Jennifer Dinsmore Editorial
Free Your Words
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Search the blog for posts on grammar, storytelling, and the publishing process.


How Do Self-Publishing Authors Get Book Deals?

Writer, do you find yourself wondering what happens after you type, “The End” on the final draft? Perhaps you know your options, traditional or self-publishing, but aren’t sure which is the best option for you personally.

In my last post I broke down how authors get traditional publishing deals, as well as the pros and cons. With this post, I’ll give a general overview of self-publishing.

First, What is Self-Publishing?

As the name implies, self- (or independent) publishing is the do-it-yourself approach. But the name of this post is a bit of a misnomer, as writers don’t get deals in the sense traditionally published authors do. Rather, you’ll make a lot of different deals with those you hire to be a part of your team.

You alone are in control of finding freelance editors, book designers, and cover artists. You are also responsible for printing (in hard copy or electronically) and marketing of your book. The cost of these services, as well as time spent on promotion, is all on you.

The most successful independent authors run their career like a business, with the book being the product they sell. This is commonly known as “building a platform”, and a bit of research will reveal many helpful articles for both self-published and traditionally published authors.

Products need to sell, and readers won’t be able to find you unless you put thought into a brand, engage with your audience, market your stories, and grow your platform. With traditional publishing, all these roles are filled by in-house editors, agents, and publicity and marking teams ... also self-promo never hurts!

Where to Start

Once you have a completed manuscript and are ready to find your readers, you need first to find your own team. This will consists of an editor, or editors (not all can do developmental, copy editing, and proofreading), a book formatter, and a cover designer. It is worth taking care to vet these professionals and find those you feel comfortable working with and who you fell will provide quality work while striving to help realize your vision.

Building a brand? Authors may also want to consider hiring a professional web designer, as well as a photographer for head shots and branding photography. The latter will also come in use when doing promotion. Consider where your target audience hangs out and then connect and engage with them on that platform(s). Your biggest competition will be the highly polished books and packages put out by traditional publisher, so building a loyal customer base is important.

A Few Resources…

With the rapid growth in self-publishing authors who choose this route have more options than ever before. Here are a few to help get you started:

  • Amazon Createspace: A print-on-demand service for those looking for a paperback copy, available on Amazon. (Visit website).

  • First Choice Books: Will help design and package your book. (Visit website).

  • Friesen Press: Editing, design, and promotion services for independent authors. Will also print your book. (Visit website).

  • Indie Publishing Group: Provides a wide variety of format and layout services for physical books or ebooks (including editing). They will also help publish to platforms like Createspace and Kobo. (Visit website).

  • Ingram Spark: Publish a physical or ebook version, for distribution through many online and bricks-and-mortar retailers. (Visit website).

  • Kindle Direct: Self-publish ebooks or paperbacks for free, to sell on Amazon. (Visit website).

  • Kobo Writing Life: Self-publish ebooks, to sell to users of Kobo worldwide. (Visit website).

  • Lulu: A long-running self-publishing company, Lulu offers a little bit of everything, from print to ebook services. (Visit website).

  • PubLaunch: Connects you to the people needed to create a full publishing team (including yours truly!). If you already have one, there is an option to help crowdfund your project. (Visit website.)

And this only scratches the surface of what is available!

Self-publishing authors needing financial assistance may also want to consider applying for grants (see the Canada Council for the Arts), and may also want to educate themselves about copyright (see The Writer’s Union of Canada; although, as the author, you inherently own your work).

Are You Ready?

Deciding to self-publish is a big decision, and it can be a rather long and costly route. Even once published, there isn’t necessarily a guarantee it will sell. Remember, the books is your product to sell.

But, we writers are dreamers after all. And dreams don’t work unless we do! In the meantime, find joy in the creative process and know that no matter what, your voice is valued.

Above all, Keep creating!