My name is Robert Rankine and I am the director of Thinking Plainly Limited. If you are considering self publishing let me take this opportunity to explain in more detail the issues you should think about and whether or not self publishing with Thinking Plainly Limited is for you.

Please note that we can only accept applications and work with people who live in London, UK.

I explain this later but I wanted to bring this to your attention now. 

I formed Thinking Plainly Limited in 2012 as a way to be involved in the rapidly developing self publishing industry. I (probably like the majority of people reading this) had always wanted to write and (also probably like the majority of people reading this) had put it off for years but I was also interested in the business side of writing and what it meant to be ‘independent’. I was determined to learn more and I forced myself to stop procrastinating and complete my first short story and make it available on Amazon’s Kindle.

Five years later… the company has its own website and social media presence, I have been joined by three other writers and together we have self-published 15 novels, novellas and short story ebooks & paperbacks on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Google, Scribd and Apple, with more in the pipeline. I have a learnt a lot along the way but by no means is the journey complete, in fact, it is just starting. The publishing industry is a vast and complex animal and there are no easy short cuts to success but with hard work, passion and commitment we have the opportunity to build the foundations of a writing future.

What these five years have taught me is that one of the most important resources is time. A common response I receive when speaking to people about writing and self publishing is that you simply do not have the time to spend hours and hours learning the ins and outs of all the various distributors, how to convert text to ebooks or layout a manuscript, set up correct margins and page dimensions, connect with editors, design a cover, build a website, create an author Facebook page and so on… all of which is vital… but indeed, takes up a lot of time. Like many things, at first it seems a simple proposition but when you look a bit closer the range of options and the scale of work involved can be overwhelming.

All you want to do is write and build an audience.

That’s why I am offering a ‘Self Publishing Package’. It is not something I imagined doing when I started Thinking Plainly Limited and it is not something vital to the business plan but I have had so many people bring this up I felt I could offer a service. However, I can only help real beginners as I know there are many other much larger scale companies that would be better for more technology savvy people. What follows is a summary of what this 'package' offers.

I want to take the burden of the basics away from you and allow you to focus on writing… but more than that I want to foster a community of writers who can rely on each other for help and advice. I always wanted to grow the company at some stage but in a way that helped us all to become better writers. I have no inclination to be a big company for its own sake, by selling a service simply to become a faceless factory that churns out works but doesn’t have any sense of community. There are some brutal truths to be learnt in the creative arts and one of the most important is to be honest with yourself. I am not as good a writer as I want to be… but one day I will be. You are probably not the writer you think you are… but one day you could be. No one likes being rejected and if you have gone through the trials of submitting works to agents, publishers, magazines and websites only to be told that you are not what they are looking for then you have two responses… give up… or work harder and try again. That’s why self publishing a book as a stand alone one-off process has never appealed to me, nor do I want to sell someone a stand alone one-off service.

Is Thinking Plainly right for you? 

I am of the mind-set that if you want to write, it is because you love writing and not because you think it is a good way to become famous and earn your fortune. There is space in this world for everyone and if you want to write because you want to become famous and earn your fortune then good luck to you! I wish you success and there is no reason why you cannot achieve those things. There is also space for people who write for a specific audience because that is what’s popular right now and are happy to change genres or styles when a new audience appears. There is space for people who only want to write a single book for their child’s birthday and have no intention of writing another. There is space for everyone and anyone because I firmly believe you should be able to do what you want to do and no one has the right to criticize or get in your way. However, as much as I encourage you to follow the right path for you and it is great that you know what you want, there is only a limited amount I can do for someone who is looking for quick results and I would much prefer to guide you to another company that can satisfy your needs. There are excellent self-publishing companies out there with fantastic resources and I encourage you to research them. If you are looking into self publishing for any of the reasons above then I do not have the size or scale of resources you require. Rather, I am interested in people who enjoy writing for its own sake, think they have something to say, and want to improve. I want people who are looking to grow and develop. I want people who are honest in their expectations, know there are improvements to be made and are ready to work extremely hard. I want people who want to be part of a team and move onto bigger things when the time is right.

Why do I keep saying ‘team’ when you are paying for a service?

