The Self Published Problem

This is perhaps a controversial title because The Self Published Problem is actually more of a my problem than a problem with self publishing. However, as I can only truly comment on myself, that is what I shall do here.

So, what problem?

Going into writing a novel with the intention of self publishing for the first time, I colour myself naive because the sole amount of research I did on the matter was to read the Terms & Conditions thoroughly (which I never normally do) so that I understand what I am getting myself into in regard to contracts. But I didn’t really take any notice of the bigger picture. I wrote, I then ran through the steps, and I published with the honest knowledge that I would sell many copies. Now, don’t get me wrong. What I wrote was written properly. I didn’t skimp on the care I took to write my book, how many redrafts and edits I dragged it through, how much attention I paid, and money I paid for an editor afterwards. But in regard to the actual production of a book? I just went and did it.

Here are a few things I realised soon after my first stab at creating a paperback novel that I simply never thought of before, ever. (I am apparently quite unobservant.)

  1. Most fiction novels are printed on creme paper.
  2. Some (or most) fiction novels do not print page numbers on numbered chapter pages.
  3. A lot of chapters begin half way down the page, or at least very rarely at the very top of the page.
  4. New ‘parts’ and the first chapter of each ‘part’ should be printed on the right-hand page, leaving the left-hand page blank.
  5. Turn off Widow/Orphan feature in Word Processing programs, otherwise you end up with more lines on one page than another.
  6. Size does matter, all depending on if you want global distribution, or the size of book most popular in your country, versus another, etc, etc.
  7. Cover design and ability to edit for different trim sizes also as important as the artistic look of your cover.

The list goes on, but you get the general idea. Only after many (many) paperback proofs did I come to find out all of these quite obvious things that I had always taken for granted before. And don’t get me started on eBooks, because Kindle formatting is like…the Devil’s Mobi File.img_0534

I recently watched a YouTube video of a young author displaying the difference between two different POD (Print on Demand) services, and though she appeared to favour one one the other, her main complaints with the one she did not like seemed to mostly be with the Interior formatting—which, by the way, you yourself have to create. So, the video was rather unfair as the mistakes she pointed out were her own, and the things she couldn’t quite understand (large four-paragraph sized blank spaces at the bottom of many, many pages) that had gone wrong were down to her own ability to format the paperback interior file. And it is hard, and takes a lot of practice, and thankfully I have it down as perfect as I’m going to get it now. (Just don’t blame the printer for the interior design…they have nothing to do with that).

My point being, really, that I wish there had been a complete guide out there as to how to get all these things just right, first time. The problem with self publishing is that is relies on you learning, and in a time-consuming and expensive sense, learning on the job.

This then leads on to your brand. If you have to re-do over certain things, and cannot reverse some of your mistakes (paperbacks still listed on Amazon that you wish would go away, but they will never ever remove, just show as ‘out of print?’), then this can hurt the initial building of your brand. You are constantly swapping and changing, moving the goal posts. Print a book so big, NO, damn it, it needed to be smaller and now a re-do, a new ISBN. Even with eBooks, the compatibility between even just Kindle software vs their hardware readers can be…dodgy. Learning all this through trial and error is not just hard (which I can take), but potentially just messy, leaving you with a splurge of early mistakes you can simply never change.

Subsequently, now that I have got it down, I have learned an incredible amount, and feel fairly confident in getting these things right first time for my next novel. There’s a positive. So, if anyone felt they might want some advice on paperback/hardcover interiors, or where to go to truly set up an eBook correctly, then by all means contact me, and I’ll do my best to give you my advice (or, maybe even do it for you, for a fee 😉 ).

That’s enough for now I think. Less than organised ramblings, but I felt I just had to get it out there.

If you’d like to purchase the paperback, hardcover or eBook editions of my books, please check out the links below. These are the current, live editions (and perhaps the last, if nothing ever needs changing again 🙂 )


978-0-244-44377-1 — Hardcover

978-0-244-43434-2 — Paperback

978-1-386-90744-2 — Ebook

B00CL4NE6U — Kindle


978-0-244-74378-9 — Hardcover

978-0-244-13610-9 — Paperback

978-1-386-35036-1 — Ebook

B00YWE3PDY — Kindle


978-1-386-59460-4 — Ebook

B00AD6V9PQ — Kindle



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s