Self-publishing your book takes work, and even money. But not the kind of money that vanity publishers want. Vanity publishers will charge you $2000 to $5000, or more, for what you can do for next to nothing, or for free! How do I know? I have self-published 25 book, and have not spent a dime.
I have self-published books for a number of clients for under $1,000 each time. And if you are thinking, ‘Here it comes. Paul’s going to try to sell us his services.’ Sit back and relax. I’m retired. I don’t have services to sell! With that in mind, let’s take a look at the potential rewards and then at the work and potential costs involved in self-publishing a book.
If you want to publish a book for friends and family, then self-publishing is the way to go. This can be personally rewarding and doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a bunch of books printed that you can give to friends and family. Using companies like Amazon’s KDP or Draft2Digital (D2D) will let you do this. You can have the books shipped to you for distribution, or shipped directly to the people to whom you want to give books.
You can, if so inclined, even sell direct to the public via Amazon or other online book retail sites.
If print and/or e-book sales are what you want, then consider Ingram Spark, KDP, Kobo Writing Life and D2D. These companies will get your book into wide online retail distribution.
Ingram Spark has a wide online bookstore distribution for print books, but there is a charge to get your book into the company (under $100) and an annual charge to stay in the company’s catalogue (about $15).
KDP is owned by Amazon and gets your print and/or Kindle (e-book) into Amazon. Kobo Writing Life gets your epub e-book into Kobo. D2D has a wide no-cost print and epub distribution network. To maximize my book-selling royalties, I use all three–KDP for Amazon, Kobo Writing Life for e-pubs and D2D for all other outlets. D2D has replaced Ingram Spark for me.
To get your books into any of these outlets you have to:
- write your book
- edit (copy edit) your book
- proofread your book
- properly format your book
- create a cover for your book
Writing your book costs nothing but time (unless you hire a ghost writer to write it, which you’d only do if you were rich and famous and needed help writing your autobiography!).
Copy editing the first couple of drafts of your book also takes nothing but time. You might want to get a couple of literate friends to copy edit the next couple of drafts of your book. You can also pay to have an editor copy edit your book. Either way, free or for a fee, your book should be copy edited. You as the writer are so close to your book that everything makes sense to you. A fresh set of eyes can find errors in logic, weaknesses in the plot and character development and writing that, simply put, confuses the reader.
Having a professional editor proofread your book, after it has been copy edited, makes sense–if you want typos and grammatical errors eliminated. Unless you have a good friend or relative who is an eagle-eyed proofreader, this is something you will pay an editor or proofreader to do.
Properly formatting your book for print and e-book publication should take nothing but time to learn how to do, and the to do. To start to learn how to do it, go to paullima.com/pwyc and watch the free Format Your Book for Self-publishing (with Word) video! And then apply what your learn to the formatting of your book.
You can hire a graphic designer to create a cover for your book. At the same time, KDP and D2D help you create covers for your e-books and front/back covers for your print books online. It’s fairly easy to do. But if you are having difficulty, Google “create book covers” and you will find free and low-cost websites that enable you to create book covers. I’ve used a graphics package to create all my book covers, and admit that some of them suck. But some of them are pretty good. You can do this!
Once Your Book Is Ready To Go…
Once you have done all of the above and your book is ready to go, it costs you nothing but time to self-publish it.
Go to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: Self Publishing https://kdp.amazon.com and create a KDP account to get your print and/or Kindle book into Amazon. You get to select the retail price of your book. Amazon keeps a cut (about 30%). The rest is yours.
Go to Kobo Writing Life https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/p/writinglife and create a Kobo Writing Life account to get your e-pub into Kobo. Set the price; Kobo keeps 30%. And away you go.
Go to Draft2Digital https://www.draft2digital.com. Create your account. Upload your print or ebook. Select your price and retailers, and away you go.
Not every self-published author is going to sell like 50 Shades of Grey, initially a self-published book, sold. But if you have a well written book targeted at a specific audience, then you can sell books and make money doing so. I’ve sold 20,000 books over fifteen years. It’s not a full-time income, but initially supplementing my writing and training services, and now my retirement income, through book sales suits me just fine.
Having said that, I know self-published authors who sell 10,000+ books a year. They work at selling books full time — writing books, self-publishing them, and promoting the heck out of them.
Speaking of promotion, I suggest that you have website for your book(s) (as I do with paullima.com/books) and perhaps a blog, with links to the pages where people can buy your book(s). In addition, engage in social media and use other means of promotion to get the word out about your book.
In the end, only you can decide how much time and money to spend on your self-published book. As I’ve said, though, spending time and money on self-publishing your book can be personally, and financially, rewarding. It can be great fun too! And there is no reason to pay thousands of dollars to get your book published!
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Paul Lima, now retired, was a freelance writer and self-publishing consultant. You can read about him or contact him at www.paullima.com. Read about his How To Write A non-fiction Book In 60 Days and Produce, Price and Promote Your Self-Published Fiction or Non-fiction Book and eBook at www.paullima.com/books.