Congratulations! After much consideration and research, you’ve finally decided to self-publish your first book. For many writers, the self-publishing process can seem intimidating, complicated — and requiring lots of technical savvy. There’s certainly a lot to coordinate and deal with when self-publishing, but don’t panic! The experts have some great tips to help you ace the process of self-publishing your first book.
Tips For Self-Publishing Your First Book
First: Polish Your Prose
The first step toward publication is to get your book in tip-top shape for your readers. With professional editing, you can avoid receiving bad book reviews based solely on readability issues, typos, and grammatical errors.
Editing and proofreading are often the biggest expenses in self-publishing. To trim costs, consider exchanging critiques with fellow writers or gathering a team of enthusiastic beta readers who are familiar with your genre.
Choose A Book Format
Do you want to publish in paperback, hardcover, or e-book — or some combination of these formats? Are you going to do an audiobook? Self-published authors have the advantage of choosing for themselves if they want to do one format, or all.
First-time authors may want to start their publishing journey by sticking with the two simplest options: e-book and print-on-demand formats. Audiobooks are a fast-growing book format, but they require a considerable amount of time and creative expense.
Determine Your Book’s Category
Understanding where your book would be shelved in a real or virtual bookstore is vital and will help you with the next two steps. The Book Industry Standards and Communications, better known as BISAC, has set up codes to help you pinpoint your best book category.
Finalize Your Title
You may have a working title that you love, but does it fit your genre expectations? Is it intriguing? Does it ask a question? Identify a need? Indicate the content? Is it memorable? Has it been used before? It’s important to choose a title that’ll engage your target audience.
Write A Back Cover Blurb
Whether you’re publishing a print book, an e-book, or both, you’ll need a well-written, captivating blurb that delivers the premise of your book with pop and sparkle. This blurb (or blurbs) will appear on the back of your print book and on your book page at every vendor. You may also want to craft a short “tag line” to catch a reader’s eye and for use in marketing plans.
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Design A Cover
Readers really do judge books by their covers! Your book cover should convey your genre and tone and act as your final point-of-purchase marketing tool to hook your audience. Be sure to check the covers of current best-selling books in your specific genre for inspiration.
You have several options when it comes to creating your self-published book cover:
· Writers comfortable with graphic design may be able to craft their own cover. Just be sure to beta test your designs. Readers will assume that amateur-looking covers indicate less-than-stellar writing.
· Premade, professional-looking covers are available through many designers. This is a budget-friendly solution.
· Hire a professional designer. Book cover designers abound, and there are many for every budget. Find one who works with other authors in your genre and be ready to discuss ideas.
Format Your Manuscript
Your manuscript must be properly formatted into a pdf for print-on-demand publication or a format such as EPUB for e-book publication so it can be sold on Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, etc.
If you’re a techie, software such as Vellum and Scrivener have built-in formatting options. Software such as Calibre can also perform conversions. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the self-publishing platform, will convert a manuscript for you if it’s properly prepared.
But keep in mind that formatting is one of those tricky tasks that can be outsourced inexpensively. A great formatter will ensure your book will be readable without a hitch on all different devices. And if your book contains charts or graphics, professional formatting is a must.
Decide On Distribution
Where do you want to see your book available for purchase?
Many first-time authors choose to publish exclusively on Amazon through its Kindle Unlimited program. Amazon controls a lion’s share of the book-buying market and offers financial benefits to authors for exclusivity. If you want to spread your wings and distribute to other vendors, you can opt out of Kindle Unlimited after ninety days.
Some authors may want to dive in and distribute more widely and include Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. You have the option of setting up accounts individually, or you could choose an aggregator, such as Draft2Digital.
If you also intend to distribute your book in print, print-on-demand options are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IngramSpark.
Set Up Your Metadata
When you set your book up on a vendor for publication, they will ask for additional information, such as:
· Keywords: These are short search terms related to your book. What would your target reader type into the search bar to find books like yours?
· ISBN: International Standard Book Numbers are used for the industry to keep track of sales of each unique book, for best-seller lists and the like. They can be purchased (in the US) from Bowker, but are not always required for publication. Most self-publishing companies offer a free ISBN that you can use to track your sales.
· Pricing: Choose pricing wisely, based on similar books in your genre.
· Publication Date: Many vendors allow for preorders if you wish to build sales before your book is launched.
Plan Your Launch
After accomplishing the steps above, you should also prepare a smart marketing plan to let the world know your book will be available for sale. Then it’s time to hit the Publish button!