Answers to the most frequently asked questions about indie publishing.
Given that traditional publishing houses reject about 96% of all unsolicited manuscripts, it can be difficult for emerging writers to achieve their book-publishing dreams. For those whose manuscripts are taken up by traditional publishers, all book production, publishing and editing decisions will be made by said publisher, and you as the author will need to relinquish creative control to your publisher.
Enter indie publishing! This form of publishing ensures that you, the author, retain copyright and creative control throughout the publishing process. You will collaborate with me to produce the best-possible version of your book, and you will be involved in all aspects of your book’s production.
POD publishing via Amazon’s KDP or Lightning Source’s IngramSpark uses digital technology to cost-effectively print your books. It eliminates the expense of having to buy and store large quantities of your books and gives you the flexibility of printing single copies.
POD allows you to sell your books with both online and bricks & mortar retailers retailers like Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia, Waterstones etc. Customers can also order your book directly from these retailers without additional costs to you.
Why should I publish via KDP and IngramSpark?
While both indie-publishing platforms are low cost and produce high-quality paperback books from digital files, IngramSpark offers a greater variety of trim sizes and and book types, including hardcover. The biggest advantages of using IngramSpark for Australian authors are its royalty, printing and distribution options. IngramSpark pays royalties directly into Australian bank accounts; Amazon does not. Amazon pays its non-US authors with cheques and holds on to all royalty payments until the author has earned 100 US$, 100 GBP or 100 euro and above. This means Amazon authors can wait a long time before getting paid any royalties.
IngramSpark also prints in Australia, which provides more cost-effective POD shipping options for Australian authors and customers. It also has great print distribution partners, including Book Depository and Australian retailers like Booktopia and Fishpond.
Both formats have their own advantages. E-Books are cheaper to publish than printed books as there are no printing or shipping costs involved. However, not all readers have the digital devices for reading an E-Book (e-readers, tablets etc), so you can limit your readership if you decide to only publish an E-Book. Additionally, many readers prefer to read from a printed book, so if you can publish your manuscript as a printed book, it will expand your potential readership. As an author, there is also something truly wonderful (and tangible) about holding your book in your hands.
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 10- or 13-digit identification number that uniquely identifies any published book worldwide. An ISBN establishes and indentifies one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher. An ISBN is assigned to a book title by its publisher for tracking and ordering purposes. It allows publishers, librarians, and book sellers to locate specific titles and maintain their inventories.
If you plan on selling your book in bookshops or through online retailers, you will need to purchase an ISBN. Also, each version of your book – paperback, hardcover, second edition, ePub etc. – will require a separate ISBN.
In Australia, ISBNs are available for purchase as a single identification number or in blocks of 10 from Thorpe-Bowker Identifier Services. Obtaining your own ISBN, instead of allowing CreateSpace, for example, to assign you a free ISBN, gives you far wider distribution freedom for your book.
The barcode is necessary if you publish any printed version of your book. It is placed in the lower right-hand corner of the back cover of your book. Barcodes aren’t necessary for electronic book versions, such as ePub files.
It is a legal requirement for publishers (including indie publishers) to deposit a copy of any printed book they publish in Australia with the National Library of Australia and their relevant state library.
The National Library of Australia manages the Prepublication Data Service – offering a free cataloguing service to publishers in order to provide a comprehensive record of new books published by Australian writers. The catalogue record for your book is added to the Australian National Bibliographic Database (Trove), which provides advance notice of newly published books to libraries, booksellers and the general public.
Before applying to the Prepublication Data Service you must first obtain a valid Australian ISBN. Applications for your prepublication catalogue entry are processed instantly and you will be able to view your book’s record on Trove within 48 hours.
A manuscript assessment is a report that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript. It provides you with constructive feedback about the suitability of your written work to genre, target audience and publishing standards and goals. An assessment will help to ensure your writing is on track before embarking on the more intensive editing processes.
Structural and/or copy editing is essential to the success of your book as it will improve your readers’ experience and set you apart from many of the indie-published books that are full of ambiguity, inconsistency, pace, characterisation, plot, structural, grammatical, spelling and country-specific language errors.
The editing process will make your book more cohesive and ensure the language is fit for its intended audience. Editing improves the book’s content by suggesting you expand on, trim or even delete certain sections. Editing also highlights inconsistencies in narrator point-of-view and verb tenses as well as points out anachronisms, time-line issues, character contradictions and unclear antecedents. It is so much more than correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, even though editing covers this as well.
A properly formatted and designed book interior that conforms to industry standards is also essential to your success as an author. Without this formatting, your book may not receive the attention it deserves.
The indie-publishing platforms, CreateSpace and IngramSpark, also have strict specifications for the more technical aspects of book layout. It is well worth having your manuscript designed with these specifications in mind as this helps enormously with the upload process.