The self-publishing process involves an author taking control of their own publication versus going through a traditional publisher. Self-published authors have complete creative control over their work. They have the option of publishing their books in print, electronic, and audio formats. They set their own prices and keep a large percentage of the profits. A big advantage of self-publishing is that authors can create content faster and reach more people.
However, self-publishing also has its own disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that self-published authors have to do everything themselves. They have to format their own book, design their own cover, and promote their own work. This can be a lot of work for authors who are already busy with their full-time jobs. Additionally, self-published authors often have to spend more money upfront to get their books published
The process of self-publishing typically involves several steps (each step is discussed in detail below), including:
Writing the book: Writing a book is the first step in self-publishing. It involves developing an idea, creating your characters, building your world, writing the manuscript, editing, and revising it until it is ready for publication. The story is very significant to your book's success. When creating your characters, it's worthwhile to think carefully about their backstory, motivations, and goals, as these will drive your story and help you create a compelling narrative. It is also important to consider your book's marketability. Will your book have mass appeal or be niche? What genre does it fit into? How does your book compare to other titles in the same genre? These are all a few factors to consider in this stage.
Editing: It is essential that you have your manuscript edited and proofread before you think of publishing. Consider hiring a professional editor if you don't feel confident about your editing skills. A professional editor will spot inconsistencies in the storyline or plot development. Unless they are editors, it is never a good idea to use friends for feedback since editors can be objective whereas friends may not be. Moreover, professional editors have specialized knowledge and experience that can help to develop and refine your writing, making it more effective for your intended audience.
Formatting: The next step is to format your manuscript for publication. It typically involves converting your document into a format suitable for the platform you plan to publish on, such as ePub, MOBI, or PDF. It is important to check the formatting guidelines provided by the self-publishing platform you intend to use before you begin. Most platforms have specific guidelines for the required margins, font, and spacing of the text that must be adhered to for a successful upload.
Cover Design: Your book cover is the first thing potential readers will see, so it's important to make a good impression. It is possible for you to create your own cover using software like Canva, or you can hire a professional designer to create one for you. If you wish to hire a professional, I recommend GetCovers because they work closely with you, and from personal experience, they do a great job.
ISBN: An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier for your book. You can purchase an ISBN through a variety of sources, including Bowker, the official ISBN agency in the United States. To learn more, check out our post on Copyrights and ISBNs.
Choose a Self-Publishing Platform: There are several self-publishing platforms available, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Press, and Kobo. Make sure you research each platform to determine which is right for your book and for you. If you plan to market your book to a wide international audience, Amazon KDP might be the best platform to use since it offers the largest selection of languages and countries.
Launch your book: Once your book is ready, I recommend pre-launching it. Make sure your launch date is at least three months away and focus your pre-launch on religiously promoting your book. Start a mailing list for your book and send out snippets to generate buzz. Promoting it on podcasts is a good way to get people interested. The majority of people skip this step, but I believe it is one of the most crucial ones. You could start by offering your book for free to the first 50 people who sign up to your mailing list, or even offer a free chapter to anyone who signs up. This will help to generate excitement and create a sense of urgency.
Upload Your Manuscript and Cover: Once you've chosen your self-publishing platform, you can upload your formatted manuscript and cover. Most platforms will guide you through the process of setting up your book and inputting important details, such as the title, author name, and pricing.
Set Your Price: You have control over the price of your book. Consider factors like your target audience, the length of your book, and the competition when setting your price.
Promote Your Book: Once your book is live, it's up to you to promote it. Consider creating a website or social media account dedicated to your book, and use online advertising to reach potential readers. You also need to engage with book bloggers and reviewers and podcasters.
Monitor Sales: You can track your book sales through the self-publishing platform's dashboard. Use this information to adjust your marketing and pricing strategies as needed.
Authors who choose to self-publish must be willing to put in the time and effort to make sure their book is high quality and reaches the right audience. The benefits of self-publishing can also be big. Authors have more flexibility to experiment with different formats and pricing, and even to make changes to the book after its initial release.
We'll go over some of these steps in detail. My advice is to take what you need from articles like these when doing your research. These are based on my self-publishing experience. The information here is compiled from the actual experiences of independent authors, so take what you need. The industry changes constantly, so do your best to stay up to date on trends. It is still important to remain open-minded and be willing to adjust your methods if necessary.
The editing process is crucial to the independent author's publishing journey. Editing improves the readability, clarity, and overall quality of your writing, and ensures there are no errors, inconsistencies, or plot holes in your work.
I will tell you this: I never recommend solely using editing software because they don't work. They reflect the glaring disparity between self-published and traditionally published books. There is a significant difference between when a seasoned editor works on your book and when you run it through the ProWritingAid app.
