The time has never been better to write and publish a book. If you are thinking of writing a book but you are stressing out over all the steps to write, publish and launch to market, you should seriously consider enrolling in one of the best self-publishing courses available today.
Although all the best online courses here come highly recommended, the course content and purpose of each course varies depending on:
What you need as an author.Are you writing your first book? Scaling up your author platform to 6 figures a year?
Your budget.How much cash are you willing to invest in your self-publishing business?
Your expectations. What are you expecting by taking an online publishing program? A strong return on ROI? Can the course deliver on its promise?
If you’re a business owner looking to make a solid ROI and see how a book can help grow you business, just fill out the ROI calculator below.
Book Launch ROI Business Calculator
Just input your core offer product or service average order value to see just how much you can scale your business in the next 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years by writing and self-publishing a high quality book with Self-Publishing School!
*These results are calculated based on Self-Publishing School's Become a Bestseller and Sell More Books program costs in the ROI calculations and with our students' average books sold per day at a 5% book to appointment (or landing page) conversion rate and a 20% closing rate—book sales profit not included in final numbers. Individual results may vary.*
Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?
But, before we dive into the best self-publishing courses on the market today, let me ask you this:
Thousands of authors—just like you—have a dream to see their books in print, on a bookshelf, or for sale online in the Amazon store, the largest ebook retailer in the world.
To get your book to the publishing stage takes a lot of work. If you are not familiar with everything needed to self publish a book, you could end up spending more money than planned or, unknowingly fall into the hands of a deceiving vanity press publisher that waits for new authors desperate to publish.
Don’t let haste or desperation lead you to a bad decision. Check out the best courses here and any questions, contact support through the course so you can be confident you’re making the right decision.
Why Self-Publish Instead of Traditional Publishing?
So yes, self-publishing can be a great path to launch your writing career. You can work from home, set up a writer’s temporary workstation at your local Starbucks, or hunker down in a library hammering away at perennial bestseller after bestseller.
Now, you might be thinking to just do it yourself without any help from a self-publishing course. I did this too, and I made a lot of mistakes that could have been avoided had I invested in a course with a built-in blueprint.
This is why I have put together a solid list of the best self-publishing courses on the market today. Only the best made this list because I know what it is like to waste money on courses that went nowhere.
I have personally been inside each of these courses so I can share with you first hand the pros and cons of each.
Why take a self-publishing course?
Good question. Take into account the marketing, networking, and getting the book ready for print. The steps are many and it is a big investment of your time and effort.
Do I need a course to write a book? Can’t I do this myself?
Yes, you can. But…
Publishing can be difficult with lots of moving parts. You start to feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air! And if you’re already spending the time to get it done, why not do it right.
The good point of joining a course is, you are not alone. And, without support, a launch teamto help launch your book, it is easy to make a lot mistakes could otherwise be avoided.
So, this is why we bring you this list of professional experts, each with years of book writing experience and marketing confidence, sharing with you the best strategies for writing, launching and selling more books. And yes, despite the flood of material out there these days, you can make money from self-publishing…if you do it right and learn from the best.
Making the Cut: The 7-Point Criteria for Choosing the Best Self Publishing Course
The instructors for each course are multi-bestselling authors with the sales and platform to show it. They are trusted by the industry with solid reputations for being honest and driving their business with integrity.
The course content is current and up to date. In an industry that is constantly changing, publishing courses can become outdated within a year. The courses here are updated regularly with additions and updates every few months.
Based on industry reviews and student satisfaction, the courses are praised and recommended by authors who have been through the programs.
The strategies and business practices of the owners do not break any rules pertaining to Amazon’s rules and are morally sound.
I have personally taken these courses and recommend each one.
The material, content and overall course is professionally packaged and high quality.
Support: When you run into trouble, you want to know that you can talk to someone and get everything sorted quickly and efficiently. No-fuss.
Take note: Several courses are open for a limited time only at certain times of the year. The enrollment period is usually every three months, but this varies.
Self Publishing School with Chandler Bolt
Self-published entrepreneur and bestselling author Chandler Bolt quit college back in 2014 and set out to write a book called The Productive Person. The book was hugely successful and Chandler soon set up an online course to help authors self publish their books…in just 90 days!
With this comprehensive go-at-your-own-pace blueprint, the school has created an easy-to-follow system to take you from first time author to course creator with three pillar courses available.
Breakdown of Course Content
When self-publishing school first started out they had a basic course for writing and publishing a book. There are now four premium courses to choose from on the platform, including a full fiction course piloted by successful self-published fiction author RE Vance.
Become a Bestseller—Blank Page to Published Author and Everything Inbetween: From blank page to published author, write your book in 90 days with this course. There are 3 modules to walk you through the program with over 4 hours of video, bonus content and an outsourcer rolodex to assist with hiring professionals for all phases of the book production along with over $1,000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School student discounts and specials.
Mindmap / Outlining
Target Audience Deep-Dive
Book Production Instructions/Guides
Marketing and Publishing
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Fundamentals of Fiction & Story: For all the fiction writers looking to learn everything you need to in order to write a high-quality fiction book that actually sells! Fiction is a different game than non-fiction, and Self-Publishing School knows that, employing a bestselling fiction coach to work through plot, the craft of writing, and selling.
Writing, editing, and mindset
Launching your book
The business of writing
Children’s book module
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Sell More Books: For authors that have already published a book and are focusing on book marketing and promotion to achieve sales results. Most often, these are business builders using their book to grow their business or those looking to make being an author their full-time job.
Email Marketing Strategies
Author Brand Strategies
Advanced Marketing Strategies
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Course Building for Authors: Building a course from your book? This premium course is made specially for those authors ready to take their platform to the next level.
Plan & Develop Your Course
Create and Upload Your Course
Market and Sell Your Course
Expert Interviews with Industry Experts
Milestones to Track Your Progress
1-on-1 Tailored Coaching for YOUR Book
Each course comes with its own customized, professional workbook. The best part of these courses is that you will be assigned a personal coach after being accepted into the program.
Cost to Enroll: Speak to an SPS representative to discuss best course options and pricing, as each program price varies.
Availability: If you meet the course requirements you can start right away
Target Author: Writing your first book, advanced or pro authors, business owners or future business owners. SPS has courses to cover any level.
Enrollment Availability: If you qualify for access to the course, you will speak to a self-publishing representative who will set you up with the best course to meet your publishing goals.
The one-on-one personal coaching that comes with each course. You will get the best results by working with a professional student success coach.
One hour clarity call with your coach to drill down into your book idea.
Up to 4 weekly live online mastermind group trainings & Q&A, one with Chandler Bolt himself
Customized workbook comes with each course
Mastermind Facebook Community of 2500+ active participants.
4 premium courses to meet your publishing goals
Self Publishing School has a long track record of successful students that have written, launched and turned their dreams of being published into a reality. The course is fast-paced and doesn’t waste time on details.
Authority Pub Academy With Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
Steve Scott [also known as S.J. Scott] is one of the biggest names when it comes to self-publishing. He has been marketing online for a long time and when the eBook craze started back in 2011, Steve was one of the first authors that as in there doing it.
With the combined talents of two bestselling authors, Authority Pub is everything you would expect it to be: A self publishing course that is focused on teaching authors to write and publish, not just a book, but focuses on building out an author platform.
In today’s overwhelming jungle of books, with thousands being published daily, Steve Scott recognised the importance of turning your book platform into a brand and a book business.
This is the strength and focus of this course, and there is loads of videos, downloads and information taught from two authors that have been engaged in the self-publishing business from the beginning.
Module 6: Advanced marketing and Scaling Up Your Author Library
Authority Pub is a plethora of knowledge and both Steve and Barrie have learned everything through years of trial and error. Authority pub is a “one-stop resource to help writers streamline the whole process.”
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 2 payments of $348
Target Author: If you are just writing your first book, or already published and looking to scale up your author platform with more content and strategies that increase long term growth, Authority Pub is for you.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Authority Pub Academy:
Advanced supplementary materials includes WordPress blog setup mastery, Canva tutorial, email walkthrough using Aweber and Evernote tips for productive writing
Course content professionally delivered via high definition videos supported by quality downloads
Solid case studies and examples of writers who have made it work
Effective advanced marketing strategies to scale up your books
The course removes any guesswork and provides students with a clear roadmap
30 day “try it, test it, apply it” money-back guarantee
As a traditionally published author who used to write for a big firm, Mark Dawson started self-publishing his action and thrillers and, to date, has sold over a million copies. Mark has published 25+ books, has three series in the works, and is constantly launching bestseller after bestseller. His monthly earnings in 2015, according to an interview in Forbes.com, Mark Dawson was being paid $450,000 a year for his works.
So, who better to learn the craft of self-publishing than an established author with both a library of successful bestsellers and the income to show it. This brings us to Self Publishing 101, Mark Dawson’s course for authors.
If you are new at self publishing or have been publishing for awhile, this course has something for everyone. You will learn the basics as well as advanced marketing strategies to scale up your author platform.
With Self Publishing 101, you’ll will write, launch and market a quality book that sells. Although Mark Dawson is mainly a fiction author, the course can be customized for nonfiction writer’s. The same marketing strategies apply to both.
