How to Self-Publish a Book
The Beginners Guide
Are you or someone you know an aspiring author? Do you FINALLY have a completed manuscript but aren't sure what the next steps are? You are at the right spot! This blog serves as a quick overview of the steps involved in self-publishing a book; from editing and formatting to printing and setting up E-Book websites to marketing and getting sales. The process is quite complicated, so feel free to comment below with any specific questions.
Alternatively, did you know NJP can publish your book? We are networked with printing and E-Book platforms to take the stress off your plate. Not only can we assist in editing your manuscript and format your print and digital files, we can send it to print and launch it online as well. Just contact us today to get started.
If you prefer to do this yourself, see below for our quick guide to getting it done.
Step 1: Edit and Format your Manuscript
You have your final manuscript, covered in blood, sweat, and tears of your labor. Now what? Editing is an essential part to producing a professional book. You can find editors online but be CAREFUL to check their legitimacy as there are plenty of scams out there. You can also work with local writers to edit each other’s work or find some family and friends to serve as "test readers" to catch typos or check the overall cohesiveness of your book. Keep in mind with editors that there are several types of edits available.
- Developmental Editing- If your idea is not fully polished but want help to bring some organization and structure to your book.
- Line Editing- This is a good overall review line-by-line of your manuscript, checking for the flow and clarity. Keep in mind this is not for grammatical issues, but some editors will also do this in the same editing phase.
- Copy Editing / Proofreading- If you do nothing else, this is the one to do. This stage checks for typos and other grammatical errors and is generally one of the last editing stages done.
- There are other types of editing; however, these are the most common three you will see.
Once you have a 100% finalized manuscript, you will need to format for print and/or digital (aka e-books). You will need cover art, and in the case of printing - spine and front and back cover art. If you have not already, think of what else you want in your final book - such as the essential page regarding copyright information, a dedication page, a biography, table of contents, a character / pronunciation guide, or perhaps even a preview for your next book in the series or something up and coming if a series isn’t involved.
Depending on how you are printing your book, the final format you need may differ. This is honestly the most complicated process - converting and designing your final manuscript (likely in a Word Document) into a properly formatted print format and/or digital format for E-Books. Amazon has some great services for printing-on-demand as well as listing your E-Books. However, you will want to consider hiring a professional to make the correctly formatted E-Book formats (.epub for most and .mobi for Amazon).
A professional E-Book editor can generate your .epub and .mobi files to include a linkable index, and ideally as a Reflowable format. E-Books can either be Fixed-Layout or Reflowable. If your book is a standard text-based format (with little to no graphics/images), reflowable is BEST for your users. This means there are no "fixed" pages, but instead your content can fit the screen size of the user’s device, as well as have the font size adjusted to their preference.
Step 2: Copyrighting and ISBN
WAIT! Before you do anything else, you will likely want to copyright your book, as well as claim your official ISBN.
- Copyright- For authors in the US, you will want to register a copyright of your book at this website. The fee is one time for about $65. You will want to have your cover art to submit and also your final manuscript.
- ISBN- Again for authors in the US, the place to go is here. Bowker My Identifiers lets you buy your International Standard Book Number (ISBN) either individually or in groups. Keep in mind that an E-Book needs a different ISBN from your printed book. I highly recommend buying at least 10 ISBN, as they do not expire and the rate per number is significantly lower: $125 for one, or $295 for 10 (roughly $29 per number). Bulk will cut your cost significantly and you can use these numbers at any time. The site will guide you through purchasing your ISBN's, and then you can assign each ISBN to your work.
Once you have your ISBN, be sure to ADD this number to your Copyright page of your manuscript. You will also eventually want a barcode set up and will want the ISBN listed here as well on the back cover (here is a handy website to create your barcode with a price using your ISBN). Both of these steps will make it easy for any retailer to list your book in their inventory.
Step 3: Set up E-Book platforms
Since there are so many options for how to print and sell your printed books, we are not going to go into the details of this process. However, don't forget that NJP can assist in the PRINTING of your book, no matter what stage you are in and no matter what quantity you want to print (even just a single book!). Just contact us today to get started.
There are many great platforms to list your E-book on. The top 4 contenders are: Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barns & Nobles Nook, and Google Play Books. Each have their own complex process for setting up your author/publisher account, and then allowing you to list your actual E-Book. Here is a very brief overview, but PLEASE comment below with a specific question if you are stuck anywhere in the process.
For all the below accounts, we highly recommend creating a dedicated email address (even just a new free Gmail that forwards to your preferred inbox), just so you have a clean hub to keep your publisher information organized at.