But getting an experienced, licensed editor is expensive and hard. There is a sea of subpar editors out there, which is why most writers still prefer traditional publishing. One platform I recommend as a gateway to accessing editors worth your money is Reedsy. Their system makes it easy to find editors specific to your genre, but they are not cheap.
We're writers, and it can be challenging to edit our own work. Editing software and apps exist ( I will list them shortly) to help you edit. You still have to do the grunt of the work.
Here's a do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing for self-published authors.
Step 1: Take a break
Take a break. Allow yourself to step away from your manuscript for a few days or even a week so you can re-visit it with a fresh perspective. I gave myself a month. It will allow you to evaluate your work objectively and identify improvements that need to be made when you return to it.
Step 2: Evaluate your manuscript
You should read your manuscript from beginning to end and make notes about what needs improvement. Look for plot holes, inconsistent character development, pacing issues, and any other weaknesses that could impact your readers' experience. Make note of any changes you need to make to the story's flow and structure.
Step 3: Create an outline
Using your notes, draft an outline that highlights the main points you want to address. The outline should include a clear description of the story arc, the character development, the overall pacing, and anything else that needs improvement. The outline should provide a roadmap for you to follow as you revise the manuscript so that you can ensure that your revisions focus on the key elements that will help it reach its maximum potential.
Step 4: Edit substantively
Substantive editing involves making changes to the manuscript's content, structure, and style. It involves taking into account both the big picture elements, such as the story's structure, as well as the finer details of the content, such as grammar and tone. Use your outline as a guide; that's why we made it. Ensure that your characters are well-developed, the plot is cohesive, and the pacing is appropriate for your genre. Pay close attention to your writing clarity and eliminate any sections that do not contribute to the overall story.
Step 5: Review and revise [Line and Copy Editing]
After making substantive edits, review your manuscript again, this time focusing on grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Make sure you read it again from beginning to end and highlight what needs to be changed. My suggestion is to print out the whole thing because I think it's easier to edit a physical copy. This is where you use editing software or apps to help you identify errors that you may have missed. Some of these editing software will offer suggestions that do not match the style of your genre or story, ignore them. Ensure that your writing style is consistent throughout the manuscript and that your tone is appropriate for your target audience.
Step 6: Get feedback [Proofreading]
Once you're satisfied with the manuscript, it's time to get feedback from beta readers or critique partners. This feedback can help you identify any remaining issues and ensure that your manuscript is engaging and well-received by your target audience. Use this feedback to make any final adjustments before moving on to formatting. You might have noticed I put proofreading here too. It's because after you get your manuscript from beta readers, you have to make sure you've crossed all your ts and dotted all your i's.
It's important to note that hiring an editor can be a valuable investment in the quality of your manuscript, and can help you produce a more professional and polished final product. If you choose to self-edit, make sure to take the time to carefully review your manuscript multiple times and consider having someone else read and proofread and provide feedback before publishing.
I am of the opinion that if you're going to invest in the financial cost of professional editing, you need to dedicate the time to promoting your book like your life depends on it to be able to get it out there.
Here's the list of Editing software to assist with editing as promised;
Reedsy Book Editor
As part of the self-publishing process, formatting is the process of preparing your manuscript for publication. Your manuscript needs to be formatted so that it can be easily read on various devices and is compatible with your publishing platform. You may find the following tips helpful when formatting your manuscript for self-publication:
Choose the right file format: Most publishing platforms accept documents in Microsoft Word format or a similar file format. Some platforms have specific file format requirements, so make sure you check the guidelines of the platform you plan to use. If you're publishing to a platform that requires PDF format, you'll need to convert your document to PDF before uploading your manuscript.
Use proper margins and line spacing: Use standard one-inch margins and double-spaced lines for easy readability. Setting 1-inch margins in a Microsoft Word document is easy. Simply go to the Page Layout tab and select the Margins settings. Located under the home tab is the paragraph setting for line spacing.
Use a readable font: Consider Times New Roman or Arial, which are easy to read and widely available. For the body text, use a 12 pt font size.
Include headers and footers: Include the title of your book and page numbers in the header or footer of each page. Microsoft Word and Google Docs let you open headers and footers by double-clicking at the very top or bottom. It is possible to keep the header and footer information off your cover page by checking the option to make the first page different in the header/footer tab.
Insert page breaks: Use page breaks to ensure that each chapter starts on a new page.
Include a copyright page: List all the copyright information for your book, including your name, copyright date, and any other relevant information.
Add a table of contents: If your book includes multiple chapters or sections, add a table of contents to help readers navigate your book easily.
