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How to self-publish

Written by Klara Vida on 22/12/2015 4:28:55 PM 0 Comment


Breaking away from the cookie-cutter mould of publishing a book and choosing to do it yourself can feel like stepping into unchartered, shark-infested waters. In this week’s blog we give you a glimpse into self-publishing and getting stocked in a book shop from someone who’s done it herself.

Heidi Yi is a Sydney-based cosmetics entrepreneur who recently broke $500,000 in sales and spending on Bartercard combined, and coincidentally reached her 500th transaction on mybc, Bartercard’s online trading platform.  The make-up artist, cosmetics manufacturer and Bartercard member is also a self-published author of two books, ‘Pro-Makeup by Heidi’ and ‘Oops! I self-published’.  The second details her foray into self-publishing, and breaks the process down step-by-step for the first time venturer.

Self-publishing on Bartercard
Heidi saved approximately $5,000 in publishing costs by covering printing and graphic design on Bartercard, which was funded by sales of her cosmetics on mybc, Bartercard’s online trading platform and at Bartercard trade shows nationally.
She said Bartercard helped her cash flow at a critical time to get her book off the ground.
“One of the biggest hurdles of self-publishing is funding,” she said.
“Bartercard conserved my cash flow so that I could spend it on other areas of getting my book onto shelves.”

Find details on how to order her book below.
In this week’s blog we give you a glimpse into the process that’s catching fire among more writers.

But firstly, why would you ever self-publish, if someone can neatly package the process up for you?

The publishing world is a crowded place, and as a first time author it can be extremely hard to land a deal once you’ve penned your first manuscript. So taking this route can launch you into the market. Alternatively, many first time (and experienced) authors choose to circumvent the publishing houses and take the plunge themselves. The reasons vary but the two main advantages of self-publishing are keeping more (if not all) the profits from the sales of your book, and having complete control of the content, look, marketing and distribution.
On the flipside, self-publishing means you assume all financial risk, take sole responsibility of finding bookshops to sell your book, and put your reputation on the line if sales don’t stack up. Furthermore, you will need to source the collateral for bulk printing if and when a stockist orders – this is upfront cash flow, which is unequivocally the biggest hurdle in business. Having said this, it’s a route that more and more writers are taking for a reason – it evades the restrictions and limitations of publishing houses and gives writers more control of their work.

We spent five minutes talking to Heidi about the art of self-publishing.

5 tips to get your manuscript to shelf

1. Get your manuscript print-ready
“One of the biggest questions I’ve been asked about self-publishing a book is how did I get my manuscript print ready. Regardless of how print-ready you think it is, ask your friends and family to proof read it for typos. Having new eyes look at your work after spending hours on end writing it can also bring out incongruities. Having an editor check the tone, flow, grammar and ensure it speaks to your audience is imperative even if you are experienced in writing – seek someone who has a good reputation and plenty of experience up their sleeve.”

2. Source a graphic designer
“While you should never judge a book by its cover, consumers invariably do which is why it’s important to have one that sells. Before you outsource a graphic designer, take a trip to your local book store and look at titles in the same category as yours. This will give you an idea of what’s in, what you don’t want and how you can stand out on the shelf. The best graphic designer will take your audience into consideration. Source at least three quotes, and keep in mind that many printing companies package graphic design into their services.”

3. Find a printer
“This sounds like a simple step but it’s one with a lot of money riding on it. Always shop around and if you’ve already sourced a graphic designer, ask if they can recommend someone to you. If you plan to sell your book overseas, it can be less expensive to have it printed in the countries where you will be selling it.”

4. Get an ISBN
“It’s not essential, but getting an ‘International Standard Book Number’ or ISBN will make it easier for stockists to sell your book and consumers to find it. This is a code that stockists use to place orders and track sales, and almost every book published in the last 30 years has one. You can source an ISBN at”

5. Get stocked
“You will need to find a distributor, which is someone who recommends titles to bookstores. Having a distributor willing to take your book on will therefore put you in good standing to land shelf space. Part and parcel of working with a distributor is giving them a cut of your profits, and in my case I had an exclusive agreement with a distributor for 12 months during which I couldn’t legally supply any books to stockists. This said, having a distributor on board is greatly advantageous, and after my 12 month agreement came to an end, I found another distributor and signed another 12 month contract. Similarly to finding a printer, you can find a distributor by checking the inside cover of other self-published books where they are usually printed, or by asking someone in the know.” 

You can order Heidi’s book ‘Oops I self-published’ at


Topics: Bartercard, Funding, publishing houses, books, cash flow, self publishing

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