The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing
For Writers Who Are Tired Of Being Ripped Off!!

Tina Konstant - Your Host at the Writing Publishing Lodge

Introduction

Why did I write this guide?

I wrote this guide because you and I have a lot in common: I'm also a writer who's tired of being ripped off and made to believe that the technical process of self-publishing is expensive and complicated.

It's NOT!! In fact, if you do it all yourself, it's completely free!

Of course, doing it yourself does take time and requires a bit of knowledge, but that's what this guide is for.

So WELCOME to The Ultimate Guide to Publishing For Writers
Who Are Tired Of Being Ripped Off!!!

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for writers who want to self-publish on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Do you need a bit of technical know-how? To be honest, if you can type your book into a computer, you can probably get your book published on Amazon. As far as possible I've provided you with templates, so you shouldn't have much to create from scratch.

So, be calm and put the kettle on. Join The Lodge is you haven't already. In the welcome email, you'll find a link to The Lodge Facebook group where you can ask questions and chat with other folk doing exactly what you're doing.

What part of the Writing/Publishing process does this guide cover?

The primary purpose of this guide is to show you how to format your book, create your cover and load it onto Amazon (eBook and paperback). It doesn’t include writing or selling your book.

Tina Konstant at The Writing Publishing Lodge

Do you want a PDF of this web-page to read at your leisure?

The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing  For Writers Who Are Tired Of Being Ripped Off!
Three ways writers typically publish - health warning alert!!

There are four primary ways to publish (look out for the health warning!!). We'll take a brief look at each one, then look at the typical costs of getting your book into the world.

ONE: Traditional Publishing: When you go through a traditional publisher. The actual process is FREE! The publisher pays you an advance, actively sells your book and pays you royalties (mostly on an annual basis). The royalties you receive are typically 10-15%, but the publisher does most of the legwork post-publication and takes most of the business risk. 

TWO: Self-Publish: This is where you publish the book yourself on platforms like Amazon. This is FREE. FREE FREE FREE! It is free to get your book on Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords... you have to format it, provide a cover and submit it, but it’s FREE (did I say that often enough?). You are responsible for the sales effort, but you also get 60+% of the cost of the book depending on how you price your book. It’s more effort on your part, but you have more control.

The physical process of publishing shouldn't cost you.

THREE: Pay-to-publish packages - otherwise known as vanity publishing (HEALTH WARNING!!)If a "publishing" company says "Your book is wonderful. I will publish it for you. It will cost you $$$$$" then you are probably talking to a vanity publisher. These companies often look like traditional publishers but what they’re doing is charging you (sometimes thousands) to do what you can do for free. I’ve yet to find a pay-to-publish company who will do an incredible job of selling your book. Mostly, they take your money, get it on the shelves and then insist you "buy another package" if you want them to sell it for you. I have never met anyone who's made a profit from their book after going through a vanity publisher.

Book Sales and Promotion Companies

This is a grey area, and it's up to you to do your research and be very careful. There are some VERY GOOD and some VERY BAD Book Promotion Companies.

THE GOOD ONES: The primary focus of these businesses is to sell huge numbers of books by recognising that the author (and topic) has celebrity potential. These guys are not vanity publishers. They are rare and are often run by individuals who kick-butt in the book world. Their focus is on whether they think a book (and author) can make serious money. They tend to take on very few books a year because each book gets all their sales and marketing attention. It's very expensive to get your book published and sold through companies like this, but they will only take your book on if they are positive they can make money - which means you will too. But you won't sit on the sidelines if you go through this process! You'll be touring, talking, advertising, teaching, reading, moving and shaking. It takes effort. But can be worth it if you are that way inclined and you fit their criteria.

THE BAD ONES: The bad ones are vanity publishers in disguise - they promise sales but don't deliver.

The hard-core approach to book sales

So DO YOUR RESEARCH!! Please, please, PLEASE don't get caught in the vanity publishing trap. The language selling you these packages is very clever. They appeal primarily to authors who have submitted their books to traditional publishers and have been turned down over and over. They prey on your dreams and hopes and wishes. Most of them don't care if your book sells or not. They'll be taking your money up front.

