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Don’t know how to self-publish a book successfully? That’s a good problem to have!
If you’re trying to figure out how to publish a book on your own, it means you’re a small part of the population that has actually finished w.
Now it’s time to take the next step in your writing career and learn how to publish your book to share your story with readers all around the world.
Warning: Reading this post could make you a bestselling author.
There has never been a moment in history that has offered authors so much flexibility to publish a book and reach a global market.
Today writers can break the limitations of publishing using technology, course education, and internet networking to publish a book on their own. It is even possible to self-publish as a kid! The publishing process for self-published authors can be broken down into a system of steps for anyone to follow.
- Decide how to publish a book
- Work with self-publishing companies
- Budget for publishing costs
- Hire freelancers for self-publishing services
- Finalize your book’s title
- Get a professional book cover design
- Format your book files
- Set up your book to self-publish
- Research keywords and categories
- Get your book’s ISBN and barcode
- Set your book’s price
- Build a book launch team
- Launch your published book
- Read more on self-publishing
Now that you’re a soon-to-be published author, you’re faced with a big decision: S
But what does it really take to publish a book? You may have heard of authors that self-publish their own books and earning passive income. Then, there are the other stories related to traditionally published authors who were fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to get in with an actual publisher.
To self-publish or try traditional publishing?
Do you pursue a traditional book publisher, acquire an agent, send book proposals, wait for a response, and stick it out for years before getting published?
Or, do you take publishing into your own hands and follow in the steps of successful independent authors, who navigate how to publish a book on their own using self-publishing platforms?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both publishing routes. Since this article is about how to self-publish a book, we’ll cover the traditional publishing pros and cons
- Bigger audience exposure since publishing houses can get your print book into major bookstores and retailers quickly.
- Production expenses are covered by the publishing house, such as the cost to actually publish your book and get it to market.
- Marketing and book promotion is supported
- Advance royalties means you will get paid an advance for your book, typically before it’s completely published.
- Professional in-house services like book design, interior formatting, and editing, is handled by the publisher’s team.
- It’s a slow process. You could wait years before your book is released, even if you’ve already been received a contract from the publisher.
- Book design decisions are made by the publishing company.
- Big deal contracts are very rare.
- Extremely competitive. Getting accepted is very tough and requires a lot of work. This can take months or years, and that is before the book is put into the production phase.
- You may never get traditionally published. Some authors spend years querying for agents and are faced with rejection more times than they can count.
- You are guaranteed to publish your book. Pursuing traditional publishing can take years before you secure a deal if you do. But as a self-publishing author, you set the publish date. You can guarantee that your book will be published without having to wait.
- You own the creative decisions. You get to decide who creates the cover and what that looks like. You hire your own editor and designer, and make decisions around how the book will be marketed.
- You own the rights exclusively. When authors sign on with traditional publishers, they often lose the rights to movie deals or other lucrative opportunities. But as an indie author, all rights are yours.
- Earn higher royalty rates. With a traditional publisher, you have heard stories of authors landing 6- and 7-figure book deals. But these are very rare. In many cases, you earn enough to pay your bills and the rest goes into marketing the book. Through KDP you earn 70% per eBook sale. You can also create audiobooks and large print books. To learn more about it, read: What is Amazon KDP?
- Set your own publishing schedule. Imagine you can publish as many books as you want without restriction. This means more royalties, and more freedom. Many fiction authors are publishing a book every few weeks and earning 5-figures a month.
- You’re in charge of everything. One of the pros of self-publishing is that you have creative control. But this can be a con because not everyone enjoys the creative process and, it is a lot of work when doing it by yourself. Being your own boss sounds great, but if you are the type of person that struggles to manage oneself, it can be a detriment to your book business.
- Self-publishing costs money. I know…you have heard that it is free to publish your own book. But a book of quality costs money, and it will cost you on average $2,500 to write, edit and publish your book. You can do it for cheaper but good books are not cheap. W
- You are in charge of the marketing. Sounds exciting, marketing your own book? It is until you dive in and realize how much goes into this. And, most authors are not very good at marketing their own books. But to be successful in the self-publishing industry, you have to wear several hats. Marketing your book is one of them.
- There are no guarantees on your investment. Yes, although the royalties are much better and you can start making cash right away with self-publishing, the reality is you could make nothing after having spent $3,000 to publish a book. With a traditional publisher, there is an advance upfront and a % of royalties paid out. You have a contract and guarantee of some income, but with self-publishing, it is up to you to get the book launched and then…the money might come.
