Although I have previously written about the myths of self-publishing and have chosen to be published traditionally after two self-published novels, sometimes an author feels self-publishing is the right venue to meet their book’s needs.
Nikolas Baron from Grammarly wrote a guest blog about the steps to self-publishing.
Here’s what Nikolas has to say:
Last year, the number of “indie” books — books published by independent authors rather than by major publishing houses — rose by 43%, a slowdown from the previous several years of triple-digit increases. While print sales remain steady, more and more writers and readers are turning to e-books as a preferred format. E-books retain a poor reputation with some for their perceived shortcomings in quality and editing, but a professionally-edited e-book has a good chance of reaching higher sales goals and reaching more readers than the same book produced traditionally. With more and more readers turning to e-readers and e-books for convenience and lower prices, the market is wide open to the new author seeking to gain a foothold in the publishing world. Self-publishing can be a viable option for the author who is willing to work hard at the formatting, production, and marketing stages, as well as the writing.
The first step in self-publishing is, of course, to write the book, but having accomplished the writing of the book, the writer should take care not to overlook the important tasks of editing and proofreading. The first draft of a book is nearly never publishable. Using an online spelling and grammar check is the last step before presenting the draft to an editor. Anyone can self-publish, but success depends on how professionally the process is handled. No book publisher would accept a manuscript from an author, no matter how seasoned, and immediately publish it, without input from a professional editor. Editing is a necessary part of the process, as is hiring a professional graphic designer to create a cover design which will not only capture the potential reader’s attention but will also translate well into thumbnails and various screen sizes.
Before the actual publishing process can begin, it is necessary to make some decisions. Will the book be published strictly as an e-book, or will Print-on-Demand (POD) be made available? If an e-book format is chosen, which platform will be used to distribute the book? Amazon’s Kindle? Another e-book format like Smashwords? Each has their unique pros and cons, and the writer must consider their personal publishing goals and weigh the available options.
Next, it’s necessary to gather the cover information. This includes the back cover blurb – a summary of the book designed to “hook” the reader into buying, and any endorsements the author can gather. Endorsements need to be glowing reviews from established authors or others in the field. It will be necessary to ask for pre-screenings of the book in order to gather quotable reviews to include in the cover material. The text will need to be included in the overall cover and first pages design and formatting, so it’s important to get these reviews and material gathered early in the process.
Before the publication process can begin, it is necessary to acquire an ISBN number. The ISBN can be purchased singly, but experienced indie authors recommend buying a “set” of ISBN numbers. The price per number is far more attractive, and the extra numbers can be used later, assigned to future books, or used to identify the various formats of the current book. One ISBN, for example, can be used for the e-book version, while another can be assigned to the print book. Separate ISBNs are necessary for hardcover and paperback versions as well.
Once a cover image has been designed, the book thoroughly edited, cover text and blurbs created, endorsements sought and received, and an ISBN acquired, it’s time to format the book for publication. The format of the book depends on whether it will be produced as an e-book or print, and formatting rules shift slightly from company to company. It’s important to study carefully the guidelines of the book production company chosen. For example, Amazon’s Kindle publishing software allows the writer to upload the book in a Word or PDF format and retains the formatting. Other platforms may have different formatting requirements. E-publishing is a time-intensive process, but the final product is the author’s alone.