Although you are paying for a service you are also joining a team. It’s part of the deal. I want Thinking Plainly to consist of individual writers all working hard on their own particular works but with the confidence that comes from having a group of like-minded people around them they can call on for support. It is a collaborative effort. Your success is our success. Every single person I meet I learn something from and by sharing our experiences and knowledge we can all improve. Let’s be honest, if we were all writing Man Booker Prize winning material we wouldn’t be self publishing (well, actually, I have something to say about that later if we ever meet…) so let's be truthful about where we are and confront the issues needed to progress. You may not be aware that marketing and promotion are arguably the biggest keys to growing your audience. Your job doesn’t finish when the book is finished. This is where self publishing can be a disappointment. People feel discouraged when they don’t receive hundreds of reviews and big sales. If you have investigated the publishing and self publishing market you will understand the vast number of works put on sale every year and the field of competition you are diving head first into. It can swallow you up, keep you under and without investing serious time and effort you’ll disappear without trace. The majority of self publishing authors don’t have the marketing budgets or industry contacts to get on television, advertise on the sides of buses or in radio spots. It is an entirely personal endeavor… you are responsible for marketing your own work… but by joining with us and growing the team you can have the foundations of an author profile ready to go and importantly, have the support of others with your writing; my view is we can do so much more together. If every person that joins us promotes all the other writers on their blogs, websites, tweets, social media posts, mailing lists, etc. amongst other things, we can reach far more people than we could on our own. Yes, it is difficult to reach an audience, and yes it will be a lot of work for you, but it is the most rewarding feeling to see your work available and being read. After all the warnings I have just mentioned, it may seem like I am purposefully putting you off! In a way I am! I just want to be honest with you. I have met such wonderful people through my journey in writing and self publishing and despite the seemingly constant angst that comes with the creative process it really sets a determination in you to progress and improve… isn’t it great to be able to call yourself a writer! I want to work with people who see Thinking Plainly as joining a team of developing writers, in all aspects, not just the act of writing a story, but improving your editing skills, your communication skills, your publicity skills and your business skills.

One Stop Shop & Do You Need Us?

It is a lot of money to buy a one off product but perhaps not so much if you consider it a long-term investment. I want you to become a confident writer and one that eventually gets a literary agent and a book deal from a mainstream publisher. Or at the very least feel you are able to self publish on your own and go your own way should you wish to. If you think you are capable of that right now, then you don’t need me. Let me give you a few more examples of why you may not need me… if you are a whiz at social media, if you are a whiz at self publicity, if you are a whiz at dealing with designers... quite frankly, if you have the time, energy and resources to self publish then do it yourself, you really don't need anyone. That is why the price for the Thinking Plainly Self Publishing Package is fixed and not a menu pick-and-mix. It is for people who need assistance in every aspect of self publishing, not just a helping hand with one specific task. I believe that every work requires a copy edit, it is essential, not a choice. I believe every work requires an original cover, it is essential, not a choice. I could go on. I have set up this offer because I think it forms the basis of what a professional writer needs to be. I want to offer the tools to people and hopefully watch as you build. Again, if you are someone who is willing to work with several different contacts, one for editing, one for artwork, one for typography, one for website design, one for social media design… then you don’t need us! That is what self publishing is all about, doing it yourself! Go for it. It is how I started. However, if that hassle is something that makes you apprehensive or fearful, or you have never started a project like this before and have no idea where to start then working with us will help to take away that stress and anxiety. For instance, you may feel strong in your commitment to writing but hopeless when it comes to social media, or you may feel you have lots of ideas but don’t know how to turn those ideas into a finished product. Or as I started with, you simply may not have the time to invest and want help. I have been through the process of self publishing many times and fully understand the frustrations and pitfalls that independent writers go through. Think of Thinking Plainly as the ‘launch-pad’ from which to build your author profile. We are friendly, approachable and interested in being a team that makes sure we never give up, and you in turn may be the person that contributes to other people not giving up!

Our 2018 Price


We will:

Provide a copy edit and report of your manuscript

Create an original cover

Convert your manuscript into an ebook and put it on sale with the major distributors:  

{ Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Google, Apple, Kobo & Scribd }

Convert your manuscript into a print-on-demand paperback for sale through Amazon

Add your author profile to our website

Provide an ISBN for your paperback

Set up your author social media platforms and blog

Create your own author website (*but please note there is an annual renewal fee for this*)

There is a lot more to go into, those are just the headlines to make it easy to understand our offer. If you decide to get in touch then we will discuss in much more detail all the stages and tasks involved before you make a decision. All of the above is undertaken with a personal approach. We want your opinion and for you to feel part of the process so nothing is done without your input.

Please be warned though! As I have explained, there is a lot of work involved in self publishing and you are responsible for the marketing and promotion of your book. We will work as a team for all the reasons I have explained above (and I'll keep pushing you!) but ultimately it is up to you to get out there and promote yourself. Self publishing can be very disappointing if you do not take this seriously. I want you to be as informed as you possibly can so it is important you know what we can’t do.