So instead of falling for vanity publishing, ask WHY your book is being turned down. Is there no market for it? Is it badly written? Is it badly presented? If your book keeps getting knocked back. Ask WHY!?

What might it cost to get your book to publication?

So, if the actual process of publishing costs nothing, 

what might cost you Rands, Dollars, Pounds, Euros or Yen?

Assuming you're not going the vanity publishing route (where you pay to have someone publish your work), here are the possible costs to getting a book out. ALL these costs are optional. There is always a free way to do stuff.

You might need the following regardless of the publishing route you take:

Get a Beta Reader to read for you!
  • Beta Readers: You can either get someone you know to do this for you or get an official beta reader to review your book. If you've had your head in your work for months or years, you're almost certainly too close to see issues. A good beta reader is someone who is in your target market (get a teenager to read YA, for instance) and who (ideally) doesn't love you! You want a beta reader to be honest. Otherwise, you'll be no further ahead!

    Here's the definition of a beta reader from Wikipedia: "A beta reader is a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing (similar to beta testing in software), giving feedback with the angle of an average reader to the author about remaining issues. A beta reader is a non-professional reader who can give an uncoloured opinion of an average reader. The feedback is used by the writer to iron out remaining overall issues with plot, pacing and consistency. The beta read also serves as a target audience test to see whether the book has the intended emotional impact and feel."
  • Proofreading: Don't skimp on this!!! Few things annoy readers more and scream out "self-published-newbie" than typos in your book. Get a professional to do this for you. 
Pro Tip from The Lodge

PRO TIP!
To make sure you deliver the best possible manuscript to your editor (and possibly reduce costs), install Grammarly on your computer. It's an excellent editing tool.

Don't skim on proofreading
Tina's Personal Publishing Philosophy
Tina's Philosophy on Writing and Publishing

If you know how to sell your books you will:
1) write more and
2) write better.

WHY? Because you'll know what to do with the book when it's done! If you have no clue how to sell your book (or even whether there's a market for it) there's a high chance you'll never get your book finished. Make sense?

  • Author website: This is a good thing to have at some point. It's an awesome way to showcase your work. But if you're choosing between finishing and publishing your book, then marketing it (and your time is limited) then I'd leave the author website for now.

    Besides, if you're writing under a number of different pen names then do you really want or need a WEBSITE for each one?? No.

    What will you need? You'll need a social media presence and a landing page attached to an email collection system like MailChimp. This is verging on books sales and marketing and outside the remit of this guide. So if you haven't yet joined The Writing Publishing Lodge, then click here to join because all the emails you receive will be about books selling strategies. Why?? See my Personal Publishing Philosophy...
  • Advertising (Facebook ads, Amazon ads): Almost all advertising will cost, and can cost a lot if you get it wrong. So before you go down this route, do your research, know who your target audience is, know the rules, set a budget (!!!!) and go play. Again, this is creeping out of the remit of this guide, so I'll stop here... For on sales, join The Lodge, read the emails as they come your way and get involved with the Facebook Group chat.

Costs unique to traditional publishing:

  • Stamps, printing and envelopes (can't really avoid these - most agents/publisher want hard copies).
  • Tea, coffee, patience, persistence, dedication, cakes, a shoulder to cry on when things take too long or don't go according to plan, support from people you love, a stonking great party if all your hard work pays off 🙂

Costs unique to self-publishing:

  • Cover design (essential)
  • Book formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace (essential)
  • Hard copies for promotion which you can order directly from CreateSpace
  • Time, tea, cake, coffee and perhaps something stronger!!!

