Hey everyone! This is part one of my Publishing Q&A series, where I’ll be answering all your publishing-related questions. I was surprised with how many questions people submitted through the form already! Hence, there will be a “part two” of this series in a few weeks.
NOTE: If you submitted questions and I didn’t answer them yet, don’t worry! I still plan to answer them in my next Q&A post, so you can be on the lookout for that.
Well, let’s jump right in to the questions!
Do you have to pay to publish?
Typically, with self publishing as well as traditional, you have to share a percentage of your profits with whatever company you’re publishing through. But normally, there isn’t an up-front payment (as far as I’m aware). So you do have to pay, but you will never have to pay more than you make because the publishing companies will only take a percentage.
For example, with Amazon KDP (the self-publishing platform I used to publish Identity), you get a 60% royalty, which means Amazon takes 40%. For paperbacks, you also have to pay for printing, and that cost depends on how thick your book is. So those are the main direct costs of publishing.
There are also indirect costs that come with self publishing, such as paying for a cover designer, editor, proofreader, etc. (Or you can just do all these things yourself, but that will cost you time).
Is there a site you would recommend to publish with?
I’ve had great success so far with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). It’s fairly easy to set up, and it allows you to list your book on Amazon, the biggest online bookseller in the world! Amazon also gives you freedom to write your description, add extra A+ content, add categories, and more.
I’ve also heard IngramSpark is a good way to self publish. And if you’re looking to go through a traditional publisher, do some research to see what publishing companies sell books with a genre similar to yours.
Can a 15-year-old publish a book without a ton of financial resources? Do you NEED a professional editor?
The answer is yes! I’m 14 (turning 15 in a couple weeks), and I published. I didn’t have a job when I published, and I didn’t have a ton of money either. I did pay a little bit for an illustration on the back cover, and maybe a few other little things, but overall, I didn’t end up paying much, other than my time.
And you don’t need a professional editor. While professional editors can be a great help, if you’re just starting out, it may be better to self-edit your book.
Here are a few additional ways you can work toward publishing your book while saving money:
- Self-edit and get beta readers. I already mentioned self-editing above, and that is a great way to do things yourself without paying much money. One thing I didn’t mention is that you can also get beta readers, which are people (mostly friends or blog followers) who will help edit your story for free. Of course, you may not get the BEST quality of edits, since these people are volunteers, but they can still be very helpful in giving an outside perspective and coming alongside you in editing! Typically, when you have beta readers, you’ll want to do self editing along with their suggestions, whereas if you hire an editor, you will probably only have to do a couple proofreads.
- Create your own cover. Instead of hiring a cover artist, which can be very expensive, you can create your own book cover! For my book, Identity, all I did was take a photo that my mom took, add a blue gradient to the back cover, and add some text over it. I also hired an artist (Olivia N.) to draw a castle for the back cover (right imag), because I wanted to add a nice extra touch to my cover. But typically, you can make a really decent book cover without hiring anyone! Even if you aren’t into graphic design, it’s not very hard to watch a few video tutorials and learn how.
- Try free marketing strategies. There are plenty of ways to market your book without paying much money! If you have your book listed through Amazon KDP, then you can market by using the right keywords in your description, choosing the right categories, and asking people for reviews. You can market your book on Goodreads by asking your friends to add it to their TBR lists, and you can do free promotions and giveaways to gain traction on your book’s launch.
Did you ever feel any doubts about publishing at such a young age?
At first, no. 😂 Ever since I was twelve (when I started writing Identity), I knew I wanted to publish, and I didn’t care that I was so young.
Then, once the time actually got closer to when I was supposed to release Identity, I had tons of doubts. I wasn’t sure if anyone would like my book, or if anyone would even care about it. I thought maybe when people found out I was a teenager they wouldn’t want to read my book because they didn’t think I was capable of publishing a well-written story.
However, after Identity‘s successful release, I felt a lot better. And while I still have doubts sometimes, I definitely don’t regret publishing it.
What did you use to publish with?
As I mentioned earlier, I used Amazon KDP. It’s a really simple tool that’s great for self publishing authors. So far, I’ve been happy with it!
Where did you purchase your ISBN?
Amazon gave me a free ISBN, so I didn’t end up purchasing one! 😁
When did you decide your book was ready to be published?
That’s a really good question. As a matter of fact, I decided in 2021 that it was ready to be published, but I didn’t actually publish it right away because my parents wanted to read it first. 😉 Once my parents finished reading it, they came back with some suggestions, and I found after rereading it that the manuscript could still use a lot of work. So I ended up working on it for another one and a half years, and then it finally felt ready.
How did I know it was ready the second time? Well, first of all, I had to check that there were very few mistakes left (plot holes, typos, etc.). Of course, no story will ever be completely perfect, so I couldn’t wait till I could completely perfect it (because that would never happen). I just knew I had to get it to a place where readers would be satisfied.
Secondly, prayer. Ask God when you should publish your book and what you need to do to get it there. He has all the answers, and he can tell you where to go.
What made you decide to go down the self-publishing path?
Another good question! There were a few reasons:
- Since Identity was my first finished book and I was only a teenager, I knew I wouldn’t have much chance going through a traditional publisher. Therefore, self-publishing seemed like the best route, since I could gain an audience for my book without trying extremely hard to get it accepted by a publisher.
- Sometimes I would call Identity my “test novel”, because I honestly didn’t have much idea what I was doing at first. I wanted to self publish to test it out, to see if I could really get people to read my book. I wanted to try something different to see if it would work for me.
- I had more control over my book. I didn’t have a publisher telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I could make my own cover design, edit my book, and advertise it however I wished. While that was more work, it was also worth it, because I am now able to do whatever I want with my writing.
- At that time in my life, I had a lot of time and not a lot of money. So since self-publishing is typically cheaper than traditional publishing and takes more time, I decided that it was best for me at the time.
So those are the main reasons I decided to self publish. So far, I haven’t regretted it!
Do you think you will self-publish again?
Yes, I will! I will at least self-publish the rest of my Daughters of the Sea series until that’s finished. And then after that, we’ll see! I may try traditional publishing at some point, too.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Wow, I could do an entire post just on this topic. But I’ll have to settle for just summarizing it here, in a few paragraphs.
- You have complete control over your book and its content.
- It’s easy to get your book published without worrying about a publisher accepting it.
- It can be really cheap and doesn’t cost you much money.
- You have to do everything yourself, which is more work and money up front.
- You have to market your book yourself, and you have to build up an audience if you don’t already have one.
- It can take a lot more time.
What are Your Publishing Questions?
Alright, everyone, that’s it for this post! Remember, if I didn’t answer all of your questions in this post, I will still be answering them in the next Q&A post! So just be on the lookout for that.
If you have additional questions, or if you didn’t submit any yet, the form is still open, so you can submit them below.
I hope you all found my tips beneficial! Till next time!
Have you published before, or are you planning on publishing? Do you prefer traditional publishing or self-publishing? Do you ever have any doubts about publishing? Let me know in the comments!