We cannot:

Put your works in bookshops

Produce hardback versions of your books

Get you an agent

Guarantee you sales!

These are long-term aims for Thinking Plainly Limited and something we will be working on in the years to come but it is vital we set out our package clearly and honestly so you can set yourself realistic expectations. Again, as I have already said, if you are confident about working on your own then you don’t need us and there are many great companies out there to investigate. If you are interested in self publishing in order to get your books in front of literary agents as part of the process and undertake a short or long print run then you need to approach one of the larger national companies, or simply persevere with approaching established traditional publishers. I have some questions listed at the end of this text that you should read, and it ends with: What do you want from self publishing? Consider that now. What do you hope to gain by self publishing? What outcomes are you looking for, or expecting? What are the reasons you feel you want to spend money on this venture? Really think carefully because the answers will inform you as to which company you should approach.


For the immediate future I can only accept applications and work with people based in London, UK. I want to meet people face to face and talk directly about your situation. I want this to be a personable journey for you, no formal office hours or contact forms, let’s start as we mean to continue, with an honest conversation. We can meet up for a coffee or talk over the phone without any obligation on your part. Part of the joy of this journey is physically interacting with people. Marketing and promotion via social media can be extremely isolating (not to mention the actual writing process itself!) and getting together with people to explore ideas, discuss suggestions and debate your work is a fulfilling activity. If you have ever been part of a reading group or book club or attended a writing course or study group, you will appreciate that the buzz of engaging emotionally with the creative process is enormously motivating and pushes you on. That’s what I want Thinking Plainly to be.

What is the next step?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you appreciate my honesty in setting out our offer. It’s not for everyone and is certainly not intended to compete with the larger companies. I know that it is a lot of money but I also know what I will put into the relationship and how long it takes. I am not interested in setting up false hopes in people, you need to be realistic, honest and most of all, prepared to put in some hard work to further your writing.

If you are interested in our ‘Self Publishing Package’ please send an email to info@thinkingplainly.com explaining your situation, what you are working on and your contact details. We can arrange a telephone call, a skype call, or even better a coffee meeting as I would love the chance to meet you, show you our current publications and discuss in person if we are right for each other.

Before you commit we will talk through your situation and your project. My colleagues and I will read an excerpt of your manuscript and tell you whether or not we feel it is ready. After an initial discussion we will also tell you if we are the right company for you. We won't take people on for the sake of it, only if it will prove a fruitful and worthwhile creative relationship. If it is, then great we will move forward, but if not I will encourage you to work at it and come back to us later. The argument that all self publishing is vanity publishing is one that will continue for some time yet, and I have my thoughts on it that I will be happy to share with you, which will help explain why even though we are a small collective we won’t be taking everyone that gets in touch.

R.G Rankine

Thinking Plainly Limited



Novellas or Short Stories?

If you are not self publishing a full length novel but have a novella or short story with a word count under 40k and still want to contact us then please do. Depending on your situation we can negotiate a reduced fee that reflects the reduced editing and manuscript formatting time. It is unlikely a short story will be financially viable to produce a print-on-demand paperback (although a collection of short stories might be possible) so there may be ebook only options.


We will take 10% of your sales after all distributor costs have been accounted for. We spend this on marketing the company with the intention of increasing your following. To confirm: you keep 90%. Keep in mind distributor royalty rates may change and we will update these changes with you immediately. You are responsible for complying with, and declaring, all legal tax requirements from this income. I'll take you through some examples and calculations when we meet.


You retain copyright of your work.


You are not an employee of Thinking Plainly Limited but we do have a non-binding agreement. It is there to make clear what we can expect from each other. You are under no obligation to stay with us and there is no notice period for either you or the company. Should you wish to do things on your own in the future, or if that global publishing house you love decides to give you a deal then fabulous. Remember us in your memoirs...


We will consider all genres, it is the quality of the work and the shared ethos we are interested in. Although we want work that is challenging and demanding we will not progress with any works that promotes hatred or prejudice of any kind. We reserve the right to decline works at our sole discretion.

Sales Figures?

You will receive a breakdown of all sales from all distributors showing the calculations for royalty rates. We believe in full transparency (except seeing other writers’ figures, that’s private of course) so what the company knows, you know.

What does a copy edit mean?