Convert your file to the appropriate format: Most publishing platforms require manuscripts to be converted to either an ePub or PDF file format. As I said earlier, be careful about using free conversion tools or software to convert your file.
Follow your chosen publishing platform's formatting guidelines to make sure your manuscript gets accepted and looks professional. Many platforms offer formatting guides and tools to help you properly format your manuscript, so take advantage of these resources if they are available.
As part of my self-publishing journey, I have used Kindle Create, Reedsy Editor, Vellum, Scrivener and Adobe InCopy, and InDesign.
I wouldn't recommend Adobe InCopy or InDesign for someone just starting out. I would suggest starting with Reedsy or Google Docs because they have an export/download option to get an Epub version of your file. If you only need a PDF copy for your platform, stick with Microsoft Word. You can easily export to PDF from Word.
If you're familiar with Adobe tools, I would suggest using Adobe InCopy or InDesign applications. If you're not very good with Adobe and you need an epub version of your Word document, create an account on Reedsy Book Editor, it's free, upload your Word file then export it as an epub. Or you can easily use your Google account to create a Google Document and download an Epub version of your manuscript.
Writers have access to countless tools for creating, editing, formatting, and exporting their books, from Microsoft Word to Google Docs to Scrivener to Reedsy Book Editor and Vellum. I should point out that Adobe, Vellum, and Scrivener are not free; you have to purchase the software.
You shouldn't use free online file converters! As much as possible, don't share your complete manuscript anywhere sketchy. You need to protect your copyright at all times!
Creating an eye-catching and effective cover for your book is very important. Potential readers usually look at the cover first, so it can play a huge role in attracting them and getting them interested in your book. Although the cover is not always representative of the quality of the book, most readers judge a book by its cover.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure your cover design works:
Research your genre: Look at other books in your genre and study their cover designs. Take note of the colors, fonts, and images, as well as the overall tone and style. It'll help you understand the expectations and conventions of your genre and make your cover fit in with the rest or stand out.
Hire a professional designer: Unless you are a professional designer, it is usually more efficient to hire a professional to create your cover. By working with a professional designer, you can ensure that your cover is visually appealing, effective, and meets the technical specifications required by self-publishing platforms. A professional designer can work with you to create a custom cover that reflects your book's content and genre. They can also provide valuable feedback and suggestions on ways to improve the design. As I stated earlier, I have worked with GetCover designers a few times and have no complaints.
Provide a clear brief: Provide your designer with a clear brief that outlines your goals, target audience, and any specific requirements or ideas you have for the design. By doing this, you can ensure that your book's cover is designed to meet your needs and reflect the content and tone of the book. This will give your designer a better understanding of what you are looking for, and help them create a book cover that speaks to your desired audience and accurately reflects the content of your book. Oversharing with your designer is always a good idea. Describe the book, the plot, the world, your characters, and their personalities. It never fails that designers get inspiration from the most unusual things. So tell them anything and everything, and they'll blow your mind.
Test your design: Once you have a design, test it with your target audience to get feedback on its effectiveness. Identifying potential problems or areas for improvement before your book is published will help you avoid any pitfalls. This is the time to do a cover reveal; this should occur before the prelaunch event. The cover reveal will not only generate excitement and buzz for your book but also help you evaluate the first impression of your design.
Ensure that your design meets technical specifications: Check the technical specifications for your chosen self-publishing platform to ensure that your cover design complies with their requirements for size, format, resolution, and file type. Editing an already completed cover design to meet a platform's specs is a pain, so always design with that in mind.
There's no denying that most of us want to do it ourselves and avoid spending money. You can design your own cover. Creating your own cover as a self-publishing author can be challenging, but it is also an opportunity to create one that truly reflects your vision.
Choose a tool:
There are many graphic design tools available that you can use to create your cover design. Some popular options include Canva, Adobe Photoshop, and GIMP. Choose a tool that you are comfortable using and has the features you need to create your design. With Canva, you have access to a range of features and functions, and you can create stunning designs quickly and easily. Plus, you can purchase high-quality images from Shutterstock to add to your cover design. All of this makes Canva a great option for creating your cover design.
Those with experience using more advanced tools can use Adobe Photoshop because it can be frustrating for those who are new to it. For those without advanced design experience, Canva is an excellent choice. For those who know Adobe and are thinking about getting it, I recommend getting the entire Creative Cloud so you can format your manuscript with it as well. I still recommend getting your images from Shutterstock instead of Adobe Stock.
