Self-publishing is as old as the printing press

This year one of our authors rang concerned that announcement of the release her new book in social media was criticised by quite a few people.

They said self-publishing was ‘selling out’, And ‘my literary agent and I are still in negotiations with Picador’. The sanctimony increased with ‘my editor has pleaded with me to pitch the book to her agent friend in New York, she said “its got to be one of the best books of the last decade” ‘.

The thing is this: not one of these critics had ever been published in any form, all attended ‘expert’ writing groups, all were well advanced into their seventies, having written on average 5 manuscripts over the last 10 years.

I have little doubt unpublished they will remain.

I’ve been in publishing for almost 30 years and have managed the production of over 1,000 titles. All of these were self-published. All of these were brought to market by authors with a burning drive to reach the eyes of readers.

Guttenberg – a political exile – built the first modern printing press to self-publish The Bible and political pamphlets. Similarly a few years later Claxton published works for the monarchy – this was in-house self-publishing. Schoffer self-published his The Book of Psalms. 

In these cases whoever owned the printing press was also the author and publisher.

No hierarchical publishing industry structure there.

Every writer wants their creative work to be read. High levels of literacy, the freedom (in many countries) to voice ideas – even controversial ideas, technology e.g. print on demand and online distribution systems has democratized publishing. And that’s got to be a good thing.

No more big publishing companies, whose only goal seems to be returning value to shareholders – totally controlling the interests of content creators.


We’ve still got a long way to go. But I say an emphatic ‘viva self-publishing’!

Printing your book – how it can lead to a publishing project disaster

How important is it to get print parameters right?

Here’s a succinct warning. It’s as blunt as i can possibly be (and yes Green Hill staff tell me I can be quite blunt).

Get your print parameters wrong and you are sure to fail in self-publishing.

I hear many say… but isn’t it about the message, the literary merit of the writing, the depth of my research, the strength of my book concept, the size of the market or the currency of the issue etc.?

As a student of economics many years back at one of the most rigorous economics schools in Australia, I learned the lesson of the robustness of economic law – the principles of supply and demand – in particular the gradient (or slope) of the supply and demand curves.

Book printing disaster You can break laws but you need to get expert advice!

Just like the law of gravity you can get lift-off if you have an expensive plane and plenty of fuel. You can sell a book no matter how expensive, if you have something extra. But conventional wisdom says the dictates of economics need to be applied if you want your book to be widely distributed, e.g. through the book trade; widely read and financially successful.

Let me explain it like this. One of our authors had a perfectly marketable book but insisted on the interior (with photographs) be printed in colour. The book was so expensive it couldn’t get lift-off. That book just didn’t have enough to break through the gravitational price point at market.

Here’s the blunt advice: draw on professional knowledge and experience when putting your print deal together.




I want to print in China

So many books, so many print options!

We’ve printed books in China and India with great quality results.

The key to printing off-shore is finding a reliable supplier. I’ve been on the factory floor in India, China and Cambodia and printing in these locations can be rewarding but  are normally complex and fraught with financial danger. 

If you are trying to do it alone: beware!

What might seem to be a great-deal printer is likely just a broker who might be sourcing plastic rubbish bins from Bejing, shoes from Cambodia and printing from Thailand. They may be doing “what-ever turns a buck”.

So many things can go wrong with printing. Printing takes a specialist who has technical knowledge of the print and finishing process.

If you want to get a quote see our Green Asia service.

David Walters – Director