Breakdown of Course Content
Inside Self Publishing 101, the course is broken up into 8 modules that includes:
As additional bonuses, there is also a tech module that walks through how to build a website, lead magnets, email service providers, and formatting your book.
The best part of this course is the system Mark teaches for email list building through an author website. Building an email list is critical to the success of any author, and Mark and his team have these bases covered.
Cost to Enroll: $497 or 12 monthly payments of $49.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Closed after enrollment begins. Cycle is every 3-4 months.
Target Author: Beginner, intermediate and advanced authors looking to build a rock-solid fan base through email list building and advertising.
6 Reasons to Enroll with Self Publishing 101
Deep dive into the Amazon algorithm
Focuses on subscriber communication and building an email list
Bonus tech library with an introduction to using advanced apps and tools
Active Facebook group with high response time
Additional “Writing Copy for Facebook Ads” module
Reasonably priced course for the value it delivers
Your First 10k Readers with Nick Stephenson
If you are looking for a comprehensive, in-depth, no-holds-barred course on marketing tactics, Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers is that course.
The course assumes you already have a book, or a library of books, and now you want to take what you’ve got and line it all up in order to grow your list to a 10k readership…and beyond.
Your First 10k Readers is really better suited for the more seasoned author. It gets into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon algorithm, merchandising, keywords and niche marketing, email marketing, landing pages, giveaways, and what Nick calls “You’re secret sauce.”
So yeah, there’s a lot going on here.
Let’s take a look inside.
Breakdown of the Course Content
The course consists of 6 modules that you can work on at your own pace. The modules are:
Module 1: Rule the Retainers.
This includes Amazon Algorithms, Merchandising, Broad Reach VS KDP Select, and Pricing.
Module 2: Generate Endless Traffic.
This includes Keywords & Niches, Using Free Books, Smart Promotions, and The Author Dream Team
Module 3: Convert Traffic Into Fans
This includes Traffic Funnels, Optimize Your Website, Giveaways, and Events Marketing
Module 4: Build Engagement and Sell—Without Being “Salesy”
This module includes Why Readers Don’t Buy, Priming the sale, Scarcity, the Secret Sauce, Social Media Mastery, Getting Reviews, and Auto-Responders
Module 5: Launch Strategies
This module includes Launch Teams, Building Buzz, and Launch Day
Module 6: Facebook Advertising
This module includes Intro to Power Editor, How to Track Results With Pixels, and Ninja Tricks.
In addition to the 6 core modules, there is also a wide range of bonus content that includes rock star author interviews, email swipe files, and tools of the trade bonus section.
Cost to Enroll: $597 or 12 monthly payments of $59.00. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Availability: Enrollment anytime.
Target Author: Intermediate and advanced authors needing advanced tactics to scale up author platform and build your publishing business into an empire
With a successful blog and five bestselling books, it isn’t any surprise that Jeff has a writing course to market to his raving fans of authors: Tribe Writers.
Jeff’s course is packed with material. With the formula presented in Tribe Writers, you as the author can create your own path to creativity. There are twelve steps of a tribe writer that allows you to tailor fit the best plan while keeping your unique voice.
Tribe Writers is broken up into four individual modules:
Module 1: Honing Your Voice
Module 2: Establishing a Platform
Module 3: Expanding Your Reach
Module 4: Getting Published
In addition to the four modules, you also get:
Exclusive interviews with over a dozen authors, bloggers, and publishing experts
Access to the Tribe Writers community of 6000+ members
Live conference calls to ask questions and get help
Downloadable PDF workbook that summarizes every lesson
Admission to a private Facebook group only for students
The modules take about 2 weeks to get through but you can move at your pace.
This course comes with five additional bonuses to support you including You Are a Writer eBook + Audiobook and The Perfect Book Launch.
Where Jeff’s Tribe Writers is different from the other courses is, a strong emphasis on honing your ideas and creativity as a writer to create a unique brand. There is a strong foundation for support and networking with hundreds of other authors.
Best 6 Reasons to Enroll with Tribe Writers
Loaded with tools to help get you started
Community of writers to help you when you get stuck
Lots of valuable content and expert interviews included
Designed to show you how to find your voice and audience
Monthly conference calls to keep you on track
“12 steps of a Tribe Writer” that clearly outlines the expectations of the course.
Ready to Write and Publish Your Bestseller?
All of these courses are excellent in their own way. Depending on your budget and writing goals, you might choose one over the other.
Now that we have taken an in- depth look at the best self publishing courses for you to write your bestseller, you have a solid idea of what to expect from each course. The question is: Are you ready to write your book?
The best writing course you decide depends largely on your goals as a writer.
Do you want to build a solid library of books and focus on your author platform? Authority Pub Academy could be your best match. Let Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport guide you towards your success of being a multiple bestselling author.
Do you want to learn the essence of email list building, creating an author website and setting up landing pages that convert readers into subscribers? Self Publishing 101 could be the best choice to make.
Need more advanced marketing tools from one of the best in the business? Your First 10k Readers is the path you might consider, and…
Interested in a course that focuses on honing your creative writing talent while showing you how to connect with your unique voice? Tribe Writers with Jeff could be the best option.
Or, you might decide you need two courses and combine together for maximum impact. Self Publishing School can show you how to go from blank page to published author in 90 days. But Nick Stephenson’s course can teach you the more advanced analytics and how to really build out an online book business.
So now, make a choice. You have been sitting on this long enough. Your book won’t write itself and if you have written it already, take it to the next level.
Life is short.
Take action now.
It’s your time to write that next perennial bestseller!
An author bio is a paragraph or so about you, your credentials, your hobbies, and other information you wish to share with readers.
It’s how readers get to know you beyond the pages of your book. While your books are a great way to introduce yourself, an author bio can set you apart, bring in more fans, and even sell more books if you know how to write it correctly.
That’s what we’ll teach you here today.
How to Write an Author Bio That’s Impactful
So you’ve finished your draft and are ready to tackle the next steps of putting it out there in the world. (Promise me that you’re not procrastinating by reading this blog! If you are, get back to writing right now!)
The first step is to figure how who you want to be perceived, how you want to brand yourself, is in your author bio.
This is the blurb that will go on your Amazon author page, your Book Bub author profile, your Goodreads page, your author web page, on the back of your book and so forth. It’s a really important little piece of work that you want to get right!
While your book cover design is the most important tool when marketing a book, your author bio is easily number two. This is where you convince your audience why you are the best person to tell them about the matter at hand.
It’s a place to connect with your readers and build your legitimacy.
You’ll want to stay factual while interesting. You want to make yourself approachable and toot your own horn, just a little bit.
Here are some tips to master these.
#1 – Author Bio Formatting
Although you are writing the author bio, it still needs to be written in the third person no matter how quirky it is. In other words, avoid using “I” as your sentence subject but utilize your name or last name instead.
Additionally, you’ll have many drafts and varieties of this author bio. You’ll want to change it up depending on the application.
You may have a punchier version on your website while your bio for that speaking engagement session at a writing conference that you’re leading (and we’re confident that will happen for you!) will be more serious.
Today, we’re working on the basic draft that you can tweak as needed.
Remember to keep the bio short, less than 300 words. It seems that three sentences is a well-tested length (more on this later). Your author bio is not an entire list of every single award you’ve won or your life story.
Even if you did win the “Young Writer’s” award in middle school, unless you’re still in middle school, this little known fact probably doesn’t deserve to be on the back of your book.
Feel free to have a “full accolades” section on your author website where you can list every single thing you’ve ever done, won or written.
Your mom will be super proud of this list but readers browsing Amazon don’t need to get into the major details.
Here’s how to format an author bio wrapped up:
Use third-person POV when writing it
Keep it under 300 words
Add relevant/recent achievements
Minimize the number of sentences within those 300 words.
And remember: an author bio longer than 300 words or so will take up too much space and become an oversell.
#2 – Know Your Readers
Your bio is an extension of your book.
Write it for your audience. Keep the same writing style and connect this text to your subject matter.
If you wrote a book on productivity, a lengthy sentence about your lazy vacations doing nothing is not relevant and in fact, can persuade readers to avoid your books because they’ll think you to be uncredible.
Here are a few tips for getting to know your audience:
Interact with your readers on social platforms
Listen intently to the feedback during the beta reading process
Run your author bio by a group for feedback and adjustments
Ask people close to you if the bio embodies your personality and is accurate
#3 – Include Your Background
In order to sell yourself to new readers, you will want to include your pertinent background. If you happen to have other books, do include their titles and how many languages they have have been translated into or how many countries they’ve been sold in.
List your related education and memberships. Any higher education beyond college is usually noteworthy too.
Keep your lists short though. Only list three books, for instance, and a couple of memberships. A list of ten books, three degrees, and five memberships will only be skimmed by potential book buyers at the very best.
A huge list like this will become white noise so only include the most important and interesting stuff.
Your fanboys and girls (and your mom’s friends) will look to your aforementioned author website for more info and you can keep the tidy, complete list there.
#4 – Stay Factual
Statements like, “has always dreamed of writing a book,” while certainly may be true, are hard to back up and aren’t going to help sell your book.
Stick to the facts and to what you can prove.
Another reason for this is if you claim achievements that aren’t true or invalid, there will always be someone there to point it out in an attempt to cut you down.
