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The home for inspirational and transformational books covering mind, body, spirit and land. 

This bespoke publishing house started as QuickShift Publishing in 2017 and changed name in 2023. It was started by Sarah Bullen and Kate Emmerson to publish two of our own books including Clear Your Clutter and Write Your Book in 100 Days (2020). It has expanded over the last few years to publish authors we have worked with, and books we believe in. Many of those you can see below on this page.


Since 2017 it has grown into a boutique publishing house that publishes non-fiction and is including poetry.  We do not currently do cookbooks, illustrated books, or illustrated children's books. 

In 2023 founding partner Kate Emmerson left and QuickShift Publishing merged with Dexsteps Publishing and Thandiwe Ngele to create Black Ink Books. We are based in South Africa, but work with authors all over the world. 

We can offer writers a solution to get your book out there as a professionally finished product without the hassles of trying to self-publish. 

We would like to say that we now have a great deal of expertise in getting books published and into the market, with over 17 years of publishing experience. We have a small but passionate team of professional editors, proofreaders and designers to handle every aspect of your book and we will take the time and share the risk in making your book a success.
How Black Ink Books and self publishing works

Not every book lands up with a traditional publishing deal – and yours may be one of those. These are the books that are not going to find a home in a traditional (commercial) publishing house, and the author choses to invest in their book to get it out into the world. Many authors chose to be self-published. An increasing number of authors chose digital/online publishing only. Many of our authors are speakers or coaches who want to sell their own books or courses and do not want a publishing deal. They know “back of the room sales” will yield a better profit. Others may not have a book that will be a commercial success, but it is an important story. Under this model your book is published under our imprint, Black Ink Books. You cover the production and printing costs, while we share the journey of making your book a success. This option suits authors with a finalized, high-quality manuscript seeking faster publication and creative control. We guide you through each step in this complex publishing process.


Expect the process to take 3-6 months.

Upon completion, you'll have a book in your hand, as well as access to print-ready files, ebook conversion, and distribution services, including print-on-demand options through Amazon. Additional services like AIS sheets for marketing and book images enhance your publishing experience. As the author, your involvement is crucial at every stage of the process.

Who is this publishing option for?
  • You want a professionally published book 

    You fall within our scope of interest, which is inspirational and transformational books covering mind, body, spirit and land. 

  • We only publish non-fiction and poetry, we do not publish novels or any kind of picture books. 

  • You have a high-quality final version (not your first draft) of your book.

  • You meet our standards.

  • You want to print a book faster and with more creative control and input than you have with traditional publishers.

  • You want your book finished and printed


What does it include?  ​
  • We are offering a complete hybrid publishing package.

  • Your book will go to an editor who will range from a developmental editor to a straight copy editor

  • From edits and a series of revisions it will be signed off by you and go into layout 

  • A professional cover and back cover will be designed with your input

  • The book will be finalised, made print-ready and proof-read

  • We agree on the number of books, or if you want digital-only

  • The book will be loaded onto all our e services


I would like to thank Sarah Bullen for all she has done to inspire, nudge and encourage me with patience, understanding and care to summit this enormous mountain.

It's been an incredible journey of learning, not only what goes into writing a book but also publishing it. Sarah was there every step of the way. If you have a story inside you calling to be told - do it! AND this is the best place to take you on that journey

Why must you pay to get your book out?  
That’s just the deal in modern publishing. The big publishing house deals are there… however, they are not always for every author. We are financing a few authors, and we will advise you if your book meets those criteria. Our five-year plan is to establish a full publishing house by 2024. We are just starting out in the publishing business, and we can’t (yet) take a risk on you. But here’s what we are: we are experts in what makes a book work and how to get a book published.  How does it work?We will charge you a quoted full fee to cover the professional production costs. Some quotes may INCLUDE X number of printed copies; otherwise, a separate quote will be generated for you. Any additional copies of the book you will buy through us with a first-order/minimum re-order of 100 books.

