Writing and publishing a book cheaply was an extremely interesting experience  which I am happy to share.

My objective was to write a self-help book for ‘the thinking person’ that doubled up as a critique of the self-help genre. Details of why and so on are available here.

With regard to the practicalities of self-publishing a book written by someone like me who is not an established author the journey went something like this.

Initially I looked at the pros and cons of self-publishing and of being published by a publishing company. Detailed articles on the differences in question are available elsewhere but for me the clinchers for the self-publishing route were control over the content and the length of time that the project would take. Because my content was opinion-based and because I had a limited amount of time to devote to the project I felt that self-publishing was the way to go. Of course finance played a role also and I was prepared to pay a relatively modest figure up front for a relatively small initial print run with a relatively large financial return for me per book sold – pending keeping other costs down. Future (larger) print runs could be funded from the proceeds of the initial run. Crucially the option of going down the published route after the self-published route was also available. In fact going down the self-published route first could make any future published route easier and shorter.

Once the self-publishing decision was made I got writing. The concept for the book had been with me for some time so now it was a matter of getting it out of my head and into book format. Briefly, the concept for the book was to take a number of standard self-help topics such as gratitude, compassion, communication etc. and to interpret them at a level much deeper than typical self-help books. To do this I interpreted the topics through the prisms of psychology, philosophy, science, spirituality, literature, poetry and song.

Writing about these topics from these perspectives was a labour of love. A quote from the year 1635 from the English poet Francis Quarles was never too far from my mind. “I wish thee as much pleasure in the reading as I had in the writing” he wrote and this was my wish also. However there was a long way to go before anything was ready for anybody to get pleasure from reading.

While writing the content I was concurrently exploring other aspects of the project such as the cover design, sourcing a company to print the book, the price to charge, the layout and design, the word count, the editing process, physical shops and websites that might sell the book on my behalf, how much of a cut they might take, developing my own e-commerce platform where I could sell it online also and doing all of the above on my own with a very small budget.

After much research and trial and error the following is how I got from concept to copy.

I wrote the content using Microsoft word in the expectation that this would be the format in which the book would be published. Didn’t work out that way. During the writing phase I concurrently searched for a company that would print the final version. There are so many add on services out there in addition to printing that companies offer such as editing, cover design, library deposits (a legal requirement for copies of newly published books to be sent to designed libraries), ISBN and barcode  provision, support with promotions etc. I settled on a company called Carrowmore and agreed terms for the number of books that I required to be printed. As ever the more you print the cheaper it is per copy to print.

One written I used Reedsy software to edit the content. Doing so was as simple as copying my Word chapters into Reedsy and accepting or rejecting the editorial suggestions made. All free of charge.

For the cover design I used Canva Pro at a minimal price of €6.00 per month for the first three-months of a contract that I could cancel at any time. This allowed me more than enough time to design a book cover. Various templates were offered but I designed my own template and used my own image for the front cover. My image happened to be my logo. The trickiest part of this phase was understanding the dimensions of a book cover and allowing for the spine and what are called bleeds (at the edges). By all accounts the print job consists of an oversized pages which are trimmed to the correct size with the bleed being the area trimmed off. In my case my finished cover was 6×9 inches.

A space was available for a barcode which I was given by the publishing/printing company who printed the book (Carrowmore). To receive the code from them I provided them with an ISBN number which I purchased from the International ISBN Agency in London at a cost of roughly £80.00. Curiously I could have purchased a bundle of 10 ISBN numbers for a little over twice that amount, which was tempting, but in the circumstances I settled for just one. I had a little difficulty inserting the barcode into the cover template, so the publishing/printing company kindly offered to do it for me.

At this stage the book was finished at a cost of roughly €100.00, or at least I thought it was. I sent the book content in Microsoft Word format to the publisher/printer. I then sent the book cover separately. The publisher/printer patched everything together and sent me a pre-publishing file containing the book in final format. I was impressed but thought something was missing. Even though it read well it didn’t look right. In hindsight I had put so much attention into the content that I had overlooked the internal formatting. I used a free open-source template that I found from usedtotech which drastically changed the internal layout of the book for the better. At this stage the book was now finished and ready to be printed at a total cost of hundreds of enjoyable hours and roughly €100.00.

My book called ‘The Aware Self: A Compendium Of Conscious Living’ is available in paperback format and in e-book format. It can be viewed and purchased from my website at www.cogbeh.com

Good luck with your project. I hope that my experience might be of assistance to you.

In my practice as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist I provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and I work non-therapeutically with athletes and sports people on the psychology of performance. I provide my services in-person or online. See www.cogbeh.com


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