Updated: Apr 29
1. Write Something
I didn't want to waste any time with an introduction here. This may be the longest and most in-depth blog post I write in a while so go grab yourself a snack before we start. The very first step to self-publishing your own book is to start writing. Forget the royalties, signing books, and what the book cover will be for now. Plan on hitting the keyboard or that notepad of yours. Choose a topic and then map it out on a sheet of paper. Will this be a novel? Fiction or non-ficiton? Children's book? Autobiography? Whatever the book is, start with writing. Another quick tip is never force yourself to write. If it's not there then oh well. Wait for that morning or night when ideas slap the back of your neck and tell you to go write. In instances where you are not near your laptop or your journal. WRITE DOWN THE THOUGHT SOMEWHERE SO IT DOESN'T GET LOST! In my personal experience, I would have ideas fly in my head while at work or out at my weekly stops at the grocery store. At that very moment, I would pull out my phone and write in my notes so I can expand on the idea later. I have notes on my iPad, phone, whiteboard, journal, and anything I could put words on. Again, the idea is to write, write, write......
2. Format Your Book( This is assuming it is done; you can also set the formatting at the start of the book and follow through til the end)
I put this as the second step since I had made the mistake of formatting the book once I finished APLWDWCF( A Paradoxical Life: Where Did We Come From?). Again, huge mistake. I spent over 2 months learning the appropriate way my books should be formatted for e-books and print books on my publisher's site. Many of my paragraphs had huge random spaces in between them, missing pages at the top header, and many other errors that made me feel like I really didn't know how to use Microsoft Word. This part of the process was most important to me since I am a self-published author. And the thing about being a self-published author is...... nobody wants people to open their book a go, "Yep this was definitely self-published". Nothing wrong with being self-published, it's just we do not want terrible errors to ruin the reader's experience. We take pride in being independent, but also up to the standard of books traditionally published. My first book was done in about 4 months, but the release was held back because of formatting. So please do not wait til the end to format; just get it out of the way in the beginning.
Example here: See the obnoxious spaces? Photo Credits: MJ Tube on Youtube
Here is a list of the appropriate formatting you want to use. Also here are the videos that helped me format my book. You may need to watch multiple videos and compile all the advice during your self-publishing journey.
12 pt font
Georgia or Times New Roman Font
Use justified paragraph opposed to left alignment. **Note that is justified this may cause spaces in paragraphs**. Follow the guide in the video below and it should do the fix.
Add headers with the page and title of the book.
Make sure the margins are mirrored to mimic a book reading left to right.
Choose the appropriate size for your book. It is usually 5x9 or 6x9 standard.
Use gridlines in Word to ensure that text is not outside of this line. This also helps with knowing which margin size is best for your book when printing.
3. Watch Countless Youtube Videos & Window Shop For The Best Publisher That Meets The Needs Of Your Book
Whew...... that was a long title. Just like how you watch many videos for formatting, the same is true for choosing a publisher. Let's remind you why you are reading this blog post. The reason you are on this post is that you've decided to take the reins and publish a book on your own. In self-publishing, there is no fancy book advance or publishing company helping you. You are on your own buddy. You are responsible for the marketing, book cover design( don't be too afraid you can hire someone), formatting(you can pay someone for this too), proofreading(refer to the last parentheses), and writing(this too). I think everyone gets the point. The idea is you choose a publisher and have them distribute the book for you. This is different from traditional publishing where you are backed by a company( all you have to worry about is writing). We can compare:
Indie authors=Independent music artist
Traditional= Signed a record deal
Now that we know the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Let's move on to choosing a publisher. This step can be done after you have completely finished writing the book. However, I recommend even doing this in between the writing process. There are plenty of different publishers to choose from so it may take a while to compare the pros and cons. Here is a list you can choose from:
Remember that long title that said to watch countless youtube videos (scroll back up)? Yes, please take this into consideration. Type in a review from unbiased users for each publisher.
You'll find it hard to find solid reviews for some of these publishers so below I have my Youtube channel with a public playlist for videos that are great to watch when you are ready to choose a publisher. The playlist does include other videos about formatting and walkthroughs. Do your due diligence and find some of the other videos these YouTubers have.
