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FAQ

General

How is your data compiled?

We have individually contacted every self-publishing provider in the database and requested they provide us with the relevant data. This is to ensure that all the information we have is as accurate as possible. 

In the instances where self-publishing providers have failed to get to back to us, we have taken the data from their websites. All the information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct and up-to-date. 

If you provide self-publishing services and would like to be included in the comparison engine, or would like to update your data, please contact us at waybfeedback@bloomsbury.com and we will be happy to help.

How are your results ordered?

Our results are ordered by relevancy. The first self-publishing providers to appear in your search result will be those providers who offer all the services and specifications you have requested – as you scroll down, the relevancy decreases. This means that the providers will appear lower down in your search may only offer some of the services and specifications you require.

It is important to note that sometimes providers will appear lower down in search results if we don’t have all the required data for them; in other words, in cases where the self-publishing provider has failed to get back to us, and they haven’t provided the information on their website, they will appear further down the list. However, this is not necessarily to say that they don’t provide the service. If a particular provider appeals to you, but doesn’t offer the specifications you require, it may be worth contacting them and enquiring further.

Can you recommend a provider for us?

Unfortunately, we can’t recommend any specific self-publishing providers. Our aim is to remain completely impartial – inclusion of a self-publishing provider does not mean we endorse or recommend their services in any form. We aim to provide you with an objective list of self-publishing providers, tailored to meet your specifications.

Who do we contact if we have a problem or question about the website?

Writers & Artists are happy to help with any questions you may have. Please contact us at waybcustomerservices@bloomsbury.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

Do I have to purchase publishing packages or can I purchase services from self-publishing companies on an individual basis?

Most self-publishing companies offer the option to purchase a package of services, which can include editorial services such as proof-reading, design services such as typesetting, and marketing services such as writing and distributing a press release or creating an author website. However, most of these services can be purchased separately from the publishing package, such as cover design only or proof-reading only. Furthermore, whether you’re purchasing a package or a single service, it’s always best to ask your provider any questions you may have first.

How quickly can I self-publish my book?

It depends on your requirements for your book. If you would like to create an e-book , you can upload your manuscript to a website and format it yourself using templates. The e-book can also be distributed to online retailers by the self-publishing company. This can be done relatively quickly and cheaply. If you would like additional self-publishing services, such as editing, printing and marketing, then this can take several weeks or months and be more expensive.

When should I think about self-publishing instead of pursuing commercial publishing?

There are a number of reasons why authors decide to self-publish their work. It’s an ideal route for writers with a book in a niche or specialised area, where the audience may be small – for example, for an author who has written their life story and may want to share it with other members of their family. 

There are a number of different things to take into account, so you need to judge what’s best for your project. Some writers take the self-publishing route because they want a greater degree of creative freedom. With self-publishing, all editing, design and marketing (and pricing, depending on the provider) decisions will ultimately be up to the author. Of course, this always means more work and could lead to more expense.

Self-published authors generally take a higher percentage of the royalties than they would in traditional publishing – but it is very important to remember that high sales or indeed, any sales at all, are not guaranteed with self-publishing. It’s also very important for you to be completely clear on the royalty agreement you are entering into.

Do all self-publishing companies offer the same services?

No – some self-publishing companies may offer the entire range of services, whilst some may specialise in design, for example. This is where the self-publishing comparison service will help; you can narrow down your search so your results will show only the providers who offer the services you require.

Can I self-publish without working with a self-publishing company?

Yes. You can edit, format, distribute and publicise your own book or e-book, and publish your book under your own imprint, but if you do not have the time or expertise to do this then self-publishing companies can provide these services.

Does the self-publishing company publish my book under their own imprint name?

Some self-publishing companies will publish the book under their own imprint so that their name appears as the publisher. If authors publish under their own name without a self-publishing company, their name will appear as the publisher.

How will I be able to keep in contact with the self-publishing company while my book is being self-published?

The contact you have will vary with each company, and it is worth checking that you are happy with the contact arrangements before you choose a company to work with. Some companies may allocate a representative to your project, or you may speak to different people by phone or in person, or you may have email contact only.

Is our self-publishing service a commercial service?

Our comparison engine has been designed to provide information on all providers offering self-publishing services.   We are able to put you in touch with a number (not all) of those providers and receive a flat fee from them to allow this to happen. The fee we receive covers our administration costs and does not affect the impartiality of the comparison service. All figures in the results table are purely based on the services offered by providers and how they best suit the needs of your writing project. 

For more information about how our comparison service works, please see our step-by-step guide.

