For the first time in the 65-year history of the Miles Franklin Literary Awards, a self-published book was shortlisted.

Michael Winkler’s cult hit Grimmish made it to the shortlist of Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, competing against four other authors for the coveted $60,000 prize.

Self-publishing wasn’t always the plan for Winkler. When he first approached traditional publishers, he was told his book was ‘wearisome’ and ‘repellent’.

Winkler could have taken this feedback to heart, shelved Grimmish, and started on a new project but he had enough faith in his manuscript to self-publish. He believed in the power of work even when others didn’t – and it has paid off.

This recognition is wonderful news for self-publishing authors. It demonstrates how the reading community has come to accept that great books do not necessarily have to be published in the traditional manner.

Success doesn’t just happen

But this success doesn’t just happen; there are some things that need to transfer across from traditional publishing to self-publishing.

To be an award winning author, it is important to consider the following:

  • Know exactly who you are writing for – who is your target market?
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!
  • Work with a qualified editor who can make your work shine.
  • Great cover designs are your book’s first impression – make it a good one! Don’t forget the back cover blurb and spine.
  • Invest in a professional layout and design – this will make your book look more professional and be easier and more enjoyable to read.
  • Develop a solid marketing plan. Believing that people will find your book just because you have uploaded it for sale is a recipe for failure.
  • Organise reviews and endorsements early – they are a great way to promote your book, but a positive review from a respected name in your industry can do wonders.

While the Miles Franklin Literary Awards only considers works of Australian fiction, there are many different annual awards available for authors to submit their books to.

As a judge on the Australian Business Book Awards, I see a large variety of books – some are very professional, others not so. If you want your book to sit alongside traditionally published books, it is important to think of self-publishing as an investment.

From typesetting and internal and cover designs, to proofreading and editing, to marketing and promotion, the team at Independent Ink provides a wide range of advice and services to self-publishing authors. Get in touch today to discuss a plan for your next book!