This can reduce your credibility, and therefore, readers’ trust in you.
#5 – Use your personality
One of the best things about being an author is that you get to put your personality, views of the world, values, and more into your writing.
What some don’t understand about authors is: if a reader likes you, they’re very likely to enjoy what you write, because your essence bleeds into the pages.
Being able to showcase this with your personality can do worlds for your readers connecting with you and wanting to read your book out of curiosity if nothing else.
Here are a few tips to add personality to your author bio:
Exaggerate your tone just a little in order for it to be more evident
Be goofy and creative with how you describe yourself (See Jenna Moreci’s example in #11)
Have fun with it!
Throw a joke in your bio
#6 – Include an achievement or award
In addition to your backlist of books, your awards, and education, you’ll want your readers to know any higher-profile stuff you have going on.
Be sure to cover your awards, your following, and any big deal author interviews or features.
Again, if any of these this happened decades ago, it may not be relevant. But if you have a quarter-million followers on Twitter or on your blog, this will sell your authority (and yeah, a quarter-million sounds better than 250,000 but are the same number!).
If your writing has been nominated for awards but didn’t make the cut, that is often fitting for an author bio too. “Award-nominated” anything is pretty cool!
#7 – Get personal in your author bio
Provide a bit of personal information to connect with your audience. The reason for this is if a reader sees something they have in common with you, it’s an automatic bond and gives them more of a reason to buy.
It’s standard for authors to share where they live and what their family make-up is.
A few non-divisive hobbies and interests are also often included. If you have experiences that are related, such as extensive travel or extreme situations, they may relevant to share as well.
Again, know your audience and choose wisely. Maybe (terribly) you were part of a cult as a child?
That’s really interesting but unless you’re sharing this story in the book or proves your authority on the subject at hand, skip including it in your author bio!
Bonus Author Bio Tip: Keep these bits broad enough to include a larger number of people. For example, if you play the flute, simply mention that you’ve been playing an instrument for however many years as this is more inclusive, and there’s a higher chance of others connecting with you.
#8 – Author Bio Example – Chandler Bolt
We all known and love Chandler Bolt, Self Publishing School Founder. We wouldn’t be here learning about writing without his hard work and book writing methods. Chandler’s author bio on the back of his book Published is only three sentences long but packs in a lot of authority building, states facts plus toots his horn a bit.
These three sentences along with the killer book cover art work well to sell Chandler’s mastery of book publishing.
Chandler’s Amazon Author Page is another version of his author bio. Here, Chandler gets really personal stating that his birth was almost miscarried!
He also gives some background about his entrepreneurial experience and awards.
#9 – Author Bio Example – Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller and nonfiction author who also writes under the pen names of JF Penn and Penny Appleton.
She’s written and self-published nearly 30 books so she really knows what she’s doing. On her Book Bub author page, Joanna’s short bio is only (surprise!) three sentences.
It concisely tells potential readers a short version of her accolades and narrows down her writing style quickly. Then it tells us where she lives and one of her favorite drinks.
On her own website, The Creative Penn, Joanna provides a different three-sentence version of her short bio and then gets into the details about all her books, the many awards and best-selling experience she’s had plus where she lives and her favorite wine (a different drink mentioned here!)! Joanna’s short bio on her page is three sentences and shoves in a ton of accolades into a small space.
Here she tells about her family, her gymnastic prowess as well as her authority and love of athletic mental training. T
his all builds strong authority for her book and brand.
On her Goodreads page about the same book, she sells the book by telling prospective readers that she’s been where they are and know “what it feels like to try your best and to fail.
I also know how it feels to work hard to achieve your goals.” She sells her wisdom and experience. Note that it is the norm to write in the first person on Goodreads but this is a big rule breaker everywhere else.
All of these examples have variations of author bios written in just a slightly different way for different applications. They all say very similar things about the same person.
Not only does Moreci have ample experience when it comes to self-publishing, but she’s also among one of the best examples of how to market your book effectively, including how she’s written her author bio.
Here’s an example of her Amazon author page with her bio:
Notice how Moreci keeps it short, brief, but very clear with who she is, what she writes, and even has enough personal information to let readers into her life at an appropriate level.
If we take a look at her personal author website’s “about” page, we’ll see she has something similar, but with a few more additions, including her books and more.
In this example, Jenna has also doused us with her personality, giving us insight into how she operates and therefore, the tone of some of her books.
More Ideas for Writing an Author Bio
Know the very essence of your book and find keywords that your readers may search for to find your book. When crafting your author bio, use these keywords that search engines can catch.
Although it may be irrelative in some bio spaces, add links to any free giveaways (we’ve got some ideas on that here..) on your website, your newsletter, social media or whatever web presence you have.
Also, feel free to add a call to action where applicable.
Final Author Bio Thoughts
Remember that there is no perfect bio, and there are no two alike. Although these are all good ideas, it’s not an exact formula. Your author bio will be unique and will change as you write more books and gain more accolades (because we know you will!).
Now tell me the truth. Is your book really done? We can help you finish your manuscript and really make use of this carefully crafted author bio! Schedule a webinar with Chandler today to get started!
Do you have more author bio tips to share with our writing community? Do you think bios should be longer than three sentences or do you like this standard size?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify your book amongst the millions out there.
What is an ISBN number used for?
Essentially, an ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.
But where did these ISBN numbers even start and why do we have them?
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth and the Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables.
But how did they crack this complex system?
MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.
Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
How much does an ISBN cost?
ISBNs cost about $125 for one number in the US. However, if you purchase more than one at a time, this cost could be lowered.
Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.
How To Read an ISBN number with an ISBN Example
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year.
Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.
If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
Identify the specific title
Identify the author
Identify the type of book they are buying
Identify the physical properties of that particular book
Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit.
This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
Where is the ISBN number on books?
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book. However, they’re not the same.
The barcode is much different than the ISBN number.
This is an important distinction because:
When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.
Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
The Book Designer also has a great resource for learning how to reconstruct an ISBN if you finally decided to write and self-publish the book you’ve been thinking about since you bought the ISBN.
ISBN Search: How to Find Your Book’s ISBN
If you want to look up the ISBN of any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website ISBNSearch.org.
You’ll be greeted with a screen like the one above where you will be prompted to type in the ISBN, author name, or book title.
After hitting “search,” you will have a list of books matching your searched items with the both the 13-digit ISBN and the 10-digit, like in the example below.
How to Read a Barcode
If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.
The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.
This would only be replaced by a new ISBN number if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.
You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Reasons Self-Published Authors Need an ISBN
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
How do I buy an ISBN Number?
You might not even have to buy your ISBN number because of services offered to self-published authors. You can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company that has now merged with Amazon.
If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?
Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.
Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital.
You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords.
Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?
You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.
The Problem with Multiple ISBNs
This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
Libraries and ISBN Numbers
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive is the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How to get an ISBN
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBN numbers are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN Number
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink.
This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.
You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
Number of ISBNs
First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBN numbers for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN number for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if you’re serious about making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBN numbers to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.
How to Get an ISBN final steps
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBN numbers.
Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
In the writing world years ago, you only had one option: find a publisher who wants it. If no one wanted to buy and publish your book, you were out of luck. Onto the next manuscript, toss that one in the bin.
Fortunately, things are different today.
The great thing about being a modern author is that you’ve got options! Gone are the days of mandatory querying, submitting, waiting, rejections, and repeat. Now you can take your book and your publishing experience into your own hands with self-publishing.
So which one is better? Traditional publishing or self-publishing?
It really depends on your goals and resources. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the differences between traditional and self-publishing, the pros and cons of each, and what you should consider when making this decision.
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing: A quick overview
Self-publishing might seem like way too much work! Or maybe it seems like an amazingly fun adventure of choosing your own fate, expressing your creativity, and making your own choices.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of self-publishing your book.
Pros of self-publishing a novel:
Creative control. With self-publishing, it’s all up to you! You maintain all creative control. Write any story you want, include whatever characters you want, market however you want, put your own face as the book cover if you want—it’s all your decision.
Business control. You get to decide everything on the business side too! Cover design, marketing, book trailers, promotions, advertisements—you’re in control and can do whatever you’d like. For example, I was able to offer a free ebook of my short story collection to encourage people to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak. My goal was to calm people down and provide a distraction. But some unexpected benefits for me were extra Amazon reviews, hype about my next book, purchases of the physical copy, and word-of-mouth advertising that I couldn’t have created on purpose. This isn’t something I could have done with a traditionally published book, because the publisher has control of pricing and promotions. NOTE: Business control could be a con if you don’t have a background in business, don’t take the time to research beforehand, or if you’re just not interested in running the business side of a writing career—so keep that in mind.
Higher royalties! Book royalties for a traditionally published book usually range between 8% to 12%. For self-published books, the range is much higher. For example, publishing a paperback with KDP gives you a royalty rate of 60%. That’s a significant difference, and certainly something to keep in mind.
You pay for everything.Editor, cover art, marketing, copyright—all you, boo. There’s no publisher there to pick up any of the financial slack.
No advance, so no guaranteed payment. With traditional publishing, as we’ll cover in a little bit, you typically receive an advance, which is an upfront payment for your book. This guarantees you make something for your efforts, at least so long as your book sells (otherwise you often have to give that advance back). No such luck with self-publishing. You either sell enough copies to recoup costs, or you eat the loss.
