Monday, August 12, 2019

The Simple Guide to Self-Publishing

Blog post updated 12/08/2019.

Self-Publishing Defintion

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 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 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 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 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 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).

    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 ISBNs

    Your book 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 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.

    Related: How to Design a Book Cover on Fotor

    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. 

    Best online photo editor, collage maker and designer!

    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.

    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.