Many of you know that I wanted to put a book out there myself. I wanted this book to feature several different stories from different parents all with premature babies. However it didn’t go to plan. Unfortunately before I even started I had potential authors arguing about who had the most tragic story – they were all equally heart wrenching. Then one particular group got quite nasty. I really value my time and I couldn’t justify spending it refereeing adults when I could be with my little boy.

I did however have quite a few reach out and say would I please share how to publish a book so that they can go on to do their own. I’m more than happy to help anyone if I can. So here is a little about the process to get you started!

There are three routes you can go down. You can approach publishing houses and see if any are interested in your story, you can use a publishing agent or you can self-publish.

The traditional route

Traditional publishing houses can be hard to crack. There are different ideas on how to approach them as well. Some say that submitting your whole book is the best way to go. Others say that a plan of each chapter so that the publishing house can get a feel for the flow of the book is the best way to go.

It usually takes about two years to get your book from idea to physical book. Publishing houses have a whole team of people who will edit, re-write your work, design covers and get you PR. They sometimes give you a lump sum of money especially if research is required. Publishing houses make their money from the book sales where they take approximately 70% of the profit.

Lisa holding children's books. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy
Lisa holding children’s books. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy

Publishing houses receive thousands of unpublished books a year so be prepared to really make your story stand out. You will need to do your research and approach numerous publishing houses. This may be harsh but be prepared for a lot of rejection.

Using a publishing agent

This option means you are guaranteed to have your work published and they will help you with everything involved in writing and publishing a book. Prices usually start at about £700 which will get your book proof read and put into the appropriate format. The top end is about £7000 and this will get you pretty much everything that a publishing house will do. There is a lot involved that people don’t realise.

Publishing agents are becoming a popular option and are really appealing as you can pick packages to get different levels of help. For maximum exposure there will be an element of PR that you will still need to do for yourself and this goes for both publishing houses or using an agent.

Self-publishing

This is definitely on the rise and with so much out there you can easily find out how to do this for yourself it’s never been easier to publish a book. If your book is still an idea then I would suggest first writing a rough plan. Bullet point the main messages your readers to know about. Make these bullet points chapter headings and underneath add a bit more detail that you want to cover.

Next write a little bit each day until you end up with your book! If you are struggling then there are book coaches out there who can help you with structure, setting goals and can talk you through the writing and publishing process.

Young boy with a book. Photography credit: Ben White
Young boy with a book. Photography credit: Ben White

Once your story is written you need to read through it a few times yourself. Warning – you are close to the story and therefore will probably miss any mistakes and not realise if things don’t make sense because you’ve either not given enough detail or not fully explained it.

Getting a proof reader can help with this. They will make suggested edits to make the story flow better and may ask questions to tease more information out of you. A proof reader may also be able to help with formatting your book so that it’s ready for multiple platforms.

The front and back cover

Next you need to think about your front and back cover. You could design your own using something like Canva. This is a free app that has thousands of templates for you to play around with to design your own book cover. Alternatively you can look into professional photographers or artists. A Photographer will charge about £50 for flat lay images then the cost of any props.

Illustrators will probably charge around the same for a simple image. The more complex or detailed the image is the more it will cost. If images are needed throughout the book then expect this cost to increase. A children’s book costs around £600 to illustrate 30 pages. These prices are just guides so let me stress that you may find them cheaper but be wary if they are too cheap.

PR for your book

You can hire someone to help with PR and in my opinion this is definitely a good move to make. PR specialists have access to a huge directory of contacts that will save you a lot of time and effort, getting you in front of the right people quickly. They will not just promote the book they will promote you. They will think outside the box and not just approach people about your book.

Siblings reading a book together. Photography credit: Ben White
Siblings reading a book together. Photography credit: Ben White

A PR specialist will look at your story and list all different hooks or angles. This means they can come up with a strategy that includes multiple approaches and not just “I have a client with a book”. PR can range in cost and I would suggest that you hire someone for a few months. The price of this can really vary but I would say you are looking upwards of £350 for 2 months PR.

They will need a copy of the book and they will need a chat with you to discuss your story (some of which won’t be in the book). I highly recommend Jenny Holden is a PR specialist and who had her twins prematurely so will know how sensitively to handle your story. I also recommend Nicola Rowley who is a children’s author and PR specialist.

If you are going to do your own PR then I suggest making a list of everywhere you would like to appear. Think newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts, Facebook groups, YouTube channels, online influencers etc. Think about who is likely to buy your book and what sort of media they are likely to be seeing. Once you have your list start reaching out a few months before your publishing date.

The forgotten things

If you want the possibility of your book being available in multiple shops then you need to purchase an ISBN, this is the books barcode. These are about £90 for an individual ISBN but the more you buy the cheaper they become per ISBN.

You may want to draw up a contract and possibly a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for any suppliers you work with. The NDA can be useful if you are giving bloggers, journalists or influencers an early copy of the book to review prior to release. The cost of this will depend on specifics that you want the contracts and NDA’s to include.

Insurance! This may seem like an odd one but insurance can protect you against a lot of things especially if you are working with and relying on others.

PR will be needed on some level all the time you want to be earning regular money from the book. This will mean doing regular blogs, podcasts, YouTube programmes etc. or maintaining an adverts budget for Facebook, Instagram or similar.

The sales strategy.

So you have an amazing book but who have you told that it exists. Hopefully your list of bloggers will have read your book and written a glowing review that they share with their audience. Other suggestions are for you to set up a Facebook page and Instagram account so people can get to know you as the author. This will help you build your own audience. You need to be regularly posting on these accounts. Other platforms to look into are Twitter, LinkedIn and Pintrest.

Young boy laughing and holding a book. Photography credit: Ben White
Young boy laughing and holding a book. Photography credit: Ben White

Also think about approaching local bookstores and see if they would be happy for you to go into their store to do a book reading and signing. You will need to do the work and promote the event and decide who to invite.

A virtual book tour is also a good promotional tool. Research book blogs – my current favourite is The Glasshouse Girls. Once you have a list plan a date when you can go live on their page to read a section of your story and answer any questions from their audience. Once you have a list together put it in a graphic and share it everywhere!

Giveaways are also a good way of generating interest. You could see if a local newspaper, magazine or radio station would be interested in collaborating with you.

The fun bit – publishing!

I only really looked into publishing on Amazon. You upload your formatted book onto the Amazon platform for free and they take care of book and eBook sales. If you don’t want to sell your book anywhere else then you can be allocated a free Amazon version of an ISBN. Amazon gives you up to 70% from eBook sales and 60% of book sales.

Alternatively you can find businesses that will print your books for you to then sell. You are looking at about £100 for one copy of the book though. The more copies you order the lower it will cost per book.

I hope this helps to start you off!

There is so much to think about and a book doesn’t happen overnight. I really hope this gives you a good starting point for getting your incredible stories out there and published. Let me know if you do publish a book so I can buy a copy!

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