- There is less prestige when it comes to independent authors. Self-publishing is still considered the underdog in the literary world, and if you’re seeking social prestige to impress other authors, you might not find it with self-publishing.
Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of both traditional and self-publishing paths, the big decision is up to you…what do you choose?
If it is self-publishing, then the rest of this post walks you through the steps to self-publish your book. I will cover all of the essential areas you must get right in order to do this right.
- D Traditional publishing takes time and you’ll likely face a lot of rejection.
- D If you cannot budget for self-publishing costs, you might consider the traditional route first.
- A Self-publishing means you’re in charge. If you can’t handle that, or simply don’t want to, then it’s probably not for you.
- I If you’re looking to impress other authors in the literary world, and are publishing mainly for prestige, then self-publishing might not be the best fit for you until you get past that mindset.
Now, before we get into the steps to self-publishing, you might be asking the question: Is it worth it to hire the services of self-publishing companies?
If self-publishing is truly publishing a book on your own, then why would someone need to employ the services of a self-publishing company? We’ll explain why below.
But first, be warned:
Avoid big hairy promises that sound too good to be true. If you think it sounds like a dream, or that you are the only one lucky enough to discover a company that will publish your book and give you these huge bonuses, I will spare you the suspense: These “publishing companies”, known as vanity press publishers,
There are a lot of credible, solid self-publishing companies out there, which we cover in more depth here: 12 Best Self-Publishing Companies: Detailed Publishing Companies Guide
There are four main types of self-publishing companies to consider investing in, and it’s important you understand the differences of each so that you can figure out what service will benefit you most.
#1 – Self-Publishing Education Company: If you’re interested in learning from and being guided by a company that will walk you through the publishing process.
#2 – Self-Publishing Author Services: If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for book production services like professional editing, cover design, formatting, and more.
#3 – Retailer: If you need a company that sells self-published books on its retail platform. Popular companies that fall in this category are Amazon’s Kindle Store, and Barnes & Noble.
#4 – Aggregator: If you need a company that helps you upload and distribute your self-published book to multiple retail channels. Popular companies that fall in this category are IngramSpark and Smashwords.
- Know the type of company you need to work with. Are you looking to be guided through your self publishing journey? Are you looking for the best platform to publish on? Are you looking for a company to distribute your self-published book? Get clear on your specific needs and intent for working with a self-publishing company, then you can decide which type of self-publishing company is worth investing in.
- Avoid vanity publishers. Don’t fall for a big hairy promise and throw your money at a company that promises you unrealistic things. Vanity publishers are essentially scams that take your money and give you sub-par, low-quality services.
- Do your research. Once you have a specific company in mind, do your research. Search online for reviews and testimonials, reach out to an author community for recommendations, and don’t invest in the company until you are 100% sure they are credible to work with. We have a full “Reviews” section of our site where you can read up on pretty much any big-name service in the self publishing space.
Now, let’s move on and cover the steps you need to self publish your book your way.
“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.”
This is a question that every self-published author asks: H?
The book production costs vary just as book genres vary. What it costs a fiction author to self-publish will be different from nonfiction.
To set your self-publishing budget, some questions to ask yourself are:
If you go cheap on your book, you could produce a low-quality book that nobody wants and gets a heap of bad reviews,
By saving money, the decision to not invest could cost you money.
When publishing on Amazon,
On average, you are looking at a general cost of $1500—$3000 to self publish your own book to market.
This includes cover design, research, editing, proofreading, formatting and, possible marketing costs of which there are no limits to how much you can spend on this.
What to avoid: Publishing companies offering you a package deal that exceeds $10,000. I have seen little value in these and many cannot deliver on the promise they are making.
The decisions on how much to invest in your book is critical to self-publishing because it determines who you hire to work on the various pieces, from editing, formatting, and cover design.
A critical part of learning how to publish a book on your own is about figuring out what services you need, and who you should hire for those services.
In today’s digital marketplace, creative freelancers are readily available for hire to get your book ready to be published.
But, where do you find these freelancers? How do you know if they are reliable?
Here is a shortlist of reliable resources for hiring outsourcers that can handle any part of your book
Some of these freelance sites are set up to handle your writing project by doing everything in a bundle. Or, you can hire individual people specializing in different skills.
Fiverr is a freelancing service where you can get just about anything created. It is great for finding audiobook narration, book cover designers, editing services, proofreaders, and book promotion.
Upwork, formerly known as Elance-oDesk, is a freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. As with Fiverr, you can hire people to do anything that is needed for your book services.
