Tips for Self-Publishing a Book

These are some tips for people who are in the middle of writing a book or thinking about writing a book. This is based on my own experience in doing editorial designs of books for various platforms, mostly in print. I am also basing this shortlist on some short stories writing tips that I hope I have.

Over the years, I have noticed that making a novel is not only hard but expensive to do by yourself but it is not unheard of to do. Within a traditional publishing house, a lot of the services that go with editing, publishing and marketing the book are all done in house. This is not the case when it is self-published. This list is based on doing it completely on your own.

When writing your story

Take a writing course if you want more information on how to write a specified style.
This might help you understand the style of writing you would like to write in. For example, write a story in the style of a graphic novel or a play take some classes at a close by higher learning centre like a college or university. Or online like on (now LinkedIn Learning), Udemy, Skillshare, Masterclass or Coursera.

Writing a book will take some time with a lot of rewrites.
A lot of books go through a lot of rewrites, either to fix a story or the grammar. No biggie, everyone goes through that.

Write notes on things you would like to add into your story.
This was recommended to me when I took up screenplay writing to keep a small notebook with you to write down interesting things when they come up. These are ideas, characteristics for a character, things you find funny or important to your overall story or details that writing it down when thought up saves time when you try to remember them later.

Write your story in a word processor application like Microsoft Word.
This is a standard writing application that can service many types of styles of writing. But this is also an application that is easy to use, easy to find and can save files as a TXT file so that you can keep backups to transfer to other programs.

You can hire an editor to edit your work.
Most books have some sort of error in them that a second glance like an editor could pick up. You can use editor apps like Grammarly, Hemingway App, Reverso, ProWritingAid or Sapling as a helper to your writing but it really doesn’t replace re-reading your work in a constructive and unattached matter. Just remember before you print your book it should be free of all errors from grammatical to format. This will take time to do correctly which will add to the professionalism of the work. Before publishing, your book should be flawless.

When designing your book

Invest in an editorial design app.
This could be with Microsoft Publisher has a starter program. But I recommend Adobe InDesign as an industry standard and is vastly used everywhere. But there’s also Quark Express, iStudio Publisher, Blurb, Lucidpress or FlipHTML5 if you choose an online root. I will say most will recommend that you would hire a professional to design the inside of the book because there’s a lot of things that can go wrong and be frustrating designing something for sale while learning a new program plus the aesthetics would look sharper. But I am not going to discourage you. I am going to say learn the program first with some practice exercises before testing it out on your novel. A tutorial book or a six-week class will help bring you up to snuff with what you really need out of the program.

You can choose between print media and online reading.
Print still exists and online can be very convenient. It’s up to you if you would like to publish your story online or make it for print. Just keep note that there is a difference between print design and online design for editorial work. With print design, getting a test print of your book is recommended to see what it could look like even with the cover. The printer is not really there to proofread your work for grammar errors or plot holes but to print the book well.

For digital, it may be easier to publish a book online than going to print.
It will cost less than printing a cap amount of books for distribution. They are many types of digital self-publishing format routes to take like Aggregators (Google Play, Apple Books), Retailers (Amazon, Kobo) or Educators (an educator may offer a downloadable PDF file of their book.) E-Book design applications like Vellum, Blurb, Adobe InDesign, FlipHTML5 or Draft2Digital could be a route to take for digital design.

If you are designing the book , keep the product size in mind like the size of the book and page numbers.
Most books are sized in very economic ways when you think about when you would be reading them. A drug store novel can be pocket size because it’s for travel. A coffee table book is large because it’s to place on a coffee table for aesthetics. If the book is a horror story with no pictures and is only text then a large textbook size book might be too experimental depending on what you wrote. You can go experimental with your design but keep in mind that the book has to be functional a.k.a readable and usable.

For print, there are multiple types of binding methods.
There are multiple types of binding methods to make a book. This all depends on the number of pages you are publishing in your book and the type of book you would like. If you wrote a book that’s only 50 pages, that may not be suitable for perfect binding but for saddle stitch binding.

Most print book pages are divisible by four.
This little rule only applies to most saddle stitch books. When these books are being set up for printing, a sheet of paper is folded in half making four sides to the sheet. If the book is short a page, a blank page would be added in by default. It’s best to design a book with pages divisible by four. You can figure out if you need to add in more pages by taking the number of pages you have and divide it by four. If you have a 52-page book then divide it by four and get 13.5 then add two more pages.

The cover of the book and title are also important.
It doesn’t take away from the content written in the book but part of marketing the book for sale and distinction is a catchy cover. It’s how you know what’s inside of the book. You can design a text base 80’s style cover yourself but you may be interested to have an illustrator or designer whip up something for the cover. It will not only look professional for sale but it may be interesting to have an illustrator or designer whip up something for the cover. They can be found on Fiverr, Craigslist, Upwork or for people with some computer skills in editorial design.

Don’t forget your ISBN number.
If you plan on selling the book to others either online or in print, this number must be in the book near the beginning of the book. ISBN is an abbreviation to International Standard Book Number. It’s a 13 digit number printed on the inside of the book in full under the publisher’s information and has a barcode on the back cover to identify the book. It’s necessary as an identifier to the book that can only be used once. It’s a unique number only given to the book. Getting a number is unique in every country and distribution compliance, try Googling it see how.

When selling your book

Independent book stores and book fairs could help you sell your books.
Some independent self publishers do tend to have a table at a book fair or try to sell their books on a shelf in an independently owned book store. The directors and owners of these establishments may want to read your book or have a blurb ready about the book.

Consider having a marketing plan.
Consider having an email signup sheet at your booth so that you can do email marketing to them when the event is over. Social media like Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram are also good to have to help market your book. Book reviews by critics may open you up to others in a new market. Learning keywords in the Amazon description to bring people to your page. A Google Adsense for your book for promotion. Print posters about the book for independent shops and events. Also, consider having a website with a splash page about the book. Or an audiobook by the author if you think you have a great reading voice (this is also harder than you think to do well.) These are all considerations to try and all are not necessary at once. Do the ones you are comfortable with.

Not everyone writes the next great classic novel the first time around.
There’s a good chance your books may not be the next best seller but it’s good to have your ideas out there. It’s hard and a little scary to put your ideas out in a very judgmental world would nitpick at every little thing that they feel entitled to do. That’s a part of the art world. Everyone nitpicks.

Don’t expect to see some gains after one year of marketing.
Think of it this way, if you wrote and published a story for this Christmas (like six months before it’s supposed to be sold), you may not see much of a profit. Until the one year of marketing you would be doing for the book social media posts, printed ads, book store signings then by next Christmas some profit may be made (maybe.) The twelve months of exposure may make people discover the book.

Also, your family may not read the book.
Remember the reason why you wrote the book. It may be for yourself which is fine to do. They may be too busy to read the book or not their cup of tea. That should be fine, too. Just say thank you when they do read the book.

2 comments on “Tips for Self-Publishing a Book

  1. I have books on Amazon but am wondering about the other places you mention. I’ll write them down. Writing takes time.


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