A friend, who is a writer, is in the process of self-publishing her book. She reached out to me after she had trouble finding a competent and affordable formatter for her book. She said, “I find this incredibly hard. So many of the next steps unfold once you do another step and it just piles on the to-do list to a ridiculous degree.”
More fun, sometimes things have to happen simultaneously but they really can’t. (Yeah, parse that one.)
Self-publishing is a process. It’s complex, but not rocket science. It does take the ability to organize all the stray pieces and have them kick off in the proper order.
You start with your finished and edited manuscript. You’ve decided what platform you’re going to use to self-publish and whether you will put the book out in hard copy, ebook format, or both. (We’ll talk about Audible another day.)
Then you need:
- A strong title and a descriptive subtitle that includes one or more keywords that your reader will search on.
- All your front matter written: Blurbs, dedication, preface, copyright page (with ISBN), author’s note, acknowledgements (if putting them up front).
- All your back matter written: Appendix, index, glossary, citations, author’s bio or “About the Author,” Other books by this author, Work with [Author], links to other products, website, etc.
Your book most likely will not have all of these things in front and back matter, but whatever you are using, have them ready to go for your interior layout designer.
For your cover, you need a professional cover designer. This can run anywhere from $100 for an ebook cover (100covers.com) to $500 or more. Don’t cheap it out on Fiverr. Covers are responsible for 80% – 90% of all book sales. You need someone who understands how to make a cover stand out against all the other thumbnails on Amazon. Your cover is more important than your editor. (Sacrilege!!) But the truth is, your cover attracts the buyer. After they have bought your book and are actually reading it, your investment in an editor pays off.
Your cover designer will need:
- Title, Subtitle, Author(s)’ names
- Back cover copy
- Any images you want to use, including your logo
- Price of the print book
- Book Trim Size
- Number of pages in the formatted book
- The specs for the platform you are using
- Whether you need eBook only or print cover
- Brand color hex codes if you want to use them
While your designers are working on the interior and exterior, you need to decide on the categories and keywords to use for your book. I use KDP Rocket to find the best categories for my clients. If you’re only writing a book now and then, you probably don’t need it. If you plan on writing a lot of books, or if you’re in the industry, then definitely get it.
Once you have your cover and interior layout files, you upload them to the platform, following the platform’s step-by-step process, and then wait for the files to be approved and for your book to go live.
But there’s one more hitch. (Of course.)
You need to write a description of your book and what they don’t tell you is that your description is really your sales page. Your description should help define who the book is for and the results they will get from reading the book. You want it to be benefit driven, confident, and have a hook—an angle that ropes people in. On top of that, you want to naturally, organically include keywords and keyword phrases for categories that you would like Amazon to put you in, i.e., the phrases that people will type into Amazon or Google when they are looking for a book like yours.
The scariest part of the process? Pushing the “Publish” button. Seriously. Especially the first time. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve published for myself and others and I always hesitate, then double and triple check before I hit publish. But guess what? If something is wrong, you can go back in and fix it. That’s part of the beauty of eBooks and print on demand.
So, yes, self-publishing is a process and this is definitely a bird’s eye view rather than a step-by-step. There are many pieces to tie together and while you’re doing that, you’re also planning your launch strategies and trying to pull all those pieces together. It can be overwhelming. The more involved your launch, for example, if you want to have a pre-order period before your book goes live, the more pieces that you have to pull together and the more that can fall through the cracks. (And yes, I help people with the publishing process, launch, and if desired, a business marketing plan.)
Here’s the bottom line: Self-publishing is hard—at least the first few times you do it. It’s complex to a certain degree. It’s not insurmountable and no one is going to die if you screw something up. More important, holding your book in your hand or seeing “author” next to your name, makes the hard work all worthwhile. What are you waiting for? It’s time to publish your book.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you click the link and choose to buy from that vendor, I receive a small payment. It does not affect the price you pay. It keeps me in single malt scotch.