My friend recently contacted me because she knew that I had self-published several books. She was interested in doing some writing herself and asked for some tips on how and where to get started. After sending her a lengthy message detailing some of the basics about book publishing it occurred to me that others might want this info too, so I am happy to share what I told her:
Happy New Year to you too and what a fun goal for a new year; to learn about publishing a book J I would be happy to share what I know about book publishing. I pretty much started by trial and error and did it all by myself with occasional help from Peter (my husband).
I had decided to do some blogging and I kept writing funny blog posts about all the crazy challenges I was going through with my health. Peter kept encouraging me to write a book so I pulled together all of the blog posts I had written, created an outline and then started writing. Once I had it finished I had (family & friends) read it for me to get feedback and then I paid for an editor. The price varies by editor but I think getting a good editor is extremely important. I just used Linkedin and some writer groups on Facebook to find someone. I paid for a graphic artist to create a cover for me and it wasn’t too expensive (less than $100 – I think it was $65?) Once I had the book edited I created the word document how I wanted it to look and played around on the Amazon KDP website until it looked right and then I hit publish. (https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US) There is no cost to publish a digital book, all you have to do is set up an account and put your bank info in for all of those royalties to come pouring in.
Okay so maybe you won’t make millions but I still manage a few sales each month and earn some royalties. Of course I do continue to promote on a regular basis to try and keep sales going.
If you want to do print copies of your book you can do print-on-demand with a company through Amazon called CreateSpace. (https://www.createspace.com) Formatting for this can be a little trickier but Peter and I managed to figure it out. There are folks who will do the formatting for you for a fee so I guess it just depends on how confident you are with technology.
Eventually I invested in a cool computer program for writing called Scrivener and it actually does all the formatting for you, but of course you have to learn how to use the scrivener program. Thank goodness for YouTube videos.
Once you do actually manage to write, edit and then publish your book you will need to consider how to market your book so readers will find it. Surprisingly this may be the hardest to accomplish. The most important part of promotion is getting people to read and review your book. Most folks won’t buy a book unless it has some good reviews so you need to ask friends to write a review and you find other folks willing to read and review the book for you. I wrote a blog post about book promotion that might be helpful. http://lookingonthesunnyside.blogspot.com/2014/08/okay-i-wrote-my-book-now-what.html
There are loads of articles online that can help too. I basically just use social media to market my books and I rarely if ever spend any money on advertising. I created an author page on Facebook that I use to help promote. https://www.facebook.com/LaurieWJN I post short ads for my books on Twitter, Google+ and on various book related Facebook groups designed for promotion.
I have decided to list my books on the Amazon KDP which means readers can borrow them from Amazon or read them free on the Kindle Unlimited service, but I do get a small fee based on how many pages people actually read of my books each month. I personally think that for a small indie author it is the best way to get your books out there, but there is a trade off, you have to be willing to exclusively sell your online version of your books on Amazon. Since they are the largest online bookseller by far it seemed like a reasonable tradeoff to me. There are some other places you can sell your books online that some people use, a really popular one is Smashwords. Here is an article that lists a few of them.
Here are some more articles about self-publishing dos and don’ts:
I feel like that is a ton of info to start with, but feel free to ask if you have any specific questions as you go along and good luck with your writing.