Essential element of publishing:

A Publishing Essential
Top three mistakes most self-published authors make?
  1. Most self-published writers do not research their market before they start to write. They choose a topic they like (which is fine) but if hardly anyone is buying books on your topic, then accept that you're writing for passion and not commerce. If you want to make money from your books (especially non-fiction), then find out what people's problems are and make sure your book solves that problem. If you're writing fiction, then again, see what your competition is doing. If you choose a little-known, tight genre, then accept that huge sales might be more difficult to achieve.
  2. Most self-published authors don't get feedback early and often - or at all. This applies to authors in general! If you don't get feedback regularly, you could easily spend months or years on your book without realising it's flawed. I've been there and done that. It's hard to work on a book for two years, LOVE IT, only to find out the plot if broken and you have to start again. Whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, GET FEEDBACK often.
  3. Most self-published authors don't realise what it takes to sell a book. Most self-published authors sit back and relax once their book is live on Amazon. That, my most awesome fellow-writer, is where the real work begins. The competition is HUGE! So, you have two options: 1) You can hide in your writing cave and write your next book, load it onto Amazon, and move onto your next book or 2) You can do everything known to humankind to sell your book, build a mailing list for fans, sell your first book, write your next book and then sell your next book directly to the fans you attracted through your first book!! Whaaaaat!

    It's not easy. Sales takes effort. But it's also blessed by the wonderful and mighty Snowball Effect. 

Part 1: So your book is finished! Now what?

Your self-publishing checklist

So... now that you have an idea about where you might want to publish and what it should or shouldn't cost you. Click here for a checklist that will give you an overview of the whole process.

It contains more than just writing and publishing your book, but that's okay. It's good to have an overview of where you are and what needs to be done.

I've left it editable so you can refine it based on your progress through the publishing process.

Self-Publishing Checklist from The Writing Publishing Lodge - Tina Konstant
You're ready to publish - where to now?
Idea to Publication Road Map from Tina Konstant

Now it's time to choose which way you want to go: Self-Publish or Traditional. Here's a road map from idea to publication. Go to STEP FOUR to see what each avenue will take.

There is no bad decision. You can start out going traditional, then change to self-publish. You can also decide to self-publish, then go for a traditional deal. 

The only bad choice is to come this far and quit.

Part 2: Interior templates for your Kindle and CreateSpace books

Kindle and CreateSpace interior templates
General formatting guidelines

You're going to visit this page a lot, but I thought it'd be better to keep all the templates together.

Kindle Templates: I've included an A4 and an A5 template on this page. For some reason, the A5 template just come out better. I might be imagining things. Don't do anything fancy. Just populate the template.

CreateSpace TemplatesDon't mess with these at all! They work beautifully. When you paste your book into the template, you might have to reset some of the formatting, but DO NOT change the margins!

Pro Tip from The Lodge

IMPORTANT!
If you get stuck, click here for the "get in touch" form, let me know what you need and I'll see what I can do to help.

  1. Don't get fancy with fonts. Use Time Roman font, size 12.
  2. Make the whole document single space.
  3. Put TWO spaces at the end of each chapter for Kindle books.
  4. Indent each paragraph by .2". Any bigger and it just looks odd.
  5. The first paragraph of each chapter MUST NOT be indented.
  6. Don't include page numbers, headers or footers in Kindle books.
  7. Include hyperlinks, but for key links - to your website, for instance - don't only embed them (like this), write them in full, like this: https://www.thewritingpublishinglodge.com. That way if the link breaks, the reader can still find your site.
  8. Check the hyperlinks in the table of contents work!!

Part 3: How to create beautiful book covers

Build your Kindle cover

Now, here's the deal... a professional cover creator will use all sorts of wonderful software to create an exquisite cover for you. But if you want to create a simple cover (and you have an eye for shape, colour and design) then have a shot at creating your own.

Here's what you need:

  1. Go to www.Canva.com and create an account.
  2. Go to www.Pixaby.com and create an account (or use whatever royalty free photo site you like.
  3. Go to Google and do a search for "best book covers" or something like that, then look under images. Study the covers. How are they laid out? Where does the font sit? What font does the designer use? How do the covers make you feel?
  4. Go to Canva and have a crack at building your cover!
  5. If you get stuck, click here for the "get in touch" form, let me know what you need.
Build your CreateSpace cover

Here's what you need:

  1. You'll need the cover you created for Kindle in www.Canva.com.
  2. You might need additional images. So go back to www.Pixaby.com or whatever image site you like.
  3. As you did with your Kindle cover, go to Google and do a search for "best book back covers" or something like that, then look under images and this time, study back covers. How are they laid out? What's on them? What font and images are used? What does the spine look like?
  4. To build you cover, you'll need the cover template builder from CreateSpace.
  5. To pull it all together, you'll need PowerPoint.

