Update (December, 2017): I’ve published more than a dozen books, including a book called Self-Publishing for Canadians. There’s a link to it in the sidebar (scroll down if you’re on a mobile device).
In the post below, I’ve noted things that have changed since I wrote it back in 2010.
I’ve established a publishing company, Norn Publishing, to publish my work. That makes me a Canadian publisher, and since I’ll publish my own stuff, a Canadian self-publisher. I’ve belonged to the Yahoo Self-Publishing group for several years and have read numerous books about publishing. The Yahoo group members and the authors of the aforementioned books are knowledgeable and generous with their time, but most publish in the US. When it came time for me to dip my toe into the self-publishing pool, I couldn’t find a site that addressed self-publishing in Canada, at least not in detail. There’s a Yahoo Canadian POD group and its members are always willing to answer questions, but I hoped to find a step-by-step description of how to go about publishing a book in Canada. I couldn’t. If you know of one, please let me know. (Update: The Yahoo groups are pretty much dead. Facebook groups are where it’s at now. As far as finding a step-by-step description goes, I went ahead and wrote a book that does just that.)
I thought it might be informative to do a series of posts about self-publishing in Canada. Having said that, I’m currently in the process of publishing a book for the first time. I don’t want to post about a step I haven’t yet personally completed, so this series of posts will occur over time. If all goes according to plan, my first book will be available in January, 2010.
If you’re interested in self-publishing but don’t live in Canada, don’t run away. The basic steps are the same no matter where you live. Some steps will differ only in the URL you have to visit; others will differ significantly more. But the basic steps (Assign an ISBN, for example) will be the same.
Before I start, I want to make it clear what *I* mean by self-publishing and hence what I’ll be posting about. If you’ve been published by iUniverse, Trafford, AuthorHouse, Lulu (exception: the Published by You package), or another self-publishing company, it may surprise you to know that you didn’t self-publish, even though these companies (and others) advertise themselves as “self-publishing” companies. If you don’t own the ISBN assigned to your book/ebook/audio book/whatever, then you did NOT self-publish. Someone else is the publisher of record. I’m going to talk about establishing your own publishing company, obtaining your own ISBNs, and therefore publishing your own work.
I’m not interested in debating the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. Like many things, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to the question of “Should I self-publish?” It will depend on what you want to accomplish. I’m going to describe how to self-publish in Canada for those who have considered their options and arrived at self-publishing. (Update: The debate about self- vs. traditional publishing is pretty much dead. Few people care how you’re published.)
At this point, I should note that one of the self-publishing books on my shelf is Self-Publishing in Canada by Suzanne Anderson. I sorta, kinda recommend it as a starting point, but like many books on the subject of publishing, it’s a bit out of date. For example, it assumes you’ll be printing offset and doesn’t address online bookstores. But it’s still worth a look if you’re serious about self-publishing in Canada.
I’m going to assume that you’ve written or are writing something you want to self-publish, so I’m not going to address that obvious step. I’m also going to assume that you’ve had or will have your work edited. If you’re not willing to hire an editor for your work, stop right here; there’s no point in continuing. For everyone else, okay, you have (or will have) an edited manuscript in hand that you want to self-publish. Now what? My next few posts on this subject will be about establishing your company. (Update: I’m not so black and white about hiring an editor now. While I still think it’s a good idea, a few good beta readers can suffice.)
Note that you don’t have to complete the steps in the order I describe them. You can perform many of them before you’ve completed your manuscript. My manuscript isn’t finished, but I’ve already established my company and obtained ISBNs. As we go along, I’ll be sure to note when you must complete step A before step B.