Monday, August 12, 2019

The Simple Guide to Self-Publishing


Blog post updated 12/08/2019.

Defintion of Self-Publishing

To publish independently at one's own expense.

These days you can easily publish your own work on platforms such as Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Kobo.

A Brief History of the E-Book

With the rise of e-books 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 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.

E-books are designed to be read of a digital device or computer., and can be read on E-readers such as a Kindle or Ipad. All e-books are stored on devices as electronic files, which can be stored and shared.

E-Book Origins

A precursor 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 E-Books

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 e-book. 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).

3 Distinguishing features of an E-Publisher
1. If there's no upfront fee you can expect a percentage of the sale to be taken.

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

3. 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 book 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 ISBN's

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

Nielsen Book
or a broker such as Compass Publishing

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 books 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. 

What You Need Know About Book Cover Design

Book cover design plays an integral part in the selling of any book, be it fiction or non-fiction. Creating an attractive and unique design can be challenging for those of us who aren't art smart.

A well-designed book cover can be both a curiosity, and hint to the true content of a book.

For the avid reader a book cover needs to be memorable, simple and unique. Just enough to make you want to buy the book. This compels most readers into buying the book, all because the book has a cover that stands out from the rest.

Here are some crucial points to consider when you design a book cover:

1. The Book Cover is a Reflection of its Contents

In other words you need to know what's written inside before you start your design.

2. Don't Complicate It

Don't confuse your audience with a meaningless design, people need to understand what it's about within seconds of  setting their eyes on the cover.

3. Don't Overdo the Design

Don't be overly ambitious when you start creating your book cover, this could leave your design lifeless, and a detriment to you the author. 

4. Does it Require a Personal Photo?

This usually comes more into play with autobiographies than any other kind of book.  You only need a personal photo if the personality is fairly well-known or prominent in the public eye.

5. Make Sure Its Clear Enough to Read as a Thumbnail

Amazon is the largest current self-publishing platform online today, so it makes sense to create a cover that can be seen by people using their tablets, mobile phones and computers.

6.  Don't Give it All Away on Your Book Cover

This pertains more to fiction more than non-fiction titles, your cover design needs to reflect the book content without giving away the story.

7.  Follow the Rules

A book cover image should be a high resolution of 300 PPI (DPI), at least.

8. Disclose the Hook

The hook is is there to keep the reader both engaged and interested, this should be incorporated on the front cover.

9. Recognise the Various Publishing Techniques

Consider whether your book will be sold electronically or as a paperback, e-books are different to paperback or hardback books, which can have an impact on the design of the book.

10.  Make Your Design Compelling and Captivating

Your book cover should be adequate enough to attract potential customers, and visually appealing to draw your audience's attention.

11.  Choose Your Colour Motif Carefully

Each colour has a specific basic meaning, so care needs to be taken when choosing the final graphic design of your book cover.

12.  Choose the Right Typeface

This will bring personality to the book cover, used in your title, tagline and author's name.

13. Adhere to the Message of Your Book

Make sure all of your typography and colours convey the right message, don't confuse your audience with a mixture of colours and typography that doesn't match up.

14.  Avert Banality

Make your book cover as memorable as possible, it needs to jump out of the web page, and be tantalising to the eye.

Something to Think About

Are You a Writer or Authorpreneur?

What is an Authorpreneur?

The Urban Dictionary Definition

An author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.
Here are 10 Facets of an Authorpreneur

1. They're Managers

They run their own businesses, which makes their business their main source of income.

2. They Like to Outsource

Authorpreneur's turn to professionals to handle a lot of the daily tasks involved in their business, such as book formatting, editing, proofreading, and cover design.

3. They Spend Most of Their Time Writing

Many authorpreneur's not only write fiction and non-fiction books, but also write emails, and promotional campaigns.

4. They Tend to Work Longer Hours

A lot of time and energy goes into building a business built on selling words.

5. They're Totally Committed to the Job In-Hand

Customer satisfaction is the name of the name of the game, so they write about what they're customers want.

6. They Spend a Lot of Time Building Their Brand

Branding and name recognition are key components for the average authorpreneur. Using social media, guest blogging, commenting, and every other opportunity that comes along, to build audience awareness of their brand.

7. They Like to Branch Out

Diversification is the name of the game, and authorpreneur's use every medium available to do this. Repurposing their content in a variety of ways to earn an income.

