In the past few years, self-publishing has undergone a revolution. During the industry’s infancy, scam ‘publishers’ abounded, taking advantage of authors who dreamed of being published but didn’t know how to navigate the traditional system. Now, thanks to the hard work of writers, editors, and companies, self-publishing is available for free to anyone.
The downside of this revolution: The market has been flooded with poorly-written, unedited, badly-designed, and unsatisfying works. Many talented writers are discouraged, thinking their writing will be lost in the noise.
Deciding to self-publish takes resolve and hard work, but it has benefits: Self-published writers are free to write whatever they like and decide how it’s promoted. There’s no danger of their vision being compromised or ignored due to outdated market research; thanks to the Internet, it’s almost guaranteed that whatever you write, there’s an audience for it. Plus, there have been many recent examples of self-published authors demonstrating their talent and marketability so beautifully that they were eventually brought on by traditional publishers.
We at HelpEdit have watched this industry grow from a seed, and we’re delighted to work in such an age of freedom of expression. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to self-publish, don’t feel bad; we were overwhelmed once, too. But after years of hard work, research, experimentation, and success, we can confidently walk you through this process.
A complete cover design includes the front cover, back cover, and spine in one file. The front cover design combines the front cover illustration or photo, along with the book title, author name, and any other information you like.
The back cover can include text or images, along with the ISBN barcode or space for one. The spine, if large enough, will have the book title and author name included. We can create a complete cover to your chosen printer’s specifications.
We provide both print and ebook layout! Be sure to specify which services you’d like to publish your book through; we can accommodate a wide range of formats.
Most printers will offer your choice of hardcover (laminated or cloth, with dust jacket), soft-cover (perfect bound), saddle-stitched, or spiral-bound. We can provide book layouts with these formats and the book’s total word count in mind.
We’ve found that the best choice in printing is softcover, as it costs less for everyone involved (writer, printer, and reader). If a book finds wild success and fans express interest in buying a special hardcover version of your book (maybe with extra scenes, maps/illustrations, etc.), that option is also available.
Once provided with the complete, edited manuscript, we will create a ‘flow document’ to help determine the approximate page count. We also provide font and layout samples to help determine the design and style of your finished book. If you have a target page count or want to limit your page count to a certain number, please let us know and we will adjust the font, margins, and line leading to increase or decrease page count within reason.
You can specify any reasonable size, but printers usually charge more for books that are not in their standard sizes. If you have chosen a printer, be sure to provide their specifications when we’re setting up your layout. These specifications can usually be found on your printer’s website or in a document provided by your printer. The layout will be strictly designed to these specifications.
Layouts can include photos and illustrations, though color printing may cost you more. You must have permission to use these images in your book.
We offer illustration services through either in-house artists or by connecting you with freelancers. Images may be graysacale, black ink, or full-color, depending on your specifications. There are also a wide range of art styles available.
We provide scanning services if you do not own a scanner. We will instruct you how to package and send your illustrations, or you can find scanning services at most local copy or print shops. Make sure the scanning technician understands they will be used for print and that the proper resolution is being used.
Online and offline, there are many ways to get the ball rolling and spread your book to potential fans.
Hard-copies are available at low cost from several sites. These can be gifted to friends and family, sold to interested strangers, and donated to libraries.
We can design a ‘book card’ with your book’s cover, plot pitch, and link to Amazon and your official site. These can be printed for cheap or free and given to anyone interested in your work.
We can also set up an official author website and get you started on social media self-promotion (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.). You can sell your book on your official website, as well as the self-publishing companies listed above.
One powerful tool in self-promotion is getting reviews, both on Amazon and sites specializing in your chosen genre. We can help you find and submit free copies of your book to these reviewers, in order to spread word-of-mouth for your book.
A Word About Vanity Publishing
Never pay someone to be your agent or to publish your book. Any publisher that wants $4,000 to re-edit, re-cover, and re-lay out your book is running a scam and must be avoided. These companies call themselves ‘vanity publishers’ or ‘publish-on-demand’. In an age when you can post your work on Amazon for free, there is no reason to trust a publisher that sets itself up as a gatekeeper and charges admission.
A traditional publishing house will pay the author an ‘advance’, and invest the costs of preparing a book for market. They stand to make more money if they put out a better product. We at HelpEdit charge for our services because, once your book is fine-tuned and ready for self-publishing, it’s all yours. We are not an employer or publisher, but a vendor, offering our tools and experience to support you as a self-publisher.
A vanity publisher will perform the same services (usually poorly), but rather than guide you through independent self-publishing, they’ll make noises about setting up promotions and events for your books — all in order to get more money from you. If you submit your work to a publisher and receive an offer, be sure to research their background (we can help with this). And remember: You don’t pay a publisher. A publisher pays you.