The steps to self-publishing aren’t complicated or numerous, and they don’t have to be expensive. However, it’s good to get an overall view before jumping into the process. Looking at the steps to self-publishing before you start can give you an idea of what is actually involved, what the time frames might be, and keep you from falling off the path and into a rabbit hole.
I am in a lot of writers’ and self-publishing groups and at least three times a week someone will post a variation of “I’ve finished my book. How do I self-publish?” As if self-publishing could be explained in a comment. this post is a quick bird’s eye view of the process. Still too long to put in the comments section.
- Finish your manuscript.
- Proof and edit it as best you can—make it as clean as possible.
- Write any front and back matter. Might as well have the editor take a pencil to that, too.
- Send it to an editor who works in your genre or niche. You will need to research editors because prices and skills vary and editing is not cheap, but worth it. (Full Disclosure: I edit nonfiction books.)
- If you are going to use your own IBSNs (recommended) go to Bowker (US/Australia) or Nielsen’s (UK). Each country has its own seller of ISBNs. Some countries don’t charge you. Don’t buy the bar codes. The POD sites supply a bar code for you.
- Write the back cover copy for your book. Many of us use that (or an expanded version of it) for the description when we upload files to the publishing platforms.
- Once your manuscript is ready, you will need to format the interior. You can do this yourself using templates from KDP or a program like Atticus or InDesign, or hire out the formatting. Again, research prices so you’re not overcharged.
- You will need a professional-level cover. Your cover sells your book. Look at the bestselling books in your genre. What do their covers look like? You want your cover to match what’s expected in your genre and stand out at thumbnail size. You will need a real cover designer. Lots of options and again, lots of prices.
- While all this is going on, you want to work on choosing categories and keywords for your book. I use Publisher Rocket from Kindlepreneur to find the best categories and most effective keywords for my clients and myself. If you’re going to publish more than one or two books, it is certainly worth the one-time fee.
- Once you have your files (in the proper formats) for covers and interior, you upload them to a site like KDP/Amazon and/or IngramSpark (the two biggest). There are many other platforms. Use the ones you like but Amazon will account for 80% of your sales at least.
- Decide on price, distribution options, and hit that big PUBLISH button. Congratulate yourself.
- Claim your author profile at author.Amazon.com
Note: Each one of these self-publishing steps has a dozen sub-steps to them. If you go to https://kdp.amazon.com/ they have tutorials to help you through each step. It’s not difficult; there’s just a lot to learn. But if you take it step-by-step, you can avoid overwhelm.
Then you get the joy of marketing your book. Spoiler Alert: You should have started that six months ago.