Everyone has a story to tell. Not everyone has the knack for publishing their stories. Once you have a great idea, you try to write it down as professionally as possible, but then you have to go through the struggle of publishing it. Traditional publishers and agents are difficult to crack through, and even when you do land a publishing contract, you’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops to get your story up to your publisher’s standards. There’s nothing wrong with traditional publishing, but if it were easy to get into, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
Fortunately for the millions of brilliant writers out there, traditional publishing is no longer the only option. Self-publishing is not only possible, it’s logical, easy, inexpensive, and more widely accepted than, say, a decade ago. If you truly are a talented writer, there should be nothing to hold you back from publishing your greatest works. But perhaps you are worried about the cost. If that’s the case, stop worrying, it’s very inexpensive to publish an ebook. Also, most authors don’t have million dollar trust funds backing up their efforts.
Start with an ebook
The first thing you’ll want to do is to test the waters, see if there is a market for your book. If there’s not a big market, you can grow one. Do this by first publishing your book in ebook format. Creating an ebook used to be complicated. A few years ago, you had to understand the various formats, such as epub and mobi. To convert a book from a typical MS Word document, you had to be pretty skilled in a publishing software, like Adobe InDesign. That’s not the case anymore. Electronic book distributors, such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Smashwords, Sony, and even Apple iTunes have worked hard to help great writers become published authors. If you can follow directions, you can easily turn your novels into professional looking ebooks. Amazon Kindle has a complete step-by-step guide that will help you set up your book in Kindle format. Not only is the service free, but you’ll have an option to exclusively list your book with KDP Select for 90 days in exchange for a monthly share of their KDP fund. Barnes and Noble Nook is also free and easy to set up. They actually accept your manuscript as a Word document as long as you format it correctly. If you’d rather reach all ebook outlets at once, your best option would be Smashwords, which is an incredibly author-friendly site that will take your manuscript (conformed to their style guide) and convert it into all ebook formats. Then they distribute your book to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, etc. and pay all of your royalties at their one site. This service is one hundred percent free to you.
Tips for ebook publishing success:
1. Edit your book. This is extremely important. If you can’t afford a professional editor, do it yourself, but be extremely careful. First, run the manuscript through your word processor’s spell and grammar check. Next, since these automated checks are not one hundred percent reliable, borrow a copy of Chicago Manual of Style from the library and go through the manuscript again. Once you’re sure you have no errors, you probably still do have some, so have friends or family read it and mark corrections.
2. Create an attractive book cover. Again, this could cost money and our goal is to do it all for as low-cost as possible. For as low as $5.00, you can have a decent book cover created on Fiverr.
3. Make sure your ebook is reasonably priced. You can’t have your ebook listed at $80, it’s just not going to sell. Most ebooks are in the $0-$10 price range. Offering your ebook for free on Amazon for free for a few days is a great way to get the word out about your book and increase reviews.
4. Market your book through mass social marketing. Build a Facebook page for your book. Join Linked-In groups and share your Amazon author page. Use Twitter and RSS feeds and whatever you can find that will help spread the word.
5. Get reviews. There are hundreds of reviewers out there who are willing to provide free book reviews in exchange for a copy of your book. If you still want to keep this process going at no cost, some reviewers are willing to review a PDF copy of your book. To avoid looking like a cheapskate, request the reviews before your publication date.
Now that you know what it takes to get published, what are you waiting for? Get that manuscript finished, polish it off, and become the published author you were meant to be.