Sunday, October 7, 2012

How should we get started with self-publishing?

A guest post by Sarah Rexman:

Getting a book published can be a long, uphill battle. After facing dozens of rejections, you may start thinking that you just don’t have what it takes – that maybe you weren’t really meant to be an author after all. The reality is that much more than talent determines whether your book will be accepted by a traditional publisher, including market trends, the timing, and even the person who happens to pick up your book from the slush pile.

You don’t have to wait for all these elements to align and get accepted by a traditional publisher in order to be published. With the increasing popularity of e-readers, many authors are finding success publishing their own books and selling them to readers directly.

Here’s what you need to know about how to get started with self-publishing to realize your dream of becoming a published author:

Choose an Outlet

There are many sites that sell self-published e-books, including giants Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu. Each of these sites has a different user base and different rules for how to format, upload, and distribute content. They also offer different models for compensation, with different commission rates based on the parameters you choose for selling your book.

Take the time to get to know each of these sites and decide if you want to sell on one of them or all of them and what the advantages and disadvantages will be.

Format Your Book

Once you know where you intend to sell your book, you can figure out how to properly format it. Each site will have its own guidelines for formatting the book, and it may take you awhile figuring out how to get your book just right to meet those guidelines.

You will also need to design a creative cover for your book. If you aren’t able to design the cover yourself, you can hire a freelance designer to create one for you.

Get Reviews

Good reviews will help you build buzz around your book and sell more copies. You can get more reviews for your book by sending it to bloggers, book reviewers for local publications, and even to family and friends.

While it is OK to ask for reviews from family and friends, you should be careful not to influence the content of those reviews. If your readers suspect that your reviews are not honest, they may reject your book.

Market Your Book

In addition to getting good reviews for your book, you must also market it to build buzz and promote sales. You can start a blog, host contests in which you give away copies of your book, or even buy online advertising to promote your book.

Don’t stop at formal marketing. Be prepared to talk up your book to anyone you meet. Carry business cards with information about your book. The next time someone asks you what you do, tell them that you’re a published author and hand them your business card.

Publishing your own book is not a difficult process, but it will take the same kind of dedication it took for you to write your book in the first place. When you’re finished, you will be able to say that you are a published author and can find success on your own terms.

Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Florida State, with a degree in environmental science.  Her current focus for the site involves researching updated websites.

Addendum by Winton

Sarah’s offer of a guest post on this topic came at an opportune time since I am currently considering publication options for the book I am writing.

Self-publishing seems to me to be an attractive option for the reasons Sarah mentions, but also because it gives authors greater control of the process. I recently learned that authors often don’t even have much say over the titles for their books when they use traditional publishers.

The main considerations for me in choosing a method of self-publishing are to obtain a professional-looking product, access to the main sites that sell e-books and a small print run, while containing costs.

Jim Belshaw had some relevant discussion on his blog a few weeks ago.  Jim suggested that it might be worth considering use of an aggregator, such Australian e-book publisher (AEP) to put content into the right form and arrange for its lodgment with the e-store.  As Jim says, a price has to be paid for this, but it makes things simpler. Since AEP offers a range of different services it would not be necessary to get them to take over the whole publishing exercise.

Another option I am thinking about is the use of Dpublishing, which has links to Dymocks book stores. Dpublishing seems to provide good guidance on formatting etc and makes it easy to also have a printed version of the book. The downside is that Dymocks does not have links to Amazon, so I would need to arrange separately to get the book in suitable form to be sold on Kindle.


In the end I decided to publish the book as a Kindle eBook at Amazon. My comments can be found in a later post.

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