Monday, June 03, 2019

The Rookie's Guide to Self-Publishing

(Updated 3/06/2019). 

So What is Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing is the ability to publish a book or eBook on a platform such as Amazon, and not needing the help of a traditional publishing house.

I've done this with Amazon, and currently have 6 books on their platform, and currently receive an income from that.

Steps to Follow to Self-Publish a Book:
  1. Write a really good book
  2. Choose a self-publishing platform
  3. Edit, design a cover and format your book
  4. Upload your book manuscript to your chosen platform
  5. Publish, write, repeat

Brief History of the eBook

With the rise of eBooks in today's market a self publisher can take up 30-35% of all books sold in the US market today with 60% or more of all US book sales (both print and digital) going through online retailer Amazon.

This enables all new writer's to publish without a third party.  The good news is you can access the same level of online retail distribution as a traditional publisher.   Which means you don't pay until your books start selling.

The eBook or E Book is a text based publication in digital form.  Very much like a traditional book, containing images, graphs and text of one kind or another.

Ebooks are designed to be read of a digital device or computer.  Ebooks are the documents being read, the E Reader is the device being to use to read the document.  All eBooks are stored on devices as electronic files, which can be stored and shared.

Ebook Origins

A precusor to today's E Readers was invented by a woman named Angela Ruiz Robles, in Spain 1949.  After watching her students struggle with carrying heavy books around all of the time, Robles invented a reader that was smaller, printed onto spools and operated by compressed air.  Her first prototype was created in 1949.  Even though this book wasn't electronic, it's still seen as the first automated reader. 

The Internet and Ebooks

The birth of the internet brought about the act of file sharing and the birth place of Electronic books.

Michael Hart a student at the University of Illinois used his unlimited computer time on a Xerox mainframe computer to type out the Declaration of Independence (typed out in upper case), which he then published on ARPAnet saying it was available to download.  Six people downloaded the text, and the rest is history.


It wasn't until 1999 that American Publisher Simon & Shuster created a new imprint, ibooks, and started trading the first eBook.  These included works by Arthur C Clarke, Irving Wallace, and Raymond Chandler.  

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Publish Digitally
  • Would your readers prefer print or digital?
  • In your chosen genre is it common place for author's to release an eBook?
  • Does your eBook require a lot of colour and is it highly illustrated?
  • How are you going to reach your readers online?
The Author's that come prepared will appear more comfortable online and more likely to succeed. Once you start writing you're in it for the long haul.  If you don't already have a established presence online you could start by creating your own website.  With your website and social media accounts you can expect sales to start snowballing.
E-Publisher's and How They Work

E-publisher's aren't publisher's in the traditional sense that they used to be.  This means they don't take any responsibility for your work (e.g.Amazon).

Here are some distinguishing features below:
If there's no upfront fee you can expect a percentage of the sale to be taken.

Self-publish at will and non exclusive,  with any eBook retailer your work can be uploaded or taken down at any time.  This allows you the freedom to, change the price, cover and description.
Ability to sell your work through as many retailer's as you want.

No technical knowledge required, larger retailer's offer automated tools, free guides and tutorials to ensure your files are formatted correctly.
If you're approached by a traditional publishing house you don't lose any rights to the work you've written.

E-Publishing Services Categories

Services fall into one of these two categories below:
  1. The single channel distributor - These retailer's (i.e. Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook Press) sell your work through only one channel or device.  They don't offer any assistance in preparing your eBook files.
  2. The multiple channel distributor - They act as a middle man, by putting your book out to multiple retailer's and distributor's.  These are Draft2Digital, BookBaby and Smashwords.
A Quick Note About ISBNs

Your eBook will usually get an ISBN number through most distributor's and services.  In the UK you can buy it from:
Converting Your Book

Most services will ask you to upload the appropriate format.  File formats can vary from company to company.

The most common ebook formats:
  • PDF
  • Mobi
  • EPub
You can also find a couple of useful formatting and converting tools below:
  • Calibre: Free software for conversion.
  • sigil: Free WYSIWYG both edits and formats eBooks in the EPub format.
  • Kindle Create will format a document for their publishing platform, and turn the document into an eBook or paperback ready for publishing.
Ebook Cover Design

Ebook cover design can be done easily, and for very little cost using image design platforms such as Fotor, Picmonkey or Canva.

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  1. I just wrote a pretty long first-hand piece about this if you're interested:

    1. Thanks for your comment Duke, your article is really interesting. I've bookmarked your article for future reference.