A Practical Guide to Self-Publishing
Welcome to A Practical Guide to Self-Publishing. This is a somewhat organized brain dump of what one author has learned over five-plus years of self-publishing. This guide is not exhaustive, but it should be enough to get new authors started. My aim is to make you aware of all the things you’ll need to consider, and to point you toward resources that can help you move forward.
This guide focuses on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark, two services with which I have years of experience. KDP and IngramSpark work well for those who like the do-it-yourself approach.
If you want more help in getting your book to market, there are a number of reputable, well-establised companies available to help you including Book Baby and Lulu. If you don’t want to limit yourself to KDP and Ingram, other publishing platforms are available, including Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Google Books.
I chose to focus on KDP for electronic publishing because it offers the biggest sales platform and by far the best advertising and promotional tools. Advertising tools are important when you’re competing against a sea of other titles. In stores that don’t offer advertising, you may have no way of getting your title into search results, and you’ll have to rely on external platforms, such as social media and author blogs, to drive traffic to your books.
Being able to appear in a bookstore’s search results is a huge advantage. The fact a reader is searching on Amazon means they’re probably looking to buy. Contrast this to Facebook or Twitter, where most people are looking for updates from friends or groups they follow. Those users didn’t come with the intention to buy. If an Amazon user’s search term is closely related to your book, you can get your title in front of someone who’s likely to make a purchase.
I chose Ingram Spark because it offers the most control and best distribution for print titles.
This is not a writing guide. This guide is for authors who want to move forward from draft to publication, marketing and sales. If you’re a first-time author, you’ll be surprised at how much work is required after the completion of your manuscript. This guide describes all of the things you’ll need to address to get your book from draft manuscript into the hands of readers.
While this guide covers the standard professional publishing process, including the use of paid editors and designers, keep in mind that if you’re on a budget or a tight timelime, you can do much of this work yourself.
Indie fiction authors, for example, often use free beta readers instead of professional editors to help with developmental editing.
This guide just lays out all the steps in the process and points you toward some external resources to get those steps done. If you want to do everything yourself, feel free to look at this guide as a checklist for your work ahead.
This guide is divided into four sections:
- The Production section covers all the steps between finishing your initial draft and making it available for sale.
- The Marketing section describes things you’ll need to do to make readers aware that your book exists and that it may be of interest to them.
- The Resources section provides lists of resources for various stages of the production, publishing, and marketing process. Most of these resources are threaded into articles throughout this guide, but sometimes you just want a simple list.