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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!?
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:
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?
Costs unique to traditional publishing:
Costs unique to self-publishing:
Essential element of publishing:
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.
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.
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 Templates: Don'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!
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:
Here's what you need:
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
Amazon has made this process pretty straightforward. Most fields are self-explanatory. Here are the steps to follow:
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.
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."
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!
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
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.
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.
Much like, Kindle, the fields are mostly self-explanatory:
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: Before you go into your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account, remember to log out of all other Amazon accounts first.
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.
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.
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.