Our A to Z guide will give you a quick overview of everything you need to know to start self publishing your book.
A – AMAZON
Amazon KDP is a great way to get yourself published. It’s not magic publishing fairy dust though. You do need a marketing campaign to cut through the clutter, get noticed and sell your book. The plus side is you remain completely in control of your marketing and Amazon’s payment statements are transparent and easy to understand. You can also create POD (Print on Demand) and Audible (talking) books to sell alongside your eBook. Amazon is a great ecosystem for your independent publishing empire. Don’t put all your eggs in the Amazon basket though. Amazon is still a publisher and they can change their rules (and royalty payments) whenever they want. Make sure you spread your books throughout the ecosystem on Amazon and Smashwords. You can find out more information about KDP and if it’s right for you right here.
B – BRAND
When you decide to self publish, you are your brand. That means the marketing is up to you. To brand yourself you need a writer’s platform and consistent messaging. I can hear the anguished cries of horror already from those of you who think art is above commerce. The bad news is, you are already your brand. Whatever you publish right now, you’ll create a brand so doesn’t it make sense to control that brand in the best way possible? To get started, get yourself a professionally photographed headshot and use it consistently across your platform; on your blog, on your twitter account (yes, you do need to use Twitter) – basically everywhere you communicate with your audience. Make sure your use of fonts and colours is consistent throughout your platform. Most of all, make sure you stay on message. That means if you are writing YA fiction, keep in that universe. Don’t start talking about your dog or your trip to the dentist. (some personal sharing is great but don’t overdo it). For a great intro to marketing for writers listen to our podcast with expert Rachel Thompson from Bad Redhead Media.
C – COVER DESIGN
One of the biggest mistakes self published authors make is designing their own book covers. If I could only give you one bit of advice it would be DON’T DO THIS! Self publishing does not mean you do everything yourself. It means having a meticulous and professional approach to every stage of your publishing project. You have to treat your publishing empire like a business. There’s a very good reason why great book covers are designed by professional graphic artists. It’s because they know the conventions of book cover art. The way your book looks IS important when it’s sitting on a digital bookshelf with millions of other titles, so hire a designer. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great cover. If you’ve invested all his time creating and self publishing your book, don’t you want it to have the best possible chance of finding readers? You can source a book cover designer on fivver.com and get a great, unique book cover for less than a hundred bucks. Check out my article on cover design here and you’ll avoid ending up on The Guardian’s list of bad eBook covers here.
E – EDITING
Don’t even think about self publishing your book unless it’s been professionally edited. Sadly, editing is another segment of indie publishing that writers try to cut corners on. This is false economy. It’s impossible for an author to self-edit. That’s because when you are revising and reviewing the same material hundreds of times, it becomes impossible to see the errors. You will get copy blindness. Your mind will skip over typos everyone else will see the first time. Editing is much more than just spell checking. Editing tightens a work and makes it a pleasure to read. A good editor will help you reveal your story from your raw material. You may think you’ve written a staggering work of heart-breaking genius, but a good editor will help you polish your book, identify repetitions and redundancies and help fix those flaws. A good editor will help you find tell your story in the best way possible. Would you watch a film that was un-edited? Why should you expect readers to put up with your un-edited story just because you won’t commit to your craft and hire a good editor? The only exception to the self-editing rule is when you’re preparing a manuscript to send to an editor for further review. Make that draft the best you can. We’ve put together 10 Book Editing Tips from the experts just for you.
F – FACT OR FICTION?
What’s best for self publishing? It doesn’t really matter. You can get a lot of leverage for your brand by self publishing non-fiction and make a handy income stream as well. One of the best examples of an author commanding both fiction and non-fiction is author Joanna Penn. Her Blog, The Creative Penn is a must read resource that covers everything you need to know about writing and indie publishing. Joanna is also a respected fiction writer under her pen name JF Penn. So, you can do both. Have a listen to Joanna Penn talk about her approach on our eBook Revolution Podcast.
G – Graphic Design
Many new writers take the ‘self’ part of self publishing too literally. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. You should be hiring pros to help you produce the best quality work you can. That includes layout and cover design. Every day, there are some crimes against good taste being committed by control freak writers who just can’t let go. I’ve got some news for you. Unless you actually are a graphic designer with a speciality in cover design who is also writing a book, do not design your own cover. If the cover is shite, no one is going to look deeper. You’re a new, unknown writer, not Stephen King (who could publish his next book in a brown paper bag and sell millions. Hop on to fiverr.com and with a bit of research you can commission a good cover design and layout for less than $100. Surely the book you’ve laboured so hard over is worth investing in a decent cover and a readable layout?
