What is self-publishing, and why has it become so popular recently?
Self-publishing is publishing a fiction or non-fiction eBook without taking help from any established publishing house. The author or the self-publisher can carry out the process. They write the book and complete the entire proofreading and copyediting process for the manuscript. Designing and book formatting also fall into this stage. The entire publishing process is done without a traditional book publishing company.
Because of the 100% creative control authors can enjoy over their content, publishing by yourself has become quite a popular choice for most aspiring writers. Thanks to technological advancements, they can now publish their content with complete artistic control, no compromise with the diction, and, most importantly, higher royalties. This full autonomy is highly rewarding for thousands of independent authors. Although self-digital publishing is mostly for books, other creative works of art can also be self-published. Such as visual art, fine arts, music, etc.
In this process, the author will publish the book through an ePublishing platform such as Amazon KDP, Blurb, Lulu, and more. We will explain them in further detail in the following sections. In short, from the beginning until the end, the author has full ownership of their book rights.
Several new authors and first-time writers are resorting to this system that gives them full control, and they have achieved significant success in the process. These authors-turned-publishers are carving a niche for themselves by selling their books on their own. They have to no longer face rejections from big publishing houses, send numerous emails to literary agents, express their feelings and creative thoughts, share knowledge, and, of course, satisfy their dreams. Probably, this is the reason why more than $1.25 billion worth of self-published books are sold each year.
The next segment discusses the best ways and steps for selling your books online. Memorize these steps if you want to get your content ready for your readers.
What are the optimum ways of self-publishing or selling eBooks?
Thanks to the paradigm shift in eBook conversion and book publishing technology, writers can avail themselves and cater to a global readership. The book-selling narrative is no longer controlled by geographical borders or conventional publishers. With the following steps, you can soon publish a professional eBook with a lot of flexibility and creative freedom.
Step #1: Prepare the draft
Start by writing your content and fine-tuning it. Your topic can be any subject, ranging from fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, detective novels, recipe guides, and so on. Define the narrative you want to follow and create the outline based on that.
Select all that you want to put in the book; scrape the ones you feel are redundant. You may write the content in a normal Word file. Finally, give a compelling title to your manuscript.
Step #2: Proofread and copyedit
This is the most important step in the electronic book publishing process. Proofreading your manuscript goes a long way toward making your content perfect. Check and double-check the pages to see for any typos, paragraph errors, alignment issues, syntax errors, incorrect commas, colons, and semicolons, etc.
Likewise, perform a thorough copyediting session and correct the lines and sentences wherever required. Professional eBook development companies have experienced proofreaders and copyeditors who perform this job effortlessly. Highly experienced copyeditors can even rewrite parts of the content if there is any narrative discrepancy or error in the content flow.
Step #3. Create a visually captivating eBook cover
If you have prior knowledge of graphic design, you can easily do this on your own with the help of an online graphic design tool like Canva. Just make sure the title reflects the topic of the book. That means the imagery on the cover must align with the subject.
For example, if it is a murder mystery, a dreamy, romantic front cover won’t do justice. Similarly, if it is a children’s book, the image of two adults won’t align. If the topic is wildlife, there should be an enthralling image of a dense forest with some wild animals being seen. Ideate the book cover design based on the topic, and then get into designing it.
Alternatively, you may take help from the experts, which will come at a very reasonable cost. These experts can develop stunning eBook covers that compel people to click on them. These specialists also have a lot of experience in designing cover images and book illustrations for professional print books (paperback and hardcover). Therefore, they know the kind of graphics that make heads turn. Remember, the book cover is a highly essential aspect of an eBook, as that is the first thing potential buyers see on online listing sites.
Step #4: Select the best layout for your manuscript
Now is the time to select the best layout for your eBook. Selecting the layouts is highly important because that’s what determines what the content will look like. There are mainly two types of eBook layouts, reflowable and fixed-layout. Both are utilized for modern eBooks however, each has its own distinct features.
The reflowable layout, as the name suggests, lets the content flow and fit within the screen readers are using. Whereas in a fixed-layout arrangement, all the elements are static and do not change regardless of the device.
The advantage of a reflowable eBook is that readers can enjoy a flexible content layout that adapts to the size and orientation of their devices. While with a fixed layout, the content elements are fixed within a pre-determined layout. This also has benefits, especially for the authors. They have complete control over how the content will appear to the readers. Complex layers, media files, and animations can be easily integrated into a fixed layout book. Select the ideal layout for your purpose based on your objectives.
Step #5: Time to select the best eBook format
Once you have chosen the layout you deem best for your content, pick the format to publish the eBook. If you are keen on enhancing the document with some interactivities, audio, video, live tweet widgets, etc., go for ePUB. ePUB is one of the best choices for electronic books, given its flexibility and versatility.
Other formats include MOBI, PDF, AZW, AZW3, IBA, RTF, etc. Do some good research on the different formats and which one will be ideal for your purpose. The format will also differ based on the electronic publishing platform you select.
Step #6: Boost the SEO factor of your content with metadata
This is immensely vital. After you launch your book, you will definitely want it to show up higher on eBook e-tailer websites such as Amazon, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble, etc. By having selected words and phrases inserted in the book, you can help potential readers find it quickly and easily. Book metadata are mainly SEO-friendly keywords that are included in crucial touchpoints like author bio, book title, prelude, book summary, etc.
