There are so many different self-publishing companies out there it can be hard to tell which is the right one for you. How do you tell the difference between the good guys and the rob dogs? These 7 questions are a mixture of the questions I’m asked the most and the ones I wish people asked. Some of them will lead to more questions, but they should set you on the right path.

Is it print on demand or a print run?

This question should give you an idea of the kind of publishing house they are. A print run means that your publisher prints a specific number of books. With print on demand books are printed when someone orders. Bigger publishers tend to have facilities for storage and distribution so are more willing to offer print runs. Smaller ones don’t so do print on demand instead. Some smaller publishers (like me) will do print if you deal with the storage and other logistics. If they try to avoid the question it could mean they’re trying to look bigger than they are.

Where will your book be sold?

The type of print can also influence where your book is sold. You can choose either option and still sell worldwide on Amazon. Ingram Spark are an online retailer who supply other online bookshops like Waterstones and Barnes & Noble using print on demand. Bricks and mortar shops tend to buy on sale or return so don’t usually buy print on demand as they’ll lose money if they don’t sell.

Will I own the rights?

This is about who has the right to publish your book. If you sign the rights to your book away it means that the company you signed with is the only one who can publish for you. If you’re not happy then you’re stuck with it until the rights expire. If you still own the rights, you can choose to publish your book elsewhere. You’ll need to put it out of print to avoid confusion, but you don’t have to wait until the rights expire.

Do they do any marketing?

Some self-publishing companies offer to arrange marketing and PR for your book while others will leave it up to you. If they don’t offer marketing it will keep costs down, while PR will bump up the price. Ask about what they class as marketing. Some publishers define marketing as making the book available to buy but not actually promoting it. I’ll help you to launch on Amazon and target the right categories but don’t do any other marketing. The publisher you choose will depend on how much help you need.

Do they offer bespoke or template design?

Different self-publishing companies offer different types of design. This should include both the cover and the inside of your book. Bespoke design will be unique to you. Template design could give you a finished product with a similar cover to lots of other books. Ask to see copies of previous publications and see how they look. If they’re cagey about answering this question it could be a red flag that they’re trying to save money by using template design while charging you a higher price.

Who owns the files post-production?

After editing, your self-publisher will take your manuscript typeset it (design it) to turn it into a book that’s ready to print. That creates source files and print-ready pdfs. If you own the files post-production it means you can take them to use elsewhere, for example on your website, in other marketing or to print your book elsewhere. It all depends on how much of the marketing you’re doing yourself.

Ask about royalties

It’s important to ask how you’ll be paid and what percentage you’ll receive. Royalties are based on sales after costs are deducted, so ask how much the book will cost to print. Will the company take a cut of the profits? If you self-publish with me, I don’t take a percentage, so all the royalties come to you. Other companies will hold stock, sell books for you and take a cut of the profits. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they’re selling loads, but it’s worth asking about sales figures. This will give you an idea of how long it might take to make your money back. You’ll want to order author copies, so check how much those will cost. My authors can order their own author copies at just the print cost, but some publishers charge extra for author copies.

Do you want to find out more about self-publishing? Get in touch or come and find me on social media.