We do not want Thinking Plainly to simply be an automated business. We want it to be a community of writers all supporting each other so we won’t simply accept any manuscript to self publish, it has to have artistic merit. That is why a copy edit is compulsory. We will undertake a spelling and grammar check and offer unbiased opinions on the main elements of your work such as the characters, plot, dialogue and overall structure. There is a certain level of negotiation with regards editing because you may argue a stylistic approach to some elements… but then again, sometimes things are just wrong! You will receive a detailed manuscript report and will be expected to make the recommended changes or improvements before we move on (That doesn’t include formatting the manuscript, we do that for you, so don’t worry if it’s in a messy state). We won't be in a rush! It takes as long as it takes and it could be weeks or months and dozens of revisions before we all agree that it is ready.

Cover Design

We want our books to look professional and stand out which is why we will create an original artwork and layout. Pre-designed templates can be amazing but they’re just not for us. If your story is original then we believe your cover should be too. Like everything, there will be a discussion with you first before we commit to any one idea.

Author Website

As well as having a page on our company website we think it is essential you have an individual author website too so your readers can learn more about you. The first year is included in the package price but the annual renewal price with our web hosting company is currently £99 plus VAT.


Blogging is an important activity to express yourself, build up followers and have a discourse with your readers. We want to make sure all authors are writing a regular blog. It will be set up for you along with the social media platforms.

Social Media?

Social Media is the single most important resource for a self publishing writer to build up an audience. We will create your author profile on all the major sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest as well as the book site Goodreads and any available distributor author pages such as Amazon Central). It is then for you to run but always with the support and advice of Thinking Plainly Limited. We have lots of ideas and suggestions on ways to promote yourself using social media and will be recommending you undertake tasks such as contacting book bloggers and reviewers. As I said above, you are part of a team and are not left to deal with this on your own.

Filmed Interview

If you would like to have a ten minute author interview for use on YouTube or your website then I can arrange this for you with a professional filmmaker for an extra £300. The digital file will be yours.

British Library Legal Deposit and Nielsen UK Book Agency

If you are self-publishing a paperback we will provide an ISBN from the UK Book Agency for your book and deposit a copy with The British Library and other national libraries as required by law.

Second book… or third, fourth and fifth!

The whole point of building up a community is that it is ongoing. Once you have self published your book the work has only just begun! As well as progressing with your social media following and building an audience we want you to keep writing too. We all want to write - it is our passion - that is why we are taking this terrifying leap in showing people our work. We want our writers to have the confidence of showing their ideas to each other and asking for their thoughts and advice. That is what collaboration and teamwork is about. As a company we will offer a reduced fee for your second (and third, fourth and fifth…) book so as to only cover the expenses of the core processes such as editing and cover design. We want you to grow and develop as a writer while still sending your work to mainstream publishing companies and building your following.

Moving on?

We want you to send your works to established agents and publishers and we wish you all the best with it. That is why we are joining together… to improve. Once you have the basics, you can build! Very rarely does your first attempt result in a success and you shouldn’t be discouraged. We all read about the exceptions, those people who win awards and become ‘overnight’ sensations… but we often don’t see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. We don’t see how many times that person has tried and failed and the years of hard graft they have put in, if we did then I am sure we would see that an ‘overnight’ success is not an accurate description. Being rejected or having poor first (or second or third or fourth…) works doesn’t mean you stop and give up. It means you just have to work longer and harder. We are interested in being better writers, and in truth, writing is a lonely and isolating enough task as it is. That is why we want to grow a network of writers to foster encouragement and just that right amount of competitiveness! We want to see people succeed and it would be humbling if Thinking Plainly were the company to help you along the way.

Questions For You!

Have you contacted any literary agents?

Have you worked with an editor before?

Do you have any experience in social media?

Do you understand what Print-On-Demand is?

Have you read the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook?

Have you researched any self-publishing authors?

Have you researched any self-publishing websites?

Do you follow any self-publishing blogs or podcasts?

How much do you know about the self-publishing market?

Have you considered what your ‘Author’ profile would be?

How much do you write? Have you other books/stories planned?

Do you understand the term ‘Vanity Publishing’ and its implications?

Have you considered the marketing effort required with self-publishing?

Are you prepared for the amount of time needed to grow your social media presence?

Have you sent your work to any traditional mainstream publishers and what were their responses?

Most importantly…

Is this a passion or a financial endeavour?


Are you being realistic in your expectations?


What do you want from self publishing?

If you would like to question and discuss any aspect of self publishing then please feel free to get in touch without any obligation:


Thank you for your time and best of luck with your writing.

R.G Rankine