The crawlers of the online retailer platforms crawl these keywords and connect the readers to the relevant search results. Suppose your topic is “detective or mystery” and a potential buyer type “thrilling detective and murder mystery novels”, your content would show up in the search results if the metadata inserted is SEO-rich.
To do this, compile a list of keywords (long-tail and short-tail) based on the topic of your self-published eBook. Narrow down the list further based on the search patterns. Then, use these keywords to check whether they show up results similar to those in your book.
That’s how you can verify the effectiveness of the keywords you’ve narrowed down. Finally, once you are satisfied with the phrases, tactically insert them within the mentioned places. Just remember, the flow should be natural and shouldn’t seem forcible or fake.
Step #7. Set the pricing of your eBook
The beauty of publishing on your own is the reduced book distribution cost, which gives a substantial profit margin compared to launching your novel the traditional way. The best way to decide the buying cost of your individually published book is to see the costs of other similar books. Check out their pricing and number of sold copies. This will give you a rough idea of where to start.
The cost also depends on the platform on which you are selling or publishing. Amazon gives royalties based on the price of your book. If the price varies between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon will give you a book royalty of 70%. If the price is below this range or if it exceeds it, the royalties are 35%. Some digital book publishing platforms also give you a flat 100% royalty, give or take.
Two other determining factors for deciding your digital book’s cost are the genre and the length. For the first, non-fiction, biographies, documentaries, autobiographies by famous people, literary fiction, topics on religion and spirituality, etc., sell at a much higher cost than science fiction, fantasy novels, comedy, romance, and the like. Target your niche, and then put a price tag on your publication.
In the second case, the length is an equally important factor for the pricing. Short stories that usually have 1000-5000 words are usually priced at $0.99 to $1.99. For romance or epic novels, people don’t want to pay more than $2.99-$7.99. Shorter novellas or standard storybooks are best sold at $2.99 or a maximum of $5.99.
Simply put, there’s no such thing as a set formula or a fixed price for online books. If your content is good and you have made a name for yourself in the industry, interested buyers will pay whatever you keep the cost of your publications at. However, it is best to adjust the price against inflation, as well as user behavior and the demand for your books. It is also a golden rule to start small in the beginning and then go all out.
Step #8. Select the best publishing platform
This final step is the most crucial for any beginner self-publisher. Among the several digital publishing and selling platforms, identifying the best one is the trick. Moreover, when you are an independent author and publisher, you have to be doubly sure of the platform you select. Else, there are chances your publication will have a low sales rate.
While you select the website to launch your book, thoroughly examine the guidelines mentioned on the website. Ensure your eBook format meets these guidelines. Which format the site accepts is an important factor to consider. The most common formats that leading eBook publishing platforms accept are ePUB, MOBI, IBA, PDF, etc. Also, some online retailers require ISBNs on the books they sell or list. So, get individual ISBNs for your books if you are publishing multiple of them.
Another must-check aspect is the amount of royalty you will be getting for each sale. That is also a determining factor as well as a motivational factor behind selecting a platform to self-sell your digital books.
#Bonus: Do some promotional activities
You may not be a big shot in the literary domain, but who knows? Your book may become a best-seller in a few days. Partly for that reason and partly to tease your readers and audience with the launch, conduct some engaging promotional activities. You can start off by creating a small website or a microsite for the upcoming launch.
There are several free website maker tools online; take the help of one of those and get started. Leverage your social presence by actively posting bits and pieces about your book. If you have a little more budget to spare, get a short 10-20 seconds teaser animation. There are professional video production agencies with experts who can create engaging teasers and trailers announcing your book launch. Create an author brand by compiling a mailing list and sending emails to your target audience on a consistent basis.
Post-sales promotions also hold immense value for any self-publishing author. Once you get your book enlisted on one of the listings and online publishing sites, post that link on your social media channels, in your personal blogs, on your website/microsite, and the like.
Well, these were the eight preliminary steps that all first-time author-turned-publishers must follow along. This will empower you and make you feel confident when the D-Day arrives. Whether you are publishing an eBook from scratch or converting your paper hardcover into a digital replica and selling it online, venture into the realm with confidence and enthusiasm.
Over to you now
That’s all, folks! Self-publishing your eBook on your own terms has a special ring to it in the present digital era. More so when you have so many resources out there, get started with them and earn a considerable passive income. Self-publishing a book online might seem daunting initially, but if you follow the aforementioned steps in detail, there’s no stopping you from becoming a successful indie author soon.
For beginners and aspiring writers for whom this domain is still in uncharted waters, give yourself some time to learn the nitty-gritty of the publishing system. Do some legwork, check out a few niche forums and literary communities, ask questions, and see how they are doing it. With some guidance, soon you can start developing your own manuscript, proofreading, copyediting, and formatting it, making your dreams of becoming an independent author and publisher come true.
In the process, if you require any professional guidance, you can team up with an eBook development company. They have experts who can help you throughout the process by designing a captivating front cover, proofreading, or copyediting the manuscript. As well as convert the document into an ideal format. All this at a very nominal price and a fast turnaround.
Finally, you can take the reins into your own hands and self-publish your masterpiece! Good luck!