Self-publishing your novel might be the route for you if you:
Want to retain creative and business control
Have the money to invest in producing the book
How to self-publish your novel
If you’ve discovered this is the right direction for you, here are some steps to get you there.
1. Produce the book
Write the book
Whichever publishing path you choose, ya gotta write the book. There are many processes and strategies, and it will look different depending on the author and their preferences.
Edit the book
Just like writing, there are several different processes and strategies available for editing your book. Ideally, you’re going to go through multiple rounds of edits. For example, a lot of writers will edit their book in this order: developmental edits, line edits, and copy edits.
You might try in-house editing. This isn’t recommended. Even writers who are also professional editors would be better off hiring an editor for their book. It’s just so easy to miss things when you’re close to a story. It takes an outside perspective to spot mistakes, especially in developmental edits.
You might do this in-house, or you might hire someone to do it for you. If you have the ability to invest in something, I recommend investing in a cover. This is your customer-facing element and a major marketing tool, so investing makes sense!
This is something else you could do in-house, but you should consider your skill level and amount of time you’re able to invest. Think about what you have more of: time or money. If you have more time, maybe it’s worth it for you to learn to format the book yourself. If you have more money and less time, it might be worth the financial investment.
Publish the book
There are many options for indie authors to self-publish with. KDP, IngramSpark, iBooks, Kobo, and more. Each has different levels of accessibility, different learning curves, and different requirements. There are also differentiation between your publishing and licensing rights between them, so research carefully before making your selection.
Self-Publishing School also has step-by-step processes for publishing through each of the above in their Become a Bestseller program so you don’t have to waste the time learning on your own.
2. Market the book
Build a platform
Possibly the most powerful marketing tool to sell your book is having an audience—your author platform—ready to buy it before you’ve finished writing it. There are many things you can do to build a platform for your book. Jenna Moreci’s Skillshare class is a great place to start.
The most crucial time frame to market your book is before and during its release. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hype the art you’ve been working so hard to create! Jenna has another great SkillShare class all about book launches.
Giveaways and promotions
Hosting giveaways on social media is a great way to build hype for your book and platform.
You might buy ads to run where your demographic might see them. For example, if you’re writing romance novels for the age demographic of 40+ readers, a Facebook ad might be a great investment. If your target demographic is teenagers, a Facebook ad would be virtually useless (unless you’re targeting their parents!).
Does self-publishing work? Of course! Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Let’s look at traditional publishing to see if that’s a better fit for your writing goals and resources.
Pros and cons of traditionally publishing a novel
Traditional publishing might seem like an unattainable dream. Or maybe it seems like the PERFECT way to launch your writing career! Let’s look at it objectively with some pros and cons.
Pros of traditionally publishing a book:
Less financial investment up front. Your publisher will cover expenses like editing, cover design, and interior formatting. You don’t have to worry about putting your own money on the line. If your book doesn’t sell, you still make off with your cashbag.
The cashbag (guaranteed paycheck). While self-publishing provides you with significantly higher royalties, traditional publishers often offer the incentive of an advance payment, which typically ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. Advances are not a guarantee with every publisher, so always be sure to read your contract. Royalty payments for traditional publishers kick in if and when the book has sold enough copies to surpass the advance. (Most books never meet that threshold and never start paying royalties to the author.)
Cons of traditionally publishing a novel:
Traditional publishers don’t have your best interest at heart. They’re a business. They have goals and standards that have nothing to do with you. Sure, they’re there if you have questions, and they have the industry know-how, but your book is just another product and you’re just another writer. In some cases, publishers will buy rights to a book they never intend to publish, just to keep another publishing company from getting their hands on it. This is a business practice in many industries—it’s a way to minimize competition. While this isn’t the likeliest drawback of traditional publishing, it is an example of how they’re not “on your side”. They’re running a business. NOTE: Vanity presses are technically publishers, and they certainly don’t want what’s best for you and your book. Vanity presses are publishers who charge writers to publish their book—they don’t care about quality because they’re not making their money off of readers: they’re making their money off of you.
Publishers maintain creative control. If you have specific ideas about how you want your book to be presented or marketed, if you have a picture of what you want the cover to look like, if you want to write about something extremely controversial or that there may not be a market for—you’re going to be disappointed. Publishers know the industry, and they have their own goals with your book: they’ll do what they want with it. They can even control the content of your story. If that bothers you, this probably isn’t the publishing option you should take.
Publishers maintain business control. Just like creative control, the business control lies with your publisher. Like I said earlier, I was able to offer my ebook free, just because I felt like it. With traditional publishing, you don’t have a say in how your book is sold.
While you typically have a guaranteed paycheck in that initial advance, it often isn’t much! If you’re getting $10k per book, and that’s all, you have to have a day job or make sure you stretch that $10k until you can rip out another book fast. While self-publishing doesn’t promise a lucrative life right away either (unless you know how to work the algorithm and gain exposure, which is taught in Self-Publishing School’s Sell More Books program), keep in mind that advances—especially early on—just aren’t that much.
Traditionally publishing a novel might be for you if:
You don’t mind giving up creative and business control
You don’t have the money to invest up front
You’re okay with receiving smaller royalties in exchange for the publisher covering production costs
You understand that they don’t have your best interests at heart, and you’re ready to proceed with a business frame of mind, taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your work
How to traditionally publish a novel
If you think traditional publishing might be the right move for your book, let’s look at the steps to do it!
Most of the traditional publishing process is spent waiting. Some writers can wait for months or years trying to snag a literary agent. You might even end up tossing your manuscript and trying again with the next one.
TIP: Try to use this time productively, like by working on your next manuscript!
If/when you find an agent, you’ll go back and forth with your agent and editor to edit your manuscript over and over again, until it’s right!
Once your book is edited, you wait for publication. Again, this could be months or years, but once it happens, time to market.
Unfortunately (and contrary to popular belief), being traditionally published does not guarantee that your publisher will market the book for you. In fact, they almost definitely won’t.
Unless you’re an established author, publishers really don’t benefit from spending money making sure your book sells. They’ll invest their marketing budget on authors who have already proven to be profitable.
The one guaranteed element from a publisher that you might consider marketing is the book cover (which you have no say in designing). This doesn’t mean publishers are evil and they want you to fail, but they have no incentive to spend any of their marketing budgets on a new author or a debut book—it won’t make them any money, and they’re just running a business.
To sum up, there’s no one-size-fits-all publishing solution that will work for every writer. Consider your goals, your expectations, your strengths and weaknesses, and the amount of time and resources you’re ready to commit to publishing your book.
Do you want to invest less time and money for a smaller reward? Traditional publishing might be your route.
Do you want to invest a little more initially for potentially a more profitable long-run? Self-publishing might be your route.
It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do.
But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering:
Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author? Which is better, traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with the world.
Thankfully, this industry is changing for the better – at least for those of us who are savvy in self-publishing.
With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.
You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!
Is it better to self-publish or get a publisher?
Whether or not self-publishing or getting a publisher is better relies entirely upon your own goals and resources. For you as a person and a writer, one or the other will be better.
If you want to have far more creative control but pay a little more upfront (with the knowledge you also make a lot more in royalties), self-publishing is the best route.
But if you want to put in a year—sometimes two—more to find an agent, write a great book, and get a deal in exchange for that $5,000 – $10,000 first-time advance, it might be better for you.
The truth is that you have to inform yourself of each and make the decision for yourself, which is why we put this comprehensive blog post together for you.
Let us know which you’re going for in the comments too!
How much can you make from self-publishing?
The amount you make from self-publishing depends on your royalty rate, how much you sell the book for, and how much time you’re spending marketing the book.
But also keep in mind that you have to know how to self-publish the book correctly if you truly want to see high returns.
Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book’s profits.
With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.
Want to see how much you’d need to sell in order to make a specific amount? Fill out the calendar below so you know exactly that!
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Does self-publishing hurt your chances with a traditional publisher?
Self-publishing does not hurt your chances with a traditional publisher at all. The opposite is true, actually. Self-publishing a book and having success can make it more likely you’ll publish with a traditional publishing house.
Major publishers like their authors to have an edge. The more successful you are on your own, and the bigger your author platform, the more likely it is a traditional publisher will publish your book.
So by having success and building your following as a self-published author, it makes landing an agent and a book deal that much easier. And it also saves you a ton of time searching for that agent too!
Some literary agents may actually approach you if your book does well enough. Does the book The Martian ring a bell?
It does happen. But first, your book has to sell and be successful much like The Martian was.
The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.
#1 – You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission
With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.
You decide when and how to publish a book.
You decide whose hands your book gets into.
You decide how successful you are.
In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.
“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Timesand Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.
Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.
Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history.
Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books.
Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.
You cannot allow other people to determine your success.
Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands.
#2 – You Can Publish Your Work Quickly
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.
With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!
#3 – Bring Home the (passive) Bacon
Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!
#4 – You Form Invaluable Connections
Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.
These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.
“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”
Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.
#5 – You Control Your Objective
So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.
Is your motive to make money?
It is to launch a new career?
Is it to share your story?
Is it to become a public speaker?
Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.
You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!
#6 – You Control Your Creative Concept
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.