Determine the elements you need:
Your cover design will need to include certain elements, such as the book title, author name, and any images or graphics. Decide on the placement and size of each element to ensure your design is balanced and visually appealing. Decide if you need a subtitle and how you want the blurb and back matter to look. You have to also consider how you want the spine to look and how the back cover should be laid out. If you plan to feature an image on the cover, you should consider how it will look with the other elements, such as the title and author name. Make sure you check your platform specifications and design accordingly.
Use high-quality images:
If you are including images or graphics in your cover design, make sure they are high-quality and have a resolution of at least 300 dpi. This will ensure that your cover looks professional and is not pixelated or blurry. A lower resolution image of 72 dpi might look alright on your computer screen, but when printed, the image will appear blurry and lack clarity.
The number one platform is Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, right? My book is only published through this platform and I chose it for my own reasons. To determine what platform you wish to use, you have to figure out what your needs are.
Choosing a self-publishing platform is important since it's what's going to host and distribute your book to readers. Consider the features offered by each platform, as they vary in ease of use, cost, and control they give you. There are lots of self-publishing platforms, and each has its own features, requirements, and pricing structure. Consider these factors when choosing a self-publishing platform:
Distribution options: Look for a platform that offers a wide range of distribution options, including ebooks, print-on-demand, and audiobooks. This will give you the flexibility to reach a larger audience and offer your book in multiple formats.
Royalties: Consider the platform's royalty rates and payment terms. Some platforms offer higher royalties but may have stricter payment terms, while others offer lower royalties but pay more frequently. Some platforms offer two royalty options for each eBook: the 35% royalty option and the 70% royalty option.
Pricing: Look for a platform that offers competitive pricing and does not charge excessive fees. Some platforms charge a fee to upload your book or to access certain features, so be sure to read the platform's pricing policies carefully. Don't forget to research the platform's reviews to get an idea of what other customers think of their pricing structure and fees.
Platform features: Consider the platform's features, such as marketing tools, analytics, and customer support. Look for a platform that offers the features that are most important to you and your goals as an author.
Platform reputation: Look for a platform with a good reputation in the publishing industry and among authors. Research reviews and feedback from other authors who have used the platform to ensure that it is reputable and trustworthy.
Some popular self-publishing platforms include;
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
Barnes & Noble Press
It's important to do your research and carefully consider your options before choosing a platform to ensure that it meets your needs and goals as an author.
A crucial step in the self-publishing process involves preparing for your book's launch; this is called the pre-launching stage.
Although I pre-launched my book on Amazon KDP, I didn't utilize it as well as I could have. Have you ever heard of Torrents of Fate? Exactly! If I had taken the time to create a marketing plan prior to launch, I could have ensured that the right people were aware of the book when it went live and potentially increased the number of sales.
Another cool thing about self-publishing is you can relaunch a second edition of your book if the first one doesn't work, especially. so long as you find and use the right information to guide you.
Obviously, this is one of the most important steps in the launch process because it will determine how successful your launch will be.
The pre-launching step is essential to ensure that your book receives maximum exposure and generates interest and anticipation from potential readers. To maximize the potential of your book, take the time to plan a successful pre-launch campaign; everything else hinges on it.
Here's what you can do:
Develop a marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that outlines your goals, target audience, and strategies for promoting your book. Consider using social media, book trailers, email marketing, and other promotional strategies to generate buzz around your book.
Build your author platform: Build your author platform by creating a website, blog, or social media profiles that promote your book and establish your brand as an author. This will help you connect with readers and build a following before your book is released.
Collect reviews: Reach out to bloggers, book reviewers, and other influencers in your genre to request reviews of your book. Positive reviews can help build buzz and generate interest in your book before it is released.
Set up pre-orders: Many self-publishing platforms allow you to set up automated pre-orders for your book. This can help generate buzz and increase sales before your book is even released.
Create a launch team: Build a launch team of dedicated readers and fans who can help promote your book and generate interest in the weeks leading up to its release. Offer incentives such as early access to the book, exclusive content, or free copies to encourage participation.
Prepare for distribution: Ensure that your book is properly formatted and ready for distribution on the platforms of your choice. Review the distribution guidelines and requirements for each platform to ensure that your book meets its standards.
I would add that authors should consider who's trending on social media for their target audience at this point. It's not a bad idea to reach out and introduce yourself, and get them to tell their followers about your book launch. Another thing you can do is join a professional association and get featured in their email blasts, publications, etc.
Getting noticed requires persistence; you're your own marketing team, so get on your Canva page and make as many promotional posts as you can, and get started with your marketing plan.
Get in touch with your local libraries to see what you can do to promote your book launch. I tell you, libraries are so underrated and it's bunkers because that is where avid readers go (depending on the target audience).
We have been discussing this topic for some time now, so let's pause and come back with even more insights in our next blog post!