As I recently announced, I’ve finally gotten around to putting everything I’ve learned about writing and publishing your own book into one place: a new ebook titled Write, Print, Publish, Promote. In that book, I cover the entire process from idea to product, which can be quite a journey. With that in mind, I wanted to share what I think are my top five tips from the book — one from each major step in the self-publishing process — to hopefully help you navigate publishing your own title:
Tip #1: Create a Book Proposal for Yourself
If you’re pitching a non-fiction book to a potential publisher, more often than not they’ll ask you to submit a full book proposal for your project. Typically this will include a basic overview of the book, what markets you’ll be looking to target and the size of said markets, a list of titles you’d be competing with, and a detailed outline about what each chapter will contain. I actually put all of this and more together while I was writing my book The E-Ticket Life and ended up submitting to a couple of publishers before deciding to set out on my own. However, I found that going through this process actually helped me flesh out my book idea and made it easier for me to complete my manuscript.
For that reason, I’d recommend anyone prepare a book proposal just for their own use. Having a solid outline will make writing your book easier as it provides you a road map and could even allow you to skip around if you please. Meanwhile, doing the research on markets you want to reach and what books might be similar to yours can come in handy when it comes time to promoting your finished product. If you really want to go all out on your proposal, I also highly recommend the aptly titled How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen
Tip #2: Try DIY
I am consistently amazed at how many free resources there are on the Internet and elsewhere for people to learn just about any skill they’d like. In my case, I made the decision that I wanted to take a stab at laying out my own book instead of hiring a professional to do it for me. Admittedly, this plan was derived from equal parts thriftiness and thirst for knowledge, but I ended up creating something I was really proud of. That’s why I think it’s worth it for authors to at least look into doing some of the tasks required to take their project from a manuscript to an actual book.
Before deciding to tackle the interior design of my book, I had never used Adobe InDesign. In my research on book design I found many sources saying InDesign was a popular option for professionals. Of course, these same users advised that it was not a program beginners should attempt to use for their own books. Clearly I ignored that advice and instead downloaded my free trial and sought out a few tutorials on YouTube. Little by little, I was able to put all the elements in place to create my book… although it did take some patience on my part. Since then I’ve convinced a couple of friends to take on the same task for their books and they’ve been very pleased with the results. So, if you want to save some money on publishing your book and are willing to learn something new, I say it’s definitely worth trying.
Tip #3: Invest in ISBNs
When I published The E-Ticket Life, Createspace not only offered the same free ISBN that they currently do but also sold a $10 upgrade to a “custom ISBN,” allowing you to use your own publishing imprint name to appear on Amazon and other sites. Sadly, that deal is now deceased and authors who wish to list their own publishing company will need to purchase ISBNs. This is a real bummer as just one ISBN currently goes for $125. That said, you also have the option to purchase 10 ISBNs for just $295. Therefore, if you have any intention of writing more books or releasing different editions of your title (each edition needs its own number, including audiobooks), it definitely makes sense to invest in the 10 pack.
Tip #4: Make it an Ebook
These days, more and more readers are consuming content on e-readers and tablet devices. As a result, you should strongly consider creating an ebook version of your printed book or perhaps even just making your title an ebook exclusive. First, the costs of creating an ebook are typically far lower than creating a physical book — there are even ways you can even convert a Word file into an ebook within minutes. Even better, since printing and shipping aren’t factors in ebooks, they also provide authors much better margins. In fact, depending on how you price you book, you can retain 70% of the list price (minus a “delivery fee” based on file size) when your ebook is sold on Amazon. For this reason and many more, having an ebook is a must.
Tip #5: Find Partners to Contests
Once your book (and/or ebook) is ready to reach the world, you’ll want to brainstorm ways you can get the word out and drive sales. One popular way of doing this is to create contests where you give away free copies of your book as prizes. Of course, while you can certainly run your own contests through social media or your website, often times partnering with others can have a much greater effect.
For example, since The E-Ticket Life was all about the Disney theme parks, I reached out to some Disney fan podcasts to see if they’d like to give away copies of the book on their show. This gave me an easy way to reach my target audience and only cost me the price of a couple of books and shipping. I’d recommend anyone to do the same, whether you choose to partner with podcasts, websites, or social media influencers. Plus, if you use iBooks, you can even generate free promo codes to give away that won’t cost you anything.
I hope you found these five tips helpful and continue on the road to writing and publishing your own book. For a more in-depth look at the entire process, including tips for managing your manuscript, the many elements that make up a printed book, the benefits of e-publishing, and ideas for marketing your title, check out my new e-book Write, Print, Publish, Promote — now available on Amazon and iBooks.