Some years ago, if you were aiming to publish your book as a writer, you would probably look forward to seeing a hardcopy of your book on a shelf! However, the book trade has changed immensely. So instead of glossy hardcovers, writers today aim at publishing eBooks and watch the sales come rolling in.
In fact, studies have shown that at the beginning of 2020 alone, US readers spent around $75 million on eBooks while the revenue has been projected to reach the US $16,647 million by the end of 2020! Just to add to the numbers, let’s also throw in social media that is helping rocket the demands further! So, if you are a writer and wish to self-publish your eBook, there is no better time than now. Let’s walk through how to self-publish an eBook in 9 simple steps!
How to self-publish an eBook in 9 simple steps
Step 1: Ensure that you are selling quality content
Now that you have seen the numbers, there is no denying that readers are hungry for eBooks more than ever before. But it is important to understand that their appetites aren’t indiscriminate. So, if you want to keep them hooked to reading your eBooks, you need to serve something that they long for till the end of the book.
In other words, whether your genre is that of fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, young adults, cookbooks, self-help, etc. quality matters the most. Before you even consider the idea of publishing your eBook, you need to ensure that your content is grammatically correct. That being said, you need to keep in mind that self-publishing is a quick process. If you are an impatient writer, you can easily turn a draft into an eBook in less than an hour and then watch it be live on sale.
So, don’t simply jump on ease and convenience. Work through your eBook, till the last sentence of the last page and even though the round of credits. Additionally, you can also consider bringing in a professional editor to help you correct your manuscripts.
Step 2: Design a great cover
Now that you have fine-tuned your content, the next step is to create a polished cover for your eBook. Remember that this cover is the first thing a potential buyer will see and, therefore, is your biggest marketing asset. It needs to look great and highly attractive in advertisements, across social media posts, other blog posts, websites, and all in all, need to grab attention in the crowded online marketplace.
If you have great ideas for your cover but do not have any digital designing skills, you can also consider getting professional assistance. Your aim should be creating and using cover art that will do justice to your story. Simply using clip arts, heavy images, and other artwork created in haste will not do you or your sales any good. This is because, for an eBook, your cover needs to look good and give your story a meaning at full scale and even in a miniature. That is why eBook publishing platforms require an upload of large, high-resolution images for your book cover. So, ensure that you are investing in artwork that shines a does you great favors in the sales department.
Step 3: Decide your availability on Amazon.
Now that you have created and designed amazing cover art for your eBook, you need to decide which road you wish to choose – Amazon exclusivity or exploring other platforms?
For many writers and best-selling authors, self-publishing eBook corresponds to Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. This is Amazon’s best digital self-publishing platform. This is because Amazon has around 67% of the global eBook market share. Amazon alone will give you great perks if you opt for KDP. It lets you promote your eBook through price promotions and on Kindle Unlimited, which is a widely preferred subscription service for eBook lovers!
On the other hand, diversifying through other platforms can help you reach readers who do not access Amazon Kindle. These could be especially countries like Germany or Canada, wherein Amazon demands a small share of the eBook marketplace.
Step 4: Consider other publishing platforms
If you have opted for Amazon exclusivity, you can jump to the next step. If you want to diversify your eBook publishing, you can choose from many other publishing platforms. Here are a few widely used platforms –
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Google Play books
- iBooks for Apple users
- Kobo Writing Life
If you choose to use other eBook publishing options, then you need to also make another important decision. Do you wish to publish directly through these chosen platforms, or do you wish to streamline this process with an aggregator? If you wish to include an aggregator, remember that it will come with a price.
However, aggregators allow you to upload your eBooks and their associated information just once. Then they upload it across other platforms on your behalf. So, essentially you do not need to keep uploading the same content over and over again. In addition to this, aggregators also help save your time as they can go through technical restrictions seamlessly. For example, if you are using an Apple device, you can only publish your book across iBook. Whereas, your aggregator can have your eBook published across both Apple and Android devices.
Of course, none of these services come for free. You might be charged for each title that you publish through them. So, see what suits your needs and goals the best before you make such a decision.
Step 5: Set up your metadata
Now that you have decided which platform you wish to publish your eBook, you need to head over those platforms and create your account. Some websites like Barnes & Noble Press, let you immediately upload your manuscript after your account is activated. However, some other platforms like KDP require you to fill out a lot of details first. So, it is always safe to have your eBook information prepared beforehand.