H – Hardcopy or eBook?
Why choose when you can have both? POD (print on demand) is a technology that has revolutionised indie press. With POD a book is generated and printed to your cover and paper specs and shipped to the customer, so there is no need for an inventory. Amazon acquired CreateSpace and have now made it available under KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Producing an eBook is a great way to test the market for a print version. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with a POD version it’s simple enough to get it converted to POD format. The key difference is page layout and cover. Books need a spine, back cover and pagination. You’ll also need an ISBN number which you can purchase from Bowker
I – ISBN (do you need one)?
An ISBN number is the unique 13 digit identification number that identifies your book. While there’s no requirement from Amazon, Apple or Barnes and Noble for an ISBN for eBooks, it’s worth considering because it can have an impact on whether your book is visible in electronic book databases. You can purchase blocks of ISBNs (and assign them) at https://www.myidentifiers.com/Get-your-isbn-now
J – Journal
Bullet Journal to be specific. There is no better way to get organised than with a bullet journal. It’s a simple and elegant way to herd all of your cats together. Software time management tools have there place, but there is nothing more satisfying than reviewing your schedule and crossing off completed tasks in your bullet journal. You can read my blog post about it here
K – KDP
KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and it’s the way to get your book onto the Amazon Behemoth. KDP is an open publishing model meaning there are no restrictions on where else your book is available. That’s good news because it means you can have your eBook and POD on KDP and get your book into the marketplace with other services like Smashwords and draft2digital with no restrictions. KDP Select gives you access to promotional tools like free giveaways etc BUT you have to give Amazon 100% exclusivity to your book for 90 days. The pros and Cons of KDP are worth considering and are summed up here.
L – LAYOUT
The best book layouts are invisible. They make a book a pleasure to read. The inverse is also true. A bad layout makes reading a chore. Layout is an essential detail you must pay attention to if you’re self-publishing. Happily, layout is getting easier for eBooks with tools like Reedsy and Book Design Templates. There are some conventions with eBook and POD layout that are essential to get right the first time. eBooks (ePub and MOBI) layout have no pagination and an interactive index. There are also restrictions on how you can place images within the text. Print design is a whole other consideration. You have to include spine and back cover art, pagination. You can get a lot more creative with print layout as compared to eBook. We can help you with layout and design. Schedule an appointment here to discuss your project with the experts at Madhouse Media Publishin
M – Marketing
This is the word that most baby writers turn their nose up at. If you’re going to self publish more than one book you’ve got to learn some of the black arts of digital marketing, build your writer’s platform and start marketing your brand – you. There are some excellent marketing resources out on the interwebs that can help you learn the basics of platform building; WordPress, Mailchimp, Canva and of course Twitter (which if you’re not on now, you’re missing out on a great way to make contact with inspiring writers and authors). A great resource for writers new to marketing is Tim Grahls Book Launch. Check out our podcast interview on book marketing with Rachel from Bad Redhead Media.
N – Name
There are good reasons not to use your actual name when you self publish. Maybe your red hot erotic fiction might not sit well with your day job as a school teacher. Maybe you’re writing in multiple genres. Joanna Penn is a great example. She writes supernatural thrillers under the handle JF Penn and non-fiction how to guide books about publishing under Joanna Penn. Check out our podcast interview with her, then find your pseudonym on this fun name generator.
O – Organised
Self publishing a book is a huge project and the only way you’ll get yours finished and published is to treat it like one. That means breaking the whole thing down into manageable tasks – from the launch date to everything in between. Check out our blog post on keeping yourself organised with a simple bullet journal and wall chart. You our blog post about goal setting for writing a book right here.
P – POD
This stands for Print on Demand and is one of the wonderous inventions of the 21st century. POD allows indie authors to easily convert eBooks into print on demand paperback books. Amazon offers this service side by side with Kindle KDP, so if someone wants to buy your book they can also have the option of buying a print version. How POD works is that a single copy is printed (to the specifications you have loaded – paper type, size, cover, colour etc) for that customer. So, 1 order = 1 book. The cost for a single trade paperback with a 4 colour glossy cover is @ $5 per book. POD has opened up the world for indie authors and publishers. Madhouse Media Publishing can help you with your POD conversion. Schedule your obligation free chat right here.
Q – Quality
To self publish means you’re not going to have any of the resources that a traditional publishing house might make available to you should you be lucky enough to land a deal. That means things like editing, cover design, layout, marketing all have to be done by you. What this doesn’t mean is that you actually do all these tasks yourself. Your job, as an indie publisher – is to ensure quality control at every stage of the publishing process. Quality should be transparent. You know right away if it isn’t there. There are a lot of appalling self-published books out there that do give self-publishing a bad name. Don’t be one of them. Be a pro. Make every step of your project show that your book is a quality product.
