Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Self-Publish Your Novel In Seven Steps

Let's say that you have a completed novel on your computer, but it is just a file on your PC. You now want to share it with the world, but you don't know the first thing about self publishing.  What do you do?

You're in luck!  I've put together the following guide based on my own self-publishing experience to help you get your books onto all major ebook websites.  It is no small task, but with some time and dedication, you can do it!

7 Steps to Self Publishing

Step 1: Ensure that your book is e-reader friendly by formatting it properly. There's a website called Smashwords that provides a free Smashwords Style Guide that you can read online. It will show you how to properly format margins, indents, font size, font type, pre-book legal crap, and just about everything else you'll need.  Click the link above, scroll down, and you can either download it to your e-reader or read the guide in your browser.

Step 2: This can be done at the same time as you do step one. Get a cover artist. If you're a talented artist, go ahead and create something original. But if you're like me and have zero artistic skill, hire an artist to do work for you. There are a number of different sites where you can find artists; I found mine at deviantArt. There's also a site called Flip City Books that does covers for indie authors.

Step 3: Once your manuscript is ready and you've got your cover, submit your work to's Kindle Direct Publishing for distribution on You will need to convert your manuscript from Word format to HTML format, but that's simple; just select "Save as Web Page" from Word's "Save As" dialogue. For the other e-retailers, I personally use Smashwords is great because they will distribute your work to a plethora of other ebook sites like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony ReaderStore, the iBookstore, and a few others. They take a small percentage of your sales (they usually take about $0.18 from each book I sell) and the rest is yours.

*Note: After I published, Barnes and Noble released their own ebook publishing site for users to publish directly with them. I haven't used it myself, so I don't know anything about how it works.  Feel free to check it out, though - I've heard good things.

Step 4: Create a website, Twitter, and facebook author page. This is how you can hype/promote your book and keep in touch with your readers. I don't know much about website design (although I'm taking classes!), so I just use blogger for my site (obviously). Facebook allows you to create author-specific pages, so you can keep your personal profile separate from your author page. Link any pages together so that readers can find you, and put all links at the end of each book you publish so that readers can find more of your work after finishing the book they purchased.

When posting content to these pages, it is important to vary your material.  If all you post over and over again is, "Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!" people will stop visiting.  A variety of interesting and useful content will help you build a following.

Step 5:  Join Triberr. It's a site where you can connect with other indie authors who will share your work on their sites/twitters/facebook pages and you can share theirs on yours to create cross-promotional web traffic.  This has dramatically increased traffic to my site.  Just by posting this blog entry, Triberr will add it to our group feed, and other members will then share the link on their twitter and/or facebook accounts.

Step 6: Join author groups. There is a group on facebook called Indie Writers Unite that has been nothing but helpful, friendly, and constructive. They're great people in a very critical industry, and that's really hard to find.  There are lots of other sites to connect with authors as well, like the Nookboards, the Kindleboards, and Amazon's own KDP Support Forums.

Step 7: Promote. Lots of other authors will hold interviews on their sites - request an interview. Interview people for your own site. Submit your work to review sites - there's a good directory of reviewers for Indie authors at Indie Book Reviewer.  Post snippets of your work to your site. Provide snippets for other sites. There are tons of things you can do to get your work out there. Run promotions - Smashwords allows you to create discount coupons to give to readers).

*IMPORTANT: Spamming any forums and webpages related to reading/writing is not an effective method of promotion.  It comes across as amateur and often annoys more people than it attracts.  However, there are specific facebook pages, twitter feeds, reddit pages, and other forums that are set up specifically for book promotions.  Use them to your heart's content!


After you've done all that, write a new book and repeat! :) I know it looks like a lot of work (and it is) but the first time you get an email from a reader telling you that your book taught them something or inspired them or was just a great piece of work, the effort will seem minimal.

However, on the flip side of that, you'll also have people tell you that your work sucks. It happens. Just about all e-book sites give readers the ability to preview the book, so it's not like they don't have a chance to see what they're getting. Also, many authors have varying opinions of what is "art." Some will argue that everything needs to be grammatically proper. Some will say otherwise. My response to that is simple: If I'M happy with my work, then that's good enough for me.

Best of luck to you.  If you have any questions, feel free to either leave them in the comments section of this blog or use the "Contact" button at the top right of this page.

God bless,

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Have you seen Leanpub? We help with steps #1 and #4, we're free to use, and we have a really nice workflow for generating books. We really think along the same lines about getting feedback from readers, etc, and have built a clean workflow to enable this for books while they're in-progress.

    -Peter Armstrong
    Cofounder, Leanpub