Congratulations on your desire to make the world a better place by publishing your book. Perhaps you have not started yet, or your book is almost complete. Whatever the case, this is a good time to consider your publishing options.


Basically you have three choices – self-publishing, finding a publisher or using a literary agent. Let’s take a look at each of these briefly, after which I will share my personal recommendation.


Self-publishing is when the author bypasses all the intermediaries, deals directly with the editor, cover artist, book designer and printer, and then handles the marketing and distribution. If you self-publish you take a greater risk, but you also get to press sooner, keep control of your book, and make more money. You are required to invest time and money, but the rewards are greater.

Should you choose the self-publishing route, you need to make decisions about:

  • The size of your book (physical size and number of pages).
  • The cover design. (Use a good artist)
  • Additional pages – e.g. Dedication, Foreword, Introduction, Prologue (if appropriate), Acknowledgements, Advertisements, Copyright notice, Autobiographical sketch, and Disclaimer.
  • Layout and typesetting. (Use a professional typesetter)
  • Obtaining ISBN and barcode information. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is available free-of-charge from the National Library of South Africa in Pretoria. Google for international ISBN Agencies and costs.
  • Selecting a good professional printer and requesting quotes on an initial print run.
  • Marketing of the finished product. (Where, when and how.)

This may sound very formidable, but we will come back to a discussion of the benefits of self-publishing in a moment.


Finding a Publisher is not easy. Publishing is a business and the expected financial return is the bottom line for Publishers. Publishers carry all costs and authors usually receive royalties of around 10% of net receipts (i.e. what the publisher receives for books sold.)

It is estimated that publishers receive about two million book-length manuscripts every year, so unsolicited manuscripts have a very limited chance of being well received. It is, therefore, important to do extensive research in order to find a publisher who is interested in your type of manuscript.

It is highly recommended that aspiring writers purchase the “Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook” for information on publishers and their submission requirements.


Literary Agents are specialists who work for both the writer and the publisher. They assist writers to find interested publishers. They also protect publishers from being overwhelmed by unsuitable manuscripts, which is why many overseas publishers only accept work submitted by Literary Agents.

There are two types of Literary Agents. Some simply evaluate your book and return unsuitable work. Others offer editorial services and assist to bring books with potential to their final stage. You may expect to pay around 15% of your royalties for their services, plus administration costs.

Literary Agents are not easy to find, as they will only work with authors of books they consider to be saleable before they invest their time and money in a project.

Where do you start looking for a Literary Agent? The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a good place to start. You may also join a local Writers’ Group. For example, The South African Writers’ Circle for up-to-date information on local markets and agents. Email: Web:

Should you choose to use a Literary Agent, if they are interested they will require a synopsis, your manuscript and a brief history of your background and achievements in writing. The Agent will evaluate your book and either accept it for submission to a publisher, suggest re-writes, or reject it. If accepted, it is usual to sign an agent/writer contract.


Whatever your choice of publishing route, make sure you have a valid, legal, written contract covering all details, financial and otherwise.



Formal Publishers and/or Literary Agents take a very long time to get your book published. If it is even accepted by a Publisher, it could easily take two to three years to find its way into bookshops. If you would like your book published sooner than that, self-publishing is the way to go.

Once your book has been professionally edited and prepared for publishing, you could be published in digital format within 24 hours and in paperback or hardcover format in a few weeks.

For recommended editors, proof-readers, graphic and layout artists, please check out my website –


In times past, self-published books were looked upon with suspicion as being the work of authors who could not find a publisher. That has changed now and even published authors are turning to self-publishing because of the professionalism offered and other factors.

While it is true that badly-written books will not easily find a Publisher willing to invest time and money, at the same time successful self-published authors recognize the importance of excellence in content, quality and presentation. Today few readers can tell the difference between formally published books and self-published ones. Modern technical expertise makes that possible.


Professional Publishers carry the risk with regard to printing, publishing and marketing books so, obviously, they take the lion’s share of profit and authors can expect royalties of approximately 5-7% on the selling price. For example, a book selling for $100 could bring you a royalty of around $5 plus or minus. If you sell millions, that is wonderful, but few books do that.

Literary Agents take a cut of your royalty to cover their costs so you have to factor that in as well.

Self-Publishing, on the other hand, gives you the best value for your money. You carry the costs of the cover graphic, editing and layout, and set your own price.

  • Digital books can be published with Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble, the Apple iStore and various other online booksellers via Smashwords at absolutely no further cost to you. Amazon pays royalties of 70% on kindle books selling between $2.99 and $9.99 and 35% on all other prices. Smashwords pays up to 80% royalties.
  • Paperback and hardcover books can be published on Amazon using their CreateSpace facility. Again, you set the price and they pay you 35% royalties. There is no cost involved in publishing your book with them, unless you use some of their professional services, e.g. editing and cover design. They even have a free cover creator online.
  • Should you choose to print your book locally as well, you will be required to pay printing costs.
  • The PDF version that you send to your printer or CreateSpace can also be published as an eBook on your website at no further cost.


Formal Publishers undertake to distribution your book in bookshops, which is very helpful if it is a popular book. It is extremely difficult to get into bookshops without paying Distributors huge amounts of money, so this is a plus.

The minus is that Publishers do not spend much time with your book. It generally finds its way into a bookshop and has shelf space for about three months. If it does not sell very well, it is taken off the shelf to make room for new publications and you will probably find in on the “remainder table.” That is the table we all like to visit with “bargain books” at give-away prices.