R – Reviews
Are the lifeblood of book sales. We’re all social creatures and most things we buy we look for social proof. Think about the last movie you saw, no doubt it was based on a recommendation from a friend or a review you read somewhere. The same thing holds true for book sales and you need to cultivate book reviews at every opportunity. Check out our podcast interview with book marketing expert with Rachel Thompson here.
S – SMASHWORDS
Smashwords is a self publishing powerhouse founded by Mark Croker back in 2008. There have been huge changes in indie-publishing since, but Smashwords has grown and become a unique global publishing success story. Let’s here Mark describe it:
“Smashwords is a free ebook publishing and distribution platform. We make it fast, free and easy for authors and publishers to distribute ebooks to the world’s largest ebook retailers and library ebook platforms. Authors and publishers retain full control over how their works are published, sampled, priced and sold” – Mark Croker
What is unique about Smashwords is you can publish your book on the platform and then opt in to have your book distributed to channels like iBooks, Barnes & Noble etc etc. You have complete control of your little publishing empire. Best of all Smashwords gives you a single sales dashboard to track your sales and royalties across every platform you’ve opted into.
S – SCRIVENER
There isn’t a topic that’s gets writers more passionate than their choice of writing tool. If your using MS Word, there’s nothing wrong with that, but foran all out fist pumping frenzy of writing cool, check out SCRIVENER. It’s software designed by writers for writers. A complete database of your writing project where you can save drafts, revisions, notes and research all in the same project file. You just open up your WP and it’s all there waiting for you. Scrivener offers a real-time 30 day trial (30 days could take 12 months or more of actual use). Even then, it’s a steal at $45 and if you don’t throw your money at Literature and Latte for your licence key once your trial ends, I don’t know what’s the matter with you. Scrivener has revolutionised my approach to writing. Check out if it will work for you. Download your free trial copy right here.
T – Tools
Self publishing requires you to learn and use a range of internet publishing and marketing tools. From your choice of word processing software to the tools that can help you build your platform. We’ve put together a resource for you right here.
U – Upsell
The oldest tool in the marketing handbook is an upsell to the next product. Do you want fries with that? The upsell for an author is the next book in your series. Some of the most profitable books published have been franchises. From Harry Potter, Twilight, Jack Reacher to Game of Thrones to mention just a few. Readers enjoy familiarity and wanting to know what happens next. Is your book standalone or does it have what it takes to be a series? A series can be more profitable and gives you the opportunity to promote boxed sets down the line. Once again Joanna Penn has a lot to say about writing a series.
V – VOICE
I’m talking about talking books. Once you have your eBook and POD versions published you can increase your market share by creating an Audible version of your book. You can narrate the book yourself or hire a narrator to bring your book to life. Audiobooks are a growing market and having your book available in the Audible marketplace means selling more books. You can create your audiobook using ACX. Unfortunately, for readers in Australia ACX is not yet available but an alternative is Authors Republic who can get much wider distribution. The downside is you need to take care of the production yourself. Authors Republic has written a comprehensive guide right here.
W – WHY?
After all this you may be asking yourself is this self publishing trip worth all the bother? That’s a question only you can answer. If you’ve got something to say and a burning desire to say it, self publishing offers a way to find and speak directly to your readers. You’ve got to invest in yourself though. All that stuff like editing, cover design and marketing – which will be done for free if you land a publishing deal – is up to you. But when it does it work it can be spectacular. Stay motivated by reading self publishing success stories like Adam Crofts.
X – Xanax
You might think after reading all this you may need a xanax and a good lie down. If you want to get your book published and feel overwhelmed by the processes of self publishing, schedule your obligation free appointment today with the experts at Madhouse MEdia Publishing
Y – Youtube
It can be fun making book trailers to help promote your book and drive traffic to your website. BUT unless you’re a video production wizz I’d recommend not trying this yourself. After you’ve put so much effort into producing a book, don’t slap a powerpoint slideshow together and whack it up on YouTube hoping for some quick sales. If you’re willing to invest in some quality, here’s an example at the top of the book trailer game. Check it out.
Z – Zzzz get plenty of sleep…
After all this work you’re going to need to get plenty of sleep to keep up on top of your game. Also, I can’t think of anything else that starts with Z and I’m insanely tired myself…Zebra? Zune? Zoroastrian? Zzzz
All too much? We can help you with any element of your publishing project. Editing, Cover Design, Layout for eBook or POD. Don’t wait any longer to publish your book. Click below to schedule an obligation free 20 minute consultation with the experts at Madhouse Media Publishing.