Whether the manuscript is edited and ready to go or you’re just exploring the idea of self publishing, it’s important to know how to self publish a book. Thanks to the internet, and the popularity of self publishing, it’s actually easier than ever!
How to Self Publish a Book: A Guide for 2020
You probably know by now that nothing is truly that easy. Self publishing might be accessible to anyone with ambition and a computer, but there’s still a lot that goes into it. After all, you’re a book yourself. There’s a reason traditional publishers take months to finalize a release.
As a self publisher, you have to do all the jobs that would normally be handled by an entire publishing team. That means doing the editing, handling the cover design, formatting the book, and marketing. It’s not impossible! Here’s how to self publish a book easily:
1. Write your manuscript
It’s the most important part of the publishing process and your book. Without the book there’s nothing to publish! If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to get the book started or finished up.
Some people also opt to hire a ghostwriter to create a book on their behalf. Authors and celebrities like Donald Trump (in ‘The Art of the Deal’) to James Patterson use or have used ghostwriters to share their stories with readers.
2. Edit, and then edit some more
This doesn’t just mean running a spell check or looking for grammatical errors, either. Read through your entire book and make sure everything flows well. Think about your ideal reader and how they would perceive each page. This is also when you look at the length and either edit down to a more manageable word count or make additions.
A lot of independent authors hire the services of an editor to help with this process. They can provide feedback about your work and sometimes offer solutions to problem areas. Unlike traditional publishing, you don’t have to implement changes you disagree with.
3. How to choose a format when you self publish
Now that your book is ready to go it’s time to decide what format it will be published in. Are you planning to order print copies and sell your book in stores? Will it strictly be an ebook? Will you make it both by using a print on demand publishing service?
Once you’ve narrowed it down you’ll still have some more formatting questions. For print books, choose between hardcover, trade paperback, paperback, harlequin, or a unique size. Children’s books, especially picture books, have their own set of standards with a lot of variation.
eBooks also have different formats. You might just want a PDF to sell directly on your website, or perhaps you’d prefer the ePUB format that works with most e-readers.
4. Design a cover
Depending on what service you choose to publish with and format (print vs ebook) the difficulty of this step will vary widely. A lot of self publishing companies offer cover design services for a fee. You could also hire your own graphic designer to do the work. Then again, if you have the right skills and tools, there’s no saying you can’t DIY your cover design either.
eBook covers are a bit easier to create than books going to print. Since it’s only being displayed on a screen you don’t have to worry about how your colours will look after printing, bleed margins, sizing, and other print-specific aspects of graphic design.
5. Get the formatting right
Book layout is another tricky part of self publishing. If your book is something that’s mostly text, like a novel, this will be easier to do on your own. Go through the book and make sure spacing looks good, set margins, etc. If you’re self publishing something more dynamic like a cookbook or children’s book, for example, you’ll need to dedicate more time to formatting.
Again, this is something you can have handled for you by some self publishing companies. eBooks, too, are going to be easier to format than something going to print.
6. How to Self Publish Your Book
Now that your book is ready to go it’s time to self publish it! How this goes about will be determined by whether or not you’re going digital only with an eBook or printing physical books.
If you’re printing solo or with a publishing house, request a proof of your book before placing a bulk order. You’ll also have to make decisions about whether you want colour images or black and white, and look into binding options.
For eBook only self publishers, you can get your book launched in as little as a few minutes. If you’re selling on your own (without a service) find a shopping cart system and offer payment options. You might want to hire a web developer or use something pre-built like Shopify to handle sales. (This also applies to selling your physical book online too.)
Finally, choosing a print on demand or direct publishing service is an option for both eBooks and physical books. There’s little or no upfront costs and you won’t need to handle the sales transaction yourself.
7. Apply for an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
Most self publishing companies will provide you with an ISBN at no extra cost. A word of caution, though: sometimes companies that provide a free ISBN are listed as the publisher instead of you. That kind of defeats the idea that you self published!
Applying for an ISBN varies from country to country. In the United States, a payment is required to apply and it takes about 10 business days. Other countries, like Canada, have free registration. You’ll only need to register your ISBN to your book once (a licence doesn’t expire), but you will need a different ISBN for each format. (One for the print version, one for the eBook, etc.)
8. Launch and Market Your Book!
Congratulations on self publishing your book! Now it’s time to sell it. Again, how you promote your self published book is going to depend on what sort of book you published in the first place. Some self publishing agencies will help with marketing services, arrange book launches, and place copies in bookstores on your behalf.
Online is a great way to promote, especially when marketing an eBook. Use social media to let everyone know how to find your work! If it’s listed on a website like Amazon, ask your readers to leave a review. You can also check with popular bloggers and other influencers to arrange promotion deals.