But as an independent author, you retain total creative control.
You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.
When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.
Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.
When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.
There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.
You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.
Even Big Names Choose Between Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.
So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.
It really is…but only if you’re dedicated and have the right process to get you results.
The fact is, a lot of misinformed people judge self-publishing as being a waste or that you won’t make money. Those people just don’t know how to properly position their book on Amazon, market it, or even title their book to sell.
That’s why so many of our students are successful; they follow our program and with the help of their coaches to tailor their strategy, they make money and have major success with their books.
Why Go With Traditional Publishing?
As you can probably tell, we here at Self-Publishing School are huge advocates of being in control and ensuring you get all the money you deserve for the work you’ve put in.
That being said, sometimes traditional publishing will be the best option to fit your needs.
Here is why some people might opt to go with traditional publishing instead of reaping the rewards of self-publishing.
#1 – You have connections in the publishing industry
The chances of landing and agent and making it in traditional publishing is very low.
Because this market is very saturated and publishers really only publish certain types of books, those who have better luck with traditional publishing are those who have connections within the industry.
Bascially, if you know someone who is an agent or an editor at a publishing house, it might be beneficial for you to work with them in order to get published through that house.
#2 – You want the label
The best perk when it comes to traditional publishing is typically the fact that you can say you’re a traditionally published author.
Because you have to go through a number of different processes and rejections in order to “make it” with traditional publishing, it can be seen as a sign that you’re a better writer than others.
However, as much as it can sound impressive, it doesn’t always mean it is.
#3 – Distribution
Book distribution is much easier as a traditionally published author, mostly because you don’t have to deal with any of it.
Traditional publishing houses have very wide reaches and because of this, your book can reach a lot more stores in more places than if you traditionally publish.
#4 – Less responsibility on your part
If you’re the type of person who just wants to write the book but don’t want to worry about the title, book cover design, editing, or more, then traditional might be for you.
Keep in mind that traditional publishers do purchase the rights to your book when you get a book deal and therefore, can make you alter anything in it to meet their needs.
Meaning, your plot and characters can drastically change. If you’re okay with that, then traditional publishing works for you.
#5 – No upfront costs to you
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean traditional publishing is necessarily “free.”
Typically, those who get traditional book deals receive an upfront payment of varying amounts. From there, the rest of the expenses fall on the publisher.
However, those upfront payments aren’t often big enough to cover your living expenses for the length of time it takes to get your book finished and out into the world. And that means you’ll still have to continue to work another job while writing and meeting deadlines in order to get your book done.
#6 – A slow and steady process
This can be both a pro and a con. If you’re not in a rush to get your book out into the world, then the slow and lengthy traditional publishing process might be a good thing for you.
Ultimately, Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life
It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route.
But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume.
However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.
Humph… That’s the sound you just made as you heaved another big sigh.
You’re frustrated. You’ve been trying to write your book for months.
You’ve got the best intentions. But every time you sit down to start writing, you get interrupted…
Someone needs YOU to review that important report before it goes out (it’s 6:30am, how is anyone else at work?!).
Your husband gets home early and suggests that you go out for dinner (you can’t say no, you haven’t spent much time with him this week.).
A friend calls you in distress. She has broken up with another guy and needs a shoulder to cry on (you rush out to meet her at your local cafe, which is packed because it’s Saturday.).
It feels like the Universe doesn’t want you to write this book!
But this book is important to you. You want to make an impact. Share your knowledge. Eventually transition into writing more books and serving more people.
If only there was a system that would keep you on track and allow you to see what was coming up so you could be proactive.
Enter the Author Success Journal.
It’s time to ditch the overwhelm and get focused on your goals.
Because once you know the steps you need to take to stay focused and what actions to take and when, the sooner you can finish your book and get it out into the world.
Ready to be a successful published author?
Let’s get started.
What is the Author Success Journal?
The 90-Day Author Success Journal was created to help you achieve your most important author goals over the next 90 days by providing you with space to record your goals, the action steps you need to take, with reflection and suggestions for adjustment along the way.
Why 90 days?
An entire quarter is a good amount of time for you to stay focused and get work done. It’s also a short amount of time that if you need to pivot, you haven’t lost much in the process.
Your success as an author largely depends on the actions you take.
The Author Success Journal brings focus and clarity so you can move forward in your author journey.
Let’s break down the entire Author Success Journal process so you can see how it helps you write and publish your book.
Mind Map Your Way to Clarity with the Author Success Journal
One of the first things you’ll do in your writing process is mind map your book idea.
Because this is such a successful way to get all your ideas down in one spot, it’s also the first thing you’ll do inside your Author Success Journal.
The mind mapping process isn’t just for your book.
I use it to get clarity on lots of things, like what book to write next, how my book fits into my overall business, and how to transition my book into a course.
I find that when I’m stuck, mind mapping is the key to unlocking and unsticking my mind.
This is why it’s the first part of the journal. You have three pages to do a complete brain dump before you start mapping out your author success journey.
Before you can get clear on your goals, you need to get everything out of your head.
Once you’ve created your mind map or brain dump (it’s up to you how you use those first few pages!) it’s time to move onto the next stage — setting S.M.A.R.T goals.
So for example, a S.M.A.R.T goal you might set would be Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday for 4 weeks.
Choosing S.M.A.R.T goals like that gives you a very clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve and a way to keep track of it.
Ideally, you’ll choose 3-5 S.M.A.R.T goals for the next 90 days and outline these in your Author Success Journal.
I’d recommend taking it a step further and writing these down on a piece of paper and putting it above your computer (or wherever you are writing) so that you see them every day.
The key is to choose goals that make you stretch a little… that give you butterflies in your tummy when you think about them.
BUT… don’t set yourself up for failure either. Avoid choosing goals that make you start thinking that you can’t achieve them, that they’re impossible.
What’s next? Your 90 Day Goals.
Your 90-Day Plan
This next step in the Author Success Journal is about taking your S.M.A.R.T goals and deciding on what you want to achieve within the next 12 months (like write and publish your book!) and then breaking them down into 90 day achievable steps.
Here’s an example from the journal:
You’ll notice that in the example, there are dates attached to each goal.
This is so that you’ve got a deadline to work towards.
If you use a digital calendar like Google Calendar, go ahead and add those dates to your schedule. Set yourself a reminder each week to check your progress… or better yet, use the journal to track and map out where you’re at.
To ensure that you don’t miss your goals, let’s take it a step further and break it down into 30 day goals.
30-Day Plan & Overview
This is about taking those main goals and breaking them down into all the nitty gritty tasks that allow you to achieve your end goal.
This is about being intentional and getting clear on what you actually NEED to do to reach your goals.
This is where a lot of brand new authors fail.
They fail to set S.M.A.R.T goals and they fail to then break those down into the tasks that will get them there.
But that’s not you anymore! You’re going to work backwards from your goals and write down all the action steps needed to achieve them.
What would that look like?
Let’s take the example from above. Write 500 words per day, Monday to Friday, for the next 4 weeks.
The 90-Day goal for that would be to have a rough draft written in 30 days.
Our 30 day plan might look something like this:
The key is to also map out anything that might impact or stop you from completing those goals.
It’s about being schedule aware. It’s about being proactive with your time and problem-solving BEFORE overwhelm hits.
Before you dive into using the Author Success Journal system, let’s get even clearer on your top goals and the action steps you need to take for the month ahead.
List Your Top Goals & Associated Action Steps
This is all about outlining your top 3-5 goals for the next 30 days (if you have that many, you might only have one if you’re in the writing phase).
It’s about setting your intentions and making a plan to achieve them.
Once you’re clear on what those are, you’ll outline the action steps you need to take to meet your goals. This is where you’re going to write down specific, time-driven tasks based on what you’re trying to achieve over the next 30, 60 and 90 days.
All clear on what you’re doing?
Now we’re ready to dive into the heart of the journal… your weekly and daily pages.
Reflect on The Week Ahead
As you head into the week ahead, it’s time to bring clarity and awareness to what you’re trying to achieve.
Because we want to make sure that you’re set up for success. That there are going to be no surprises when you sit down to write, or when you map out your marketing plan.
You’ll see two pages that will ask you to write down what the week ahead looks like at a high level… what meetings do you have planned? Any work trips that will take you away? Social outings? School committments?
This is the area to record all of that information.
Then, you’ll have space to reflect on the last week. What wins did you have and what did you learn?
You’ll also look ahead and have space to record any thoughts or ideas that come to mind as you think about what you’ve got on your schedule.
Doing all of this allows you to do a mini brain dump. It frees your mind from having to remember #allthethings and allows you to get laser focused when you are writing.
Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to do this. It’s a great way to ensure that you always have clarity and awareness of what’s going on around you and how you can ensure you meet your author goals.
Next up — Daily pages.
Get Focused Daily
This is the magic of the Author Success Journal process.
The daily pages are designed to help you get extremely clear on what you’re doing and also provide insight into what you might want to STOP doing…
In the example below, you’ll notice that the day is spread across two pages. This is so that you have plenty of space to record your thoughts and map out your day.
You’ll choose a focus area. This is how you can set your intention for an individual day.
You’ll also list out the three main actions you’ll take towards ACHIEVING your goals. These are your most important items and must get done that day.
Then you can plan out the rest of your day.
