Frequently Asked Questions

I want to publish a book. What are my options?

There are two routes you can take if you are interested in publishing.

The first is traditional publishing. You can choose to submit your manuscript to a traditional publishing house. However, publishing houses have strict submission guidelines and only publish books that fit with the types of books they already publish (their ‘list’). Preflight Books does not accept submissions for traditional publishing.

However, we offer services to self-published authors. This is the second route you can take. If you would like to become a self-published author, we can help you by providing a variety of services such as editing, layout, illustration, cover design and proofreading. You only pay for the services you use. You still retain all the rights to your book, and will be making decisions about design and layout.

If you are interested in self-publishing with us, please go here to fill in the Customer Information Sheet and submit your manuscript to us.

What are the main differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing houses select books that fit their publishing lists. They take on all the financial risks and do most of the work, but also keep most of the profits.

Preflight Books provides publishing services for self-publishers. There are no strings attached and no author contracts. When self-publishing, the author keeps all the profits, but is also responsible for the costs of production and printing, as well as marketing and distribution.

Both forms of publishing have their benefits, but self-publishing is a good starting point for inexperienced authors, niche authors and a profitable option for experienced, entrepreneurial authors who know what they want.

Is my manuscript worth publishing?

If it is your dream to see your book published or if you just want your book in physical form on your bookcase, your manuscript is worth publishing. We do require that your manuscript be finished, your original work and that you be happy with what you have written. You do not have to want to make a profit from your book to publish it.

Traditional publishers are hesitant to publish manuscripts by first-time authors because of unpredictable sales. We offer you the chance to test your book’s sales potential by initially self-publishing in small quantities

Why should I self-publish my book?

Some books have very specific niche audiences or have applications outside of the trade or education market, and will not be accepted by traditional publishers. Self-publishing is your best option If you only want five copies of your memoir, you want to create your own poetry anthology, or if you want to test the waters for your novel.

What is the publishing process like?

After you complete the customer information sheet and submit your manuscript, a quotation will be generated and sent to you. If you are happy with the quotation, you will be sent an invoice.

Once you pay your deposit and send us the proof of payment we can start working on your project! The first step is editing, followed by layout and cover design, proofreading, and then corrections.

We will send you a printing invoice which you should make payment for, along with any outstanding publishing service fees. Your books will then be sent to print. Printing can take between two and three weeks, depending on the printer.

You can collect your books from our offices in Hatfield or, if you are based far from Pretoria or would prefer it, we can arrange to have your books couriered to you. Please note that this might cost more (depending on where you are based), so please mention this at the beginning of the project.

What is a customer information sheet?

A customer information sheet tells us about your work in detail so that we can understand the type of manuscript we will work with, calculate how long it will take to work on your project, and generate a quote for you.

You will need to answer some questions about your work, including what services you need (editing, cover design, illustrations, an ISBN, e-book creation, etc.), the type of assets your book has, and what material and specifications you would choose for printing your specific type of work.

Why must I submit my manuscript to you?

We require the manuscript to correctly assess how much work is needed and what you require from us. The copyright to your work remains with you. Your work is always kept secure and we will supply you with a confidentiality agreement. Click here to download and sign the confidentiality agreement. 

In which format must I submit my manuscript?

Submit your manuscript in Microsoft Word format. You need to include a cover page with all your personal details, as well as a synopsis of your manuscript. Please note that the number of pages you submit will change once published. Kindly keep to the following formatting guidelines:

  • 12 point Times New Roman
  • 1,5 line spacing
  • Start new paragraphs on new lines, but do not leave spaces
  • Bold titles, headings and sub-headings
  • Images must be high resolution and you must have permission from the copyright owner
Will I be able to make a profit from book sales?

If profit is your motivation, yes. Self-publishing requires only a small investment in order to get going. However, you as the author are entirely responsible for marketing and sales and you get out what you put in. On the upside, publishing service costs such as editing and design are once-off, which means that once the book has been developed, you can reprint countless copies of the same book without paying for these services again – and of course, make more profit per book.

Do I have to get my book printed?

You don’t have to print your book. You can choose to publish it in a digital format only.

Which is better: print or digital?

It’s important to know who your readers are and how you will reach them. Digital has the benefit of being available to readers around the world. Some books are better suited to print, like children’s books. In general, we also find that South African readers prefer print media over digital. But, both forms do have their own benefits and you can certainly go for both.

How many books should I print?

It depends on the aim of your manuscript. If you plan on acquiring an ISBN, you can publish anything from six copies up (five copies for legal deposit, one for yourself). If you want to sell your book to a large audience, you can start with 100 copies to test the waters. If you sell out, you can always ask for a reprint. Keep in mind that the more copies you print, the cheaper the printing costs will be per book. We do not recommend printing over 500 copies for an initial print run if you do not have buyers lined up.

What is legal deposit?

By law, five copies of every book that is granted an ISBN and published must be sent to the five national libraries of South Africa. This is for archival purposes. If we manage the printing of your book, we will send the five copies to the libraries on your behalf.

What is an ISBN and why do I need one?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is your book’s identification number or fingerprint. It is a 13-digit number, not a barcode. All book databases use the ISBN to track books. ISBN’s are how readers and buyers find your books. They are essential for sales to bookstores, for online sales, and for listing in databases and directories.

I already have a photo/ illustration for my book. Why are you charging me for cover design?

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but we all do! There’s more to a cover than just the front image. Our graphic designers create a front cover, back cover, and a spine, which suit the book’s style. Furthermore, the design of a cover incorporates both text and visual elements to attract the first-time viewer. Our graphic designers have years of experience in creating appealing book covers.

Why should I get my manuscript edited?

A well-edited manuscript makes all the difference. Even the most experienced writers make many mistakes. Errors can be quite embarrassing, both for writers and publishers. Our in-house editors will make sure that errors are ironed out and that your manuscript is professional and presentable.

Do I keep copyright on my book?

If the book is your original work, the copyright will forever remain yours. There is no fine print or legal documentation involved in this process. At no point is your work compromised.

How much will it cost to publish my book?

Every project is unique.

We will send estimated price brackets with your enquiry.

How long will my project take?

Each project inevitably has its own schedule. If you have a plain text novel, the book can be completed within roughly two months. We estimate that editing takes about two to three weeks, the layout another two to three weeks, and printing a further three weeks. However, the schedule is entirely determined by the nature of the book, your feedback, and our workload at the time.

Books are very delicate creations, so we never rush your project. We make sure that the final product is the perfect book you’ve always wanted and will be proud to sell.

Will you sell my book for me?

We do not function as a distributor or retailer. We are glad to advise you on how to proceed with such matters but, in essence, these tasks are handed over to the author. The benefit here is that you, as the author, will keep all the profits from sales of the book.

What are my options for marketing and distribution?

You are responsible for the marketing and distribution of your book. We can advise you and create marketing material to help you, but you will have to connect with your market using your own initiative.

Now that I have a book, what's next?

It is now up to you to sell your book! Approach your friends and family and ask them to talk to their friends about it. Talk to the people in your community and send review copies to newspapers. Organise a launch party and invite everyone you know. Do as much social networking as you can and start an author blog, website and/or social media pages.

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