View Full Version : Self-Publishing In The UK

06-05-2011, 02:32 PM
Hi guys,

Instead of traditional publishing, I am looking into the SP route.

I have a couple of questions, which I hope you guys wonít mind giving me your opinions?

1) Has anyone had any experience with York Publishing? (http://www.yps-publishing.co.uk (http://www.yps-publishing.co.uk/)). I hear it has got some good reviews. Are there any other companies inside the UK similar to this which I can look at?

2) Once I have completed my novel, and edited it to the best of my own ability, I would like to hire an editor, before I submit it to somewhere like York Publishing. Can anyone point me in the right direction for this?

Thanks for your time, and any help you can provide. I am still new to this, and doing as much research as I can, so please bare that in mind.

06-05-2011, 03:48 PM
Have you explored traditional publishing first? Cos there are a lot of very good small press out there who are still a better option than self pub, which is often a lot of work for little gain.

I read an article by Ilona Andrews (writer of a series of Urban fantasy novels) discussing why she did not consider self publishing to be a viable route. It mainly came down to the fact that it would have cost her, personally, some ridiculous amount of money to hire the same editors, cover designers, typesetters etc in order to get the same professional finish that she gets from the publisher produced books. Certainly something to think about. Then add in the cost of distribution and marketing and it soon adds up... Self published authors often have to do a lot more legwork to get their stuff sold.

If you do decide to go this route, I wish you good luck. I would also suggest you look at a company called Lightening Source which a friend of mine uses. They do a print on demand service which is better than the option offered by Lulu and similar companies which required you pay for a batch of books up front.

06-05-2011, 05:46 PM
Thank you for your reply.

Would you be able to point me in the direction of Small Press (in the UK if poss?)

06-05-2011, 06:53 PM
Are you talking about a novel or shorts? I assume a novel... not sure about the UK at the moment (the only small press I know in the UK currently is not looking for anything new - I know this because it is run by a friend of mine and she told me :) ) but I can have a scout about for you. Oddly, despite being UK based myself I have generally only found US publishers and that opens up a whole can of worms with regards to tax etc which I am sure you want to avoid (I can't now... I have to do the hideous prove to the Americans I am really British process sometime this year otherwise I get taxed to hell and back, twice...)

For shorts (and possibly some novels) I would suggest signing up for Duotrope's digest. It lists a lot of publishers and is searchable. A lot depends, however, on the length of your work and the genre.

06-05-2011, 09:01 PM
Thanks for the reply,

Yes, I am talking about a novel, with intent to write sequels. I am aiming the series at YA supernatural/paranormal readers.

I have looked into US publishing. I would very much like to go down that route, as my novel IS set in the US, and the market I am aiming at would be bigger over there. That said, yes, I've read about the tax issues when looking into Lulu, Amazon, and those kinds of routes, so I don't think that's an option for me right now.

As I said, I am looking into something like York Press, as I would really like more control over my book than what people get with traditional pubs. But you mentioned looking at small press, so I thought I'd at least look into it.

06-05-2011, 09:23 PM
York looks something like a vanity press to me... I know, they claim not to be in their FAQ. But over on my side of the pond, "you pay printer cash who formats your book and then gives you big huge stack of books delivered to your house" is pretty much the definition of vanity press (old style - new style does print on demand instead of the stack of books!).

Understand, most self published novel sales these days are ebooks, not print. It's still pretty hard (again, over here - not sure how things vary in the UK) to get into print bookstores, but phenomenally easy to get into ebook stores. From the UK, you can get into the Kindle DTP program, posting your books to every Kindle store around the world; and you can also use Smashwords, which gets your book into B&N, Kobo, Apple, Sony, Diesel, and others.

As a rule, I think companies like York seems to be tend to be bad ideas. If you want to get 2000 copies of your book, go to a printing company and get a quote there. You might find York economical; you might not. Check around. But be very cautious about buying hundreds or thousands of copies of your book! You might find them very hard to sell.

What I'd suggest instead is something along the lines of:
1) Learn to format your book for upload to Kindle and Smashwords.
2) Hire an artist to make you a nice cover. Don't be afraid to spend a couple/few hundred dollars here - worth it in the long run to get decent quality (but simple/iconic) art.
3) Upload book to Kindle and Smashwords.
4) If you want, learn to format for print (or pay someone to format for you and give YOU the file to upload) and work with Lighting Source to produce print books, which you can then order/sell from your website, sell to indie bookstores in your area, and which will automatically be placed on Amazon,com, Amazon.uk, B&N.com, and other online print bookstores.

Here's an outstanding reference for self publishing as it has been successfully done over in the US today:
Excellent book on the subject. You may find some things vary in the UK, of course. But it's a good primer, and I think most of it should work OK on both sides of the Atlantic.

06-06-2011, 12:00 AM
Kevin, thank you for taking time to reply.

