Skip to Content

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 1

Help for writers

What is Self-publishing?

An explanation of self-publishing as it stands today, introducing the term ‘indie' and a brief overview of routes to market for indie authors.

Joanne Phillips

Self-publishing has changed so much over the past few years it's hard to believe it was once looked down upon by the publishing industry as the last resort of the vain and desperate. At the time of writing (July 2013) many self-publishing authors are identifying with the term ‘indie author', which acknowledges that to professionally publish today, you don't actually have to do everything yourself!

Indie authors access the same professional services as traditional publishing houses. They employ freelance editors, proofreaders and cover designers. They have their work professionally formatted for ebooks and typeset for print. They may use service providers to manage some or all of the publishing tasks, or they may go it alone. Being ‘indie' does not mean being isolated, however - groups and associations abound where self-publishing authors join together to offer support and best practice advice. One such organisation, the Alliance of Independent Authors, is currently running an ‘open up to indies' campaign, aiming to raise the profile of indie authors and lobby competition organisers to stop excluding self-published titles.

Today's indie author can feel confident that they are in good company - indeed, many traditionally published authors are leaving their publishers and going indie by choice. Tired of creative compromises, covers they can't stand, zero promotion and tiny royalty percentages, they are joining the ranks of self-publishing authors and reaping the benefits. If you have a book you are passionate about, if your main objective is to get your work in front of readers and make it professional and accessible, and if you're tired of doing the ‘rounds' of agents and publishers and facing soul-destroying rejection, there is an answer. Self publish. Do it well, don't cut corners, but do it soon. There are readers out there waiting for your work. Take action, and be well informed by reading as much as you can about the subject - starting with the articles here at WritersServices.

In this series of articles we'll be looking in more detail at the various self-publishing routes currently available to new indie authors. When you first start out on your indie journey, the array of options can be overwhelming. I know that when I began researching my options in early 2012 I was stunned by two apparently contradictory facts: there is so much information out there it's almost impossible to sift through it all, but at the same time a lot of the information is vague and generalised, and it can be hard to find real facts and figures - like expected sales figures and actual costs. Here are some of the areas we will look at in detail:

  • Should you use an assisted self-publishing company, and if you do, which are the best? 
  • How to sell your ebooks directly on Amazon - an overview of the KDP platform and what it offers to indie authors. 
  • How to format your ebook for Kindle, and format and distribute to other eretailers, such as Kobo and Smashwords.
  • Cover design: make your indie cover look professional and stand out from the crowd. 
  • Understanding POD - an overview of POD, including the top POD companies and which files you need to upload.
  • Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors, looking at various price points and how well ebooks sell, and also talking about Free as a marketing tool on Kindle.

None of this will be any use at all without an understanding of marketing and promotion for Indie Authors. There are online and offline strategies to consider, but remember no one will be able to buy your book if they don't know it's there!

Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing novels and freelance indexing. She's the author of commercial women's fiction Can't Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively Investigates series of cosy mysteries. Can't Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at

Connect on:
Twitter: @joannegphillips

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide: the whole series

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 2

Choose Your Self-publishing Route

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 3

EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing. How to Sell on Amazon: An overview of the KDP platform and what it offers to indie authors.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 4

Formatting your book for Kindle

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 5

Ebooks: Distributing to Other Eretailers

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 6

Cover Design Know-how: Tips from a top designer on how to make your indie cover look professional and stand out from the crowd.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 7

Print On Demand for Indies

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 8

Ebooks: Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 9

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors: Online

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 10

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors

Other articles by Joanne on the WritersServices site:

The Business of Writing
The Ins and Outs of Indexing