Understanding Self-publishing – ASA Guide

Understanding self-publishing

CHECKLIST: Questions to ask when considering author-funded publishing

Before engaging a publishing service provider, please consult the following checklist, compiled to help you sort the good from the bad and the ugly.


Do you understand your contract? Have you been given time to read and consider it?

You must tally your total costs and have enough information to forecast your revenue based on low/reasonable/high sales.

In our observation, many authors using service providers have no understanding of their likely return per unit sold and no ability to calculate how many books they must sell to recover costs.


Where is the service provider located?

The location of the service provider is important as Australia is the primary market for most Australian authors. If located overseas, does the service provider know the Australian market? Will the service provider conduct any marketing here? Will Australia be regarded as an export market, so that sales made here generate a lower return to the author? In the event of a legal dispute, will any action be conducted under the laws and jurisdiction of an overseas country, making it very difficult for an author to take action?


–itemised in detail?

–along with associated costs?

–and a schedule of dates/timeline, including a firm deadline for publication?

The ASA recommends you receive an itemised breakdown of services and costs, which may include:

  • editing (structural edit? copyedit? both?)

  • design of front cover, back cover, spine
  • layout of internal book, typesetting

  • proofreading

  • printing if relevant
  • marketing
  • creation of promotional material
  • sales representation
  • distribution, including overview of channels for both eBook and print editions

• stock level management.

Be wary of a lump sum fee with no explanation of the services covered by that fee.

from: ASA Guide to Australian Book Publishing – available free to ASA members