The entrepreneurial path is one that’s filled with lifelong lessons. With everything you’ve learned, how about sharing the knowledge? Self-publishing a book is a fantastic way to teach. You also get to build your brand and credibility while collecting extra revenue.
You may think, “but to publish a book? That seems far-fetched.” It’s not! The publishing world is looking very different from just five years ago. Gone are the days of pitching and waiting for editors to offer a contract. Instead, distinguished authors and indie novices alike are self-publishing whenever they want, under their terms. This guide goes over how to publish a book yourself, the fastest and easiest way.
Plus, it’s a lucrative time to sell books online. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, digital book sales increased by 85% for PublishDrive indies. Readers are prioritizing online formats like ebooks, emerging reading apps like Dreame, and digital libraries like OverDrive.
So, why self-publish as an entrepreneur:
- Gain a lucrative income stream
- Establish your authority in your industry
- Grow your following (leads) by reaching hundreds of bookstores (like Amazon)
- Retain editorial control and get a larger cut in royalties by self-publishing
- Share your knowledge in one of humanity’s beloved and lasting mediums: books!
Ready? The self-publishing journey looks like writing → editing → designing book cover → formatting → self-publishing → promoting → collecting royalties.
First, Write Your Book
What are you an expert at? From all the webinars, whitepapers, and presentations, what kind of material can you pull? Out of the entire publishing process, writing your manuscript takes the most time and energy. If writing is not your forte, consider hiring a ghostwriter from places like Fiverr or Upwork.
If it’s your first time writing longer content, there are resources to help. Here are popular go-to’s:
- Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson’s free lectures on writing
- The Creative Penn Podcast on writing and self-publishing
- PublishDrive’s Ultimate List of Self-Publishing Resources
When you’re ready to start, using Microsoft Word or Google Docs to write your draft is enough. When tired of typing, try voice-to-text apps like Google Voice. Scrivener is a popular writing software for managing documents with various manuscript templates to choose from.
Edit Your Book
After completing your first draft, it’s imperative you rewrite and edit repeatedly. Your manuscript should be spotless. Consider:
- Hiring a professional editor (costs start at $10 per 1,000 words)
- Checking the Chicago Manual of Style or your preferred style guide
- Using free proofreading tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid
- Finding critique partners or beta readers to review your book
Design Your Book Cover
Finding a professional to design your book cover comes next. You want someone well-versed in industry standards (even better if they’re experienced in your particular field). Because a book cover is one of the first things people see in stores, you want a stunning design.
It’s possible to design your own cover as well. Many indies opt for creating a book cover for free with tools like Canva or InDesign. Be sure to do your research, though. Look at Amazon’s bestselling books in your genre. What elements do they share?
And before concluding on your design, ask your network for feedback. Post your design in online spaces like Reddit’s group for self-publishers or PublishDrive’s Facebook group for indies.
Format and Convert Your Book
With your completed manuscript, the next step requires formatting it for conversion into the right reading format: ebook, audiobook, or print. When self-publishing with stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble or platforms like PublishDrive, you’ll need to upload your 1) converted manuscript file and 2) cover design file.
Find a professional to format your book or do it yourself. For ebook, this looks like removing all formatting on your Word or Docs file and then reformatting it under ebook requirements. Then you’d convert it with a free ebook converter. For print, it’s a similar process minus the conversion. For audiobook creation, you’d need to find a narrator and divide your mp3 audio files by chapters.
Choose a Self-Publishing Platform
At this point, you got your final manuscript in the correct format and a lovely cover file. All that’s left is uploading them to a publishing platform. With so many options out there, here are some of the best self-publishing companies to know –
Amazon KDP: Amazon is the mecca of online books, capturing around 60% of the market. It’s free to self-publish and you get up to 70% of royalties.
However, Amazon requires you to sell exclusively to them for the first 90 days. That means you miss out on 40% of the market where numerous stores are growing like never before:
The demand for online books is at an all-time high across stores and countries. That’s why you want to sell beyond Amazon KDP and go everywhere else.
Barnes & Noble: As the main competitor of Amazon, Barnes & Noble offers free publishing on its platform where you can earn up to 70% royalties. Unlike KDP, they don’t require exclusivity.
Apple Books: With the Apple Books app pre-installed on every Apple device, that’s a pool of over 1.4 billion users to reach. It’s free to publish and you can earn up to 70% royalties.
Google Play Books: With the Google Play Books app pre-installed on every Android device, that’s 2.5 billion potential customers. Having your book listed on Google helps with ranking higher in organic Google searches and online advertising too. It’s free to publish and you can earn up to 70% royalties. Do note that Google has a complicated process where it can take authors up to years to get published.
Something cool: you can also create a book reader app for Android without coding. Curate a mobile book library for your target audience in a personalized way. Then, publish it in Google Play.
Dreame: Aside from these major players, niche channels are booming. Dreame is a reading app that achieved 92,441% more sales for indies in 2020. It’s free to publish, and you get paid through an episodic model, meaning readers pay for segments of content at a time. Although Dreame caters to fiction readers, why not pioneer the space with your entrepreneurial know-how?
PublishDrive: Dreame isn’t the only niche store out there. There are hundreds more, and PublishDrive is an aggregation platform that gets you into all of them. With its single dashboard, publish and manage your book in over 400+ book stores and 240K+ libraries including all the major stores mentioned above. Since PublishDrive doesn’t take any commission, you keep 100% royalties. It’s free to start a 14-day trial. Then it costs as low as $9.99 a month for global publishing.
Promote Your Book
After publishing on your chosen platform, the work doesn’t end. To make sales, you’d need to promote. Being an entrepreneur in this day and age, you’re most likely familiar with digital marketing tactics. Maybe you got a solid following of people on social media or an email list to start with. You know what to do: spread the word about your new book!
It’ll also do you good to read up on best practices used by successful indies. Consider these top strategies for marketing self-published books –
Focus on landing book reviews: This is a prerequisite. Without at least five solid reader reviews, it’d be a waste to spend energy on other marketing efforts. Readers depend on reviews and they won’t spend money on a book that has zero.
Set up a pre-order: Since stores count sales on the first day of release, you can shoot up the sales count by collecting orders during the pre-order period. Try to set one up as early as possible and promote throughout the pre-order.
Maintain an online presence: Pick at least one social media channel to get active on. Create a website or landing page for your author brand. Readers should be able to find and contact you online.
Run price campaigns: Set your book for free or discounted for a couple of weeks or a special holiday. Indies made 10x more book sales by running price promotions on retail stores like Amazon.
Feature in stores and newsletters: With your free or discounted book, submit it to places like Freebooksy to get featured and reach millions of subscribed readers. You can buy placements through companies like Written Word Media. Or submit your book to plenty of free featuring opportunities.
Collect and Track Your Sales
Like any business, there should be an organized and transparent system for tracking your sales performance. To eliminate the Excel sheets, consider using a tool like PublishDrive to take care of the administrative duties. With PublishDrive, get real-time sales performance, automatic royalty reports, and pre-made charts for analytics. Track store links, ratings, and rankings in one place.
Ready to Become an Indie Author?
Wasn’t that pretty straightforward? Self-publishing is easier than ever today. Join the club and level up your career as an entrepreneur.
This article is by Sarah Yoo from PublishDrive, the all-in-one self-publishing platform that has helped 18K+ indies publish 100K+ books since 2015. In 2020, indies boosted online book sales by 85% (despite the pandemic). Publishing digitally and globally is the way.