Every writer wants to get published—to get their name out there and have their work read by millions of readers. But this is obviously easier said than done.
Just getting a traditional publisher to accept your manuscript can be extremely challenging. For one, there’s a lot of competition. But even if your manuscript is accepted, you must often jump through many hoops just to get it published.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. In the digital age, writers have the option to self-publish. This allows them to have complete creative control, keep all their royalties, not worry as much about the competition, and bypass traditional gatekeepers,
But what is self-publishing and how do you do it? Read on to find out!
What is self-publishing?
Self-publishing refers to publishing a book independently and at your own expense. It was born in the 1970s with the rise of the internet. Suddenly, authors no longer needed to rely on publishing companies. They could publish their work online via desktop publishing (DTP) or print-on-demand (POD).
By the 1990s, the first ebooks arrived. This allowed authors to publish their books without having them go to print. Later in the 2000s, companies like Sony and Amazon invented the first ebook readers, further spreading the popularity of ebooks.
Now self-publishing a book is easier than ever. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can do it.
That said, self-publishing still requires a lot of work. You are responsible for the entire publishing process, which includes writing, editing, designing, formatting, and marketing the book (typically with the help of a self-publishing platform like Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon).
So if you want to self-publish a book, here’s what you need to do:
1. Write the book
Obviously, the first step is to write the book. You may already know what the book is about, or you may not. If you don’t, that’s okay. In fact, not knowing exactly what to write about lets you perform some market research first.
For example, you could study other books within your area of interest or expertise to see what topics perform best or are trending right now. You may also run a poll to see what your existing network is most interested in reading from you.
Whatever you do, have an ideal reader in mind before you start writing. This helps you narrow the focus of your book by targeting a particular type of reader.
2. Edit the book
Once you have completed the first draft of your book, it’s time to edit. Perform the first round of edits yourself. This lets you correct glaring mistakes and typos. You may also notice phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and entire chapters that require revision or even elimination. Don’t be afraid to “kill your darlings.” The best writers do.
From there, find others to edit your manuscript. These could be other writers, professional editors, or even family and friends. The most important thing is to get feedback from another set of eyes. This is because it’s easy to overlook errors when you are in the thick of writing. Plus, it’s always good to get a second opinion.
3. Design the book
At this point, you’re ready to design the book. Book design has two parts: book cover design and interior design.
To design the book cover, you’ll want to hire a professional graphic designer or use a free online design tool like Canva. Use compelling colors and fonts that draw readers in and don’t get too elaborate. Often, simplicity is best.
When it comes to interior design, you’ll also benefit from hiring a professional formatter or typesetter. They are trained in using professional design software like Adobe InDesign to optimize the layout of your book’s text and pages.
4. Choose a self-publishing platform
You can’t easily self-publish a book without a self-publishing platform. Fortunately, you have many options to choose from. One of the world’s biggest self-publishing platforms is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). However, there are others. These include Barnes & Noble Press, Kobo, IngramSpark, and more.
Each will have its pros and cons, so do your research. Some will have a wider reach, more customer support, or more print and distribution options than others. For example, Some self-publishing retailers offer print-on-demand and let you choose between different pages, book covers, and binding materials (such as perfect bound books by PrintingCenterUSA).
5. Choose book metadata
Now that your book is written, edited, and designed, and you have a self-publishing retailer picked out, you can finalize the details of your book known as metadata. These include the book’s title, description, ISBN, price, and BISAC code (information on the book’s subject, genre, and reading level).
Some advice on the book title: Don’t try to be too clever with it. The best book titles are clear and to the point. You want shoppers to immediately understand who the book is for, what it’s about, and why they should read it.
6. Publish the book
This is the most satisfying step of all: actually hitting publish. You may first need to create an account and author bio on your preferred self-publishing platform. But from there, you can upload your book document and release it into the world. Congratulations!
7. Market the book
Of course, you can’t expect people to start buying your book just because it’s published. You must promote it. You can do this via your website, social media, author events such as book signings, and handing out advanced reader copies to get endorsements.
Spread the word about your book far and wide so that it gets as much attention as possible. As people start buying, reading, and liking it, they will share it with others on their own accord.
At the end of the day, self-publishing is a great way to spread your ideas to the masses. It’s not always easy, but with enough effort and diligence, you can make your dreams of being a published author a reality.