A Basic Guide to Self-Publishing
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
If you’re new to the publishing world, it can seem pretty overwhelming and intimidating. You may think that the only way to get your work out there is by pursuing traditional publishing, which is known to be highly competitive. It could take years just to get one person to say yes and represent your manuscript. But, there are two different ways to publish your story: self-publishing and hybrid publishing. This guide will be focusing on self-publishing.
To make the process more simple, let’s break it down into six steps:
This is the "easy" part. (If I'm being honest, if you ask any writer, they will undoubtedly say that writing is not easy. And it really isn’t. There are highs and lows to writing and many, many drawbacks. But let’s save that discussion for another day.) To publish a story, you have to have a story. So go get your pen, pencil, computer, or any other writing instrument, and get to writing!
Now that you have your manuscript completely finished, it’s time to get to editing. If you think your editing skills are killer, then you can ignore my recommendation and move on to the next step, but you may still be interested to know what I have to say, regardless. Did I convince you? Well, here is what I suggest: get someone, whether that be a friend or you hire a professional editor. After reading your own work over and over again, you may get used to what you’ve written and miss out on small errors. Having a fresh pair of eyes can comb through and pick up those errors. Someone new reading your story can also give advice on how to improve certain areas of your story, such as the plot or characterization, if they are lacking. Here are some sites to find freelancers: Upwork and Freelance.
With your manuscript all cleaned up, you can start formatting it to get ready for print. First, you should consider how you want your book printed, either for paperback, ebook, or both. Then if you know how to format a book, then go right ahead! There is a plethora of softwares you can choose from, such as Scribus (which is free) or Adobe InDesign if you are more experienced and knowledgeable with the layout. If you don’t know how to format your book, you can once again hire a professional from one of the freelancing websites or do some searching around on the internet for the best option for you.
4. Design a Cover
Similar to editing and formatting, you can choose to make your own book cover, or hire someone to do it for you. It all depends on your designing abilities. We all know the famous phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover," and of course its meaning is metaphorical, but it doesn't always apply to its literal meaning. Certain people use the cover as the determining factor of whether they will read the book, so your cover needs to be eye -catching and well done if you want people to give it a chance. Every author is fighting for the audience's attention.
You've made it! It's time to publish your story and share it with the world. But how do you do this? A great platform for beginners is Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). It's an easy and cheap way to get your feet wet, but don't just stop your search there. (For a more in depth analysis of KPD (the pros and cons), check out this article by Biron Clark here). There is a sea of self-publishing platforms that might better suit your needs and this website can tell you which ones can be trusted and those you should stay away from.
Just because you finished publishing your book, don't think that you are in the clear to put your feet up and relax. If no one knows that you have just published a book, no one is going to read it. No purchases, no revenue. Your story will get lost and forgotten in the endless shelves of books out in the world if you don't advertise it. So make sure you tell everyone you know and that they tell everyone they know. Spread it on social media. Find a way to get your story out there!
As you could probably tell from the steps, when it comes to self-publishing, you are in control of the entire publishing process, which can seem like both a benefit and struggle. Unlike traditional publishing, you get more freedom and complete say on every decision that goes into making your book. It's your baby to nurture, which takes a lot of responsibility. You need the passion and drive to be the boss. If you think it is too much to handle, then try the other publishing methods.
If you ever do need any help along the way, reach out to us! Singularity Press offers services in all of the steps covered above: cover design, layout, editing, printing guidance, and PR/Marketing. It's all in one place, so you don't have to scour the internet for different services!
I wish you all the best of luck on your journey through the scary world of publishing! You got this!