Self-published authors have a much longer view and generally work hard to make their books available for many more months and even years because of their self-interest. Today’s internet marketing and social media outlets make distribution a lot easier and more effective than ever. Online companies like do everything possible to help Authors advertise, market and distribute their books – without cost to the Author.


Publishers normally pay out every six or twelve months. Unless you are a very well-known and famous author, it is unlikely that you will receive any royalty up-front.

Self-Publishing companies like Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, Smashwords and others pay monthly (usually two months after the end of the month sales are made). They pay directly to you and publish your details in your online account with them so you can keep track of your sales on a daily basis.

Once published, Amazon places your book advertisement on their well-visited websites around the world. They collect the money from purchasers, taken their portion and give you the balance. They deliver the product, handle queries and returns and take all the stress out of publishing.

This definitely has my vote!


Amazon has been in the printed book business for well over fifteen years. They are the largest and probably the most trusted online retailer in the word. Their marketing facilities are outstanding and they promote your books globally.

Using CreateSpace, their online print book facility, it is possible to publish your book (without any further out-of-pocket expenses if you have your print-ready PDF available). They handle all printing, distribution and sales and send you a generous royalty.

Their digital facility using is amazing. Once you have a properly formatted kindle book, there is no extra charge to publish it with Amazon. You can learn more about formatting kindle books with my special Kindle Publishing Made Easy Course.

I also offer a “done-for-you” formatting service. More information about this may be found on my website.

Digital (eBooks) are taking the world by storm and Amazon is selling at least 183 kindle books for every 100 hardcovers/paperbacks. Kindle is the single bestselling category on Amazon and there is free kindle reading software for every digital device, from computers to laptops, tablets, iPads, Smartphones and SmartWatches. Anybody anywhere in the world can read your book within 60 seconds of purchasing it from Amazon.

Benefits include:

  • Huge traffic and hungry buyers with credit cards.
  • Global reach.
  • No middleman required.
  • User-friendly publishing.
  • Economical.
  • Income opportunity with 35%-70% royalties.
  • Unlimited sales potential.
  • Marketing assistance.

Publishing is uncomplicated:

  1. Write an excellent book of any length.
  2. Open your free account with Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace.
  3. Format your Word document appropriately.
  4. Upload your manuscript and cover.
  5. Review and make corrections.
  6. Publish.
  7. Enjoy royalties.


Smashwords, based in Los Gatos, California, is an eBook self-publishing and distribution platform founded by Mark Coker. It is a really incredible facility that will help you publish your book in nine or more formats, including ePub for Apple products.

While Smashwords will not publish your book to Amazon Kindle, many of their readers will purchase your book from them in Kindle format.

They will include your books in their premium catalogue for free! Check the Dashboard to see where your books are to be found once they are published.

Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalogue, they automatically distribute it to major online retailers such as Apple (distribution to iBooks stores in 51 countries), Barnes & Noble (US and UK), Kobo, OverDrive (world’s largest library eBook platform serving 20,000+ libraries), Flipkart (New September 29, 2013: India’s largest online bookseller), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites and; and operates Android eBook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus), and other distribution outlets.

Additionally, Kobo powers the eBook stores of multiple eBook retailers around the world. Simply by distributing to Kobo via Smashwords, your books will also reach WH Smith in the UK, FNAC in France and Portugal, Livraria Cultura in Brazil, Angus & Robertson in Australia, Bookworld in Australia, Indigo in Canada, Collins in Australia, Feltrinelli in Italy, Libris in the Netherlands, Paper Plus in New Zealand, Play in Great Britain, Rakuten in Japan, (now Rakuten) in the US, Whitcoulls in New Zealand, and more on the way.


I strongly recommend you take these steps when publishing your book.

  1. Make sure your manuscript is proof-read and edited.
  2. Have a professional graphic artist design your front cover.
  3. Format your book for Amazon Kindle publishing.
  4. Publish it to Amazon Kindle with your front cover sized to 2400 pixels on the longest side. Amazon will allocate you an ISBN.
  5. Have your graphic artist do a professional layout of your book and complete the full cover. He will only be able to do this once the layout is complete and he knows the spine size. Use size 6×9 inches for your book.
  6. Ask your layout artist to give you two PDFs of your book content and cover, one with the ISBN for local printing, and one without an ISBN.
  7. Get quotes from local printers for your book with the ISBN number and print a limited quantity for local distribution.
  8. Publish your book without the ISBN number to Amazon via CreateSpace for your global printed edition. CreateSpace will allocate you an ISBN.
  9. Format your book for EPUB publishing and submit it to Smashwords, using the same cover as your Kindle edition. They will also give you an ISBN number.
  10. Insert your front cover into the PDF without the ISBN number and publish it on your website as an eBook.

For more help and information about publishing, take a look at my very special publishing courses, which includes instruction on completing your tax interview to avoid 30% USA withholding tax and obtaining a USA Bank Account for royalties. They also cover marketing strategies.

How to Write, Publish and Market your Book Globally in a variety of formats and with a number of online Publishers. (Includes the Publish Your Passion Course).
Special discounted rates for South Africans paying in ZAR.

Kindle Publishing Made Easy focuses on Kindle Publishing.

Click on the Menu tabs for more advice and recommendations

Let’s make a difference in our world!

Val Waldeck





Author | Bible Teacher | Blogger

Comments (7)

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