You’ll then have space for reflection at the end of the day. This is a nice addition to your evening routine and allows you to get clear on your progress.
You’ll also set yourself up for success by stating your IMMEDIATE next step for the next day.
This entire layout is designed to bring clarity and intention to your author success journey.
You’re setting yourself up for success when you use this journal.
By now, you should be able to see why the Author Success Journal process will allow you to succeed where you might have been failing right now.
By writing down what you’re focusing on each day and mapping out your action steps, how can you not achieve writing and publishing your book?
The other key components of the Author Success Journal include:
Rewrite Top Goals & Action Steps. At the beginning of each new week, you’ll write down your top goals and action steps. This is to bring visibility to what you’re working on.
Monthly Reflections. This is where you’ll review the previous month and track your progress on your 90-day and 30-day goals. If you need to pivot, this will make it obvious where you need to make changes.
90-Day Review. Once you finish your first Author Success Journal, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect and review the last 90 days. This will provide you with clarity on what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll be able to see patterns, figure out where you need to make changes, and also see where you succeeded!
Your author success journey largely depends on the action steps you take, remember?
Using something like the Author Success Journal brings visibility and awareness to your goals in a way that allows you to track and measure your progress.
What isn’t tracked, doesn’t get measured.
Your Next Steps
If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take the leap and finally get the clarity and direction you need to finish writing and publishing your book
And Bill was a victim of those misconceptions for years.
It prevented him from following his oldest dream to become an author because he just thought it wasn’t in his realm of possibility.
“Self-Publishing School made publishing on my own a possibility. Not understanding how the publishing world worked, I just assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it or I’d have to work too hard to get myself published.”
This is not uncommon. After all, who wants to spend years simply looking for an agent to take them on, and then have to go through the process of seeing which publishing house will take their book?
And then have to wait in line another couple years for that publishing day to come?
But this is what people think is their only option to publish a book. When it’s simply not.
“When I saw Self-Publishing School and saw the success other people were having doing it, and held a book in my hand that was self-published that was good, it really opened my world.”
From never getting past three pages, to publishing a great book was Bill’s biggest accomplishment, to which he credits the community at Self-Publishing School greatly.
It’s hard to showcase just how big our community is and how willing and ready we are to help each other at the drop of a hat.
In addition to the community within Self-Publishing School team members, the Mastermind Community (which each student gets into for free) is made up of over 2500 members, there to aid others in the journey based on their own experiences.
Here are just a few pictures showcasing how the community can help in so many ways.
The Best Part of the Process Was Also The Worst
Few people see writing a book as something as impactful as it really is.
Bill was able to experience first-hand what publishing a book can really do for your mind and spirit.
“When you write a book, you meet every demon that you have inside; the insecurities, the fears, the procrastination, everything that came up.”
Writing and publishing a book is a vulnerable process. Many people who don’t succeed often get overwhelmed by the process without the right support.
Feeling doubt as writer is common, but it should never stop you from pursuing your dreams.
It might be a scary journey, but it’s worthwhile.
Just take it from Bill:
“Who I become by writing this book is my favorite part of writing this book.”
If you’re ready to experience that growth the way Bill did, don’t wait. Start today!
You nod as the light turns green. Time to go, time to move forward.
“Letting fear drive you will only drive you to disappointment,” the narrator reads his book to you. Your speakers beg for just a little more volume to drown out the traffic.
You lean in and turn it up.
This is what you want for your readers, this is what your current readers are missing, and these are the readers/listeners you are missing by not having an audiobook.
There is an entire audience who have no idea that your book could change their lives. In fact, they don’t even know it exists if they only listen to audiobooks.
Don’t worry! We can fix this, just hang out with me for about 10 minutes or so, and you will be equipped with encouragement, inspiration, and most importantly, aplan!
After writing multiple books and recording my own audiobooks, I’ve learned a few things that will help both green and seasoned writers. With so much useful information packed into one post, we’re going to break it down to some basic questions straight from middle-school English class.
Here’s what we’ll cover in relation to audiobook creation (if you’re in a hurry, skip to 1, 3, and 5):
Why not just sell both the digital and the audio? I know the temptation. After investing all this time and money into this audiobook, I need it to “pay” off, so why should I give it away? If that’s a hurdle you can’t get over, at least try using it as a lead magnet for a limited time, then switching to paid. Doing it this way allows for #4 (below) to thrive.
Fewer customer complaints.
When people get something for free, they are less likely to complain about it, though it still happens. However, this releases you from feeling like you have to have the perfect product. As Chandler says, “done is better than perfect.” We’ll cover more in the HOW and WHAT sections.
If you decide to put the book on Audible (the leader in audiobook production) or other sites like Findaway Voices, you will still get sales from people who never took the time to visit your Amazon (or other) page.
The most obvious: Build Your Subscriber List!
Having an author career is a long game. It requires support and a following at the least. This is the point of a lead magnet, to entice readers to sign up for your correspondence. Subscribers by email are gold for an author. Check it out here (and get a free audiobook) to see how the process looks from the subscriber’s side.
None of the other questions matter if we don’t understand our “why.”
As an author, you want to reach a broader audience while also better serving your current readers.
The market for digital and print books is saturated (which isn’t the worst thing), but the audiobook market is still wide open. This is a great time to jump in, stand out, offer more, and expand your reach.
Audiobooks are growing faster than any other digital publishing.
Nearly half of all listeners are under 35 and listen to 15 books a year, claiming that “audiobooks help you finish more books.”
People choose audio for multi-tasking, portability, and the novelty of someone else reading to them.
Podcasts (another growing industry) are a gateway to audiobooks.
Some publishers are skipping ebook production and going straight to audio, recognizing that audiobook sales are independently increasing.
Are you convinced yet?Before you go hire someone or crank up your voice memos,read on to see how best to create your audiobook.
#2 – How do you make an audiobook?
SPS has a great post here about how to make an audiobook. It includes tips on prepping your content, recording, hiring narrators, equipment, uploading to ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) for Audible, and more.
In addition to those things, here are a few tips from my experience when producing my first audiobook.
Use two computers or devices. I used one to handle the recording and audio editing (I chose to do simultaneous editing), and the other to read from while revising. No matter how many times you edit your book, you’ll always want to tweak something; recording your audiobook is no exception. If you’ve hired out your formatting, make notes for them of what you’ve changed.
Keep plenty of water nearby. One time while recording some of my music in a studio, the producer told me to take a drink of water before every take. I didn’t realize how much difference it made until I tried it. Take a deep breath and a big swig before each take.
Don’t beat yourself up for tripping over words. If it keeps happening, take a break. “Ahh! Can you even read? Come on, Michael!” Believe me, I understand the frustration.
Invite or hire a professional or semi-professional to help with setup. If you have any musician friends or podcaster buddies, have them help set up your environment and equipment, down to chair placement and lighting. I made the mistake of trying to do it all by myself (cue Eric Carman) and I ended up re-recording my book 1.5 times—that’s 2.5 total! It was a mess.
BONUS: A crucial piece of advice: listen to audiobooks in your genre. This should sound familiar, as it’s common advice to read the genre you write in, and it’s just as important to listen to it. To be a great writer, you must be an avid reader (and listener!)
With so much screen fatigue, it’s nice to break away and maybe look at, I don’t know, the sky or something real. Try that now…I’ll wait…
Ah, wasn’t that nice?
Let’s get back to business! What makes a good audiobook?
Cast the right voice (even if its yours): coming up in #4: WHO…patience, young grasshopper…
Conviction: Not only does your book need to be believable, but your narrator needs to convey the same conviction as you did when writing it.
Eliminate Mouth Sounds: This. Was. A. Pain. You, like me at one point, probably have no idea how much sound your mouth makes, from breath control to saliva and lip smacks. I ended up hiring someone from Fiverr to go through and edit my four-hour audiobook; the cost was around $300, which included mastering (adjusting the levels and frequencies for the specific ACX requirements).
“Is my book right for audio?”
I would argue that ANY book can be useful as an audiobook!
“What about children’s books?”
Imagine the novelty of having the author narrate his/her own work while the kids flip through the pages, all without having to go to a book-reading.
“How about short, daily reads, like religious devotionals?”
Au contraire…imagine how helpful it could be to have someone walk you through a recipe in real time, hands-free. If that doesn’t quite work, it can still serve to push people to your digital/physical book for reference and pictures.
In fact, some audiobooks come with companion content such as Good Clean Fun by Nick Offerman.
By now, you’re seriously considering this audiobook thing. Logically, the next thing to work out is WHO should narrate your book.
#4 – Who should narrate my audiobook?
Having a perfect book will not save you from poor narration. Audible makes it a point to offer a Performance section in their reviews.
Did you also notice the tab below for Amazon Reviews? That’s even more reason to get the “WHAT” right in this entire process.
When it comes to narration, there are two ways to go: do it yourself or hire it out.
Narrating Your Own Book:
There a plenty of advantages here. If you choose this route, you can either set up your own recording space or purchase studio time with an engineer.
Many readers will say they prefer authors to narrate their own works because it’s more authentic to the intentions. However, not all writers are great narrators.
I suggest this, a test run:
Use a phone app or voice recorder and try reading a chapter into it.
