you’d like to work with us on a distribution arrangement, we can work out what’s best all round and come up with a deal where you know exactly what we can do and what you need to do.
If your book is published under our imprint with one of our ISBNs, we handle any orders through wholesalers. So if anyone walks into a bookshop and orders a copy of your book, we will get that order and fulfil it for you.
Getting your book actually onto the shelves of bookshops means building relationships with bookshop owners and arranging sale or return deals. We offer an arrangement where we can take care of some aspects of this, working in partnership with you, to make the process as efficient as possible. We can also list your books on our online bookstore and Amazon catalogue.
You can also sell your books direct. Book signings, talks and events are great for indie writers as you can talk about the process as well as your book.
And of course, before readers can buy your book, they need to know about it. The promotion for your book can start as soon as your manuscript is finished if you want. Set up an online author platform (read more here) and sort out the promotional stuff you need (read more here). Then you need to decide how much, if any, you’d like to put into advertising on Facebook and Amazon, and whether there are events you could pay to be at with a table to sell your books. Sending out press releases and contacting local media can be a way of getting free promotion.
It’s a good idea to have a marketing plan in place. Some of our writers organise this quite happily themselves. Some like to come in for a chat or mentoring on how to use social media, and run a blog and author website. As an indie writer, it’s an ongoing process, and usually, one of the best forms of promotion is to write another book.