Self-publishing in Australia is like all things in Australia, just a little bit harder and a little bit more expensive than in the US. And most of the articles out there are written for US authors. So here’s my attempt to help the next Aussie self-publisher.

Quick summary of our project:

Tools we used

  • Word to draft
  • Online freelancer platform to find a copy editor. We tested a few of them with one chapter before selecting the one with the right touch for the full book.
  • Australian Book Designers Association to find a print book designer — this is critical if you want a professional book. We worked with Kerry Cooke and had an excellent experience
  • IngramSpark to publish eBook and Physical book POD to global retailers, including the two main ones in AU: Fishpond.com.au and Booktopia.com.au

Costs

$143 on 10 ISBNs
$300 on copy editing
$1000 on print design
$500 on first order of books

~ AU$2000

Most of the quotes we received from Aussie self-publishers were well over $4000 and didn’t include copy editing.

Self-Publisher – Print on Demand/POD retailer distribution

There are many articles on this topic and I suggest you research them to make the best choice for your book.

I chose IngramSpark because they can print in Australia (which meant lower shipping costs than BookBaby) and had a good online interface for setting up the book. I explored Australian self-publishing options but found them to essentially be resellers of Ingram (or a competitor’s) services, so I felt I was smart enough to skip the middle man. You may prefer the extra help of having an account manager helping you through the process, but will pay 2-3 times as much. In particular I found the practice of charging an extra fee per graphic in the text to raise the cost too much. We had over 10 of them and at $100 extra for each, that seemed way too much. That being said, we found an incredibly flexible book designer who was happy to push some of the image work back to me rather than charge us extra.

With regards to the service from IngramSpark, the first time I called Ingram for help, they answered right away and addressed my question quickly. So I’m pleased so far. Their web interface is a bit tricky since you have to go through each page to get to the submission page before you publish the book, but these are minor and probably best to review those pages anyway!

We are now (mostly) happily listed on Fishpond and Booktopia and Amazon. Except it turns out that Amazon does not support POD for Australia, so Americans can buy it, but Australians only see the Kindle version. That’s a bit tricky when selling to an Australian market.

ISBNs

If you buy through resellers they will charge you way too much. An ISBN is a really simple thing, it is just a number. You can purchase directly from Thorpe. If you are doing an eBook and a physical book you will need two, one ISBN for each. So you may as well buy the 10 and have some ISBNs handy for the next inspiration.

Do NOT pay to get a barcode image of your ISBN, they are easy and free to generate.

eBooks/ePub

We have not mastered this yet. The challenge is that the physical book design does not magically translate to a flexible eBook. We chose to put out a fixed eBook first, which means it basically reads like a PDF. On some readers this is merely annoying (Kindle) and on others it is entirely unreadable (Booktopia). If you have a lot of embedded images and quotes in your book as we do then reformatting for the flexible eBook format means more work for the book designer (or you if you have the time to master the free ePub file formatting tools).

Unlike a physical book which has only one manifestation, the eBook is an ephemeral concept, how it will appear to your reader depends on many things outside your control. The fixed approach attempts to solve this by fixing the width and relative location of graphics, but means the reader cannot resize fonts and the text does not “re-flow” to fit the screen size.

Knowing HTML comes in handy when dealing with eBooks and can lower your cost to make small edits.

Be prepared to make trade offs and do a lot of testing. Good luck!