If you are new to self-publishing, here are your starting points to learn how to publish a book.
For those who are new to self-publishing, there are two options available to you if you are self-publishing for the first time.
One, pay someone a lot of money to do it for you, or two, do it yourself for free.
The second option for most authors will be far more attractive, of course. If you are considering paying someone, though, just remember that the tools and services they will use will be exactly the same as the ones you will use if you do it on your own, so consider carefully before paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for something you can easily do yourself.
So where do you start when self-publishing for the first time?
After writing your book, and then all the editing and proofreading you have done during the process of preparing your manuscript, it’s now time to drop your pen, leave your keyboard and start on doing a few days of reading, research and learning about self-publishing and getting your book on Amazon.
There are three principal self-publishing services that provide their services for free, and these will ensure that once your book and ebook are published, they will be available worldwide via most of the major online book retailers.
The four most popular self-publishing services for new authors
Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon’s ebook publishing service for Kindle ebooks and now for also for paperbacks. As far as book sales go, Amazon KDP is the undisputed market leader.
Smashwords. A publisher and distributor of ebooks to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Scribd amongst others.
Draft2Digital. Similar to Smashwords, Draft2Digital is an ebook distributor to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Scribd.
However, it also can publish in print book through Createspace. There is a review of Draft2Digital available here.
Createspace. A paperback Print On Demand service with distribution channels through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as many online books stores offering paperback books.
You can use Createspace directly, or you can access paperback publishing directly through your Amazon KDP dashboard.
All of these service providers have well-written Help sections that are a must read, but in particular, a free ebook, the Smashwords Style Guide, is now almost a bible on how to prepare a Word file for ebook self-publishing, so it is an absolute must to read for those totally new to electronic publishing.
For Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Draft2Digital, the advice and preparation steps in this Style Guide will make sure your file is ready for all ebook publishing platforms.
Should you wish to publish in paperback, there are a few providers, but from my experience, only Createspace and KDP offer a totally free service to publish in paperback form.
If you publish with either, there will only be a charge if you wish to buy copies of your book.
Their prices are very reasonable, though, at around $3.85 per copy, plus postage for a 250-page book. As mentioned earlier, both Amazon KDP and Draft2Digital also offer Createspace paperback publishing.
Learning how to format the interior and cover for a paperback takes a little more work than what is required for an ebook of course. A good starting point is A Step-By-Step Guide to Formatting Your Book’s Interior.
Book and ebook covers
Book covers have special requirements depending on how you intend to publish.
As paperback covers need to be of very high resolution and exacting dimensions, this is one part of the self-publishing process that I always believe is worth spending a little money on.
The same applies to ebook covers. While they need not be of the same high quality as paperback covers, ebook covers still require a good design so they should not be homemade. Invest a little money with a professional cover designer.
There are thousands of indie authors who, like you, started with little or no knowledge about self-publishing, but who are now published, selling books and earning book royalties. All without having to pay a cent, or at least, very little, to do so.
It is a very different path to finding a traditional publisher, but one that can be very rewarding.
If you are prepared to take the time to read, learn how to market your book, ask questions on community forums and social media and subscribe to self-publishing advice blogs, you will have access to all the expertise you need to self-publish your book in a very short time.
So good luck, and fingers crossed that once you are a published author you might have self-published a bestseller!