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I have little doubt unpublished they will remain.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’!

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

The Big Con

I talk daily with hopeful Australian authors starting their self-publishing project. Every day the same big questions with the same issues stand up like mountains. As authors push toward the finish-line after years of hard work, there are questions about editing, design and print.

But the real ‘Mount Kosciusko’, or better ‘Mount Everest’, is a question that is seldom asked, the question – how will my book come to be read?

Readership is all about visibility and access. This means an author’s book must first be visible or known. Then readers must have an easy way of getting the book.

I can sum up these two factors in one simple salient term – marketing.

Marketing is both art and science. Unfortunately our industry is plagued with gimmick-laden marketing packages that cost too much and deliver too little. This is why Green Hill doesn’t offer marketing packages. They simply don’t work.

Each author and more specifically each book needs a fully customised marketing plan. That’s why expensive cookie-cutter packages that include junk like book-stubs, posters, library email blasts, press releases and the mother of them all: “worldwide distribution” can make my blood boil.

Even worse many authors are misled to think that if the marketing package is expensive it will get their book known and read. Nothing can be further from the truth. Most features in our competitor’s marketing packages take the click of a mouse online and are ineffective.

Green Hill doesn’t offer “marketing packages”. But we can be engaged on an hourly rate to customise a marketing plan that has the very best chance of success.

My advice is to always start with the fundamentals and then build. Don’t commit to a big marketing package with a big price tag. The first things to do are:

  1. Get an ISBN
  2. Get professional book design

Add in good content and there’s your foundation upon which to build readership and sales.