Self publishing

Posted by Graeme McKinstry on 19 April 2012 | 0 Comments

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Before digital printing made short prints runs affordable, it was cost prohibitive to publish your own book. Now, armed with a great idea, you can produce your own book without having to mortgage the house.

We have helped quite a few Dunedin authors publish their books. Some like Huberta Hellendorn’s Madonna in the Suitcase go on to national success; others like Patearoa at War by Jim Sullivan reach a more modest audience (even if the initial print run of 100 was sold out).

Some observations that may prove helpful if you intend to self-publish:

  • You need somebody to give you an honest appraisal of your book. You might think the idea is wonderful but what do other people think?
  • How big is the audience for the book? You will probably need to be able to sell (or give away!) at least 50 copies to make the unit cost reasonable.
  • We would prefer to layout the book—we are passionate about good typography and design and have seen too many books spoiled by bad or mediocre typography. If you have a good knowledge of typography and can find you way around InDesign okay then you may be in a position to attempt the layout yourself. However, we would still love to help you with type choice, page sizes, etc.
  • Colour or black-and-white? Colour looks better but costs more money. What about a mixture of both?
  • Scanning? If you are using old photographs then you will want to get the best out of them. Again, we have seen perfectly good books ruined by not being particular about this.
  • Paper size and paper choice. This can make a big difference to the cost and feel of the book.
  • Cover. You need a compelling cover—despite the old adage of not judging a book by its cover. Don’t try and do this yourself.
  • ISBN number and barcode. We can help you with this. You will need to send 2 copies to the National Library in Wellington as part of this.
  • Book launch. You want a big book launch and invite family and friends. Make sure you have plenty of copies of the book for sale.

This might seem daunting but don’t be put off. We are happy to advise and help you through all the necessary steps.


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