How to Self-Publish a Book
How many times have you heard someone say, “I could write a book”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. But you’re convinced you can’t get it published. It would cost too much, or there’s no one out there who would publish it.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to self-publish and print your own quality book. Maybe it’s time you told the world your story or shared all the knowledge you have surrounding a given topic.
Today’s post focuses on a few common questions around how you can become a published author without enduring the hassle and expense of traditional publishing processes.
Remember: publishing is different than printing
If you elect to self-publish, just make sure you understand that publishing is different than printing. Printing is simply the means of getting your hard work into someone’s hands so that they can read what you’ve written. There are several routes toward printing your book, including print on demand and offset printing.
Publishing a book is the journey you take to commit your ideas to paper or an electronic format. Everything from your topic to your book cover to editing to book launch. With any luck, you might become a top 20 most sold and most read book on Amazon Charts.
How much does it cost to self-publish a book?
The publishing industry is much different today than it was years ago. There was a time when you needed to have a book proposal, write to publishing houses, and then hope they’d agree to work with you to publish your book.
With print on demand and short-run options now available, it’s so much easier. You may be able to publish a book for free through some online sources. But if you want to publish a quality book, expect to spend some money. Just how much depends on what you can do yourself and what you have to outsource.
You’ll have to consider the book cover, proofreading, editing, distribution, and promotion. The more you outsource, the more you’ll pay. Here’s a breakout of potential costs with realistic ranges:
- Editing: The shorter the book, the lower the costs, but figure on $400 to $1,500 for editing.
- Cover design: You can purchase pre-made covers for less than $100. A custom cover can range from $400-$1,000.
- Formatting: For a quality book in print, expect to pay a minimum of $100 and upwards of $800.
- ISBN code: If you’re serious about publishing your book, you’ll want an ISBN code that lets bookstores know everything about your book with a 13-digit barcode. Cost is $295 for 10 ISBN codes.
- Book launch: The adage “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to self-publishing a book. You need to promote it via a website, social media, advertising, etc. The more you can do yourself, the less you’ll have to spend, but figure on $250 to $500 for promotion and book launch, which could include things like POP displays and other physical collateral.
You’ll incur many of the same costs if you’d like to put your book on Amazon. But the good news is that with Amazon there are no costs for print on demand paperbacks beyond the shipping of your proof copies.
What are the steps to self-publishing a book?
Choosing a topic
This will be a large endeavor, so select a topic that reflects your strengths, interests, and passions. Identify your area of personal expertise so you’ll be confident in writing about the subject. It will also help to identify your audience to make sure your topic aligns with what they’d like to read about.
Writing the book
Once you have your topic established, create an outline to determine what you’ll cover in the book. Then conduct research to make sure you have all the details worked out and accurate. Always think of the reader first to make sure you reach them. Come up with a great beginning and a great ending. Last, set your schedule and stick to it, or you’ll never finish. If you want to learn more about the art and work of writing a book, Jerry Jenkins, a 21-time New York Times best-selling author, has some great advice.
Revising your book
Here are some ideas when you revise your book:
- Be skeptical. Ask yourself if what you’ve written is compelling. Does it have the right attitude?
- Look at each chapter independently to make sure it carries its weight if read alone.
- Don’t be afraid to change the outline.
- Get beyond the words on a page and listen to what you’ve written. If it doesn’t sound good to you, go back and revise it.
- Don’t forget about good, old spell check. It will point out typos, but also present potential grammatical errors.
Creating a title and cover
The perfect book title must be attention-grabbing, memorable, informative, easy to understand, and easy for someone to say it. Make a list of potential titles to capture your ideas. Don’t hesitate to do some testing by showing those titles to friends or colleagues.
As for the book cover, you’ll have to consider the imagery, font, color scheme, and size. Check out books on Amazon for ideas. You’ll certainly want to do some mockups to give you a better feel for the cover. For a thorough review on book cover design, check this out: https://kindlepreneur.com/book-cover-design/.
The devil is in the details. Keep reviewing and revising your book and outline. It would even pay to seek a professional editor to review your work to make sure you publish a quality book.
Determining your platform
What’s the end-game? How do you want to take your book to market? Whatever the platform, make sure you work with an established, well-regarded firm like us here at the H&H Group. Consider the potential costs for printing, as well as the distribution costs.
With print on demand, you can select the good, old fashioned paperback platform. Or you can go the audio route or even eBook route. With all the books on Amazon, it’s easy to see why the Kindle Direct Publishing platform is so popular. You can get to market fast, even having your book published in less than five minutes. Plus, you’ll have your book in Kindle stores worldwide within 48 hours.
You can even select multiple routes. For example, use CreateSpace or IngramSpark to maximize distribution, but use a less expensive offset printer or print on demand resource for wholesale orders.
Finding a printer
Selecting a printer will depend on your platform, as mentioned above. Where printing is concerned, you can consider print on demand, offset printing, or turnkey printing. The advantage to print on demand is just as it sounds—books are printed only when needed. There’s no storage or minimum order requirements. And many print on demand companies will work with Amazon directly. Offset printing is an industry standard; so, it’s relatively inexpensive but requires a minimum quantity, meaning you’ll have inventory to worry about.
Figuring out your cover price
Take a look at books on Amazon to get a better notion of just how much a book like yours should cost. That will give you a reliable, competitive benchmark. Price your book higher than the going rate, and don’t expect the sales to come rolling in. You’ll also need to know your costs—especially your printing costs—to make sure you’ll recapture that investment.
If you use print on demand services, printing costs will be deducted from your retail price; so, your royalties come from the retail price minus the printing costs and wholesale discount.
Creating a launch strategy
It’s written. It’s published. It’s all set for distribution. But you’re not done yet. You need to launch your book, and you need to come up with a good plan for doing it. There are plenty of options, including a website, social media, contests, podcasts, blogs, events, and more. Usually, the best approach is to use an integrated approach to amplify your book launch activities. The key is to understand what media channels your target audience frequents to make sure you reach them effectively and cost efficiently.
This one is all up to you. There’s no right way or wrong way. Just reward yourself for your efforts and commitment. You did it. You published a quality book. Are you ready for the next one?