Listen back with objective ears, imagining your ideal reader.
Ask yourself if you were drawn in to the story or distracted by the narration. Be honest with yourself, and consider what it would take to make it better: cadence, pronunciation, accent, or perhaps a professional narrator. *If you choose to tackle accents, do your best to respect them rather than stereotyping. Audiobook listeners tend to care about accuracy and honor. For example, in England alone, there are half a dozen or more accents. In America, southern accents vary across states and regions.
Send the sample to an objective friend (preferably one familiar with the accents and style you’re going for), and be open to honest feedback.
If you decide self-narrating isn’t for you, then you can hire a professional.
Tups for hiring a narrator:
Cost: Narrators can be paid in different ways. ACX offers an hourly rate or a 50% split royalties option. There are other ways as well, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Voices.
Voice: fiction or non, nailing the voice is a make-it-or-break-it detail for many listeners. In fact, Audible has an entire section of its reviews dedicated to Narrator Performance. There is a common consensus that says having an non-preferred narrator is one of the biggest turn-offs for listeners.
Communication: you’ll want to make sure the narrator gets the pronunciations right as well as any specific occasions of sarcasm, humor, drama, timing, or more. They can fix some things in post-production, but changing the pronunciation of a main character’s name after finishing the book would be nearly impossible. It’s not as simple as “Find and Replace” (one of my favorite word processing functions!). ACX has great videos to help with such things.
If this post has stirred you up at all, then you must act!
You and I both know this to be true, so here are some things you can do right now to become a better writer and jump start your audiobook production.
Try the self-narrating tip from #4. For me, I’ve always loved doing impressions and finding new voices and accents. In fact, it has influenced my writing; I now try to include characters whose voices I know I can give life to. Recently, I made one of my characters Scottish, an accent I’ve always admired and respected.
Get started listening with Audible right now if you haven’t already, and start reading reviews, specifically in the Performance section. There are also plenty of free audiobook sources out there.
Continue polishing your book as best you can. Adjustments to the written word are fairly easy, but punching in seamless narration is nearly impossible. It doesn’t have to be perfect though! There is always the option to re-record your book (and likely be even better the next time around) or hire someone else to do it.
When you think of the phrase “imposter syndrome,” what comes to mind?
A shadowy figure dressed in mustache and sunglasses? A copy cat watching your every move?
Though imposter syndrome isn’t that insidious, it can still wreak havoc on your work.
Fortunately, by following the tips outlined in this post, you’ll be able to identify your imposter syndrome and kick it to the curb!
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome for writers is when you compare yourself to other writers to the extent that you question your own ability in writing. Imposter syndrome can apply to any creative field, but is prevalent for writers.
On the most basic level, imposter syndrome results in doubting your work. At a severe level, it results in a refusal to engage creatively.
What do I mean by “a refusal to engage creatively”?
Fearful of being inadequate, you don’t reach for your pen to jot down that amazing story idea. Distracted by other writers, you leave your page blank. Though you have great concepts, you don’t show them to anyone because you’re afraid you’re not good enough.
But you can overcome this self-doubt. Why? Because you are good enough.
Do I Have Imposter Syndrome?
Bookstores are usually a writer’s paradise. Home to a wonderful collection of different authors and book genres, it’s usually any writer’s dream to display their own work on the shelves.
But to someone with imposter syndrome, this place is a hotbed for competition. If you have imposter syndrome, you might feel the urge to instantly compare yourself to every book you come across. You might start thinking thoughts like: Their idea is so cool! Why can’t I come up with that? There are already so many successful authors…I can’t hope to be one.
Imposter syndrome might affect your writing itself.
Writing workshops are great opportunities to gather feedback and make your work stronger. But someone with imposter syndrome might freeze up when it comes time to share their work.
If you have imposter syndrome, you might start picking your piece apart, embarrassed to utter a single sentence.
Good news! With our writing tips, you’ll gain confidence in your writing ability.
How Can Imposter Syndrome Impact My Work?
When someone has imposter syndrome, it’s not just the author who suffers…it’s their work. Imposter syndrome can snuff out someone’s will to write, that key energy that pushes anyone to even start typing in the first place.
Imposter syndrome is a state of mind.
You’ll start questioning everything you put to paper; you’ll question the good reviews you get on your work and instead focus on the bad.
That sort of mindset tramples the creative process.
But you can quiet self-doubt and endless comparisons today.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
If you have imposter syndrome, you’re not without luck.
Here are just a few of many tips and strategies you can employ to hop back on that writing saddle.
#1 – Force yourself to write
This might be the greatest hurdle to overcome. But the first step in overcoming any writing issue is by taking to the page.
Start simple—you don’t have to write a memoir of 200 pages just yet. If you can’t think of any imaginative ideas or writing prompts, write about something that relates to you, like your morning commute.
If pressure forces you to write, add a timer. Hop onto Google and search for a stopwatch, or go the old-fashioned route and grab your own. Scribble down a few basic themes or ideas, set that timer for five minutes, and start writing!
This tip is professor-proofed.
I was first exposed to this tip in one of my college classes last semester. Engaging in it truly helped me shed my imposter syndrome.
Taking to the whiteboard, the teacher wrote a handful of basic words. Robot. July. Clouds. Balloon. It seemed silly, but this exercise helped the entire class.
Instead of being scared to read their work aloud, everyone was eager to share what they wrote. To my shock, I was too!
The goal isn’t to use every single theme you wrote down. If you do, that’s terrific! The main goal of this challenge is putting yourself back into a writing mindset.
Challenging yourself through creative writing is just one of many ways to diminish your imposter syndrome.
Up for taking this challenge with others? Make it a party and grab some friends. Instead of focusing on who wrote the “best” story, though, try celebrating the simple fact that you’re all making something creative.
The more you spend thinking of ideas and diving back into your writing, the less you’ll think of other people’s opinions.
#2 – Create balance in your life
A stressed mind creates stressful scenarios. Look for what is lacking in your schedule—or what’s eating it up. Are you getting an adequate amount of sleep each night? Is your work environment clashing with your mental health? If you’re tense, try deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Here’s a great table on creating your writing environment:
How to Start Writing Tip
- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog - remind everyone it's YOUR time - Turn your phone off - Close ALL web browsers - Close your email
- invest in a GOOD chair - or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy - fill the area with motivational quotes - make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
Choose Beneficial Background Noise
- turn off all sounds if it distracts you - turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate - choose energizing music to help you focus
If schedules rule your day, pencil in some time to write. Follow rule #1 and take advantage of gaps in your day. Scribble some sentences while you’re munching during your lunch break, or make a habit of journaling before bed.
Not only will this help you make long-term progress, but it’ll also help you fall into a writing routine.
Visit this post on how you can create your perfect writing space.
However, you normally gather your ideas, make sure you’re actually jotting them down. Nothing hurts more than thinking of your next great story idea and forgetting it because you didn’t have it on paper.
The easier you make it for you to find your character bios or world maps, the less stress you’ll be putting on yourself when it comes time to write.
The more you declutter your mind, the more room you’ll have to start focusing on your work.
#3 – Create balance in your feedback
It’s no secret that if you want to grow as a writer, you have to accept feedback. For someone with imposter syndrome, though, accepting negative feedback is especially difficult. The solution?
Realize that feedback is supposed to enhance your work. Instead of attaching yourself to the feedback, remain subjective.
The joy of being an author and sharing our work with the world is that we come across various viewpoints. Some might agree with us, and others might not. And that’s okay! You can decide when and how you want to respond to reviews.
For starters, this type of feedback is rude. More importantly, feedback like this doesn’t offer any suggestions or justifications. You can toss “feedback” of this sort out the window. Instead, look for feedback partners who will lift you up.
An example of proper feedback:
“I really liked the tone of this piece. It was consistent and locked me in. Yet, I’m not sure if your main character’s actions are justifiable. I didn’t see any character development in this chapter and I think adding that would help.”
Positive, constructive feedback creates balance.
As an author, positive feedback lets you know what you did well and what you need to improve on. Creating this balanced feedback opens up an honest and respectful dialogue between writing partners.
Cultivating these conversations helps eliminate imposter syndrome.
#4 – Interview other writers
No one is immune to self-doubt. But one way to start squashing that feeling is by interviewing authors.
Here are a few sample questions you might ask:
Have you ever faced imposter syndrome?
Are you still battling imposter syndrome?
What tips have you used to overcome your imposter syndrome?
What are your favorite writing exercises?
What are your favorite inspirational quotes?
What book serves as your inspiration?
What is the best feedback you have ever received?
What is the worst feedback you have ever received?
How do you overcome negative feedback?
What might you say to your younger writing self?
What is your biggest writing achievement?
What are your writing goals?
If they are not finished with the journey of overcoming imposter syndrome, you can help each other. Try tip number one and get lost in the sample writing activity together—or create your own!
By engaging with other writers, you’ll start realizing that most of them have the same concerns you do. You’ll realize that writing is a personal—and community-filled—journey. While we might feel excluded in our writing dens, bent over the keys, nothing is more welcoming than knowing we’re not alone.
#5 – Realize every story and writer is different
Your western murder mystery is probably very different than someone else’s comedy road trip novella.