I fully intend to go the e-book route, absolutely. I wanted to offer the e-book AND paperback versions. I did not intend to print thousands of copies, as I realise that is silly. Perhaps 200-250, then go back to print more if needed.

The reason I wanted somewhere like York, was what is included in the package. Such as edits, page layouts, proofs, ISBNs – as well as of course the printing.

Yes, I fully intend to hire a cover artist. To me, the cover is extremely important. I am looking into that now. I've looked into artists on ConceptArt for a drawn/painted cover, however, I'm getting replies for $600-800 a peice, and I just do not have that to spend. I haven't looked into Cover Artists who PhotoShop photo images, as I'm not sure where to go for this. If you have any links to websites, I’d be very grateful.

I am also considering hiring an editor. You can edit your own work to your hearts content, but in my opinion you will always miss something. I would also like somebody who knows what they are doing to check for more than just grammar and flow. But page layout/Line edits, Plot holes, things which might not make sense, something which may have been repeated etc etc. However, I’ve read on here that hiring an editor may not be the best idea… so I’m a little stuck as to what to do on that subject at the moment.

I’ve looked into Lighting Source, but I’m not sure that is what I want, as I said above regarding other aspects of publishing.

06-06-2011, 10:18 AM
Again, Alex - please bear in mind I'm not really familiar with self published as it's done best in the UK. I'm sure there are some variations from "best practices" over here in the US (although I'm always interested in hearing about those!). So my advice is US-based; you'll need to tweak it for your own situation.

What do you intend to do with the 200-250 copies? Over here, it's quite hard to get SP books into bookstores. It can be done, but usually in small enough numbers that using a POD (print on demand) service like Lightning Source is more economical. There are some notable exceptions to that, of course (some folks have done short runs like you mention and sold them all quite well). POD gets you into the major online bookstores, allows you to easily sell from your own website, and lets you order fairly cheap copies to use for sales at conventions and such.

Packages. Hrm. Again, this may be colored by a US bias. Over here, the "self publishing help" companies are mostly scams run to take advantage of uninformed writers. They tend to overcharge, often do a mediocre job, and generally should be avoided (talking about the subsidy presses here: Author Solutions and their ilk).

Over here, it's often better to piece together your own "package" from various providers. There are some service companies which will do editing - covers - and print formating for a one time fee (those are the three critical services you need to learn to do or hire out).

You can find some cover artists over at the Writer's Cafe of Kindleboards. Caveat emptor. Some of them are very, very good. Some are not. DeviantArt is another good site to check - look for artists you like, and email them asking for a quote. Sometimes you can get better rates from a newer artist looking to make her name. Over here, we have copious numbers of college students who are quite competent at art, and will often do work for less than you might otherwise charge.

But overall, remember that most of your sales (90%+ for most SP novelists over here) will be ebooks. And ebook covers tend to do best as simple, iconic art. Which are easier to produce than big, gorgeous paintings. The complex, wonderful covers often seen on print books simply don't show up well at postage stamp size. And since that tends to be the size they are viewed at by people buying even print books from online retailers, the same holds true for POD to some degree.

Hiring an editor is a sticky bit. Yes, ideally, you really want one. Content editing - what you're talking about, with plot holes, repeated words, things that "don't make sense", etc., can be *extremely* expensive to do well. Really, you're looking at a couple thousand dollars minimum, from most people I've seen.

Copy editing - typos, bad spelling, grammar fixes, punctuation, etc. - tends to be much cheaper. You might be able to get away with spending as little as $250 or so on copy editing, if you write clean copy in the first place. If you're going this route, you need to rely on some other source for "content editing" - many writers use beta readers for this purpose. Some of the online crit groups can also work for this, to some degree. It's NOT as good as competent content editing from a pro, but if you cannot afford that, it's a way that works for many.

Best of luck. I'll answer other questions as best I can if you have any.

06-06-2011, 02:36 PM
If I were going to go this route, I would definitely think carefully about who I used for the editing and cover design. More to the point, I would think about talking to several of my friends who are professional artists/designers and offer them a deal of some form (perhaps a profit share in addition to a small up front payment). Some of them will do it for the exposure...

Same for editing. The last thing I wrote was part of an anthology and everyone involved had a hand in editing in some form - both crits and line edits. But then one of the writers was also herself an editor so we can be sure of a reasonable job. Later this year, that same work is being subjected to a publisher's editing team so it will be interesting to see what changes they inflict in order to determine if there is a difference between what we consider 'fit for publishing' and what they consider...

Anne Lyle
06-06-2011, 05:00 PM
If you are planning on self-publishing because you think it is somehow easier or more lucrative than trade publishing - think again. Both routes have their pros and cons.