We help you publish your book. 


This is a hybrid publishing model. This is not a traditional (commercial) publisher (think Random House) that is going to foot ALL the costs of your book. 


That means we are not able to take the financial risk on your book. Practically that means you will pay for the production/printing costs of your book and invest in it

  • What is the next step? 
  • As a bespoke publishing company, we will only publish a select number of books a year and need to believe that your book will sell OR you have an important story to share. Many of our are writers we have worked with already, but we are open to taking on a limited number of new authors.  

  • If you want to consider our hybrid publishing option, please send a Query Letter and Full Synopsis (Proposal) and your full Manuscript.

  • We will review your book submission. Upon approval, we will send you a quote.

  • Upon acceptance, 50% of fees are payable upfront and the balance is payable before final copies of books are delivered /uploaded to the digital space.

  • The author retains full copyright of their work.


  • STEP 1: Editing your Manuscript
  • Your book must undergo professional editing. We will not proceed with a book unless this is agreed. The only question is this: how senior an editor do you need. We'll advise if it requires a substantive, line-edit, or copy edit, each differing in the level of editor involvement. The editing process, spanning 4-6 weeks, may include multiple rounds of comments and changes.

  • ● Developmental Editing: A senior editor handles structural improvements, suggesting changes, additional topics, or large revisions.

  • ● Substantive Editing: Focuses on enhancing readability and flow, revising aspects of the text for better presentation.

  • ● Copy-/Line-Editing: Corrects spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax, ensuring consistency throughout the manuscript. The manuscript is prepared for layout.

Step 2: Book Interior Template and Stylesheet Setup:

We design the interior look and layout of your book, setting up templates and style sheets for text formatting. This crucial step ensures efficient typesetting, uniformity in design elements, and a professional appearance. The quoted cost is based on estimated pages.

Step 3: Professional Typesetting and Layout

After setting up the design template, your book undergoes professional typesetting. You'll receive page proofs in PDF format for review, with commenting enabled for direct feedback. Final page proofs must be approved before sample book printing begins, ensuring your satisfaction before the main print run commences.

Step 4: Cover Design:

For e-books, a front cover suffices, but printed books require a back cover and spine. We match a designer to your genre, who will engage with you to explore ideas and provide two design options for review and revision before finalizing a design.

To guide our designer effectively, we request a series of images and covers you favor. We utilize provided artwork, originate our own, or commission an illustrator if necessary. The service includes:

  • Creating a unified artwork piece comprising the back cover, spine, and front cover.

  • Incorporating all text, such as the back cover blurb and spine text, and refining typography.

  • Adding supplementary elements like barcodes, QR codes (if needed), social media icons (if desired), and author bios with photos (if required).

  • Providing author proofs and implementing necessary author corrections.

  • Generating a final print-ready PDF complete with spine, trim marks, and bleed.

Step 5; Proofreading

Proofreading occurs post-layout and entails checking and rectifying:

  • Punctuation and text errors that may have slipped through from editing.

  • Ensuring no errors have occurred in typesetting and production.

  • Ensuring consistency in formatting and treatment of graphical elements.

  • Verifying that TOC page numbers match actual page numbers in the book.

  • Checking for orphans and widows.

  • Last minute changes. 

Step 6: ISBN Number and Barcode

We will handle the application for an ISBN on your behalf if your book is to be printed. The ISBN serves as a global identifier for your book, essential for ordering and sales purposes by retailers worldwide.

A barcode, which we will also generate, is necessary for selling your book at any point-of-sale equipped with a barcode scanner. Stores and distribution centers typically require a barcode for inventory management.

Step 7: Document Print-Prep and  Print-Ready PDF

Before pushing play to print, your book undergoes various pre-press checks to ensure compliance with all printing standards. Subsequently, a print-ready PDF file is generated, and final specifications are confirmed with the printer.

