How To Prepare Your Book For Self-ePublishing

Today you are about you learn all you need to know about preparing your book for self-epublishing.

There are many successful authors whose work didn’t fit in the lane, so they self-published, which is what I did. The fact that readers don’t feel compelled to read in a single lane should be a sign to publishers that it’s okay to color outside the lines. It shows the disconnect between publishers and readers. Fortunately for these writers, Amazon changed the playing field giving them direct access to readers.

There are many successful authors whose work didn’t fit in the lane, so they self-published, which is what I did. The fact that readers don’t feel compelled to read in a single lane should be a sign to publishers that it’s okay to color outside the lines. It shows the disconnect between publishers and readers. Fortunately for these writers, Amazon changed the playing field giving them direct access to readers.

Kim Harrison, a traditionally published author of paranormal romance, said it best on a panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March 2013. She said, “Readers aren’t going anywhere. There will always be readers.” In essence, she said that there will always be a need for writers, because there will always be people who want to read. So the only cogs in the publishing wheel that need to worry are agents, publishers, and bookstores, because they’re no longer needed and are no longer the gatekeepers to what gets in front of readers.

If you think I sound negative toward the traditional publishing system, I’m not. I’m only pointing out that the rules have changed, which is good for writers. If you are a writer who wants to publish, but hasn’t been able to get past the traditional gatekeepers (agents and/or publishers), you should be very excited about this new revolution in publishing. Here’s why:

  • No gatekeepers. Self-publishing means you don’t have to get the acceptance of agents or publishers. In other words, no rejections.
  • It’s affordable. Publishing and distributing your book through the major ebook retailers is free. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any expense, but compared to vanity publishing, it’s very cheap.
  • Keep more of the profits. In traditional publishing, you earn a small percentage from the sale of your book. Many publishers still offer advances, but they are low, especially for unknown authors. And you don’t earn any royalties until the advance earns out. Most books don’t earn their advance, which means most authors don’t get royalties. E-publishing platforms (i.e. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing) pay 30 to 70 percent royalties. That means you can charge less and still earn more per book than in traditional publishing.
  • Shorter publishing schedule. When my agent sold The Work At-Home Success Bible to Adams Media, I was given a September 2007 date to submit a completed manuscript. I received the first edits in January 2008 and the second edits in July. The book was published in February 2009, over a year from when it was finished. In that time, many changes occurred in working at home that didn’t make it into the book. With self-epublishing, you can get your book up as soon as it’s written, edited, and formatted.
  • Sell the book you want. When I received the second edits for The Work-At- Home Success Bible, an entire chapter was missing. Further, I never got to see or give feedback about the cover. But self-epublishing allows you to keep the story or content as you meant it to be. And you have the final say on the content and cover.
  • Make changes whenever needed. If you find an error or something changes, you can update the book, re-upload it, and have the new version available in hours.
  • No shelf life. Traditional books have a shelf life of about six months. The reason is that bookstores have to make room for new books. If your book doesn’t sell well, it’s gone from the store in a matter of months. Ebooks don’t expire, unless of course you write something that expires or becomes irrelevant.
  • Build a platform and fan base that can lead to a traditional publishing deal. Once self-publishing was viewed as being less than, but now publishers are searching for successful indie authors with an existing fan base because they know whatever the author writes, there are people waiting to buy it.
  • I would be remiss not to share the disadvantages of self epublishing, but I’m confident you’ll see that what once hurt indie authors now may help them.
  • Self-published authors are often considered less talented than traditional authors. While many are quick to separate vanity publishing from selfpublishing, the reality is that many people view indie authors as writers who couldn’t make it in the traditional publishing world. This, of course, isn’t necessarily the case. You’ll discover later that many of your favorite authors started off as self-publishers, and today, indie authors that garner lots of fans often get traditional book deals.
  • You pay all costs for creating and marketing your ebook. While ebook publishing is very inexpensive, editing and cover creation can run several hundred dollars. And depending on how you market, you could spend a good chunk of change (you’ll learn free and low-cost marketing in this book). With that said, traditional publishers don’t market for their authors unless your name happens to be Nora Roberts or John Grisham. So when it comes to marketing, it’s up to you no matter what.

Ultimately, epublishing is getting rid of the middlemen and allowing writers to connect directly with readers. And it’s not only indie authors taking advantage of what epublishing offers. Many midlist authors are getting back the rights back to their old books and self publishing them as ebooks. They are making more money and are able to reach a whole new audience.

In case you’re not convinced, here are some well-known authors who made their start in or turned to self-publishing.

  • E.L. James rewrote a Twilight fan fiction into an original story called Fifty Shades of Gray, which is sometimes credited for starting the Young Adult genre and boosting the demand for erotic romances.
  • Amanda Hocking, author of young adult paranormal fiction, was the first indie author to sell more than a million ebooks on Kindle.
  • Joe Konrath publishes both traditional and self-published books and is outspoken about how traditional publishing is broken. Check out his blog for writers at JAKonrath.blogspot.com.
  • Holly Lisle, who is traditionally and self-published, turned to self-publishing to gain greater control of her work.
  • H.P. Mallory self-published her romantic paranormal books, hitting the Amazon and Barnes and Noble bestsellers list. She has a large fan base and now has a three-book deal with Random House.

If you’re thinking you need to become a known, bestselling author to make a living, think again. While you do need to find your fan base, you don’t need to be a household name or be number one on the bestseller’s list. On a visit to the Writer’s Cafe at Kindle Boards, I found a list of authors I’ve never heard of reporting $3,000 to $16,000 just for the month of March 2011. Am I saying you’ll publish your book and make that kind of money every month? No. Can you? It’s possible, if you do the work these authors are doing. That’s the real advantage of self-publishing. You’re in control. If you write great content and find your audience, you can do well.

But before you upload your book to Amazon, you have to do the work a publisher would have done: editing, formatting, cover design, and blurb creation. In this post you’ll first learn how to prepare and publish your book completely on your own. If that seems daunting, I’ve also included information about using self-publishing companies to prepare and publish your book.

DIY Steps To Preparing Your Book

preparing books and making money

There is a writer in my writers group who wrote a full-length suspense novel back in the day of typewriters. He wrote it, sent it to a publisher, got a rejection, and then put it away. When the local writers group started, he read the book to us, and it became clear that while the plot was good, he hadn’t done much editing. After each reading, we’d give feedback, which he translated into “They don’t like it.” He gave up again. But here are a couple of hard truths about writing:

  1. You can’t publish a first draft… well, you can, but it won’t be your best work and can hurt sales of future books.
  2. You can’t be your own editor.

I know many writers that don’t heed these two truths (I broke rule #2 myself), thinking their work is good enough. But all you have to do is read reviews of indie authors on Amazon to see that readers are tough critics. And why shouldn’t they be? They’re paying money. They don’t want good enough.

“But, Leslie, I see errors and formatting problems in traditionally published books.” Yes, I see them more and more myself, but that doesn’t give you permission to publish less than the best you can deliver.

Your goal should be to publish the very best book possible. It will not only increase sales of this book, but also of future books. If your book will be supporting a business (i.e., coaching or freelancing), it will increase your credibility and customers. You have one shot to make a great first impression, so don’t blow it by submitting a subpar book.