Is this the year you’re finally going to get that book out of your brain and into the world? Is it something you’ve been dreaming of doing for some time, but you’re not sure how to go about it, what it’s going to cost, and how to get people to buy your book?
Self-publishing is fast becoming a popular option for writers of all styles. Are you thinking of writing a children’s book, do you think your blog content would make a good ebook, or have you always wanted to write your memoir?
As an author, there are several self-publishing models to choose from, so to be successful, you will need to plan carefully as you’ll be managing each step of the publishing process. Let’s look at how to self publish a book in five steps.
1. Research the Market
Before you dive into writing your manuscript, you’ll need to research the market. Is there a ton of other books on the same topic? How will yours be different? If there aren’t many books in your niche, research more into why there might not be a demand for it. Know your market, and write a book that satisfies them.
2. Write and Edit Your Book
Once you’ve written your book and self-edited as much as you can, you might choose to have it assessed by a professional editor. Professional editing will cost anywhere between $30-$55 an hour, according to The Editorial Freelancers Association. So request quotes and find the right editor for your budget and needs. There are also different kinds of editors, so get familiar with the options available. You may just want someone to proofread your book for typos or someone who examines the whole book’s structure.
3. Design the Cover and Format the Book
To make a beautiful, readable book for your readers, you may want to hire a professional cover creator (whose rates will depend on their experience), or you can go it alone with the assistance of apps, such as Canva. Don’t forget to explore tools that will help you format the book’s interior, such as Scrivener. These two design steps are hugely important, so if possible, try to leave it to the professionals. Your book needs to look its best inside and out—it’s what’s going to attract readers and make you some sales!
Note: You will need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) before you work on your book’s cover. It’s a unique barcode that you’ll need to purchase for each version of your book (Bowker charges $85 each).
4. Plan Your Self-Publishing Method
Self-publishing used to involve paying up-front to print off thousands of copies, and then you were left trying to sell them all. Thankfully now some solutions have simplified the whole process with a print on demand service. With POD, you can upload your book file, and the service will print out individual copies as they’re purchased. These are the two largest POD services in the world:
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
KDP is an author platform that lets you upload your book and list it for free. Readers can choose to order it as an ebook or have a print copy created for them with the click of a mouse. Publishing takes less than 5 minutes, and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. You set your prices and will earn up to 70% royalty on sales in many countries.
IngramSpark offers authors the ability to self publish a book and make it available to 40,000+ retailers and libraries (in-store and online) through their global distribution network.
What does it cost to upload a book with IngramSpark? For both a print (hardcover and paperback) and ebook, it’s $49; for a print book only, it’s $49 per title; and for an ebook only, it costs $25 a title. Check their website to see what’s included in their fees. The cost to print and ship a book depends on the page count, trim size, interior color and paper, and the ship-to address. Check out their print and ship calculator for an estimate.
You might choose only to go down the digital book route. To distribute an ebook, you will provide it to online retailers for sale. Some of the major e-retailers include:
- Amazon (Kindle) offers a lot of advantages to encourage you to publish exclusively on their stores. In exchange for not listing your book anywhere else, KDP Select (Amazon’s exclusivity program) will give you access to Kindle Unlimited, discount deals, and free promotions. Do your research, make a choice, and then stick to it.
- Apple Books is available in 51 countries. There’s no cost to publishing your book. However, Apple takes a portion of your royalties. For instance, if your book sells for $9.99, the royalty rate is 70%, so you’ll make $6.99 on each sale.
- Kobo Writing Life allows you to upload your manuscript, set the price, and you’ll be added to their catalog within 72 hours. Your ebook will be available on leading online book retailers in over 190 countries. You will receive 70% of the book’s list price, provided the price is equal to or greater than $2.99.
- Barnes & Noble Press gives you access to millions of readers within 72 hours of publishing. You’ll have promotional opportunities and earn royalties up to 65% with no hidden fees.
- Google Play Books allows you to reach billions of people on Android devices easily. You will be granted a 70% royalty, but you can make an additional 7% commission on your ebook if you sign up for their affiliate program.
5. Market Your Self-Published Book
Now that you’ve written a fantastic book, and you’ve done your research and decided on how you’re going to self-publish your book, the next step is where it gets a bit more involved.
- Start a blog or website.
- Increase your online presence. Guest post and contribute to related forums.
- Use social media.
- Use SEO keywords that your readers are searching for.
- Learn what helps other books sell in your genre.
- Get reviews for your book by offering a free copy and requesting feedback.
- Use your publishing platform’s promotional tools and programs.
- Join the Goodreads Author Program and create a profile page, where you can run giveaways, host discussions about your book, seek reviews, and connect your blog.
- Paid advertising.
The journey to self-publishing isn’t necessarily the easiest, but seeing your book come to life can be a deeply rewarding experience. You can absolutely do it as long as you set realistic goals, prepare through research (and then more research!), and surround yourself with other indie authors who have been through it all.
What are the pros of self-publishing? There are numerous benefits to self-publishing, including having no literary agents or publishers standing in your way. You can publish quickly, and you can earn more than you would with a traditional publisher who will take a big cut. You have total control over the publishing process, and thanks to the improvement in technology, your book will look like any other book on the shelves.
How much do authors make? Now that you know roughly the costs involved, you’re probably wondering how much a self-published author could make. Well, there’s no easy answer. It all depends on your genre, the quality of your book, how well you market it, and what’s popular at the time. Like most artists, you do it for love and not the money, but if you’re committed to being a successful author and ready to put in the hard work – What are you waiting for?