If you get stuck, click here for the "get in touch" form, let me know what you need and I'll see what I can do to help.

Covers I love and why...
Amazing Book Covers - Cannibal

At a single glance, this cover makes my skin crawl. It generates a visceral reaction. It's also got that gorgeous contrast between love and loathing - fingers intertwined and skin peeling off. This book is on my reading list! Just because of the cover.

Amazing Book Covers - Dinner

This cover tells me up front that things aren't going to go well. The font looks like a hand-written invitation I might receive for a dinner I might not survive. I get the sense that this isn't just a social disaster, there's likely to be corpse involved! My kind of read 🙂

Amazing Book Covers - It

This is my favourite "It" cover. It reaches into my guts and pulls out my childhood nightmares: shadows under the bed, hands in the dark, balloons bursting in my face. The colour contrast is striking too: yellow and dirty red on black. The cover tells the story.

Amazing Book Covers - Swing Time

This cover has a rhythm to it. I love how the font is a pendulum - keeping time. It doesn't give me much of an idea of what the book is about, but the colours, the shapes and the angles all made this cover stand out from the crowd.

Part 4: How to load your book to Amazon (Kindle and Paperback)

Tab 1: Kindle eBook details

Amazon has made this process pretty straightforward. Most fields are self-explanatory. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to the Amazon you buy books from (UK, USA an so on...). At the bottom of any Amazon page, you'll see a bank of links. Under "Make Money With Us" you'll find "Self-Publish with Us" or "Independently Publish with Us". Each country has slightly different wording. Click that link. It will take you to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
  2. If you already have an account, sign in. If you don't, create an account.
  3. Click on Kindle eBook
  4. Fill in the form. It's self-explanatory. Some points to note:
    1. Series: If your book is part of a series, make sure you add the name EXACTLY as it is with the other books (spaces, capital letters, spelling and all). One single error and your books won't show up together.
    2. Description: Use as much of the 4000 character limit as you can. HINT: Keep it in third person - even if it's a memoir. First person yells out "Self-Published". 
    3. Keywords: Follow the guidelines on choosing your keywords. Remember that Amazon is just a big search engine. It relies on keywords, your description and your title/subtitle to find your books. If your keywords have nothing to do with your book, folk either won't find it, or they will, but won't buy it.
Pro Tip from The Lodge

HEADS UP: When you log into KDP you will see that you have the option to load BOTH your Kindle eBook and your paperback in KDP. This is GOOD!! Rumour has it that CreateSpace will be closing soon, so this will be the way to go. But for now, we'll focus on Kindle.

Tab 2: Load your eBook content (cover and interior)

Once your basic details are in, you'll be taken to the Kindle eBook Content section. Here, you simply load up your manuscript and your cover.

TYPOS: KDP will scan your book and let you know if there are any typos.

Make sure you review your book in the "Kindle eBook Previewer". It'll help show you if there are any formatting issues. It will also show you what your book will look like on different devices.

DRM (Digital Rights Management): Here's Amazon's explanation of what DRM is all about: "DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorised distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work and choose not to have DRM applied to their book. If you choose DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store. Important: Once you publish your book, you cannot change its DRM setting."

Do you need an ISBN for your Kindle eBook?
ISBN Structure

Short answer: NO. An ISBN is used to track books. Amazon doesn't use that system to track eBooks within its environment. It uses an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) which it will provide for you book FOR FREE. If you do have an ISBN number for your eBook, go ahead and use it, but make sure it's different to the one you use for your paperback.

Other than tracking books, ISBNs are used to generate market reports on book sales and all. But whether you publish on Amazon or Apple, each platform has its own sales reporting system that allows you to see how your book is doing. So don't go spending on and ISBN if you don't want to.

