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With the rise of digital platforms and the increasing demand for independently published works, self-publishing has emerged as a viable option for aspiring authors. It is more convenient than the traditional route, so many people are moving towards it.
So, if you are an author and want to self-publish a book, this guide is for you. We will walk you through the ten crucial steps to help you navigate self-publishing.
What is self-publish a book?
Before learning how to self-publish a book, let’s first see what self-publishing is. There are two types of publishing methods that authors often time choose. One is traditional methods; the other is to self-publish a book. Traditional publishing is when an author hires a book publishing company, and they publish the book on their behalf. Whereas to self-publish a book refers to independently publishing and distributing your book. With this method, you are not relying on a traditional publishing house.
It empowers authors to take control of their literary work and brings their ideas to life. Instead of going through the arduous process of finding a literary agent or securing a publishing deal, self-publishing allows authors to have full creative control. You might think that self-publishing a book is a bad option compared to traditional publishing. You need to do everything yourself. However, that is not true; it has many advantages too,
Benefits of Self-Publishing
Here are the key benefits of self-publishing a book:
One of the greatest advantages of self-publishing a book is authors’ complete control over their work. You can make all the decisions, from the writing style to the book cover design. You can bring your vision to life without compromising on your artistic integrity. This way, whether you self-publish a comic book or a novel, you can add anything you like without bending it according to the publisher’s demands.
Speed to Market:
Traditional publishing can be lengthy, with various stages like finding a literary agent and securing a publishing deal.
Whereas, self-publishing a book allows you to bypass these steps, enabling you to get your book into the hands of readers much faster. It can take as little as a few weeks to publish a book instead of waiting years for traditional publishing.
In traditional publishing, authors usually receive a small percentage of the book’s sales as royalties. With self-publishing, you have the potential to earn higher royalties.
By cutting out the middleman, you can keep a larger portion of the revenue generated from the sales of your book.
With self-publishing, you have the opportunity to reach a global audience. Online platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble enable you to distribute your book to readers internationally.
This exposure can increase your chances of gaining a dedicated fan base and finding success beyond your local market.
Ownership and Rights:
self-publishing a book gives you full ownership and control over your book’s rights. You retain the copyright and can decide how to monetize your work through book sales, adaptations, or merchandise. This level of control is empowering for authors.
10 Steps to Self-publish a book
Now that you know how beneficial it can be to self-publish a book, let’s see how you can self-publish a book. And we will also look at how much it would cost you to self-publish a book.
Steps to Self-publish a book:
Here is a simple 10-step guide to help you in your publishing journey.
1. Write your book.
The first step to self-publish a book is writing it. If you’re unsure where to start, many resources are available online and in print that can help guide your process. However, here is a simple outlay of what you can do to get started.
· Write an outline of your ideas.
The outline is what will guide the rest of your writing process and make sure that all parts of the book are cohesive with one another. Make sure that each section has at least one sentence describing its contents. This way, everything makes sense when it comes to editing or proofreading!
· Write out each chapter individually:
Write all the chapters individually before moving on to editing or revising them later on down the line. This way, everyone gets excited about reading more about each topic without having too much information at once.
2. Get a great cover.
The next step to self-publish a book is getting a great cover. It’s a bit like the front of your house: if it looks bad, people will assume that the rest of your house isn’t very nice either.
The same goes for books–if you have a poorly designed cover, readers will assume that everything else about the book is also subpar. That said, plenty of good self-published authors haven’t invested much (or any) money into their covers. They just found something off Google Images and slapped it there with minimal effort or skill.
But do you want people to take your work seriously and buy it instead of downloading free copies from pirates online? Then get yourself some professional help!
3. Write a book description.
Your book description is one of the most important parts of your book. It will attract readers and help them decide whether or not they want to buy it.
Your goal is to write a compelling, engaging description that hooks readers and makes them want to learn more about your book.
Here are some tips:
- Include the title and author’s name in bold at the beginning of each paragraph; this helps people find your book later when browsing titles on Amazon or Goodreads!
- Start with an attention-grabbing opening sentence that gives us a sense of what kind of story we’ll read (e.g., “I’ve never been so scared in all my life”). Then go into more detail about what happens in general terms–don’t give away any spoilers here! Just give us enough info to know if it sounds like something we’d enjoy reading ourselves.
- Ensure to include the relevant keywords that will help google to suggest your books to the readers.
4. Choose an ISBN number.
An ISBN is a unique number that identifies your book. It’s important to have one because it makes it easier for readers to find and purchase your book. It also helps libraries keep track of their collections.
To get an ISBN, you must register with Bowker (the company that administers ISBNs). You can do this online or by mail. There’s no fee either way–it’s free!
Once you’ve registered, they’ll assign you a number based on what kind of book it is: hardcover or paperback, fiction or nonfiction, etcetera.