AGAIN, PLEASE TAKE YOUR TIME WITH THESE VIDEOS
Here are the main components you are looking for, PRINT QUALITY, HEP( HARDCOVER, E-BOOK & PAPERBACK) OFFERINGS, ROYALTY SHARE, EASE OF USE, and DISTRIBUTION RULES. There are other things you may look for that are more specific to the type of book you are creating(i.e. coloring books, crossword puzzles, etc.). To keep it simple, I would like this guide to be geared toward high-content books(novels and books) and some low-content books(blank journals, composition notebooks). For those creating coloring books, some of the advice in this blog can help too.
Without discrediting the other platforms, I personally have found Amazon KDP and Lulu working the best for publishing my books. This is where my debut book, "A Paradoxical Life: Where Did We Come From?" was published. The print quality is a bit better with Lulu but Amazon does a solid job at printing your book too. Both platforms offer royalties for your books when it is sold and offers distribution throughout the world. I've also found that they are pretty easy to navigate and both offer HEP.
Once you have compared all of the criteria you can choose that publisher as your driver for your self-publishing journey. Remember, really compare the royalties please. You will be surprised how much of a percentage less or more you are getting from one publisher to the next. You are an author that put in plenty of work and effort to finish that book. DO NOT shortchange yourself by only getting $2 per every book that sells for $20. Really take your time in this process. The main reason I recommend Amazon KDP as the best publisher is because of its reach to the audience and its very good royalty in comparison to other publishers. Lulu.com is great for printing books that you wish to sell physical copies to people and distribute to thousands of retailers.
Here is the best step-by-step guide:
Credits: Keith Wheeler Books on Youtube
4. Figure Out If You Want Your Own ISBN or A Free One Provided By Your Publisher.
Your book is done, it's formatted and you've decided which publisher you are going with. Now it's time to decide if you want a free ISBN or to purchase one.An ISBN is a unique identifier for your book. Kind of like a social security number for your book. I took this part very seriously since I planned on distributing my book globally. I went with purchasing my own 10 ISBN's from myidentifiers.com. It is a bit pricey sitting at about $300. However, you get 10 ISBNs that can be used for 10 different books and you own that ISBN. Buying just one will run you around $100-$125. The best option is to use the 10 ISBNS if you plan on writing many books. Even if you don't it will still be needed if you would like to publish HEP books. Each version of your book must have its own unique ISBN. Meaning, the hardcover and paperback versions of your book must have different ISBN **IMPORTANT NOTICE: YOU OWN IT**, The free ISBNs offered through the publisher allow the writer exclusive access through their platform only. That ISBN cannot be used across any other platforms.
For example, If I were to obtain a free ISBN through Amazon KDP with my book, I cannot publish that book anywhere else. It is only exclusive to Amazon. Of course, if this is your intention then by all means use the free ISBN. Just do not expect to be able to place that book anywhere else if things change.
5. Get A Copyright For Your Book
Similar to an ISBN, copyright is needed so you own the right to copy and distribute your creative work. I find many people do not do this since it digs into your pockets. Just be aware that if you do not own a copyright, your work is considered, "open domain". Meaning anyone can use your work; no legal action can be taken. To get a copyright head over to https://www.copyright.gov/ This will run you around $100. The great thing is you can obtain the copyright for your work the second your pen hits the paper. In some other people's cases, when their fingers hit the keyboard to write. Copyright is highly recommended so all of your hard work is not used or copied without your permission.
6. Publish Your Book
Congratulations, you have taken all the advice you can from this blog. You can now publish your book. The last step or step that I forgot to mention is creating a book cover. This is something else that can be done by someone else if you are not great at design. If you want to give it a shot I highly recommend https://www.canva.com/ I would suggest making this cover as unique as possible. DO NOT just use a template and run with it. Change the color, filter, remove and add some elements.
Now that your book has a cover, the book is finished and formatted, you can now upload it to the publisher of your choice.
The publisher will typically ask for:
1. Title of your book
2. Your ISBN or offer a free one
4. Manuscript(finished book)
5. Book Cover(Front and Back)
7. How you want to price the book and show the royalty that will be paid
8. Purchase a proof copy to ensure the book prints well
And like just like that you've published your first book! Use this guide to follow and add your own pizzazz to it!
Check Out Some of My Published Books:
Check Out Origins Weekly On Soundcloud With Voice Narration For Select Articles.