Have you ever dreamed of writing and publishing your own book? Intimidated by the process and/or not sure where to start? Well, with various self-publishing services now available, you can publish your very own book at little to no cost thanks to what’s called print-on-demand (POD).
I decided to write a book because I had something to share that I felt was insightful, something that will hopefully help enrich others’ lives. Plus, I always thought it would be cool to write my own book.
So how does one get started? Following are three easy steps…
#1: Create Content
It’s exciting to dream up cover design ideas and other details of the final product, but first and foremost, you need content. What is it that you’d like to share with the world? Who specifically is your target audience? Narrow down your idea so the book has some focus and doesn’t end up being a smorgasbord of random thoughts.
Once you’ve got the topic down, create an outline to organize your thoughts. It can be revised later after you begin writing, but at least pen a rough draft to provide some structure. This will come in handy as a reference guide as you write the book.
Next, start writing. It doesn’t have to be in sequential order. As you get time or feel inspired, just write and let the ideas flow. You can rearrange sentences/paragraphs and edit for grammar at a later time. For now, the goal is simply to get your thoughts onto paper. Don’t worry too much about length, either, as there’s no rule that says a book has to be x number of pages. Think quality over quantity.
After the draft of your book is done, review the content and see if you’d like to revise anything. It should have some logical flow to it. Then, read through it to ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors. If this isn’t a strong suit for you, hire an editor to review it. It might also help to have a family member or friend read it, as he/she might spot something you didn’t.
#2: Build It (And They Will Come)
If you decide to go the self-publishing route as I did, you need to sign up with a service. Some of the popular service providers include CreateSpace, Lulu, and IngramSpark. I went with CreateSpace since it’s owned by Amazon, so the following information will be CreateSpace-specific. However, the process shouldn’t be too far off with other providers.
Go to CreateSpace.com and create an account; there’s no cost for that. From the Member Dashboard, click on Add New Title to begin a project. Enter a name for your project (which doesn’t have to be the title of your book, but could be), and click the radio button for Paperback. Then click on Get Started right next to the Guided option, as this will walk you through the process step-by-step.
Now you can begin your project. Enter the basic information that is requested on the Title Information page. Go to the next page and have CreateSpace assign an ISBN for the book. If you have reason to, you can purchase your own ISBN separately and provide it to CreateSpace, but I went with the free option.
The following page — Interior — requires a bit more work. Select whether you want white or cream paper, as well as color or black & white print. After choosing your book size (i.e. length & width), download the formatted template. Then copy/paste all of your text into this template; go through it thoroughly to ensure everything looks correct. You can adjust the font type/size and spacing within the document. Once you’ve completed this, go back to the Interior page in CreateSpace and upload your document. You’ll have the option to review it online using a virtual book reader.
Then move onto the Cover page. You can use one of the templates provided by CreateSpace and make an okay-looking cover. If you’re creative and tech-savvy, I’d recommend designing your own cover. I made my own cover using Canva.com. Or, you can hire someone to create a cover for you via Fiverr.com.
Next, go to the Complete Setup page to submit your files to CreateSpace for review. After CreateSpace completes its review (typically within a day), you can and should order a proof copy of the book. It only costs a few dollars depending on the length of the book, but it will give you the opportunity to review the actual product before it goes on sale. If needed, you can make changes. Or if everything looks good, you can approve it.
Almost done! Now you can select the distribution channels, such as Amazon US & Europe, establish a price for the book, and enter a description. The more information and relevant keywords you enter, the better. As for pricing the book, you can use the built-in royalty calculator and play around with the numbers to determine a reasonable price. You can also look at similar books on Amazon and see how they’re priced. Part of the price is for actually printing the book, part of it is CreateSpace’s cut, and the remainder is the royalty you earn.
When all this is done, your book will show up in a day or so on Amazon, ready for purchase. You can also submit your book for publication on an e-reader, such as Kindle. You may need to take your book document and simplify the formatting so everything looks correct. After you submit the file, you can use a virtual Kindle app online to see how the e-book would look to readers and make adjustments as necessary.
#3: Promote Your Product
Now that the fun part is done, it’s time for the hard work. Because you don’t have a publisher marketing the book on your behalf, this responsibility lies on you, the author. There are a variety of techniques you can use to advertise your book.
For starters, use word-of-mouth to let friends and family know about your new book, or other acquaintances who may be interested in the subject matter. If the opportunity arises, deliver a speech about the subject and then plug your book at the end. You can also consider printing out flyers or ordering business cards to distribute.
The above can be effective for reaching local readers, but to reach a wider audience, harness the power of the internet. Perhaps post a YouTube video to discuss your topic and tell viewers about the book at the end, providing a link from where they can purchase. Another idea is to write blog posts with tidbits from your book to give readers a taste, and then request that they buy the book for the full story.
Also consider using social media channels such as FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread the word. But don’t just spam and ask people to buy your book; try to provide nuggets of value that entice people to want to buy the book. Pique their interest.
Additionally, the more reviews you can get for your book, the more visibility it will potentially have. You do have to be careful about soliciting reviews, though, as Amazon has rules about this. You typically can’t offer someone money to review your book, nor can you have family members review it.
I hope this helps demystify and simplify the process of writing and self-publishing a book. If you have specific questions, feel free to post below. Best of luck with your own project.