Published on 30 April 2024 at 18:07

Okay, so you want to write a book. A novel, a biography, a non-fiction or a book of poetry. For months you slave away at your computer, or if you are old school, your exercise books.


Eventually you are finished! What an achievement, you are justifiably proud of yourself. So, what is the next stage? Well, it should be editing, because believe you me, there will be errors. Some people hire a professional editor, of which there are two types, grammar & punctuation and content. The first will literally check that you have all your commas in the right place and also, as you furiously hammer away at your masterpiece, there will undoubtedly be a few spelling mistakes. Believe me when I say there is nothing worse than reading a book that has a good story and is well paced, but is full of spelling mistakes, it appears to be really unprofessional and spoils the book totally.


So, the other type of editor is the one that critiques your book. You give them your little baby that has been lovingly created and they have the ability to tear it to pieces. However, if they are a good editor, you have to be hard skinned and accept their comments, and take them on-board as what they do is read your book, see the best points, find the weak bits and endeavour to improve the work and make it a saleable item.


So now, you have your written and edited work, all you need to do now is publish it!


Traditionally you submit your work to a publisher and wait for them to say, what a wonderful book, of course we shall be delighted to publish it. In your dreams! Even Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before an obscure London publisher saw its potential. You may find that getting an agent is a better route. In fact, the Big Five and many other publishers will not accept manuscripts unless they come via an agent. However, getting an agent can be as tortuous as getting a publisher!


There are other ways, but are they any better? The rise of the vanity publisher has caused many an author to be lured in, with later regret, including myself. A vanity publisher asks for money up front, a contribution towards publishing costs. However, in my experience their support and efforts on my behalf were zero. I have now got out of the contract and will go the other route taken by many these days, self-publishing.


Historically, self-publishing has been around for centuries, being used by Benjamin Franklin and Jane Austen. However, it really became widely available with the arrival of desktop publishing in 1979, though it was still not cheap.


The system we have today was heralded in 2004 with Sony producing the first e-reader, followed by Amazon Kindle three years later.

That is where I am now, as an Indie author who self publishes. What this really means is that I can load my book onto Kindle, who makes it available as an online book, but I can also upload it as a paperback, which is available on a Print on Demand basis. I pay nothing up front, but Amazon take a cut of anything I sell. Nowadays Amazon Kindle is not the only route for a self-publisher, there is also Apple Books and Barnes and Noble, to name just two.


So, now your book is available, you tell your family and friends, and wait for the royalties to roll in. Oh, you forgot the next step, marketing!


Do you really want to write a book? It’s a lot easier just a being a reader!


 *TCK article “A Brief History of Self-Publishing: From Gutenberg to KDP”

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