A Quick Guide to Self-Publishing

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Before you begin your self-publishing journey, it’s important to take a step back and become familiar with each element of the process.

Check out our quick guide below so you can see what exactly is involved in self-publishing a book, as well as where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Editing.

This is not negotiable. Your book must be edited. End of story.

If you do not have another set of professional eyes on your book, then you will most likely find yourself having published a book that is riddled with typos and grammatical errors. This is not because you are careless; it is because mistakes occur in all manuscripts, and yours is no exception.

Additionally, authors are often too close to their work to see all the areas where it can be improved. An editor who brings an objective eye to the manuscript can be a huge boon.

Book cover.

Your book cover is your best marketing tool. It is the first thing potential readers see when discovering your book, and it can often be the reason someone decides to find out more information about it, or, worse, move on.

Invest in a professional book cover. Make sure it looks unique and readable as a thumbnail, as that is most likely how most potential readers will first discover the book.

Ebook.

If you’re self-publishing, there is no reason not to have an ebook version. With online converters, as well as more complex software, it has become increasingly easier to produce a professional ebook.

If your book has a lot of pictures, however, it would probably be best to hire a professional to help with the digital layout.

Paperback.

While the ebook format of your book is fairly simple to produce, the paperback format can be more cumbersome. Again, there are online converters and software that can help you produce a professional paperback interior, but it is best to hire a professional to ensure your book is properly produced. 

In addition to the paperback’s interior, you will also need a fuller version of your book cover, complete with a back and spine. You can choose your book’s trim size, and your spine width will be dependent on the number of pages. Ensuring your paperback’s cover is properly formatted down to the millimeter is another reason to work with a professional cover designer.

Lastly, it’s important to determine what your expectations are for your paperback. If all you want to do is sell it on Amazon, and perhaps explore some advanced distribution options at a lower royalty rate, then you can simply create one version of your paperback specifically for Amazon.

If, however, you want to try to get your book into bookstores, then you’ll need to explore IngramSpark, a self-publishing service that makes your book available to retailers in its network.

If this is the road you want to go down, then you will need to create a paperback interior and cover that are specific to IngramSpark’s dimensions, as they will most likely be slightly different than what Amazon requires.

Hardcover.

It is best to avoid creating a hardcover version of your book unless you have good, specific reasons for doing so, as the process can be a pain: you’ll need yet another separate interior and book cover.

If you need a hardcover version, then you can create, publish and distribute one through IngramSpark.

ISBN. 

Purchasing an ISBN is only necessary for your book if you choose to publish it through IngramSpark. If you are publishing your book on a small budget, it is best to avoid a plan that requires you to get an ISBN.

Distribution.

Amazon is a no-brainer for where your book should be sold, as it dominates the ebook landscape. The decision over whether or not you should enroll in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which makes your ebook exclusive to Amazon for a set period in return for unique benefits, has been covered online by others in great depth. This is a personal decision, and one you should invest some time in making.

If you choose to not go exclusively with Amazon, it is best to simply use a distributor like Draft2Digital, which will allow you to distribute your ebook to other retailers like Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo and more.

Lastly, as discussed above, if you want your physical book to be available for bookstores to sell, then you’ll need to work with IngramSpark as well.

Metadata.

Properly formatted metadata is critical to your book’s success, as, without it, few potential readers will be able to find your book.

The components of a book’s metadata are:

  • Title

  • Subtitle

  • Categories or genres

  • Book description

  • Author bio

There are a few other pieces of metadata that search engines will use to potentially surface your book to potential readers, but these are the big five that you should be most cognizant of. For this reason, it’s important to do proper keyword and category research to make sure you are writing engaging and SEO-friendly copy, as well as placing your book in an appropriate category that allows your book to be discovered.

Price.

Self-published ebooks typically sell for less than their traditionally published counterparts. Do some research and find out what price point works best for books in your genre. 

When it comes to the physical version of your book, you’ll need to consider the length of the book and the cost of the printer to create and distribute it, as these variables will affect what your royalty is on each sale.

Marketing.

It is not simply enough to professionally publish your book. If you follow all the above steps and stop there, you’ll have a great book that no one can find. In order to sell your book, you need to make people aware of it.

There are plenty of ways of doing this: an author website, Goodreads, social media, advertising, blogging, email newsletters, etc. Think about what you can reasonably commit yourself to as well as how much of your budget you can set aside for marketing, and create a marketing plan.

Publicity.

There is some overlap between marketing and publicity, but they are distinct areas of expertise. If you want to pitch reviewers or bloggers, then you’ll need to create a publicity plan or hire someone with existing contacts to pitch your book on your behalf.

As you can see, self-publishing a book that is properly done and discoverable for potential readers is not as easy as simply uploading a Word doc, throwing some text together for a cover, and hitting the “Publish” button. You can go that route, sure, but you’ll be left with a book that few people will ever know about.

Before you begin your self-publishing journey, you need to figure out what your budget is, as well as what your technical skill is. It’s possible you have a great book and a decent budget, but don’t know how to actually do much of the above. If so, that’s ok. You have options, including hiring AuthorPop to help. Do some research and figure out what the best option is for you.

AuthorPop also offers website design and an array of marketing services, and we can connect you with a host of vetted cover designers, publicists and other publishing professionals.

If you are interested in working with AuthorPop on any aspect of the self-publishing process, please us the below form to reach out.

 
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