Steps to self-publish

More than a how-to, this is how I did it, in small scale, without big corporations, or at least doing it at minimum cost, paying some one else to do things I absolutely could not do myself.

First, I wrote the book. It may seem the obvious. What is not obvious is that, even if the publishing process was done by some one else, writing would be just 20% of the job of writing. The rest is re-read, re-write, proof-read. At least 8 times, they say. I printed my work, then re-read it, made corrections, then printed it again, about 12 times. And that was not enough to catch all the mistakes after all the edits.

English is not my first language so I asked many native English speakers to proof-read my text. Three agreed and did it. This still left two final mistakes in the final copy that I sent to the printers. That showed just how very necessary numerous proof-reads and re-reads are.

The next step was to prepare the layout. Printing my text on A4 papers has nothing to do with preparing it for a book.

Personally I learnt that, although it looks pretty, having a different header for every chapter may not be worth the work and concentration it needs. Then styles seem to be necessary for the different types of texts, be it ‘normal text’, quotes, headings, etc.

Once the table of contents, the headers on each page and the pagination are done, I prepared a copyright notice that looked like that in normally published books – only this was a Creative Commons ‘copyleft’ note.

Then the cover. I had help from a designer friend but in the end I tweaked it myself with Gimp. A common advice is that the title needs to be easily read from the distance (think a big bookshop or library, if you’re that lucky, but also think of a small thumbnail on a website full of them and reviews).

Then the paperwork. You can maybe do without an ISBNumber but then many bookshops will not be able to sock it, and it will not appear in the global database of books many websites dedicated to books rely on.

You can not buy just one ISBN, however. You buy 10 for about £100, 100 for about £200 and so on. Which is not as superfluous as it seems. I have written my book both in English and Spanish. That’s two numbers already. Then for the second edition I changed the format of the book, making it A5 this time from the slightly bigger format in the first edition. That is another two numbers. And then another two numbers for the electronic format.

I used Lulu, which so far has been useful only to realise how quickly my books appeared on Amazon, even in arnesandnoble! offered by some one else, some times ‘second hand‘ before I even printed the first copy, and some times for a lot less money than I was calculating it would cost me to print even in bulk.

So I decided, after first putting it in Lulu and Bubok, to go ‘solo’. I have considered goodreads and still not found a reason to dismiss it – other than it is owned by Amazon but it looks like for now, the community feeling is respected.

The book is still available for ‘print on demand’ but I also printed a few hundred copies with a printers coop, environmentally friendly and all that: FootPrint. These are the copies currently available in various book shops in London and around the country thanks to ActiveDistribution, and also directly from me. There is also the epub I am trying to add to goodreads and a .pdf version on riseup.

Donations most welcome as costs are incurred, either to riseup for hosting that file (and more wonderful things they do) and/or to aktivix for hosting this blog, or to the author for writing and printing costs.

Here is a list of links that some people found useful: