8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS.

From manuscript to fully fledged book, completely for free!

Considering self-publishing can be incredibly daunting and nerve racking, it definitely was for me.

But having recently self published my debut romance novel ‘Hope & Worth’ I was surprised that my dropping the ‘self-published author’ BOMB was such a conversation starter for closet writers and aspiring authors. So it only made sense to share how and why I did it.

So this guide is aimed at those who are up for rolling up their sleeves, skipping the middle woman all together and going straight to market by self publishing.

DISCLAIMER: This is totally my own personal experience and not a direct reflection of the self publishing process in its entirety. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if I can do it so can you!

So here’s 8 BOSS steps to becoming a SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR …

1. Write the Thing!

You can’t publish what you have not written.

It’s all well and good to research beforehand to see if self-publishing is a suitable avenue for you, but too much information can be as crippling as no information at all. So stop procrastinating and get on with writing the next great thing!

2. Edit Your Manuscript

I chose to self edit my entire 85,000+ word manuscript myself because I was on a deadline and I have trust issues. I’m working on it.

But it is imperative that you produce the best piece of work that you can and that you get fresh eyes on it. You are writing for a reader and not just for yourself. So getting feedback and having someone look over spelling errors, syntax, fact checking or even if the story and journey of the characters makes sense, is so very important. 

Of course, if money is no object then hire an editor. But if you have a friend or loved one who also happens to be a great editor, or just a good person for constructive feedback, definitely ask them to look over your manuscript. Pay them back with baked goods, massages or babysitting, whatever doesn’t cost you money.

Now I understand when I say this that time is also a currency, so bear this in mind and spend it well!

Side note: Don’t be afraid of feedback, but be wise and think about providing the best experience for your readers. 

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

3. Choose your Distributor

I researched which channels my book would work best in reaching my readers and sell well in. I went with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) independent service because I wanted an easy and free way to publish and all the prestige that came with Kindle status.

Amazon is one of the best market places for commercial fiction to market your book without any upfront costs. They have both printing facilities, Kindle and audible, so your book could be available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats.

You get to set the royalty rate, depending on the format of your book, and they take the printing costs from book sales, commission and then send your royalties to you within 60 days if you have an international bank account number. 

For me, it was the most hassle free way of getting my book to market. 

4. Add Additional pages

This was such an afterthought for me. I was more concerned with finishing my story to the highest standard that I forgot to consider what else needs to be included like…

Copyright Page

Copyright is important. Not only does it protect your ideas and finished work as the author it also looks professional. Using your name and the year of publication along with an appropriate copyright statement constitutes to a decent copyright. You can google a standard copyright declaration and use this, or you can even purchase a copyright on your book. Choosing the former is the cheaper option of course and still acts as a protection so that no-one can pirate your work.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

‘Acknowledgments’ Page

No one writes a book alone. Whether you want to admit it or not you’ve had help. Even if it was just that colleague who would ask you every now and then how your manuscript is going. Or that friend that you sent five drafts to and they emailed you back with pages worth of notes. Thank God, your mum, your favourite barista at that coffee shop you frequent at, and even that agent who rejected you but was kind enough to give you feedback. Honour the people that helped make your book possible.

‘About the Author’ Page

Believe it or not, readers want to know who you are. They want to know what your interests are, appropriate education, accomplishments, what you enjoy doing and where you live! (Not your exact address, a general location will do).

They want to know that the person who wrote this exciting and engaging book for them is a living breathing person and not a robot. So go on, don’t be shy, tell them a bit about yourself. 

Side note: This information can also be used on the product description page for your book to give potential readers and idea of who you are.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

5. Check your Formatting

So you’ve got your manuscript, you’ve thanked every possible influencer all the way down to your nursery teacher, you’ve told your readers who you are and you’ve picked your distributor. 

Now that you know what you want to market and where you want to market it, make sure the formatting standards of your book, eBook and Paperback meet the standards of your distributing service.

I know it sounds a bit strange doing this editing back and forth, but depending on the trim size you choose for your book (the final size of your printed book), your margins, indents and chapter headings all need to be in line with your distributors requirements. You do want your book looks as legit (if not more) than the latest penguin published title, right?

eBook

Amazon’s KDP has an application called Kindle Create which helps format your manuscript for both eBook and Paperback automatically and convert it to their .kpf file format. It also allows you to check what each page of your manuscript will look so you can see how your eBook will look on different devices too. 

If publishing on KDP and you don’t use Kindle Create, make sure to format according to the Amazon’s measurement and file guidelines. 

Paperback

Similarly, check formatting and page by page measurements according to your books trim size. Be careful though as paperback formatting may need to be altered in some places in comparison to your eBook formatting.

Side note: Only include a contents page of an ebook, not necessary for a fictional paperback.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

6. Make an Eye-Catching Book Cover

This is where judging a book by its cover is allowed. You have to create something that is eye-catching but also fits the mould of the genre or genre’s your book is in. The reason I say this is because we are creatures of habit. We will likely purchase something that looks similar to something we already have or we can associate with some familiarity. I’m pretty sure you could describe the cover of E.L James ’50 Shades of Grey’ in a heartbeat. 

Design

When designing your cover try not to go for imagery that is too intricate as the quality may not translate.

If you aren’t splashing out on a photoshoot or hiring a graphic designer you can use Canva, a great website for creating images for multiple use. But because Canva’s free image library didn’t have what I envisioned for the cover of my book I searched and dowloaded royalty free images from Google to create the main image on the cover of my book. To sum up, Google is your friend.

For your cover you’ll need to create 3 images…

Front cover: Name of the book and author

Spine: Name of the book and author

Back cover: Blurb and ISBN (Amazon KDP will automatically add this for you if you don’t have one already).

Once you have created a design that you feel represents your book and you’ve run it by a trusted friend, or a few, make sure you save them as an PNG images. This is the highest quality and will translate well to the digital and print of your book.

If the image still seems pixelated/low quality IMG.Online is a good website to help enhance the pixel quality of your cover or other images.

Side note: The great thing about Canva is that it saves your previous designs so you can always come back to them and use them for additional promo images!

Editing

You can edit together the front image, spine and back image of the book on Word or Pages (for Mac) into one single image. I dowloaded KDP’s book cover template and used this to make sure my cover was in correspondence with their measurements. Make sure you converted this into a PDF file.

Once you’re happy with the size and look, you’re ready to add it to your book!

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

6. Create a Standout Product Description

Once again look at how books with a similar genre, audience or author have been presented on their live book page. You’ll need to include a brief description of the book which can be the blurb, any reviews you may already received, information about the Author (told you this would come in handy), and any website or social media links.

HTML

To make sure your book description stands out use HTML tags that allow you to make paragraphs, headings, italicise font, make font bold etc. You must do this according to KDP, or your chosen distributors, HTML guidelines.

If, like me, you find it all too complex, HTML-Online is a great free tool that shows you what the text will look like on your live book page, whilst mirroring the appropriate tags in a separate box for you to copy unto your book description page.

7. Determine your pricing

We all know the hard work you’ve put into your book. But let’s face it, selling it at £1000 a piece sounds may sound like an appropriate amount but most everyday readers will straight up laugh at the price of your product. Again, look at books that are similar to yours, both new and established, and see how much they sell for. Don’t price it so cheap that your readers think that you don’t value the book you’ve worked so hard on.

Amazon also takes a commission for their publishing services so make sure you price it (particularly paperback copies) with this in mind. 

8. Hit publish!

Well done! Now that you’ve gone through each section of preparing your book for publishing, double check everything.

Once you’re happy go ahead and click ‘publish’ and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back. 

You’ve covered all bases, from manuscript to print, and basically begun to understand the work of about 5 different types of people who make publishing a book possible. So now you can do the steady work of regularly promoting your book. Name dropping it in conversation with people, reading a copy on the train or bus (if you can stand reading your book at this point), and emailing Oprah to add it to her book club. 

So go and treat yourself. Have a dance party, take a holiday. Because you my friend, have just made your dream come true!

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