How to write your own paperback book

Thinking about writing your own paperback book? Got an idea for a novel or a non-fiction story? Our short guide includes practical tips on how we self-published our own paperback – read on!

Before we start, this guide is relevant to self-publishing a paperback in the UK. There may be different guidelines for where you live so bear that in mind.

Start writing

Our book ‘Two Wheels to Chamonix‘ took about a year to write, but it started by just opening a Word document and typing out a title. Close to 40,000 words later, it was finished.

Along the way, there were lots of self-doubt thoughts such as ‘will it be good enough? will anyone want to read it? will anyone buy it?’. With lots of determination and editing, it began to take shape and become a fun project.

We didn’t hire an editor, nor did we secure a publisher. We relied on a small group of trusted friends to help with editing, and we decided to self-publish.

So far, the feedback has been brilliant!


Create a cover for your book

An eye-catching cover is a must for any new book. We got ours done by a designer on the Fiverr website. There’s lots of choice on there and some very good deals. Make sure you pick a designer who can do the front, back and spine of your book. You’ll need to know the spine width before putting your order in – that’s a measurement that your chosen book printer should be able to tell you.

Get an ISBN number

It’s not a legal requirement to have an ISBN number for your book, but it helps publishers, libraries and booksellers to find you. We used Nielsen for ours and bought 10 ISBN’s (£164) as it was more cost effective than just buying one (£89). We bought 10 as we know we’re going to write more books in the future!

You’ll need to give a copy of your ISBN number to the person that designs your cover so that they can pop it on the rear page. Google ‘free online barcode generator’ to turn your ISBN number into a barcode image.

Find a book printer

We did lots of shopping around before choosing a printer. We needed one who did short print runs, and also wanted one that was ethical. Lots of book printing websites have instant quotes so you know how much they charge.

The one we chose was Cloc Book Print. They’re a family run business, based in London and were very good to deal with. They even offered a free first copy of our book so that we could check the layout and cover style before printing. We highly recommend them.

For 150 copies (black and white inside, full colour cover), they charged £311.95 including delivery. That’s about £2 per book.

Sell your book

When the books land on your doorstep, the next thing to do is sell them! We didn’t have a clear marketing plan at all (we still don’t!), but we’ve sold them all.

Our first strategy was to sell to friends and family and we mainly did this through social media. We set up our online shop on this website and also listed the book on Amazon (Google Amazon Seller Account for more info).

A benefit of posting on Amazon is that you can sell your book as an ebook version too. This is really easy to set up.

Then we hooked up with our local bike cafe to do a mini book launch. We set up outside the cafe on a hot summers day and sold a fair few! This was a great way to sell to complete strangers.

We’ve also attended a couple of events. One was a LetzShare women’s adventure event where we gave a short talk and had a stall for the books. The other was an artisan market as part of the Brecon Women’s Festival. There are lots of ways to sell your book – just explore lots of options and see what works best for you!

two wheels to Chamonix

Total cost of our book

  • Cover design = £21.69
  • 150 copies = £311.95
  • ISBN number = £16.40 (for 1 ISBN)
  • TOTAL = £350.04
  • Cost per book = £2.33

We’ve been selling our book for £5 a copy which doesn’t seem like a great deal of profit. However, when all copies are sold it’s about £400 in the bank! When we sell through our own website 100% profit comes to us. On Amazon it’s a different story as they take lots of fees. Bear this in mind if you’re selling on their platform!

Hope you find this article useful – drop us a line if you’d like to ask any further questions!

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