June 16

I self published 3. Here’s how to self publish a book in Singapore


I watched my email with disbelief.

This was the third order I was receiving in a week.

Sure, my (self-published) book was selling at $9.90 per book, and Stripe took $0.90 off as a commission.

Suddenly orders came in.
Suddenly orders came in.

But still, for people to buy my book online, with none of my own promoting, felt a little too good to be true.

That’s what we all want as authors.

But first, you need to get it published. You may have been at it for years. Emailing publishers. Following up. Going faithfully for author events. Even plucking up the courage to ask authors at those events how they do it.

But still, something doesn’t seem to click.

No publishers get back to you.

And soon, you are at a point where you’re considering self-publishing. You might think it’s a joke.


Many famous authors self-published, before they got into the mainstream community.

Here’s Brene Brown, sharing how she self-published in 2004 before Penguin bought her book
Here’s Brene Brown, sharing how she self-published in 2004 before Penguin bought her book

Me too.

I’m here today to share my journey, and to give you some encouragement for your own.

Know the power of your manuscript

You might think that you’ve the next Harry Potter in your hands. Or if you’re writing non-fiction, you might think that you’ve written the next copy of Atomic Habits.

Yet if you’re not getting publishers to bite on your manuscript, maybe the truth is that your manuscript isn’t of that quality (yet).

Here’s what could help.

Run it through an editor (not on Fiverr)

There’s two types of editing. One is copyediting, where they look through your grammar.

Dot the T-s, and cross the I-s.

That’s needed, but not at this point. These are the ones you probably see on Fiverr.

What you do need is a developmental editor. Those are rarer. They are ones who shepherd and shape a book from idea to a book bought by a publishing house.

Often they are valuable because:

  1. They tell you the hard truth, about whether there’s a market for it
  2. They structure your manuscript and make it better

One place to go is Reedsy, which has thousands of experts from the book publishing industry.

Be prepared to spend money

I’ve gone through the self-publishing route thrice, out of the four books I’ve written.

Here’s what it typically involves.

First decide to self-publish

I put this as the first step because there are many wannabe authors, who talk, and even do the task of writing, but they never publish.


Over my past 4 years in the publishing industry, I’ve met 3 fiction authors in their 20s. Often when I ask them why they don’t want to self-publishing, the reasons tend to be,

I don’t want it to be just another self-published, ego book.

I want to go the traditional way where I’m paid an advance.

I know it can happen. The script just needs to be better.

They end up toiling away.

In 2021, I remember meeting my first ever author. I was excited to see that he was working. But when the question of self-publishing came up, the reasons above surfaced.

He felt it would be a waste of money to self-publish.

Sure, self-publishing can sound like an ego-boosting exercise where you’re just paying money to have your work published. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. And yes, whilst there’s much good in having your work published by the Penguin Random Houses of this world, that might not necessarily be a better thing than self-publishing.

How long would it take for you to be spotted by Penguin? Perhaps 6 years?

Self-publishing would be faster. If you take the necessary effort, you might also end up with a book that’s not that bad.

Sure, it may not be a bestseller. But at least you can say you built it, yourself.

Why even bother?

At this point, you may ask,

if I’m not going to make money,

not going to get famous,

why should I bother writing?

Books, are artefacts for your ideas. Your thoughts. Your speech.

They are the only things that last the stand of time.

They may yellow, but they would hardly disappear.

Digitally, whilst you may have stores of this information, it can never beat the book that stays in your hand.

Sure, no one might buy those 500 copies you bought. But you can at least take it out and say,

hey, that’s something I made.

Open your pocket

That also means you need to be prepared to spend money.

Item How much it might cost Why needed
1. Developmental Editing Starts from $1500 to about $2500 Structures your book and makes sure there is a market for it
2. Layout artist About $1000 to $2000 for a layout artist based in Singapore
Fiverr has cheaper ones, but I personally avoided those because I preferred to have those face to face discussions where we could touch the paper, discuss which paper quality we would use, rub your hands across the paper, bring books I liked in front of the artist, and tell them why I liked it.
Designs the cover and formats the book so that it is neat and tidy
3. Printing For an initial run of 500, expect to spend about $3500 to $4500 for a 180 page book  
Total Expect to set aside a minimum of $6000 for the first book you self-publish Be prepared to write it off, because you probably would never make back your losses

Ask who it’s for

My first was a book of inspirational quotes, as you can see above.

But it sold little, because I never stopped to think,

who would actually buy this?

Do people actually write cards these days?

The answer is,


When you start asking who your book is for, it scopes your book. You write with that someone in mind.

For example, for my second book, “Becoming Better”, I wrote with the archetype of Jasmine (not her real name).

I started by thinking through:

  1. Her behaviour – what she was doing to solve these problems in social work
  2. Her attitude – what she was thinking about social work
  3. Her demographics – what her socio-economic background was

Holding that in my head, I crafted out a reader persona:

Jasmine struggles with her case notes. Each day, she’s swamped by calls, messages, and emails demanding her attention.

She’s tried everything. From having a WhatsApp Business account, to having automated replies, she’s still not managed to get what she needs done.

She loves social work, but she’s started thinking of quitting.

That allowed me to build a book that spoke into the hearts of others, and (possibly) led them to buy it.

Avoid Partridge Publishing

On a personal note, I’ve not heard great things about Partridge. Authors complain that they take any manuscript. Often this means that it is truly vanity publishing and that there is little quality control to the eventual manuscript that comes out.

Bring it out, today

Sometimes, we have high expectations of the book we want to write. That keeps us stuck from our dreams of pushing out something that might help others.

In a world of noise, it may be tempting to think that we may have to be careful about what we put out. To think that the book may need more editing, before it goes into self-publishing.

Or to think that perhaps you can do it on your own, only to find your book constantly not become the fresh smell of paper you can rub with your fingers.

In a world this complex, the world needs your voice, and it needs it now.

Of course, if you’d like us to help, we also shape the book for you from manuscript to printed copy for $3900, which you can pay across 5 months. You can reach out to us here.



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