Since you have covered full production costs, you own all print-ready files. Furthermore, you retain copyright to these files, allowing you to reprint the book anywhere globally, as necessary.

Remember at this stage that the printing quote will be redone, and the payment to the printer is direct. That means you don’t pay BIB, you pay the printer we select directly. 

Step 7: Printed Sample Book

Before we press play on your main print run, you will get a printed sample book for sign-off. This sample represents precisely how your book will appear. Once you have approved the sample, the production phase technically concludes, and your project is prepared for printing. 

Step 8: :E-book Conversion to e-Publishing, 

We collaborate with an external team on this to prepare and convert your book into Kindle (Amazon) and ePub formats (for other retailers). This process involves several steps, such as removing blank pages, page numbers, and headers; updating print-edition information to suit the ebook edition; embedding interactive table of contents links; adapting cover artwork; and optimizing content for ebook readability. Subsequently, we convert the file into ePub and Kindle formats. We work with 

Amazon, Takealot, Apple, Google, Barnes and Noble, De Marque,, Fable, Gardners, Glose, Hummingbird, ITSO, Libreka,, Kobo, Perusall, Publica, Redshelf, Spoonread, Vitalsource, WOOK, Check. 

The ebook distribution service entails:

  1. Creating an account in your name on distribution sites.

  2. Uploading your ebook files.

  3. Setting metadata such as book details, pricing, royalty options, sales regions, copyright information, description, BISAC code, and keywords.

  4. Optionally completing the US Tax Interview form on your behalf.

  5. Proofing the file online to ensure proper functionality as an ebook.

  6. Making your book 'live' and providing you with backend details to monitor sales, adjust pricing and payment options, etc.

Once all aspects are configured, you will receive all income generated from the sale of your book after deducting bookstore discounts and US taxes.

Step 9: Print-on-Demand through Amazon and

We offer the convenience of print-on-demand for international distribution of physical copies. Upon your behalf, we establish an account and upload the print-ready files. Books are printed as orders are placed, eliminating the need for bulk printing and storage. As all accounts are under your name, you receive direct payment and retain the full profit after deducting printing costs and any applicable bookstore discounts.

Step 10: Book launch and distribution

We do not distribute your books into bookstores, but can advise you of distribution options. Books are delivered to a single location. We would love to support you in the launch. 

Your Publishing Team.

Celebrating our Authors

Our team has mentored over 180 published authors in 15 years, supporting them to write and all the way through the publishing process. Some are bestsellers, others are for family. These are some of the authors and their books in the gallery below. ​Below are just some of the faces, events and wonderful lives, well examined in writing.


Tune Me: Praekelt Foundation, UNFPA, Ford Foundation, and Ndola Youth Resource. I managed all content for South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.
Focus Topic: Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH)

B-Wise:  Content development, planning, commissioning, and editing for the key site for the National Department of Health. 
Focus topic: Primary Healthcare

Young Africa Live:  National Department of Health, Gates Foundation. Focus topic: Love, sex, and relationships in the time of HIV and AIDS.
AskMama:  National Department of Health, Ford Foundation
Focus topic: Primary Healthcare, PMTCT

Key content editor and project coordinator on the rollout of the South African National Department of Health’s MomConnect.
Focus topic: Primary Healthcare, PMTCT

Girl Effect Mobile (GEM): Nike Foundation
GEM aims to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by supporting girls to get better educated. I coordinated the content and reportage from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa.
Focus topic: Social upliftment of women in Africa and India
B2B, corporate, or client editing
Unicef and Dept of Social Development:  The Children’s Act Explained
UNESCO: Good Policy and Practice in Healthcare 2014 (contributor)
Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training ADAPT. 

What is Gender-Based Violence?
Ford Foundation, National Department of Health, Gauteng Tourism Authority, ALS, Rapid Deploy, Novitas Investment Group, First Rand Banking Group, Johnny Walker, LittleGig, SABC, Nike Foundation, Longship Trading, Standard Bank, IDASA.

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