Then, you must put that number on the copyright page at the front of every copy printed after registration. This means that if someone else publishes your book without permission later on, chances are good that person will be violating copyright law.
5. Decide on distribution channels.
Once you have finished your manuscript, it’s time to decide on the distribution channels you want to use before you self-publish a book. There are many ways to get your book out there and available for readers. You can choose a print-on-demand service, publish an eBook on Amazon, or direct sales through a website or hybrid, where you create both physical and online copies of the books.
Remember that your choice of distribution channels should align with your publishing goals, target audience, and budget. It’s essential to research and understand the advantages and limitations of each option and decide which combination works best for your book.
6. Order a proof copy of your book.
You will need to order a proof copy of your book. This is an advance copy you can use to ensure everything looks good before the rest of the books are printed. It’s also helpful if you want to give a few copies away as gifts or prizes for contests or promotions.
You can order this from the print-on-demand service you used, but if they don’t offer it (and most don’t), then there are other options available:
- Online printing companies like Blurb and Lulu offer proof copies for self-publishing authors who use their services. These come at an additional cost above what it would cost just to purchase one finished book ($10-$20).
- You may be able to find someone local who has printing equipment and wants some extra income by doing small jobs like yours–but beware! Ensure they have experience making books before giving them any money upfront. Otherwise, it could cost more than if done correctly by someone who knows what they’re doing!
7. Set up your printing and shipping processes.
Once you have your book ready, it’s time to set up your printing and shipping processes. This will vary depending on the size of your book and what kind of packaging you need. For example, if you’re printing paperback copies on demand (POD), there’s no need for a printer that can handle large quantities–you can use an online service like Lightning Source or CreateSpace.
However, suppose you publish hardcover or trade paperbacks in bulk orders through IngramSpark or another wholesaler/distributor like BowkerLink. In that case, it’ll be necessary for them to have their printers available as well. The same goes for shipping: if all customers are ordering directly from Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), they won’t need anything more than standard first-class mail delivery options offered by KDP.
However, if customers purchase directly from authors’ websites using PayPal buttons linked back through Author Central accounts (like we did), then those customers may require faster shipping methods.
8. Establish marketing plans and pricing strategies.
Once you’ve written your book and gotten it edited, it’s time to get serious about marketing. It’s important to have a plan in place so that when your book is published, there are people out there ready to buy it. Your marketing strategy should be specific to your book and realistic if you don’t want anything too ambitious or complicated that will overwhelm yourself or anyone else involved in the process (which could include family members).
Your plan should also be measurable so that you know if it worked or not–for example: “I will spend $X amount of money on advertising my book online.” Finally, remember that any good marketing plan should be flexible enough for updates as needed. For that plan, you would need to contact a good book marketing services provider who would know how to help you out.
9. Create social media accounts and build a mailing list:
Create social media accounts and build a mailing list to connect with readers and influencers who can help spread the word about your books!
Create a Facebook page for your author brand. If you don’t have one already, create one now! Most authors know they need this but don’t do it until their book is published (and sometimes not even then). It’s important to start building up your audience before launch day so that when it comes time to promote your book, people are waiting for your words.
Create an email list to stay in touch with those interested in hearing more from you. Make sure all of these platforms are linked so that whenever someone subscribes via one channel (email), they’re automatically added to all others.
10. Implement an Outreach and Networking Strategy:
As the final step in your self-publishing journey, focus on expanding your outreach and networking efforts. This involves reaching out to potential collaborators, influencers, and fellow authors in your genre to help promote your book.
You can also consider joining author groups and forums, attending book-related events and conferences, and actively engaging with your readers through social media and mailing lists. Building a network can assist in marketing your current book and pave the way for future projects.
How Much Does It Cost to Self-publish a book?
In 2024, the estimated total cost ranges between $150 and $2,000. However, it’s important to note that spending either a large sum or nothing on self-publishing is not advisable. Self-publishing comes with various costs that can be managed based on your budget. To ensure your manuscript is well-polished, consistent, and free of typographical errors, hiring a developmental editor, copy editor, and/or proofreader is recommended.
You can hire editors separately for each role or find professionals skilled in all three areas. Remember that additional services may increase the cost, so clarify with your editor which aspects they will check in the manuscript. Then there comes the printing costs, ranging from $0.60 to $5.00 per book, depending on the length and number of images.
Lastly, if you choose print publishing, you must pay for shipping. Costs can vary from $3.00 to $15.00 per book. Consider publishing in paperback instead of hardback to reduce shipping costs.
As you can see, self-publishing a book isn’t as hard as it might seem. All you need is an idea, some motivation, and planning, and you’ll be on your way to sharing your message with the world! If this sounds like something that interests you, then go ahead and give it a go! You never know where this could take your career or life in general.