Jo Parfitt is a cracking editor and taught me most of what I know about editing books – what she doesn’t know about creating, writing, editing and publishing is not worth knowing.  This is her advice on publishing a book.

I have written 28 books and had them published every which way.  I’ve been published by the big guys (Macmillan, Octopus), published by the small guys (Zodiac, Bookshaker) and run my own publishing company since 1997 (Summertime Publishing).

I have published my own books, offer both paid for and traditional publishing services to authors and have published over 50 books ‘not by me’ as a result. Thanks to the rapid advances in technology and such things as Print on Demand, online bookstores, Kindle and iPad, my learning curve has been exponential.  Luckily I also recognise that the best ways to learn is by my mistakes.

I am happy to share with you ten things I learned the hard way.  I hope that they will stop you from making the same mistakes.

  1. Everyone needs an editor.  You cannot proof read your own books; no, not even if you are a really good writer.
  2. You do judge a book by its cover.  Yes it is worth paying an expert to design yours!
  3.  Know your genre.  If you know where your book will sit in a library or bookstore you will find it easier to sell.
  4. Bookstores do not like Print on Demand books.  The wholesalers don’t like dealing with the small guys and the small guys don’t like dealing with the wholesalers. They want 60% discount to hold your book in stock so it can be very hard to make a living from bookstores unless you print a few thousand copies at a time which will allow you to give the wholesalers that 60%.
  5. If you want to sell your book online via POD, it means you don’t need to hold stock, the book is printed and posted each time someone orders it.  All you do is collect the profit.  The downside is that the unit price of printing each book is a little higher.
  6. Converting the PDF of your print ready book to Kindle is not expensive (I pay 25cents a page).  So if you are going to produce a physical book it is a no-brainer to do it for Kindle too.
  7. The best way to make money from a book is to sell it at the ‘back of the room’, directly to your audience or students.  It makes sense – no bookstore takes a commission.
  8. You need to start blogging and building a following a year before your book comes out.  Ideally your blog and your website should share the same title as your book.
  9. One of the best ways to market your book, apart from social media of course, is to write and place articles in print and digital publications.  Learn to write useful, objective articles in your specialist topic and you will effectively earn yourself free advertising!
  10.  Consider finding a sponsor or advertisers for your book.  Consider branding certain editions for your clients and selling them 100s at a time. You only make a few quid from selling a single book. So find ways to sell 100s at a time instead.


Jo Parfitt is owner of Summertime Publishing and she offers a complete mentoring service for new authors from ‘brainwave to bookshelf’.  She specialises in personal development and expatriate titles and her books can be seen at  Visit the Tool Vault at and help yourself to free gifts.