At this point, you have probably read a lot of guides telling you how to self-publish a book, and checklists telling you what to do and what not to do. Your book might be fully written or just an idea in your head. Most guides you see are written specifically to benefit the self-publishing companies who wrote them. These self-publishing companies either make self-publishing a book seem incredibly easy or incredibly hard. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Be leery of any self-publishing companies that make self-publishing a book seem too easy or impossible. Also, if any self-publishing companies try to convince you that you can be a famous author and make millions overnight, after your first time self-publishing a book, steer clear of them too. Here’s a step-by-step guide to self-publishing a book and the decisions you’ll have to make along the way.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Ok, that part’s obvious! Of course I’m self-publishing a book. Of course I’m going to write!” There’s more to writing than sitting down and doing it.
- Time & Planning
First off, if you’re serious about self-publishing a book, you’ll have to dedicate serious time to writing. Make a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
- Goal Setting
If you’re self-publishing a book, you’ll need to come up with goals every week and try to meet them. Don’t focus your goals on the number of pages you’ll finish, make them about the sections of the book. Which sections do you want to finish each week? Setting goals in terms of sections is easier than setting page number goals because it’s tough to predict how many pages it will take to cover a certain section. For example, if you’re writing a crime thriller, you might decide that you want to have the section in which the actual crime is committed and reported to the police finished in one week…rather than deciding that you want to complete 20 pages in one week.
Not everyone who wants to write a book is a writer, enjoys writing or can make the time to write. If you’re writing a book because you’re an expert in a certain topic, but you’re not sure if you have the time or energy to dedicate to a book, outsourcing may be your best bet. If you’re outsourcing, find a publishing company that offers ghost writing services.
Your book will have to be formatted correctly. Have you formatted books before? Are you confident that you can do so without making any mistakes? If so, then you’re good to go. If not, then you may want help formatting your book. Consider self-publishing companies that offer free phone support to help guide you through the formatting process, and choose one of them. Many self-publishing companies offer do-it-yourself book formatting tools. These are nice to have, but the problem is that most self-publishing companies won’t check your book for formatting errors that are only visible when the book is printed. These self-publishing companies will print your book, errors and all, and then force you to pay them to correct the mistakes and re-print it. This can be very expensive.
- Graphic Design & Photography
Many books need photos in them and even those that don’t have photos at least need covers! When self-publishing a book, consider what you want on your cover? Do you want a photograph or an illustration? Are you experienced with photo editing and graphic design software? What about photography? If you’re an experienced photographer or graphic designer, you probably could come up with a cover design on your own. If not, locate a few self-publishing companies that offer professional design and book cover maker services to help you.
It’s common for self-publishing companies to offer do-it-yourself book cover makers only, and no assistance with design and image placement…but if you’re not experienced in this area, doing it yourself could lead to costly mistakes. Also, if you need help with the design and image placement, be sure to interview self-publishing companies and only choose one that offers reasonable prices for these services. Many self-publishing companies will offer unrealistically high prices for added services that you could get elsewhere at a lower cost.
No matter how good of a writer you are, if you’re self-publishing a book, your book should be edited, period. It’s common knowledge in the writing world that writers miss mistakes in their own work that editors won’t miss. You’ve spent so much time writing, reading and revising that your eyes will become immune to certain errors, just like your nose can become blind to the scent of perfume or cologne that you wear…so let an editor take a crack at your masterpiece. You’ll be glad that you did!
Also, make sure your editor is a professional editor. Of course any author will want to give unfinished copies to friends and family to read and provide feedback. Their feedback is valuable, but they will miss certain things that an editor wouldn’t miss. Remember, revising and correcting can be a headache once your book has already been printed or published online. Unless you already know a professional book editor, consider self-publishing companies that offer editing services along with their publishing packages.
You’ve written a book! Congratulations on your accomplishment! There are just a few more steps to self-publishing a book. Unless you wrote the book only for your family and friends to read, you’re not done with the process. The next step is marketing! You have to understand who your audience is, in depth, and how to segment them into further sub-audiences. Next, you have to understand your audiences’ likes, dislikes, needs, behaviors and personalities. Only then can you get your book into the hands of the right audiences in the right places at the right times.
Most readers buy books online, so it’s absolutely essential to have a presence online in general (in the form of a website) and to have search engine optimization done to your website so internet users interested in your genre can actually find your site and your book. Next, it’s necessary to have a presence on all online platforms that your audience uses. Think of social networks, blogs, communities, forums, etc.
If you’re experienced in book marketing and digital marketing, and if you don’t work full-time, you might be able to do all of of your book marketing, digital marketing and website building yourself. If not, look for self-publishing companies that have book marketing and online marketing experts at your disposal to market your book. Be aware that some self-publishing companies offering book marketing services don’t actually offer online marketing for books. Neglecting online marketing can hurt you! Don’t accept any book marketing packages that don’t offer online marketing.
- Sales & Placement
Now that you’ve done your marketing, it’s time to sell that book! Self-publishing companies should help authors sell books, period. Many self-publishing companies will offer a place to sell your book online, but won’t help authors place their books with competing self-publishing companies or retailers. We will not only sell you book on our site, but we’ll place your book with large retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so you can sell your book there too! No author self-publishing a book should be restricted to one retailer!
- Book Printing & E-Book Publishing
Are you planning on publishing print books or e-book publishing, or both? When self-publishing a book, it’s always good to choose self-publishing companies that offer both book printing and eBook publishing, just in case you decide to change your mind later on. Also, self-publishing companies that offer on-demand printing are the best because you only have to pay to print the books that you actually sell. The self-publishing companies that force authors to purchase hundreds of books upfront often cheat the author by forcing her to waste money on a higher number of books than she can sell, in exchange for lowering the price per book. No author should be forced to pay for hundreds or thousands of books upfront!
- Shipping, Storage & Distribution – If you’ve worked with self-publishing companies before, you know they can be sneaky with hidden fees and charges. They can charge you low prices upfront, but charge unreasonably high prices for ancillary services that every author needs…like shipping, storage and distribution. No author self-publishing a book wants to pay unreasonable storage fees or force readers to pay high shipping fees. After all, the higher the fees, the less money you make and the fewer people will buy your book! We will store your book for free, and ship it to your customers for free as well!
Questions for Your Book Printing Companies & Self-Publishing Companies(Click On Each For The Answers)
These are the basic questions that you should have answered before shopping for self-publishing companies. The problem is there are not many self-publishing companies that do all of these. If they do, it may be very expensive. An author’s best bet when self-publishing a book is to price out each item individually. Many times it will be both cheaper and more profitable to do so. This will require you to do a lot of homework, price comparing and asking a lot of questions.
Self-publishing a book can be like visiting a car body shop. You don’t really truly now how good the place is until you’ve already been through the process. You just write them a large check and hope for the best. It’s unfortunate that self-publishing a book has become that, but it has. Even the greatest of books can end up with the wrong self-publishing companies, and the authors are the ones who suffer.
The questions above are a great starting point to protect yourself from ending up with one of the many bad self-publishing companies out there. Many of our customers are authors who are trying to self-publish books and have been burned before. They’re pleasantly surprised to find that we’re not like other self-publishing companies. We empower authors, rather than cheating them and tricking them into unfair contracts. Let us show you first-hand that we’re the top quality, low cost ethical self-publishing company!