Once you're happy with your upload, click Save and Continue to move onto pricing!

Tab 3: Pricing

There are a few things to think about in this section:

KDP Select: KDP Select is an Amazon promotion tool. If you tick the box next to "Enroll my book in KDP select", your book will be entered into Amazon's book promotion programme. Some people love this, and some don't. The thing to remember is that when you put your book into KDP, you have to leave it there for 90 days and during those 90 days, you are NOT ALLOWED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES to sell your book on any other platform (including directly from your website). You can promote your book anywhere, but when a buyer clicks the link, it must take them to Amazon.

Territories: If you wrote the book, then select "All territories" because the book is yours and you own it everywhere.

Royalties: To help you decide on the best price, definitely click on "Kindle Pricing Support". This will show you the price other books in your genre are priced at and where your highest earning potential is.

Then, select 70% royalty plan!

The prices always start with US Dollars. Put your price into the field, then click "Other Markets" to see what that US Dollar price translates to in other currencies, and more important, what your royalty will be from each sale.

Matchbook: This is a pretty cool feature. It gives your fans the option to buy your Kindle book for less if they've already bought your paperback.

Book Lending: As a reader, I love this. Just as well, because if you're on the 70% royalty plan, Amazon locks you into the Book Lending plan too.

THEN CLICK PUBLISH

Then Click Publish!
Relatively New... Load paperback directly in KDP! 

You will then be given the option to create your paperback. If that's what you want to do, then click that link and fill in the from JUST as you did for your eBook. The great thing is that most of the fields will be pre-populated based on what you put into your Kindle upload. It's that EASY!

NOTE: I'm in the process of moving some books over to KDP from CreateSpace - I'll update this section if I find issues along the way.

Part 5: How to load your book to CreateSpace

HOT NEWS!!!!! Well... not really HOT news, it's been around for a while. There are stories that CreateSpace is closing down soon. This is OK! Don't worry!! You'll be able to load digital AND paperbacks on Kindle Direct Publishing. I'm just testing it now, so hang tight. I'll update this page as soon as I have more information. 

In the meantime... here's how you upload your book to CreateSpace if that's the path you want to go down.

Setting your book up in CreateSpace

Much like, Kindle, the fields are mostly self-explanatory:

  1. Go to CreateSpace.com and create your account if you don't have one, or log in!
  2. You will be taken to your Member Dashboard.
  3. Click the blue button: Add New Title
  4. Put in the name of your book, select paperback, then click the blue button next to "Guided" 
  5. You will be taken through a series of sections starting with SETUP where you'll simply add your title, ISBN, interior and cover. Some points to make note of:

    SERIES: As with Kindle, if your book is part of a series, make sure the spelling of the series name is EXACTLY like the others.
    INTERIOR: Although KDP prefers a .pdf, you can load a normal .doc in CreateSpace.
    COVER: The cover you load into CreateSpace MUST be a .pdf (KDP prefers .jpg)
  6. Once your setup is complete, your book will go for review. This can take anything from 24-72 hours. So be patient. There's nothing you can do until the job is done - except set up distribution and pricing...
Distribution and pricing
  1. Distribution: You will be offered a selection of distribution channels. Select the ones you want. I tend to choose EVERYTHING!
  2. Pricing: Again, like Kindle, the prices start out in USD. Unlike KDP, there are no royalty brackets. CreateSpace will tell you how much your book will cost to print and deliver; you get the rest. Set your price - but be realistic. Don't price based on "What you want to be paid", price based on what your book will actually sell for. If you are a new author and you try to sell your paperback for $20. It's unlikely to fly.
  3. Cover: Choose Matte or Glossy, then click through to the description page. A few things to note here:

    DESCRIPTION: I always convert my description to .HTML. To do that easily, do a Google search for "Convert Word to HTML". You'll get a selection of free tools that will allow you to do that. The key is to make sure you stay within your character allowance. This might take some fiddling about, but just follow CreateSpace requests if you get any error messages. You can of course, keep you life simple, and just use plain text.
    CATEGORY: Choose this well. The category in which you place your book makes a huge difference to how easy it is for people to find your work.