A friend of mine is self-publishing, but entirely through the ebook route. Selling printed copies of your book is very hard. As has been said, what are you going to do with them? Flog them to friends and family? Get a stall at a convention or book fair? Because your local independent bookshop might be persuaded to take half a dozen copies, but Waterstones will not be interested. Bookshops want around 50% discount on the cover price, and they have a strict sale-or-return policy. My husband is a book sales rep, and he has a hard enough time getting his clients' books into stores - a private individual is going to have little luck.

To answer your original question, though - John Jarrold (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk) offers an editorial service as a sideline to his literary agency (they are separate businesses - he doesn't rep his editorial clients, because it would be a conflict of interests). He's not cheap, but an editor worth having never is.

Bottom line - if you don't have several hundred pounds to spend up front, you will not end up with a professional product. The reason trade publishers pay the author only a small percentage of the cover price is that they are paying for all this stuff, not us.

06-06-2011, 06:17 PM
Self publishing does not need to be done by a company in the same country as you. The questions to answer would be: where is my largest customer base? And: which company prints and distributes to that readership in the easiest cheapest way. A lot of your readership may well be in the US, or online, and large US-based companies often have UK printers.

06-06-2011, 09:25 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys. As I said in my OP, I am new to this side of the field, and am still learning day by day. Thatís what Iím here on AW for.

Yes, I intend to go the e-book route, however, I wanted to offer paperback version too. Most of my sales will be online.

The reason I am wanting paperbacks is, when doing research, I found that a number of Teens/YA's like a "book-in-hand" rather than an kindle e-book.

I understand with SP, although it would be wonderful, it is very unlikely I will see my books in WH Smith, Waterstones, B&N and other book stores, but I wanted to offer paperback a choice of format to my audience.

Yes, I understand the importance of a good editor and cover designer, I am looking into this at the moment.

Once again, thanks everyone. Any more import would always be welcome and appreciated.


06-07-2011, 03:53 AM
Can someone explain the main difference from UK and USA self publishing? I'm interested in this

Anne Lyle
06-07-2011, 10:52 AM
I would have thought that the main differences are:

1. More established routes to SP in the US, since they tend to be ahead of us on the technology curve

2. A much bigger market, catering to more niches (though that's true of trade publishing as well)

06-07-2011, 05:07 PM
Just another question, folks.

This is a LONG way off, and may never happen, but... does anyone know how a person from the UK might go about distributing paperback copies to the US, to save time and postage costs from shipping from the UK?

06-07-2011, 06:12 PM
This is why I was suggesting that you simply use a US-based company that has printers in the UK. Then they can have copies printed easily at both locations to avoid massive shipping costs.

06-07-2011, 09:56 PM
Does you have any links to such companies?

06-07-2011, 10:14 PM
One would be Lulu, but unfortunately their current shipping provider is way over-priced and they do not offer clear information about which formats can/will be printed in which countries. So I would not recommend them.

06-07-2011, 10:29 PM
I've looked at Lulu. They are not for me.
Regarding the paperback side of things, I’ve had another look though Lighting Source, as they do both UK and US print/shipping.

As read above, rather than finding a package as such, it seems an idea to put one together myself. So, on that basis, I’m thinking:

. Editor.
. Cover Designer.
. Printers.

I am still a little bit confused with Lightening Source. And have some questions. If anyone knows or has worked with them,

1) ISBN: What happens there, do I have to arrange that, or does LS? As I would prefer to buy/own my own.

2) Typesetting (I think it’s called?), and design of the inside of the book, who does that?

3) Once printed, and LS hold them for you, what happens then? How do customers order them? I realise at this stage marketing is key, but for example, once the book is on Amazon, and somebody orders, do Amazon order from LS? Would that make a long wait for the customer?

I’m sure I have others questions, but I can’t seem to recall any right now.

Thanks for any info you can provide. As I said, I’m new to this, and am exploring all routes.

06-07-2011, 10:41 PM
If you can develop the skills Lightning Source is the best in terms of pricing and distribution (even bookstore stocking is borderline possible). A lot of other companies including Lulu just at services to Lightning Sources and charge you extra.

If you want a tad more support I think Aventine is pretty good but I haven't checked out how that would work if you are in the UK.

06-08-2011, 12:32 AM
I'm self published, and I know several others who do the same. The two main contenders for self publishing are CreateSpace and Lightening Source. From what I've heard on the subject, Lightning Source seems to be the distributor of choice for self-publishers not located in the US. CreateSpace is often preferred by US folks (if the self publishers I know are indicative of the population at large).

I suggest you make a copy of your file to try typesetting, yourself—you may surprise yourself and enjoy it. I do.

Check out Dean Wesley Smith's Think Like a Publisher (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=3736) series of blog posts, and David Gaughran's [Self] Publishing for International Writers (http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/indie-publishing-for-international-writers/) series. Zoe Winters also sells a fantastic guide for self-publishers, and even The Freelancer's Survival Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is useful.

06-08-2011, 01:46 AM
Thank you very much. I will look into those.