The DIY Guide to Self-Publishing

Sophie Marozeau is a French journalist based in Melbourne. She is the founder of Emue Books, an innovative publishing house which promotes French books around the world. Emue books are available in print at Readings or online.

Never has the time been better for writers and independent publishers to take matters into their own hands. Never has it been so easy to publish books. The web is overflowing with tools to create books in digital formats.

If you’re thinking about getting into indie or self-publishing, Smashwords is the place to start. It covers the whole process from file conversion to selling and distribution on the main existing platforms (Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Sony). BookBaby offers a similar service, only the conversion system and compensation program (fixed rate or royalties) vary.

Worth mentioning too is, a cutting-edge and brilliantly designed online library. It’s not yet targeted at self-published authors, but rather at main-stream and indie publishers listed with Readings. However, according to the Melbourne-based founders at Inventive Labs, “an avenue for self-publishing authors is on [their] long-term radar”.

Ebooks are free to create and they travel easily. But with print books it’s a different story. The best solution to get books printed for indie authors/publishers is print-on-demand. This process allows you to print anywhere between a single copy of a book to several thousand. It eliminates stock management problems and returns hassles. With POD, books are never out of print or out of stock. CreateSpace – owned by Amazon – and Lightning Source – an Ingram Content Company subsidiary – are the two world leaders.

In June, Lightning Source opened a Melbourne operation. This means that not only can you take advantage of its distribution channel in the USA and Europe (including Baker & Taylor,, Barnes & Noble and Gardners), but your books will also be listed with Australian retailers and library suppliers. For this you will need to sign an agreement for all three regions. The registration steps may not be as easy as other online POD services targeted at self-published authors – like Lulu – but the quality of Lightning Source’s paperbacks and hardcovers is well worth the effort.

To learn all you need to know about self-publishing or independent publishing and how to market your books, take a look at the excellent Creative Penn blog written by Joanna Penn.

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