Actually, Upwork is for anything and everything, but there are many professionals who specialize in book services. It normally takes longer and the process is more in-depth to hire someone here than on Fiverr.
On Reedsy, you can find just about anyone for anything book related. You can hire anyone for:
Elite Authors started up in early 2018 after Createspace shut down. Since then, Elite Authors has partnered with cover designers, book-interior designers, marketing specialists, copywriters, and other book industry professionals that would continue helping authors through all the steps of the publication process.
If you haven’t had your completed manuscript edited by a professional editor, now is the time to do so.
Even if you’ve voraciously self-edited your book, you still need to hire a skilled book editor to help you mold your manuscript into a completed final draft.
You can search for a local editor to work closely with, or you can hire an editor online. You can find budget-friendly editors from the freelance sites we listed above, or if you have a higher budget to spend, you can choose to seek out a specific editor that’s more well-known.
- Know what type of editing you need. There are different types of editing, such as copyediting and line editing. You can choose to hire editors that do both, or you can decide which type you need most.
- Do a test run. Always try to do a trial with a prospective editor before you commit. If you can pay a small fee to have the editor edit a chapter, this will help you immensely in deciding whether it’s a good fit.
- Find an editor that’s experienced in your genre. The more experienced your editor is in the specific topic or genre that your book covers, the quicker, and more effective the editing turn-around will be. Avoid an editor that hasn’t worked with your genre, as this can cause inaccuracies in the editing, and a lot of wasted time through back-and-forth revisions.
- Set a clear timeline. Editing takes time, and editors usually have booked schedules. Make sure the editor can deliver your edited book by the deadline that you need it.
- Communicate. This is the golden rule to a successful working relationship. It’s important that you over-communicate your expectations, needs, and timelines. The same goes for your editor.
Once you receive your book’s final edits, you can make any necessary changes to your manuscript before moving on to the next step in the publishing process.
If you haven’t decided on a final book title for your completed draft yet, then you’ll want to do this before moving on to the next step.
If you’re writing a nonfiction book, your title should be catchy and clearly communicate what your reader will learn from your book. It should include a subtitle as well.
Here’s an example of one of my nonfiction book titles, which follows a similar structure to other bestselling nonfiction titles:
Relaunch Your Life: Break the Cycle of Self-Defeat, Destroy Negative Emotions and Reclaim Your Personal Power
For help crafting your nonfiction book title, use our Nonfiction Book Generator,
If you’re writing a fiction book, you can be a bit more creative with your title, but you’ll still want it to be relevant to your story. Your title, later combined with your book cover,
Don’t get stuck on this step. If you can’t decide on a title, you might need to do more research and check out successful titles from other books that cover content similar to yours.
You can also crowdsource for book title opinions. Choose your top three title ideas, then have your target readers vote on their favorite one.
I will be direct about the cover design: If it isn’t good, it won’t sell, no matter how awesome your writing style is.
Hire a pro for your cover design. Readers do judge a book by its cover.
If you try to throw something together on Canva with little to no experience in book design, you will create a cover that YOU think is good, but your potential readers won’t.
On average, expect to pay $100—$600 for your cover design.
You can compile a list of book covers that you like, and set your expectations on the type of book cover you want your book to have. But do your research to get clear on the type of book cover that works well for other
You can find professional book cover designers at the digital marketplaces we mentioned in the section above on hiring freelancers. We’ve also included more of our top recommendations.
Here are 5 recommended sites for creating quality book cover designs:
- Ebook Launch
- 99 Designs
- Archangel Inc
- 100 Covers
- Killer Book Covers
- Elite Authors Book Design
For pre-made book template designs you can check out:
- The Book Cover Designer
- Pro_eBook covers/li>
Formatting your book has to do with how your book will appear for the reader, depending on how it is being printed or displayed.
When you publish a book, you have three formats you can create: eBook, Paperback/Hardcover, and an Audiobook.
Remember, the more products you have, the deeper your earning potential.
You can upload your eBook, paperback print book, and audiobook on Amazon. The eBook and paperback are uploaded to KDP, and the audiobook through ACX and Audible.
If you want to publish a hardcover book, Amazon doesn’t print hardcovers. For this format, you should set up your title on IngramSpark, which is a global distributor and another option for print on demand.
To learn more about IngramSpark, read the Ingramspark Review.
To format the eBook and paperback book, you have two options when it comes to formatting your book: you can do it yourself, or outsource to a professional.