This information is called metadata. It consists of the title of your book, the book description, the categories or genres that your book falls under, the niche that it would cater to, etc. Essentially, it is all that information that will make your eBook discoverable on retail platforms. Almost all publishing platforms and aggregators will ask you to fill out forms of metadata and other keywords that describe your eBook or age ranges for your target audience. Getting your metadata right means driving more traffic to your product page and more sales for your book. There are many sources that will help you write the perfect description for your eBook and choose the right keywords.
Step 6: Format your eBook
You’re almost there! Your next job is to set your eBook in the final format before you can hit the ‘Publish’ button. If we retrace our steps, you had perfectly worded your manuscript in step 1. However, in this step, you need to now convert that text into the format used by eBook publishers. These are .mobi format for Amazon and EPUB format for all other publishing platforms.
To make this easy to understand, platforms like Amazon often let you upload your file in different formats like .docx or PDF. But when this file is automatically converted into the preferred type, there could be a lot of line break mistakes, spacing, alignments, and other quirks that make it visually unappealing. This is why we recommend you to always convert your eBook into the preferred format before you upload the file.
Step 7: Upload your eBook files
Now, if you have followed all of the above steps with us, you are ready to take your perfectly formatted eBook and upload along with your cover image through whichever aggregator or platforms you have chosen! Your files might surely take some time to show up, so ensure that you do not navigate to another page while you wait for the upload. Once your file is uploaded, you can then review it and ensure that everything is exactly the way you wanted it to be.
At this stage, the eBook publishing platform that you chose will offer you the option to enable Digital Rights Management or DRM. This feature essentially locks your eBook on the device through which it was purchased. In other words, it helps prevent privacy. It also stops readers who purchased your eBook legitimately from reading it on multiple devices.
We, however, recommend enabling this option. This is because your DRM setting cannot be changed at a later stage. So, if you do decide to use the DRM option, you need to ensure that you can stick to it.
Step 8: Choose and set your pricing
Once your eBook is uploaded, it is time to decide the price that you will sell your eBook for! You need to keep in mind that some platforms charge royalties, and these will usually change depending on the pricing of your eBook. For instance, Amazon KDP offers 70% royalties for titles that cost between $2.99 to $9.99. Titles that fall outside this pricing range will grant you a net of only 35% royalties.
If your book is really short, you can choose the 70% plan. You can make more money per sale. And if you have a short book, you can choose a 35% plan. Additionally, Amazon will also give you a recommendation for price based on the size of your book and genre.
In Spite of this, you can change the pricing of your book at any time. This is a huge step as its flexibility will also allow you to offer discounts, giveaways, and other free goodies to attract more eBook lovers into clicking on the ‘Buy’ Call to action or CTA. In addition to this, price promotions are highly powerful, especially during a book launch. We recommend that you make the most of this!
Step 9: Publish your eBook.
This is the final step in your journey of self-publishing an eBook. From the final format for your eBook to setting up a debut price, you have come a long way on this journey. There is only one final step left: finally, you can now hit the ‘publish’ button. And your eBook is live on sale and ready to earn some diehard fans!
On the other hand, you can also set it as a pre-order. Making a pre-order allows you to do some great marketing and awareness of your new publication before the actual release of a book. A pre-order eligible book will still have its own Amazon page like other products. Some authors use pre-orders as a motivation for writing. They usually set up a pre-order before they can even start writing.
If you choose to pre-order your book, but if you postpone or cancel your book, Amazon can put you on probation, and you can lose access to pre-order books in the future.
So, once your book is ready, hit submit; Amazon will then check your book over and ensure that it is good to go. Amazon then creates a details page, and you can start selling your book!
Congratulations, you’re now a published author! So, there you have it – a step by step guide to self-publish your eBook. If your eBook does great, you can also convert it into a paperback format. In fact, Amazon KDP allows you for paperback publishing as well. It is a print-on-demand program, which means that Amazon will automatically print your book only when someone places an order. This means that you do not really have to spend money on inventory. You can consider this option if your readers demand paperbacks.
Now is the time! Stick to your eBook writing goals, publish it on Amazon and other publishing platforms, and get your eBooks into the hands of eBook lovers across the globe!
Thinking about self-publishing an eBook? Want some tips to hype up your eBook? Let us know in the comments below!