Before you spend any money or sign any contracts, be sure to research any publishing company you are considering. There are many scam artists taking advantage of wannabe authors.
Although companies like Lulu.com and Createspace.com aren’t technically self publishing publishers, they refer to themselves that way so they will be included in this article.
Advantages of Self Publishing
You set your own price and release date.
You keep 100 per cent of the royalties and rights. Most traditional publishers only pay around 6 per cent. My publisher doesn’t send a royalty check until the royalties reach $50. I optimistically believed it wouldn’t take long to get a check. So far, I have sold more books myself than my publisher has, but that requires an inventory investment.
You have to do all of your own marketing, promotion, and distribution. Be very careful how much money you spend. It can take a lot of book sales before you start making a profit.
You will need to do your own book binding, illustrations (if needed), proofreading, editing, layout, typesetting, and cover design or get someone else to help you. Legitimate subsidy publishers exist for the purpose of helping you with those services.
Some Self Publishing/Subsidy Companies I am personally familiar with
Lulu.com and Createspace.com (CS owned by Amazon) are print on demand (POD) subsidy publishers. Books are printed only when someone orders a copy. Both createspace and lulu are subsidy publishers. Since subsidy publishers are the ‘publisher of record’ and they provide you with an ISBN number, they aren’t technically self publishers, although they usually refer to themselves as self publishers. The name of the subsidy publisher appears on your back cover. If you want your own publishing company’s name, you need to buy your ISBN number. I think that usually costs around $90. Subsidy publishers often offer templates to help you with binding, layout and cover design. You pay them per book printed and price your book accordingly. If you want to purchase books to have on hand for book signings, autographed books to sell directly, or books to give as gifts, you can usually get a break in price if you buy a certain amount of books at once. Lulu also offers an ebook option and will provide a page for you to sell your books on their site.
Caveat: Do NOT do business with any subsidy press that requires you to give up your publishing rights.
True Self Publishing
If you want to be truly self published you will need to set up your own publishing company. You will also need to be good at book binding, editing, proofreading, typesetting, layout and design, or know someone who is. You can use a POD printer like Lightning Source, owned by Lulu.com for professional quality printing services. Lightening Source is used by many small independent publishing houses.
Some people will tell you that if you want a really good quality looking book that few people will be able to tell from a professionally published book, you shouldn’t use Word for typesetting your book. Adobe InDesign is one of the most recommended tools for designing and typesetting quality looking books. However, it is pricey. I found it on line for anywhere from $670 to $1500. There is also a steep learning curve.
If you are like me and need help with cover art, book binding, page layout, etc. the subsidy presses will probably work better for you. You can get into print quickly without having to learn anything about the printing business. If you can follow directions, your book will be a good quality book through Lulu or Createspace. You can spend as much or as little as you like depending on what additional services you choose to purchase beyond the free setup for Lulu and Createspace.