If you are confident in being able to learn how to format your own book, there are a few different services and softwares available to you.
- Atticus: A paid software that allows you to format your eBook and print book. Check out this Atticus software review and tutorial.
- Novelpad: A paid subscription service that allows you to plan, draft, and format your novel. Only available for eBooks.
- Kindle Create:
When it comes to formatting, hiring the right person for your interior book design is a big decision. You want to get it right. Hire the wrong person and it can go very badly for your book, tying you up for weeks sorting out the mess.
- Self-Publishing School
- Archangel Ink/Formatting
- Elite Authors/Book Formatting
- eBook Launch/Formatting
- Formatted Books
Once the formatting is completed, you should have two types of formats for your books.
For the ebook, you want to use an ePub file. More about eBooks here.
The paperback can be in a formatted Word .doc or a .PDF file. You can read more here about Paperback Manuscript Templates for KDP.
To self-publish your book, you have to take all your book details and plug them into a platform for publishing.
The most common self-publishing platform is Amazon’s KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing.
As soon as you sign up for KDP, you can upload everything to the platform and begin working your way towards launching.
You can visit this amazing article for a more detailed description and step-by-step walkthrough of uploading your book to KDP.
Don’t actually hit “Publish” in KDP until you’re ready to launch, which we’ll cover in Step 13.
- Your formatted manuscript in the correct file form (Word .doc or PDF)
- Your book cover design
- Your author bio, headshot, and links to your website or blog
- A book description to captivate potential readers
- 7 keywords and 2 categories (see the next section on how to find these)
There are a few very critical components to creating a successful book that has the best chance of success on Amazon, and two of these are the keywords or keyword phrases and categories that you publish your book to on KDP.
It’s simple: In order for potential readers to buy your book, they have to be able to f.
Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe your book. If someone was looking for a book on your topic, they might type one of those keywords into Amazon or Google in order to find it.
If you want your book to show up in Amazon and search engines like Google, you’ll need the right combination of keywords.
Since Amazon allows only s,
To make your keyword and category research easier and save you time, we recommend using the tool Publisher Rocket. It will not only help you discover effective keywords for your book, but will give you a breakdown of all the analytics the keyword ranks for.
To get started, make a list of possible keywords for your book, then use Publisher Rocket
Or, you can plug in your keyword and Rocket will give you keyword ideas for your book.
Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers, so don’t skip this part.
Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition.
As with keyword research, the Publisher Rocket tool can quickly find these categories for you without you having to search on Amazon at all.
You can have your book in ten categories. To do this, after finding your first two categories, you can contact Amazon through KDP’s customer support and request that your book be placed in the additional categories.
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Self-Help > Creativity
You will have a list of 10 categories to send to Amazon on the day your book goes live in the store. That’s it! Your book will be more discoverable when you place it in more categories.
An ISBN is needed for every published book, regardless if the book is self-published or traditionally published. You’re not required to have one for the eBook, but every printed book must be fitted with its own ISBN number.
Related: How To Get An ISBN For a Self-Published Book
ISBN, which stands for International Standard Book Number, is a 13-digit number that’s used as a unique identifier for books, including a specific book, a book edition, or any other book-like products.
An ISBN number can be used to identify the book’s code digits, language, publisher, book title, edition, and format. The ISBN is used internationally and requires a different number for each version of the book.
To get an ISBN for a self-published book, there are a few options to consider. You can receive a free one from Amazon, or you can buy your own.
Should I get a free ISBN from Amazon, or buy my own ISBN?
My recommendation is to purchase your own ISBN. Or, you can get your ISBN for free through Amazon and later, if you decide to, can upgrade to your own number.
If you live in the United States, you can get your book’s ISBN for free through your self-publishing platforms, such as Self-Publishing School, Amazon, and Draft2Digital, which will provide you with an ISBN at no cost. If you live in Canada, ISBNs are issued for free.
Don’t worry if you’re wondering, “How much should my book cost?”
During your book’s launch, your price will likely change, depending on the book launch strategy you choose to go with. For example, we recommend pricing your book for as low as $0.99 during the launch phase, which we’ll go over more in the next section.
For your regular book’s price (post-launch), it’s important to have a reasonable, competitive price that is in close range to what other books in your genre cost. For example, if a competing book is priced at $5.99, it wouldn’t be smart to price your book at $17.99, unless you had a specific advantage, or reason, for doing so.
A general practice for successfully finding the sweet spot in your book’s price is to set the price low after publishing, then gradually increase it by $1 to measure performance. Once you notice sales are dropping, this usually signifies that your book’s price is too high, and you can adjust accordingly.
