How to Self-Publish a Book, Without Going Broke

Remember when you didn’t hold the power to publish in your pocket? It was barely eight years ago when the debut of the smartphone transformed ordinary people into media creators. Suddenly, anyone could instantly create and broadcast content to the world through social media. Even before that, blogging platforms like WordPress had given us the power to create our own blogs and niche media outlets.

The ability to publish a book was similarly democratized when ebookstores like Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks and others opened their doors to self-published authors and print-on-demand options like CreateSpace and IngramSpark also became available. Rising up to meet this market, tools like our platform, Pressbooks.com, were created to overcome the one remaining hurdle for everyday authors: formatting a book–a task that previously required a graphic designer and an ebook developer.

But the ability to self-publish a book is only democratized if it doesn’t cost thousands for you as an indie author to enter the market. Now, it doesn’t, as long as you take advantage of the new tools to do it yourself. After all, if you invest thousands to self-publish a book that might be priced at $2.99, you’ve got to sell a lot of books before you can profit.

Not being aware of these tools, some authors pay intermediaries to format their book, either spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, or giving up a cut of their royalties, both of which are costly and unnecessary propositions.

There are some parts of the self-publishing process that make sense to pay a professional for, to be sure, but there are other aspects where investing a few hours of your own time will pay dividends in helping you retain future earnings and turn a profit sooner.

At Pressbooks, we wrote a book that will help you tell the difference. The Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing explains how to self-publish, affordably and easily. In it, we cover:

  1. Writing (You got this!)
  2. Editing (Spoiler! This is one place where you probably should enlist a professional. We run down how to find the right editor.)
  3. Book interior formatting (We’ll show you how to save thousands.)
  4. Covers (We think the primary marketing tool for your book is worth a few hundred bucks.)
  5. Distribution (Handling this aspect yourself is one way to speed up your book’s availability, get paid fast, retain all your royalties and have direct access to your sales reports. There’s a learning curve, and an initial investment of time getting your publisher profiles set up, but after that, it only takes a few minutes to upload your book into each bookstore.)
  6. Marketing (This is just no longer optional for successful authors, even if your book is picked up by a traditional publisher.)
Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing Book Cover
The Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing

I won’t rehash the book in its entirety here, but I recommend reading it before deciding how to self-publish your book. The ebook version is available to download free at selfpublishing.pressbooks.com. If you prefer print, you can buy the paperback on Amazon.

Let us know what you think, and let us know what you still want to know–what did we leave out? In today’s publishing landscape (especially if you’re using Pressbooks) it’s easy and nearly instantaneous to revise and reissue a manuscript, so we plan to update the book periodically.

Elizabeth Mays is the marketing manager for Pressbooks.com and the author of The Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing. She is also a self-published author, with several books in Kindle and CreateSpace. Follow her @theeditress

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