- Amazon Kindle- Amazon, overall, is a complex beast. There are three "accounts" that need set up to list your new E-Book. Amazon also prefers the .mobi format.
- Amazon Account- First, create a standard Amazon account. A very simple process with name, email, password - the standard stuff.
- Amazon KDP- Second, create and set up your KDP account. This will use the SAME username/password as your standard Amazon Account. This is the platform Amazon uses for E-Books. This account will be much more complex, requiring a partner profile to be set up, billing, tax information, etc. Once your partner profile is built and verified, you can then create your actual E-Book listing.
- Amazon Author Central- Last, you will want to set this up to create your author profile. Again, this will use the SAME username/password as your standard Amazon Account. This account is what will be "linked" to your actual E-Book once it is listed and is very important as Amazon shoppers will see that link on your E-Book to your Authors profile. If you have a website blog, we highly recommend integrating an RSS feed to display your postings to your Author profile.
- In our experience, Amazon has had fantastic customer support that is quickly accessible by phone to resolve any issues.
- Apple iBooks - If you do NOT own a Mac OS computer/laptop, we are sorry in advanced. This process is painful. But let us back up to the big picture for you with Apple. You will need to create an Apple ID, set up your Apple iBooks account, then last you will need a piece of software to actually submit your book to that account. Let's break these down:
- Create Apple ID- Like Amazon, you can create this simple standard account and you will use the SAME username/password for all of the following steps.
- Apple iBooks Account- We honestly had trouble tracking down the actual link, but lucky for you we did! This process will require some additional steps/agreements to be signed before Apple will eventually let you set up your iBook account. This process can take some time (1-2 weeks), as far as signing tax agreements and such and waiting for them to be accepted. Once your status is active, you can then move to the next step to actually submit your E-Book.
- Now for the fun part. For owners of a Mac OS computer/laptop, you will want to download iTunes Producer. This software will let you submit your .epub format and get your book listed on your Apple iBooks account. Easy! If you are a Windows user - you are out of luck. Period. Seriously. Two options:
- Find someone that has a Mac OS computer/laptop to borrow. This is a one-time step to submit your book and can be done in 1-2 hours.
- Find an Apple Aggregator- These are listed on Apple's site as people that can assist in submitting your E-book for you. But just like with finding an editor, be very careful and check to make sure you are working with a legitimate company.
- Barnes & Noble Nook- You made it this far, it honestly DOES get easier from here. For the Nook, you will create just one account (YES believe it or not) as a B&N Press account. You will fill out remarkably similar information as a publisher, regarding taxes and such, before ultimately listing your E-Book for sale.
- Google Play Books- Similarly easy to B&N Press, you will set up a Partner Profile here, fill out your information, and list your E-Book.
It is worth mentioning that ALL the above accounts are FREE to set up. The only fee's you have are when an E-Book is sold. If at any stage you are lost and find yourself somewhere asking for money, you are in the wrong spot. Hit us up in the comments below for help.
Step 4: Marketing and Launch Date
Phew, you did it! You have printed books in hand or at a warehouse ready to go, and/or you have your E-Books listed and ready to promote. Now, how do you sell these babies? Undoubtedly, marketing is a complex beast and we do not want to bury you with information. However, step one is to build a landing page of some kind for your book. Since you are offering multiple formats of your book for sale (print and/or E-book on 4 platforms), you want to have a single "link" you can direct traffic to that gives them all these options. NJP is a website developer that can assist with this for you. Here is a sample landing page we built for author Sarah Maree and her first book: Positivity Camp.
Note the characteristics of this page: An image of the book, description, links to buying in all formats, reviews, etc...
Now with this page in hand, your best "free" solution is to use Social Media. Get the word out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tik-Tok, everywhere you can! There are also a plethora of websites you can submit your book to for some free publicity.
- Book Bub- You can create a free author profile here and list your book as well.
- There are also a series of sites we have found that let you submit your book information to go either on their website or out in an email blast to their subscribers. All of these have free options:
Now, if you want to BOOST sales more you may want to consider paid ads on websites like Facebook and Google. You can design your Ads with targeted audiences, all funneled to that beautiful landing pages of yours.
Last, you can network locally with libraries and bookstores to get your book on their shelves. Most public libraries will allow you to give them one free copy of your book to have available. If popular, they may purchase more copies.
That's that! We know this is a lot to take in, and so we are dead serious about leaving a comment below with any questions. We are more than happy to help with our expertise! If at any stage you decide - you know what I just want to WRITE and not WORRY about all these steps - just contact us and we can help out, no matter where you are in the process.