In order that we can improve the service we provide you, we would really appreciate it if you can get in touch to let us know about your experiences with any of the providers listed on our site. Please email writersandartists@bloomsbury.com with your thoughts.

E-books

Why do I have to convert my manuscript file to a different format to create an e-book?

The word file or PDF of your manuscript needs to be converted to a format that can be read on e-readers, such as ePub or Mobi. Self-publishing companies can assist with this.

Can self-publishing companies create an e-book for iPad and for Kindle?

Yes, there are different self-publishing companies who can create e-books for iPad and for Kindle.

Does the self-publishing company sell my e-book through their own website?

Some self-publishing companies will sell the e-book through their own website as well as other retailers.

What are the benefits of e-books over print books for self-publishers?

If you’re self-publishing your book, it’s worth thinking about publishing only in e-book form to begin with. Generally speaking, it’s a lot cheaper and as there is no guarantee of sales, we would advise caution when considering the print option. 

With e-books, the initial set-up costs are lower, distribution is easier and e-books can be completed and uploaded within a matter of hours. Furthermore, the lower production costs means you can set a lower price for your e-book, even having the option of giving it away for free – a promotional tool that is often used successfully by self-published authors.

Sales and Distribution

Does the self-publishing company distribute my e-book?

Many self-publishing companies do distribute the e-book to retailers. Different companies may distribute to different retailers nationally and globally, and through distribution companies.

What regions of the world (territories) will my self-published e-book be available in?

Many self-publishing companies allow authors to set the territories within which they will make their e-book available to purchase. You have to own the publishing rights for the territories where you wish to make your e-book available.

What is the ‘short description’ for the retailer website where my self-published book/e-book will be sold?

It is a short synopsis of the book to describe the plot and tell readers what the book is about, and usually appears on your book’s retail page on the retailer website. Either the author or the self-publishing company can write this.

Will the self-publishing company keep any of the royalties from the sales of my books?

Although authors are likely to earn higher royalties from self-publishing than they would if they had a traditional publishing contract, most self-publishing companies will keep a percentage of the royalties from the sale of the book or e-book. The percentage of royalties that they keep can depend on the price set for the book.

If my self-publishing provider makes my e-book available through other retailers, as well as their own website, will I have to pay royalties to both?

Not always, but you should definitely check before you commit. Some providers will take a percentage of the royalties, and you will also have to pay royalties to the other retailers.

Will self-publishing companies also distribute my print books to book shops?

With a number of distributors, bookshops will have the option of ordering your book. However, it’s important to remember that this is rare. Without the weight of a traditional publisher behind you, bookshops are unlikely to take the risk of ordering in a self-published book which might not sell.

Copyright and author rights

Why do I need an ISBN?

You will need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your book if you want it to be sold through retailers. It enables retailers to track the number of copies your book has sold and allows readers to order your book. Nielsen allocates these in the UK, and self-publishing companies can help to arrange this for your book. A different ISBN may be required for the e-book version of the print. If you do not want your book to be sold through retailers you do not need an ISBN.

Who do I ask if I want to quote an extract or include an image from another book in my own self-published book?

If you want to use material from another book or publication in your own book, you have to ask the copyright holder’s permission. If it is a book that was published by a traditional publishing company, you can usually request permission using their permissions form.

When does UK copyright end?

The UK term of copyright is 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author died. If this copyright term for a book has expired, the work is in the public domain and no permission is needed to use the material from the book.

What is digital rights management? (DRM)

Digital rights management technology protects the copyright of the work by preventing unauthorised copying, sharing and distribution of an e-book file.

Editing

What are editorial services in self-publishing?

Editorial services provided by self-publishing companies can range from proofreading – looking for errors in spelling and grammar in the text - to full text edits where the plot and characterisation is worked on by editors at the self-publishing company.

Can you define the different levels of editing for me?

Yes. If you go to our glossary, we have definitions of the different tiers of editing. We also have this article from one of our editors, which aims to cut through the publishing jargon and help you to define what level of editing you need.

How important is editing my work before I self-publish?

We would suggest that editing is imperative to the success of your book. One of most commonly-stated problems about self-published books is the lack of editing and avoidable mistakes. Anything that compromises the reader’s experience will detract from their overall assessment of your work.

Marketing

What are marketing services in self-publishing?

Marketing services provided by self-publishing companies can range from creating promotional materials such as leaflets to writing and distributing press releases and organising author interviews and creating author websites.

Do self-publishing companies run my social media account and author website for me?

Some self-publishing companies will set up social media accounts and an author website for you. 

