'Self-publication? It’s a perfectly respectable way to get your book into print'

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Rodney Wood is a long-time poet and co-compere of Write Out Loud Woking. He recently decided to investigate how difficult or easy it is to self-publish your own pamphlet. Here’s how he got on:


“After you’ve been writing a while and sending poems off to magazines you obviously think of the next step, a pamphlet. You try competitions and sending to publishers who may or may not respond. It’s a lot of work, not only finding the right 20 or so poems but also writing about your poetry ‘experience’. For whatever reason, no one was going to take my poems.

What’s my pamphlet about? When working in Guildford I used to meet ‘Steve’; I never found out his real name. We fell into a routine of smoking and ‘Steve’ would tell me stories about his life. It ended when he committed suicide. All the poems share the same looping pattern.

Visiting printers at the moment is out of the question, so if you want to be involved in the process that means print on demand. The advantages? There are no upfront costs, it’s simple, quick and relatively cheap. Self-publishing has been around for years (Virginia Woolf did it, as did Mark Twain and James Joyce. William Blake did nothing else). It’s a perfectly respectable way to get a book into print.

The process is quite simple and you can redo, if necessary, any one of the stages.  The first step is to have the poems ready in Word format (DOCX). Go through them and get friends to go through them to check for typos. At the front of the document I manually added the contents list together with the page numbers on each page. I saved the file in Word format but it could just as easily have been in DOC, HTML or RTF.  In order to get an idea of the overall process read, or print out, the Amazon KDP: Complete Guide to Kindle Direct Publishing (Step-by-Step). I was only interested in a print version - I don’t like the look of poems on a Kindle. I did a mock-up at this point of how I wanted the book to look including the cover, back cover, copyright page and dedication.

The most difficult thing was coming up with the name of the publisher. Ace Press, Aldershot City Press, Applewood Press, Arcadia Publishing, Pond Books, Autumn House Press, Bruyno Press, Beacon Publishing, Bonnier Little Press, Book Publishing Of Farnborough, Bright Skies Press, Little Wood Press? I could have spent weeks trying to think of names. Instead I joined the Independent Publishing Network to solve this little problem, using their name as my publisher. It also gave me an ISBN number, but Amazon can give you this for free anyway.

For the font there was a straight choice between something unfussy and easily readable, Arial or Times New Roman, or else the more interesting looking Garamond, Didot or Perputa. I chose Arial in the end. A size of 8 or 9 point worked fine.

embedded image from entry 113183 Most pamphlets I have are the same size trim size of (5”x8”). It’s a good idea to change the page size of your Word document to fit this size, and don’t forget to change the margins.

KDP has a Cover Creator tool which proved sufficient. I had already chosen a photo for the cover and I was given a number of different templates for the style and layout.

At this point I could preview and go back to make necessary changes. When I was finally happy I pressed Save and Publish and 12 hours later my book, When Listening Isn’t Enough, was listed on Amazon. I ordered a proof copy to check what it looked like: £1.70 printing costs plus £2.84 postage. The cost of 50 copies of the 24-page pamphlet, including the proof copy, was £95.25. So now I must order 50 copies for myself to swap or sell. And then comes the marketing stage …

Email Rodney at rodneytwood@gmail.com if you have any queries



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M.C. Newberry

Fri 12th Mar 2021 16:35

The heading is perfectly correct. Indeed, it shows a self-belief that
relies on one's own judgement, not least because of the time and
expense involved in the commitment. I have been involved in
producing a novel, an anthology of verse and a CD of verse with
musical settings, as much for my own satisfaction as the possibility
of recovering costs. The latter can be dependent on the effort
in publicising and marketing, with the latter being an extra, often
enjoyable challenge to the original concept of getting something
in substantive form. The experience of handling the physical
product of one's own creation is well worth what is employed in its
progress towards reality. If nothing else, you will have realised
an intention through your own efforts and that in itself is both commendable and rewarding.

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