Once again, you'll reach the "Your Files Are Still Being Reviewed" screen, and at this point, there is honestly nothing you can do except put the kettle on and wait until you get an email from CreateSpace saying your book is good to go.

If it isn't good to go!! Then following the instructions provided by CreateSpace to correct the errors in your submission.

Pro Tip from The Lodge

PRO TIP: Before you go into your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account, remember to log out of all other Amazon accounts first.

Part 6: Set up Author Central

When fans find your books, they want to know about you too. Your author page is a perfect place to show readers what else you do, add trailers and videos, your blog, upcoming events and more... So it's worth taking some time to set up your page properly.

  1. Do a search for Amazon Author Central and your country. If you don't add your country, you'll most likely get Amazon USA. That's OK, even if you don't live in the USA, you'll want an Author Page there anyway.
  2. Click through to your site and log in or create an account.
  3. When you're through, click on the Author Page. In that section you can add your biography, an RSS feed to your blog, upcoming events (keep these up to date), a photo of you and any trailers you want. In the biography, you can add your author site and links to your social media.
  4. Then go to the Books tab, check all your books are there, and if they're not, click Add more books and follow the instructions.
  5. The next tab has your Sales Info. Handy to keep an eye on things.
  6. And finally, your Customer Reviews. If readers give useful feedback in the reviews, it's worth noting them for when you write the next edition of the book.
Pro Tip from The Lodge

HEADS UP: Amazon in each country has its own Author Central. So, set up your Author Page in your home country, then go to Amazon Author Central in other countries you want to sell your book (UK, US, France, Germany...), and create profiles there too. It's a bit of a hassle, but you only have to do it once - in each location.

Be Brave, Be Bold, Be Beautiful, Be You!

THE END

Feel free to share and comment!

I hope this guide proves useful to you. Feel free to share this guide (social media buttons to the left) and comment below. I'll be updating this page throughout its lifetime to make sure it stays "The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing For Writers Who Are Tired Of Being Ripped Off!!"

AND MOST IMPORTANT... If you haven't yet joined The Writing Publishing Lodge, click here to join. We're all about books, writing and SELLING. In fact, I send out two to three emails each week and almost all of them are about how to sell books. Because that's what it's about, right? We work, we write, we edit, we strive... all to get our beautiful books into fans' hands.

It'll be great to have you on board.
Tina

Do you want a PDF of this web-page to read at your leisure?

The Ultimate Guide To Self-Publishing  For Writers Who Are Tired Of Being Ripped Off!

Leave a Comment:

6 comments
EtienneDutoy says 16th July 2018

Tina you have written a definitive easily accessed, well overdue in the digital world brilliant e-publishing guide. I can imagine that my IPhone is going to get dog eared as I keep referring back to it, using it as my guide and living updates and general bible to the industry of publishing my work. Thank you so so much vibe la updates and long may you reign as the purveyor of REAL help by REAL people so we can all get on being creative 😀🙏🏻 Truly phenomenal work!

Reply
    Tina Konstant says 16th July 2018

    Glad it useful!! As you dog-ear your iPhone send me questions so I can keep updating it. How to publish on Smashwords is next!

    Reply
Judith says 16th July 2018

Thank you for this – it is amazing! Helpful, clear and inspiring.

Reply
    Tina Konstant says 30th July 2018

    Glad the guide is useful, Judith! Shout if you have issues.

    Reply
mishmashbwb@gmail.com says 21st July 2018

Awesome information Tina. Thank you. I am busy SLOWLY working my way through it. The first problem encountered was trying to download the kindle kids book create. It cancelled-something about my system. So I will keep trying. Thank you for this very detailed guide!

Reply
    Tina Konstant says 30th July 2018

    Hey Michelle. Let me know how you get on with Kindle Kids Book Create. In fact, put a question to the Facebook group to see if anyone else has had issues, and if they have, what their fix was.

    Reply
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