News room: Three Things I've Learnt From Self-Publishing, By Non-Fiction Author Richard Grady

Three Things I've Learnt From Self-Publishing, By Non-Fiction Author Richard Grady by Sarah Juckes

Non-fiction writer, Richard Grady, reveals three things he has learnt from self-publishing, and what drove him to publish a print edition of his sport and travel book, One Day Ahead with CompletelyNovel. There are some really great tips in here for new authors, so give it a read and share your own top tips for other budding authors below!

Writing has been an important part of my life for many years but, until recently, I had never published a ‘real’ book made out of actual paper. After publishing my first full length eBook in July 2014, I decided that this had to change. My initial motivation to produce a printed book was, I am sure, a common one among self-published authors. I simply wanted to be able to hold a copy of my book in my hands. After finding CompletelyNovel, I embarked on an exciting and tremendously educational journey.

Why I chose to publish in print

When I first started self-publishing, I wasn’t expecting to sell many copies of my paperback. After all, it seemed to me that people only read their books electronically now. My experience over the last few weeks has shown me that this is far from the case. I’ve personally sold a number of paperbacks to people who ‘don’t do eReaders’ and Amazon have been doing the same on my behalf. Hard copies are also great to send to people for review; so much better than offering to email an eBook file.

In addition, a proper paperback makes for a perfect impulse purchase at a relevant event. My book is probably most relevant to cyclists and I spend a fair bit of time at cycle races through the year; each one is an ideal opportunity to sell a few copies. Of course, the main advantage to having self-published my own book is that I won’t have to spend any time worrying about what to buy people for Christmas!

So what have I learned on my self-publishing journey so far?

1. Your book cover is key

As a new and unknown author, it is absolutely vital that you invest time and money in a professional book cover. The cover is the first thing that potential buyers will see and it needs to grab their attention. Professional artwork doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of amazing artists around the world who can produce stunning illustrations at reasonable prices. To find them, just join a freelance site such as or The cover illustration (front and back) for my book was produced by a wonderfully talented artist from Estonia and it cost me less than £150.00. An absolute bargain.

2. Edit, edit, edit

Any writer knows that it is next to impossible to proofread your own work. The human brain can be too clever at times and it will correct errors as you read without bothering to alert you to them. Thanks brain! It’s therefore essential that you get someone else to proofread your work before you publish it.

I put my book through a rigorous process of proofreading and editing, and actually asked five different people to check it, one after the other. Each had experience of professional editing, but my final reader still managed to find a couple of errors which the other four had missed. I dread to think how many typos my original draft contained.

3. Typesetting and formatting

I honestly had no idea how much work goes into the typesetting of a book. Fortunately CompletelyNovel have a free guide which was a huge help in getting me started.

Typesetting and formatting is all about making your words look the best they possibly can on the printed page and it is worth spending the time to get it right. This was the biggest area of learning for me; I had never typeset anything in my life. Beginning with the CompletelyNovel guide, I continued my typesetting education using Google and learnt about widows and orphans, hyphenation, kerning and tracking and more. Although it sounds tedious, there is actually a degree of satisfaction in getting a paragraph of text perfectly typeset. This was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of self-publishing for me. Seriously!

Self-publishing involves far more than simply writing a book. However, the beauty of the modern age we live in is that all the tools to self-publish are just a mouse click away. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of preparing my first book for printing and I am about to begin the same process with a second book. This time I know what to expect and quite frankly, I can’t wait.

Richard Grady’s book, One Day Ahead: A Tour de France Misadventure, details a three week period in 2012 when Richard acted as part of the support team for a charity cycle ride of that year’s Tour de France Route. The four cyclists in the ‘One Day Ahead’ team had a lovely time riding round the French countryside; Richard, not so much. As one reviewer said, ‘It is always funny when it is happening to someone else!’

Richard warns that the book does contain some ‘grumpy old man’ style moaning but that this should not be harmful to your health.

Further reading:

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Written by
Sarah Juckes
Published on
Non-fiction, Self-publishing, Author advice, and Travel and sport