How to Self Publish Your Book: 5 Critical Choices

Naturally, here at Pressbooks, we get a lot of questions from writers on how to self publish your book. Implicit in these is the assumption there’s only one linear way to do it–something that can be encapsulated into a quick, comprehensive one-sentence response. The reality is there are multiple routes to self-publishing, and many choices you’ll need to make along the way. Here are a few to consider:

1. Whether to Use a Self-Publishing Service

Yes, you can pay someone else to do every aspect of self-publishing for you. There are numerous companies out there designed to assist you in your self-publishing journey from editing to formatting to distribution, for the small sum of $10,000-$15,000. If you want your book to magically appear and be minimally involved in the process, and you have boundless funds to spend producing it, this might be worth considering. But understand you’re paying for the convenience of not being involved, and that may not be such a good thing. To be successful in publishing and marketing your book, you’re best off taking an active role, and paying people only for what you couldn’t do just as well yourself.

2. How to Hire a Book Cover Designer and Editor

If you’re a writer, chances are you don’t have the objectivity to edit your book or the skills to create a compelling cover design. There are many types of editing that need to be done, for instance. And print covers are especially complicated. The cover is critical to marketing your book, so we suggest hiring a professional, but at a reasonable rate. You can get everything you need relatively affordably at Octagon Lab. Or, get more suggestions on how to source a cover from our guide to self publishing.

3. How to Format Your Book

You can do this yourself, using Pressbooks.com. Paying someone to manually format your book or ebook instead of using Pressbooks is like paying someone to chisel on stone instead of using a computer. The exception is if your book is a picture book, or if you want 100% control over every design element in your book. If that control is worth several thousand dollars to you, you might want to commission a book designer or try learning InDesign. Otherwise, you can have 95% control of your book’s layout, without knowing anything about design or ebook development, for only $99 using Pressbooks.

4. Should You Use a Book Distributor or DIY?

There’s no rule about where to distribute your book. You can put it in Amazon only, or you can put it in Amazon plus all the other bookstores. Or just select a few bookstores. And you can put your book in each bookstore individually or do this through a distributor. So many choices–it’s overwhelming! The truth is, most ebookstores and print-on-demand venues are pretty easy to get your book into. There is a learning curve–the process takes a few hours the first time, and a few minutes the next. But spending the time may be worth it in order not to sacrifice long-term royalties. In general, you’ll need your book file, book metadata, cover image and banking/tax info to submit your book. The exception is iTunes, which is quite complicated. If iTunes is a critical channel for you, you may wish to consider a distributor, such as Smashwords or IngramSpark, which will also do print-on-demand distribution for you.

5. Who Should Market Your Book?

If you’re not good at marketing, you should probably try to get good, because no one is going to market your book as passionately as you would. Plus, marketing isn’t something you do just once in a blast–it’s an ongoing, integrated process, and retaining a marketing person for the long term isn’t cheap. Brush up on social media, blogging and DIY Web design and other marketing tools. We love the blogs by Hubspot, Buffer and Content Marketing Institute for help with this–they’re chock-full of relevant, useful tips.

If you’re looking for more help with self-publishing, we’ve written the book on it. You can download The Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing free at selfpublishing.presbooks.com. Or, buy the print version from Amazon.

Elizabeth Mays is the marketing manager for Pressbooks.com.

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