Some self-publishing companies will then keep your website and chosen social media channels updated on your behalf, usually for a set amount of time. Others will only establish them, then it will be up to you to maintain them. 

Also, it’s worth making sure that your provider is making your author website SEO-friendly. For an explanation of SEO, please refer to our glossary.

How much help will I get with marketing and publicising my book from self-publishing companies?

This can vary with different self-publishing companies. Generally speaking, you will be able to find self-publishing companies who offer services such as book trailers, press releases, targeted adverts, social media management, event and book fair exhibition, author websites, as well as full publicity campaigns. If you purchase a package, some or all of these services could be included in that package.

Do I have to purchase marketing services in order for my book to be a success?

It is important to bear in mind that these services can be very expensive, and come with no guarantee of success – it’s worth thinking about this carefully before you commit. It is also possible to do your marketing yourself; purchasing marketing services is by no means a prerequisite for success.

Will my self-publishing provider distribute my press release for me?

Some providers will distribute your press release to a targeted media list on your behalf, but this isn’t necessarily part of the press release service. If this is something you want, it’s important to check before you purchase.

Design & Formatting

What are design services in self-publishing?

Design services provided by self-publishing companies can include cover design, page design, commissioning illustrations and adding images.

Can self-publishing companies include images and illustrations in my self-published book?

Most self-publishing companies can include your own images and illustrations in your book, or they can commission them, but this could depend on what is included in the publishing package that you choose.

Do I need a cover designer to design the cover for my self-published book?

Many self-publishing companies offer the option for a designer to design the book cover, but you can also use a template or design your own. However, remember how important the cover is in attracting readers to your book.

Should I still enlist the services of a cover designer, even if I’m only publishing in e-book form?

Yes, we would suggest that it’s equally as necessary to have your cover professionally designed (unless you feel you have the skills to do it yourself) if you’re only publishing an e-book.

What is a font?

The font is the stylistic appearance of the type, the letters, numbers and characters.

What is serif and sans serif font?

Serif is the typeface with decorative strokes added to the basic form of the character and serif is the basic character without these.

Printing

What is Print-on-Demand (POD)?

Print-on-Demand is when copies of a book are printed as and when an individual order is received for that book. Therefore, one book can be printed at a time, but the technology can also be used for short-run printing.

What is short-run printing?

Short-run printing means printing a small amount of copies of a book, using digital printing technology.

Do self-publishing companies specify that my book has to be a minimum/maximum number of pages/words?

Self-publishing companies may specify a minimum or maximum word count or page count, particularly if the book is being printed. The page count refers to the number of pages in the final book rather than the original manuscript.

What are the differences between the types of binding?

Please see our glossary for a definition of each type of binding.

Can I decide the size of my book?

Yes, most self-publishing companies will give you a variety of options to choose from – some may also offer custom options.

The traditional route

Do I need a literary agent to self-publish my book?

No, self-publishing companies usually deal directly with the author purchasing the services.

Should I approach the publisher directly with my manuscript or book idea?

Many publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so instead of approaching the publisher directly, it is best to approach a literary agent who can represent you and your book to publishers.

Why do I need an agent?

In traditional publishing, the agent can negotiate publishing contracts and royalties on your behalf, and deal with the business side of publishing. Many publishing companies also prefer to only look at manuscripts that agents have given them, rather than unsolicited manuscripts.

How do I approach an agent?

Research which agents are likely to be interested in the genre of your book, as they usually represent authors in specific genres. 

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook has comprehensive listings of UK and overseas agents, including their contact details, the kind of work they represent and examples of their clients. This is a good place to start your search.

It is very important to remember that different agents have different submission guidelines – you should individually research each agent before you submit to them and follow their particular guidelines exactly. Submissions tend need to include a query letter, a synopsis and sample chapters.

For more information about submitting to agents, please take a look at our ‘How to Find a Literary Agent’ section.

What is a query letter?

A query letter introduces you and your book to a literary agent – getting this right is a very important part of the agent submission process. For advice and tips on writing a query letter, please take a look at our ‘Query Letter & Synopsis’ section.

What is a synopsis?

For fiction, this can be an outline of the plot and main characters, and for non-fiction, this can be a summary of the content of the work and chapter outlines. If you would like more information and advice on this, please take a look at our section on ‘Query Letter & Synopsis’.

What is the difference between a reprint and a new edition?

A reprint means that more copies of a book are being printed, but there are no substantial changes to it. However, a new edition means that the content has been substantially altered, or that new content has been added, such as a preface or appendix, or that content has been revised and updated.