The Self-Publishing Guide – Step by Step

The process of publishing your own book is a long and arduous one – not only are you learning new skills and trying to figure out all the jargon, you are also swamped by finishing your manuscript, planning your marketing, book launch, writing a biography and so much more.

Having personally walked this journey and helped others do the same, I thought it prudent to simplify everything and provide you – the intrepid author – with an easy to follow guide:

 

STEP 1: WRITE

  • Write your manuscript.
  • On your non-creative days when the words aren’t flowing begin looking for suppliers such as:
    • Your editor (he/she will edit your manuscript for grammar, spelling, consistency and accuracy)
    • Your proof-readers (these people will read for enjoyment and give feedback regarding marketability)
    • Your publisher (although you are self-publishing you will still need assistance with this)

 

STEP 2: PUBLIC RELATIONS

Once your manuscript has been sent to your editor, use the time while waiting for feedback to begin work on your marketing strategy. You will need:

  • An author biography (this is a concise and short description of yourself the author, use this guide).
    • You will use this biography on your website, social media, Amazon author page, in emails and anywhere else it is needed. Once it is polished create a nice professional PDF including all your links and a professionally taken photograph. Remember to name the file correctly like: John Smith Biography
  • A professional photograph (yes you can selfie a photo but the quality of the photograph will portray the professionalism of you, the author – so spend a bit of money and get it done right).
  • A press release (there are a lot of great resources to help you structure yours correctly, I use this site).

 

STEP 3: BANKING

There is a fair amount of admin that goes into self-publishing; your tax certificates, overseas bank accounts and general pain-in-the-ass tasks.

  • Amazon does not pay directly to your local bank account, you definitely don’t want to choose the ‘cheque in the post‘ option. Set yourself up with Payoneer which is an online bank based in the US. From there you can transfer all your payments to the bank of your choice. You will be required to fill out your tax number etc.
  • iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other platforms can be paid to a PayPal account. Just like Payoneer once your royalties have been received you can transfer your funds to your personal bank account.
  • Create your Amazon Author page using your biography and photograph. Although your book is not published yet you can save a draft. This website is different to the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) site where you will publish your book.

 

STEP 4: CREATIVE

  • It’s time to get your book cover designed (please refrain from using a picture of yourself). eBook and Print covers sometimes (not always) have different covers, as how a book looks as a little thumbnail on someones screen is very different to how it looks sitting on a shelf.
    • Go onto Amazon and search for other books within your genre and get an idea of what the best selling books in your category look like.
    • Do a bit of reading on good cover designs here.
    • If you can’t decide on which direction or design to choose from – ask your future readers. Post a multiple choice question on your Facebook page and get real time feedback of which cover appeals to the majority of your audience.
    • If you are publishing both a paperback (or print-on-demand) as well as an eBook, your designer will need to supply you with two separate files. The paperback will be a high-res version according to your book dimensions which will include the back and spine of the book, the ebook cover will be a front cover only designed to 1563px x 2500px
  • If you have a budget start building your website, or otherwise start with a free Facebook Page. It is important for your book to have a home somewhere on the web where your readers can connect with you, you can share more of your vision and personality, and begin gathering that all important data base. Once your book is published remember to add the buy links.
  • Consider adding yourself to Goodreads where you can list your book, run competitions and also have an author page.

 

STEP 5: TYPESET

By this stage your manuscript should be polished, your proof readers given you feedback, your final cover chosen and all your financial admin set-up. It’s now time to typeset both the print and electronic versions of your book to industry standards.

  • Your book blurb needs to be written, this is often the hardest part of the entire writing process and many authors choose to ask their editors or proof-readers to write the broad description which you can edit afterwards. A good book summary needs to follow a few rules, have a read here before you start.
    • Your blurb will be used on the digital platform book descriptions as well as on the back cover of your printed book. You will also use it when advertising on your website, Facebook page or magazines etc.
  • Your Printed book will need the following considerations:
    • Choose your Trim Size – this is the physical dimension of the book. Different genres usually require different sizes as a novel will differ from a children’s book. If you are unsure which size to use have a read here.
    • A professional Typesetter will lay your book out with the correct front and back matter, fonts, chapter headings, table of contents and any images that may be included. Your cover will need to be edited to fit the final page count of your book (the spine of the book has to be calculated exactly).
    • Choose your paper weight and style. Generally fiction books are on cream paper while non-fiction, coffee table, cooking and children books are on white. Printing is an expensive business so consider any full colour images you may be including as this will increase the cost of your book and reduce your profit. If you are using a print-on-demand service like CreateSpace (which is now part of Amazon), they will calculate the cost of printing your book and sometimes price it so high you are unable to sell it.
    • If your book does not have the correct margins Createspace will reject the file – I implore you to use an experienced typesetter.
  • Your eBook needs to be treated differently to your print book as it has different settings and typesetting requirements.
    • The front and back matter is presented in a different order to your paperback, any fancy fonts or designs need to be removed and the page size changed.
    • Converting to an eBook should always be done professionally as you don’t want the reader’s experience to be negative when links don’t work, the chapters don’t reflow and images haven’t been handled correctly.
    • Your eBook on Amazon will be in a Mobi format and for all the other platforms in an ePub version.

 

STEP 6: PUBLISH

The day has finally arrived where all your hard work can finally be shared with the world. This is usually a fairly emotional time if it is your first book – before you begin this process please do a final check on your manuscript, author biography and other supplementary material you may have. However – don’t look for excuses to delay this step, as much as we all want our work to be perfect, sometimes we have to be proud that we did the best we could.

It’s now time to find a home for your book on the world’s virtual bookshelf:

  • You need to choose a category under which your book will live. These categories are called BISAC Codes and is the global standard for all genres. Amazon and other platforms will require that you list your book under 3 of these that best suit your book. You can find the list here.
  • You will be asked to supply 7 keywords that best describe your book and that your future readers will search for when looking for their next book to read. Try to stay away from over-used keywords like ‘self-help’ – rather narrow down specific words that make your book unique. Read this article to get you started.
  • You will upload your PDF file for print with the cover in a separate file.
  • You will add in your book blurb and any links you wish to include.
  • Your mobi / ePub files go next.
  • Press Publish 🙂

 

Congratulations you are now a published author!

I hope this guide helps you navigate the world of self-publishing with a bit more ease, if you have any questions drop me a mail and I’ll try to help as best I can.