Many people say they want to write a book “one day”, or that they have a great idea for a story. Some might even have had an exciting life which would make an interesting novel or biography to read.
A lot of the time, it’s the thought that they would never get a publishing deal for their book which stops the creative process from even beginning, but in this digital age we find ourselves, publishing a book has never been easier!
Self-publishing no longer has that stigma of poorly written and badly edited books anymore, as more and more people turn to it — especially with so many online options to do so these days. Even many famous authors began with self-publishing and hit it big! So let’s get into it:
Sure, this might sound strange to put in this guide on publishing, but you only get to publish if you actually finish (or start!) your book. Don’t let “one day” never arrive, make “one day” today. Lock yourself away and get writing! If you’re looking for motivation, join Twitter and get involved in the #WritingCommunity, or join in with NaNoWriMo as a way to push yourself towards your goal.
This one is crucial to getting your book widely read and taken seriously (and professionally). Nobody wants to read something with many typos or grammatical mistakes as it will just come across amateurish. If you are unsure on how to go about this, here are some step-by-step instructions, or you can search for an editor on Reedsy.
Formatting your book is about getting it set right for the size of book you want printing, assuming you are making a print version as well as an eBook. Once you have decided what size book you want, head over to Amazon’s Paperback Manuscript Templates page where you can download a ZIP file full of preset MS Word files. All you need to do it copy your text into it and then you can work on adjusting the layout of the text and chapters to suit the new page size and margins. If you’re unsure about doing this, you can also find people to hire who can do all this for you too.
If you only want to make an eBook, check out my eBook formatting and publishing guide.
Unless you can do graphic design yourself, hire a professional cover designer! We all know the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the truth of the matter is that we all do. An eye-catching book cover is what draws someone’s attention to your book on the shelf over all of the others.
If you can create graphics yourself, Amazon provides a handy tool for generating a cover template based on your book size and page count, here.
Having your own ISBN will give your book the opportunity for a wider market, as you will own it and can reuse it if you publish the same book on other platforms (such as IngramSpark, Kobo etc). But if you don’t have one, Amazon can provide you with one of their own internal barcode system numbers. The plus side is that this is free, but the downside is that you can’t use this barcode ISBN outside of Amazon’s publishing system.
ISBN’s can be quite pricey, but I have shopped around and found a few places where you can buy them at a decent price:
Be aware that getting the ISBN could take up to 2–3 business days, so don’t leave it until the last moment!
An important thing to bear in mind is that if you buy one of these cheaper ISBN numbers, they will have a fixed publisher name on it as the company who provides the ISBN number, whereas the full price ISBN will let you specify the publisher name (or your own name). Also take note that an ISBN and a barcode aren’t the same thing; you need an ISBN number to create a barcode to go on your cover. Amazon will automatically place one on your cover for you based on the ISBN number provided, but if you want to publish elsewhere, you’ll need your own ISBN and barcode image.
Now comes the fun part: getting a step closer to having your book published and put ‘out there’! Log into your account on kdp.amazon.com and go to your “Bookshelf”. Select one of the options to add a new title. In this guide I’m focusing on a Paperback set up.
The first stage it to fill in all your book title information and author details, plus keywords and categorisation. On the next step you will be given the choice to choose a free Amazon-only ISBN, or to provide your own. If you bought one, here’s where you need to enter it.
Set your publication date if it’s a previously published book, else leave this blank if you are publishing your book for the first time. Next thing to select is your paper type and whether you need colour prints inside the book or not, and the cover type (gloss or matte). You will also need to select your trim size which should match the template you selected in Step Three when formatting your book.
Now you can upload your manuscript and book cover graphic. Amazon also offers a Cover Creator option if you haven’t got one already, which lets you visually design a cover using KDP’s stock images. There’s a book preview option at the end of this section so you can start to get an idea of what your book will look like. This will also point out any formatting or margin errors so you may spend some time in this section if your manuscript layout wasn’t exact.
Once you’ve approved your layout, KDP will give you a summary and the base printing cost of your book.
Here’s where you get to choose what you want to charge for your book. If it’s a paperback, then you can’t offer it for free as there will be a base amount that Amazon requires to cover the cost of printing it; anything after that is profit for you. Setting a price can sound like a fairly simple task, but it can prove to be quite difficult if you are unsure of the current market, what a typical book in your genre goes for (which could vary on the fame of the author), and also just simply knowing your own worth. Don’t be afraid to set a price which is as much fair to the reader as it is to yourself and the work which went into creating it.
My most recent book was 630 pages and took quite a lot of work, so I priced it at £19.99, which was based on similar works and what I felt was fair even though I almost hesitated at setting a price I thought might put people off. But to date, I’ve sold 27 copies so far and had no complaints — plus I made a good profit as well.
Once you have set your price and selected your distribution (unless you have good reason, select worldwide and expanded distribution), it’s now time to publish your book! Click that button and all you need to do is wait to get an email from Amazon to say the book is live and available in their online store.
You also have the option to request a printed proof of your book that you can order and check it over physically before going live — I would highly recommend that you do this as seeing it in person gives it a whole different feel than just viewing a digital proof on a screen. When the book status does change to “Live,” you’ll also be able to order author copies at a discounted price (usually just covering the print cost and shipping).
That’s it — you have successfully created and published your own book! Congratulations! If you want to reach a wider audience, I would also recommend that you create an eBook version as well. See my other article guide on 6 Simple ways to Format and Publish your eBook.
Now you need to tell people it’s there and get onto marketing it. If you don’t have a massive amount of money stashed away for this, I also recommend my other article (and my own tried and true methods) for 7 Tips for Marketing Your Book on a Budget to help you along in this area.
Let me know if this helps you and tell me if you publish something using my guide!
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