A book launch team is a group of people in your target audience (people that will actually read your book), who can help make your book successful.
A book launch team can be made up of people that are fans of yours, readers of your blog or previous work, friends who would read your book, and/or members in your writing community group.
Your launch team will be invaluable for spreading the word about your book, boosting your book reviews, and building momentum for your book’s launch and continued sustainability.
- Recruit launch team members
- Offer a team incentive such as a free pre-released book, live Q&A sessions, video training, and other freebies.
- Manage team expectations
- Communicate clearly
Now that your book is uploaded to KDP, and you are just moments away from hitting the publish button on your book, you want to take a few minutes to consider how you will launch your book to readers.
When it comes to self-publishing your book, your launch plan can determine the success or failure of your book.
W You need book reviews for your book, and you need people to buy the book when it launches.
When launching your book, there are several tried-and-true launch strategies that you can try.
How you launch your book really comes down to one word: Platform. If you have a relatively strong platform, you can leverage that in your launch.
To give you an example of how other established self-published authors
- Steve Scott’s 5-Day Launch Plan That Works
- A detailed launch plan by Rob Cubbon
- Nick Loper, creator and founder of Side Hustle Nation, and his successful launch strategy
- Mark Dawson’s podcast on the book launch process to 10,000 copies.
These book launches work because they are prolific in their planning and strategic in their execution. If you don’t have a plan for launching, you don’t have a plan for the future success of your book. A plan—even if it is simple—is something.
I recommend the 12-day book launch strategy, which is a simple launch plan with a specific formula to help you hit Amazon bestseller list in a matter of days or weeks to come.
But keep in mind, there are different ways to follow this launch model, depending on your goals, platform, and budget.
For a more detailed walk-through, you can check out this resource on how to launch a book.
To keep things simple, I will provide you with a book launch model here to follow for your launch.
- Day 1: Soft Launch. The first day of your soft launch kicks everything off. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price point is set at $0.99. Don’t worry about the price; You will increase to full price after the launch. This is just temporary to kick the launch off.
- Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch. Make social media announcements, post in your writer mastermind groups, and use other sources to spread the word. Don’t forget about other social platforms with large reader audiences like Twitter and Tumblr.
- Day 4-6: Free Promo. The promotional sites you got in touch with on Day 1 will be advertising your book. Send an email to your launch team to notify them that your book is now free. Promote to social media!
- Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites. Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.
- Day 11-12: Winding Down. If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both your free promo and your $0.99 promo. Remember that your numbers will vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and effectively optimizing your keywords for Amazon’s algorithm.
While it is true that 80% of book sales come through Amazon, making it your biggest platform for potential book sales, there are other self-publishing companies you can set up and sell your book through.
If you decide to do this and publish to a wider global market, be sure that your book is opted out of KDP.
Book aggregators are mediums that you submit your self-published book to, and they send it to retailers and libraries all at once. While it may be more convenient so you don’t have to figure out where to self-publish, the cost to use these companies
Decide where to self-publish your book after assessing which markets you want to reach, as well as your budget and needs. Some authors even use a combination of retailers and aggregators to publish a book on their own. Here’s a list by Deborah Jay on publishing and marketing info
Educating yourself on how to publish a book is one of the best investments you can make as a self-published author. Because the self-publishing industry is rapidly growing, it is also changing, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve.
- Published.: The Proven Path From Blank Page to Published Author
- Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should by David Gaughran
- Lifelong WritingHabit: The Secret to Writing Every Day: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox
- Writing Habit Mastery – How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by Steve Scott
- Business For Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn/li>
- The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
- Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
- Guerrilla Publishing: Dangerously Effective Writing and Book Marketing Strategies by Derek Murphy/li>
- Why Authors Fail: 17 Mistakes self-publishing Authors Make That Sabotage Their Success (And How To Fix Them) by Derek Doepker
- How To Self-Publish A Children’s Book: Everything You Need To Know To Write, Illustrate, Publish, And Market Your Paperback And Ebook by Yvonne Jones
- Ten Quick Wins for Writers: How to ignite creativity, write steadily, and publish your book! By Jed Jurchenko
Now that you are a self-published author, your journey is just beginning.
The next step is to start marketing and selling even more books and building a sustainable author business.
A huge part in building your career as an independent author is in writing multiple bestsellers, so it’s time to get started on your next book writing adventure.
There are many books that people are begging authors just like you to write…so get busy!