TIPS: How to Self-Publish a Book
By Frances Chaves
The self-publishing revolution has transformed the world of authorship from the chosen few to… anyone who has a desire to publish their own book. The number of print and e-books self-published annually is up by 287 percent since 2006 and now totals over 235,000 titles, according to Bowker, the company that handles ISBNs (book identifier codes) and other bibliographic info for books published in the U.S.
Becoming a published author and thus establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field is now easier and less expensive. POD—print-on-demand—allows you to publish a book but only have the books printed as they are sold. E-books are book-length publications produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices.
Which is the better way to publish—print-on-demand or digital? Some companies will let you do both. But if this is your first book and it doesn’t have a lot of images, David Carnoy recommends publishing digitally because it is easier to format and less expensive to publish. The cost of your average self-published print book is $13.99 and up; e-books sell in the $.99 to $5.99 range.
But no matter how you choose to publish, for your book to be a success, you need to have compelling content and a catchy title. To sell your book, you will need to create awareness of its existence. Some people do this through social media or blogging; others distribute print flyers. Non-fiction does better in e-book format; fiction in print, though as the field is constantly changing this may not always be the case.
The quality of your manuscript is critical; a poorly edited, amateur-looking book won’t do well no matter what format you choose. A catchy title that is clear about the contents is important. You want to be sure that your book can be found by search engines.
When your manuscript is complete, you can decide how you want to publish.
1. Prepare Your Publication:
- Mobipocket eBook Creator or Calibre are free software for formatting your book from a Word File to a format that is digitally publishable.
- Create a great professional-looking cover by yourself, if you have graphic design skills, or by using a graphic designer. Remember that it has to look good as a thumbnail image for online publications.
- If you want to be listed as your publisher instead of the company go with (Lulu or CreateSpace for example), spend around $100 and buy your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number, a number that uniquely identifies your title).Three issues to keep in mind when choosing a publisher are:
2. Choose a Digital Publishing Platform:
1) What is the easiest and most cost-effective way to produce it?
2) Where will it be distributed?
3) How much of a cut do you get?
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s e-book publishing platform.
- You can upload your book directly to the iBookstore but it’s technically complicated.
- An “aggregator” like Smashwords or Lulu (see below) can upload your book to the iBookstore.
- Amazon offers incentives to authors to offer their works exclusively on Amazon (KDP Select)
- Kindle has about 60 percent of e-book sales
- Nook has 25 percent
- Apple has 15 percent
- Exclusivity with Amazon means you can’t distribute or sell your book even from your own personal blog or website, according to Mark Coker: Amazon Shows Predatory Spots with KDP Select.
E-Publishers geared to new authors include Smashwords, BookBaby and Lulu.
- Does not charge for creating your e-book and takes only a small cut of author’s royalties.
- Upload your Word file and cover image into the company’s “Meatgrinder” tool, and quickly create your e-book in multiple formats.
- Smashworks.com has a platform for selling your e-book or they will distribute it to most of the major e-book sellers, including Barnes & Noble’s e-Bookstore, Apple’s iBooks, Sony, Kobo, and Baker & Taylor’s Blio and others.
- Smashwords also has deals in place for having its authors’ e-books distributed to libraries.
- Offers a free style guide for formatting your e-book and a free e-book “Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success”
- On Smashwords e-book store, authors earn 85 percent of the net sale after credit card fees are deducted which is about 60 to 80 percent of the list price.
- For books distributed by Smashwords to its retail network of the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and Baker & Taylor’s Blio, author earns 60 percent of the list price (retailer takes 30 and Smashwords takes 10).
- You pay an upfront fee of $99, then a yearly fee of $19 per title you have in its system.
- Their Standard and Premium Packages cost more and provide more support and assistance and an additional cost for a cover design.
- Offers distribution with all the major e-book sellers
- Provides an Author’s Accounting Dashboard to track and analyze sales data.
- Royalty rates for authors are 65 percent of the sale price for titles priced $2.99 and higher; 40 percent if book costs less than $2.99 or higher than $9.99.
- 99c cents is their lowest allowable price; $199.99 is highest.
- Provides a free conversion tool that takes your Microsoft Word, TXT, HTML, or RTF files and automatically converts it to an EPUB file, which you then upload to Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore
- Allows you to preview how your content will look on one of Barnes & Noble’s e-reading devices using the Nook emulator.
- Gives you the option of publishing both a print and e-book
- Distributes to Apple’s iBookstore, Lulu.com and Barnes & Noble (Nook).
- Designated “aggregators” for Apple’s iBookstore
- Offers an EPUB conversion tool and a e-Book Creator guide for free
- Fee-based premium services
- Pays 10 percent cut of net earnings from Apple’s iBookstore and B&N’s Nook Book Store.
- Good option for self-publishing children’s books or other types of books with lots of images.
- Free download for Mac.
- Apple is exclusive publisher and your project can only be used on Apple readers.
- Have to pay for your own ISBN
3. Price your e-book
When choosing an e-publisher, it is important that you control the pricing of your e-book.
- If you have never published before don’t price it too high ($5.99 or less).
- Smashwords, an online e-book publishing and distribution platform, says that between $2.99 and $5.99 yields the most profit for self-published authors. 99 cents will get you more downloads but it’s a poor price point for earning e-income.
- Lulu, another company, reports that e-books in the 99 cents to $2.99 range sell more units and earn more revenue than those in any other range.
- Amazon’s 70 percent royalty for authors applies only to Kindle books priced between $2.99 and $9.99; otherwise the rate goes down to 35 percent.
- Smashword says that free e-books get about 100 times more downloads than priced e-books.
Print-on-demand books are only printed when someone orders a copy. These publishers are known as subsidy presses or author-services companies.
1) How to self-publish a print book
David Carnoy stresses the importance of having a professional-looking manuscript. Most of the POD publishers provide options to work (for a fee) with their in-house editors, copy editors and in-house design people. Carnoy recommends hiring your own professionals.
CreateSpace and Lulu take you, step by step, through the process of creating your book.
- Choose a size for your book
- Format your Word manuscript to fit that size
- Turn the Word doc into a PDF
- Create cover art and save as a PDF
- Upload to the self-publisher of your choice
- Receive a book proof within a few weeks (if your file was correctly formatted)
- Make any changes you need & return the file
- The quality of printing is usually good; what gives the books away as DIY is the quality of the covers so pay special attention to your cover and formatting.
- The average print self-published book sells about 100 – 150 copies.
2) Choose a POD Publisher
- Provides free and easy tools including Interior Reviewer, Cover Creator, Preview and Image Gallery.
- You earn royalties every time a book is printed to fulfill a new customer order placed on Amazon.com, Amazon’s European websites, your CreateSpace eStore, or through sales channels offered with Expanded Distribution.
- Prints to order, to publisher; to warehouse; does digital print runs; offset print runs.
- Titles can be submitted as electronic files or as hard copy to be digitized. You pay only a minimal set-up charge.
- Once entered into their system, information about your titles enters the catalogs of the world’s largest distribution channel of wholesalers, retailers and booksellers.
- Handles all aspects of order management including receipt of payment, printing, fulfillment, and paying you for your books that have been purchased each month.
Ingram Digital, Overdrive, or LibreDigital, are geared toward larger publishing or self-publishing operations rather than to individuals.
How to Make Money on Ebooks
Xlibris will send you a Free guide to self-publishing:
Ehow ‘s 14 Steps to Self-Publish a Book