How to Supercharge Book Sales on Amazon

If you're new to self-publishing you may not know that Amazon, just like Google, is no more than a search engine for online buying. Not unlike your blog posts, your books can disappear alongside all of the other books in your chosen genre.

Amazon is King when it comes to large online book sellers, and crucial to all authors wanting to boost sales and gain new readers.

Here are 7 ways to supercharge your book sales on Amazon:

1. How to Achieve a Higher Ranking With Your Books on Amazon

If you were writing a blog post and wanted it to rank higher on Google, SEO experts would tell you to utilise tags and keywords. The same rule applies to books and eBooks you sell on Amazon.

Two main components to ranking on Amazon are keywords and categories. Your visibility, exposure, and sales on Amazon will remain lackluster if these factors aren't taken into serious consideration.

When you upload a book on Kindle Publishing your allowed to use seven different keywords or strings of keywords.

Let's say you're looking for a book about "wildlife", Amazon will come up with various suggestions to help you decide.

For example:

  • wildlife Richard Ford
  • wildlife photography
  • wildlife books
  • wildlife books for children
  • wildlife photographer of the year
  • wildlife calendar 2019
  • wildlife diary 2019

After you've looked up words pertaining to your particular niche, you then add seven related keywords in your book information.

2. Create a Strong Book Description

If you're creating a paperback alongside your e-book I recommend you use the description for the back cover of your paperback as your description.

Check out the back cover of my book Amazing and Interesting Facts:

3. Invite People to Review Your Book

Use social media, emails or your blog to ask people to review your book. Positive reviews help sell books.

4. Keep Your Author Profile Up-to-Date on Amazon

If you haven't got an author profile on Amazon already see the links below to set yours up:

It's a very simple process to add all of your books, RSS feed, and include an author profile on Amazon.

5. Review Other People's Books on Amazon

You can gain a lot of visibility yourself by reviewing other authors books. Keep your review simple and end it with "Katy Smith, author...", but don't leave a link within your review. Amazon don't take kindly to people promoting their own work through reviews.

6. Use Paid Campaigns on Amazon to Gain Traction with Your Books

Kindle Publishing gives you the option to set up an Ad campaign on Amazon.

7. Write a Blog Post About Your Book
Write blog posts about your books and publish on your blog. Let your blog readers know when your e-books will be free on Amazon. Another great way of boosting readership of your books.

10 Free Book Promotion Tips That Will Only Take 10 Minutes

Everyone can fit it a spare ten minutes at some point in their day. You could snatch away time on your break, during lunch or even on the train to work.

So why not use your smart phone to sell some books?

Check out these 15 free book marketing ideas to sell more books.

1. Lay claim to your Author profile on BookBub.

2. Pick a popular blog post you've written and publish it on Medium.

3. Follow 100 like-minded people on Twitter, and at least 20% of them will follow-back.

4. Follow 10 of your friend's friend's on Facebook

5. Regularly comment on popular blogs, magazines and newspaper articles.

6. Try to think of two new ideas for your next blog post that relate to your book.

7. Share interesting posts, other than your own, on Twitter and Facebook.

8. Get some author business cards printed and leave them in coffee shops, dentist's and doctor's waiting room, or anywhere you can think of.

9. Take another look at your author bio on Amazon, and think about how you can improve it.

10. Take your last couple of minutes and read an article on

5 Simple Points to E-Success

Here are 5 tips to writing a valuable eBook:


SEO will help get your book discovered, so you should start thinking about using keywords suited to your chosen book topic.

Design a Simple Book Cover

Just like a paperback cover, an e-book cover needs to grab the customer's attention. Your eBook cover needs to be effective even when its the size of a thumbnail.

Be Reachable

The back matter of your e-book can include a few simple words about where people can find you and your work. You can give people your social network information and website address.

Include Non-Affiliate Links in Your E-Book

Just like any blog post online, your e-book can include links to blog posts you may have written, or useful websites, and resources people can click on. Just make sure none of your links are affiliate ones.

Incorporate Extra Information

People love getting stuff for free, so why not include chapters from other books you've written, or free courses that coincide with your book.

Not every writer or author is an authorpreneur.

Most writers are quite content to just write, publish and repeat in the hope of making an income.

For the real authorpreneur's, its all about the daily challenge and motivation needed, that drives them to making it their full-time business.

I'd love to hear your thoughts your experience self-publishing in the comments below.
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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.


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