This is by no means meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish; rather, use this as an introduction to the process if you’re unfamiliar. Self-publishing (both eBooks and printed books) is ridiculously easy these days (thanks, Internet!), but that also means there’s a lot of competition out there.
No matter if you’re going the electronic route, the dead-tree route, or both, you will need a cover for your book. This is the biggest consideration to self-publishing that you will have to prepare for. A cover sells your book to your potential audience, so you want to make it interesting. Don’t skimp on it, and make sure you get others’ opinions on it.
If you’re familiar with graphics manipulation tools (I use GIMP, because it’s free, but it’s a little convoluted), you can create your own cover with royalty-free photos and artwork from sites like Unsplash and Pixabay. Make sure you use free-for-commercial-use fonts as well from a site like 1001fonts (use the filter on their site while searching so you only see free-for-commercial-use fonts). You may be tempted to use whatever fonts are already on your computer, but you’ll find more fitting and interesting fonts on this site.
I’ve also played around with a couple of sites like Canva that help you create book covers. The results usually look pretty generic if you only go with their free designs, but it’s an option.
You can also pay someone to make a cover for you. People on sites like Fiverr will throw together something using pretty much the exact method I just mentioned, and results may not be great since they are only getting 5 bucks. You could also pay an artist or a designer to create a cover for you from scratch, but this doesn’t come cheap. I priced it out once, and the range was anywhere from $400 to $2,500.
Publishing an eBook
It probably won’t come as a surprise that if you’re self-publishing, you need to be on Amazon. The Kindle publishing program is really easy to use, and Amazon provides a ton of tools to help you get your book in a state that’s ready to publish. This is, first and foremost, your #1 goal when your book is ready – get it on Amazon.
You’ll probably also want to be on Smashwords, Apple’s iBooks, and maybe also Barnes & Noble’s site just for maximum exposure, but Amazon is your focus. There are stipulations that come along with being on Amazon and other services, so make sure you read carefully. Amazon requires your pricing to match other sites (if they find it lower somewhere else, they will match that price, so you can’t give your Smashwords readers a better deal). I believe if you choose to be in the Kindle Unlimited program (or maybe it’s another one of the Kindle programs?), there is also a stipulation that you flat out can’t be on any competing services. The point is, don’t take my word for it, and read carefully when publishing.
You should consider pricing at $2.99, because this is the lowest price you can offer for Amazon’s 70/30 revenue split program, and it’s still a price point at which people can impulse buy. You are an unknown author, so you shouldn’t expect people to want to pay the normal $7-12 rate for your work, and Amazon offers some interesting charts showing that indie authors do best at $2.99 if you need a little more convincing.
Get your friends, family, and anyone you can to leave you ratings and reviews, because no one wants to be the first to bite on an unrated novel.
Publishing a Print Book
This is actually pretty easy and inexpensive, all things considered. Services like Lulu will print your book affordably, which you can then do whatever you want with (give it to friends, sell it at conventions, donate it to your local library, keep on your shelf, whatever). I priced this out the other day, and it was around $4/copy (+shipping) for a 200 page book in a standard paperback size, and there are volume discounts.
That’s it for this series. I hope it’s been inspiring, helpful, and valuable to you. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.