It makes sense that comparing those two ideas is rather difficult. Even at the surface, it’s rather hard to come up with like-minded ideas. Gunslingers and modern-day travel sagas don’t exactly share too many similarities.
But, what if you did? Finding common ground in another work shouldn’t spell the end to your writing career.
Let Stanley Kubrick’s words be of inspiration to you:
“Everything has already been done. Every story has been told…it’s our job to do it one better.”
Take it upon yourself to add your creative twist to your work.
When those comparison-laden thoughts surface, realize that every writer brings something different to the keyboard.
#6 – Everyone starts somewhere
If you’re anything like me, you didn’t pick up writing skillsets overnight. Instead, it’s been a long journey from the day you first started scribbling on paper to where you are at now.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to…yourself. Think about how long you’ve been writing. If you’ve been writing since elementary school, it’s likely your younger self would be in awe about what you’ve written throughout the years.
Picturing that little kid smiling over your skills might be enough motivation to keep going.
Even if you just picked up the creative pen last week, every day is a new experience. Every sentence written is a new notch of knowledge added to your belt. Root for yourself.
Final Tips for Getting Over Imposter Syndrome for Writers
If following numerous tasks stresses you out, nothing says you have to follow all of these pointers at once. Try them out of order, mix them around. If you would rather find a writing community first, then start working on how to balance your feedback, that’s perfectly fine.
Conversely, if you like following guides step-by-step, give it a shot!
Is goal-setting your calling? Try marking on your calendar when you would like to erase your imposter syndrome. Sometimes, having a feasible end date serves as great motivation.
Regardless, by following these steps, you’ll start living the inverse of imposter-ridden scenarios.
Stepping into a bookstore, you’ll feel energized looking at the latest best-sellers and fresh faces on the shelves. You might even picture your work standing proudly amongst them.
Heading to your next writer’s conference, you come prepared. You’re happy to gather feedback on your work and even happier to share your piece aloud.
You don’t compare yourself to the big leagues or your writing partner. You see other writers as writing allies, no matter if they’re writing about a space opera and you’re writing about an romance saga in Venice.
Most importantly…You realize how imperative it is to foster a healthy community of writers—and you’re ecstatic being a part of one.
Writing the book might seem like the most difficult part…and then you have to actually title the darn thing!
When it comes to writing a book, coming up with reasonable book title ideas is surprisingly one of the hardest parts to complete. It’s difficult because titles are essentially short hooks that advertise your book using the fewest words possible.
It’s also what readers look for first when they discover new books, and can take less than 5 seconds to make a decision.
This is why it’s so crucial tocrafta perfect name.
Give these a try, and comment down below your favorite! Also, let us know if you want any book title generators we should add to this list.
#2 – Your Title Must Include a Solution to a Problem
Your title should be crystal clear on what your readers will achieve by reading your book. Experts say that a title with a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your title:
Are you teaching a desirable skill?
Can your personal discoveries impact someone’s life?
Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Here are our favorite book titles that offer a clear solution to a problem with promising results:
Asperger’s Rules! How to Make Sense of School and Friendship by Blythe Grossman
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Write down the best solutions or teachings your book offers and form these into potential book title ideas.
#3 – Use a Subtitle for Clarity
A great non-fiction title employs a subtitle to clarify what the desired outcome will be from reading your book.
In this video clip, Chandler explains in 5 simple steps how to create a compelling subtitle:
Here are some questions to consider when creating your subtitle:
How can your subtitle further expand on achieving a desirable outcome?
What are the biggest pain points that your subtitle can provide a solution for?
How can you further address your innovative solution in the subtitle?
Here are our favorite book subtitles that spell out what their readers can expect from reading their books:
The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Make a list of 10 attention-grabbing subtitles that promise big outcomes and other positive benefits.
#4 – Make Your Title Unforgettable
Catchy titles are memorable, boring titles are not. So make an effort to be more creative and fun with your book title! Use alliterations to make your title easier to read and remember. A memorable and light-hearted title adds additional character to your book and is also a great way to attract readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:
Will a fun title turn a normally boring subject into something more interesting?
Will adding humor to your title further entice readers?
Will a cleverly written title stand out from other books in this genre?
Here are our favorite books that engaged us with clever titles and subtitles:
Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Experiment with different types of styles and poll your audience to determine whether a comedic, shocking, or even bizarre title will be the most appealing to your target audience.
No matter which method works best on creating a compelling title for nonfiction books, a good thing to remember is to always test multiple titles with different audiences to determine which book title generates the biggest response.
Getting good feedback is the only way to know for certain which title is perfect for your book.
How to Generate Book Title Ideas for Fiction
Generally, fiction titles are allowed more creative wiggle room than their non-fiction counterparts. That being said, an effective fiction title must still pique your readers’ attention.
And while it’s true that you can title your fictional book with random names, it still must catch the reader’s attention.
Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind:
#1 – Your Title Should be Appropriate to Your Genre
Your novel title should use language that resonates with both your book genre and target audience. For example, a romantic book can call for dreamy language whereas an action book can warrant strong and powerful words.
This means that you must know your book’s genre and words that best fit the style of title.
Here are some questions to consider for appropriate genre titles:
What genre best fits this story?
Which are the perfect choice words for your genre?
Here are our favorite fictional titles based on genre:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Based on the genre of your book, pick out a few keywords that best suit its category and evoke strong emotions in your readers.
#2 – Your Book Title Should Pique Your Reader’s Interest
A great fiction title teases and leaves your audience wanting more. You want your audience to read your title and think, “I must read what’s behind that great book cover!”
Here are some questions to consider on how to pique interest with your title:
Which key components of your story best captivates your readers?
What emotions do you want your readers to have once they read your title?
Here are our favorite fictional titles that drew our attention:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Choose a theme that will best draw your reader’s attention. Come up with 5 titles that will catch your reader’s attention and pique their curiosity.
#3 – Look to Your Characters for Book Title Inspiration
A great book title captures the spirit of the protagonist. Some authors simply use the hero’s name for their title.
Others have combined the names of their hero along with their special qualities to inform the audience about their protagonist’s accomplishments like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
On the flip-side, a formidable antagonist can also be an amazing book title.
A sinister name can convey a sense of dread and expectation for what’s to come like Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Both choices are great title ideas and should be seriously considered for your fictional book.
Here are some questions to consider when including a character as a title:
Between the hero and villain, who impacts the story more?
Are there any stunning qualities from your characters that will draw a reader’s emotion?
Can the plot of the story be summed up as a title?
Here are our favorite fictional books thatuse characters for its title:
Harry Potter (Literary Series) by J. K. Rowling
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Book Title Ideas Action Plan:
Determine which character best conveys what the story will tell in your title. You may also include creative words or themes to further showcase the character’s unique qualities or the journey itself.
#3 – Get Feedback From Your Target Audience
The people who will know if your title is a good fit best, are the people who would pick your book out of a lineup.
This can be difficult if you’re not a part of a writing group or aren’t active on social media.
However, here are some tips for getting book title feedback:
Create a poll in a Facebook writing group
Reach out to some friends or family you know read in your genre and ask for their feedback
Post a poll on Twitter with your various options
Do all of these in order to get a wide variety of input
Your Next Steps
Ultimately, the title of your book depends on you, the author. By following these constructive guidelines, you will be able to generate a number of book title ideas you can use to find the perfect one that grasps the attention of readers and soon become an Amazon bestseller in no time!
#1 – Join your FREE training!
This training was created just for you. Make sure to save your spot and sign up right now so you can learn exactly what it takes to write and publish your book within 90 days…or even less!
You won’t find this guide anywhere else. Take advantage of this offer so you can spark multiple book title ideas in as little as an hour!
#2 – Create a list of book title ideas
Now is the time to fire up that imagination and start brainstorming! We gave you a number of different actionable steps to help you generate book title ideas that work well.
Now is the time to make a list of every potential book title you can think of! The more, the merrier.
When this is done, you’ll want to go through and jot down any that really make you feel something in a separate list. These are the ones you’ll use for the next step.
#3 – Get feedback about the top title
It’s hard to pick a title by yourself because you’re too close to the book. What will help you find the best title is putting the options out there for your target audience to choose.
A fantastic way to do this is to join writing and publishing groups online where you can post polls.
The awful news for authors out there today is that there are plenty vanity press scams and self-publishing companies to avoid…unless you want your money stolen, that is…
If you are a self-published author, publishing your book today has never been easier. With a quick Google search, you’ll come across dozens of self-publishing companies offering publishing services for authors.
Before making any decisions, you want to check out all your options carefully. If not, you could find yourself the victim of a self-publishing scam, forking thousands of bucks over to a shady publishing company with nothing to show for it.
In this post, you’ll learn how to recognize the self-publishing scams when they cold call you…and the companies you can really trust to get your book published!
Here’s what we’ll cover in this post on self-publishing scams:
As with any lucrative industry, there are a wide range of self-publishing scams in business for one reason: To take your money.
A Vanity press publisher charges sky-high prices for author services that includes editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing.
But, all of this is outsourced to the lowest bidder and in the end, the author is left with a poor quality book and no way to market it.
“You get what you pay for” doesn’t equate when it comes to vanity press and the publishing scams they represent. You do pay top dollar, often tens of thousands, and what you get back for your investment lacks anything of value.
So, how can you avoid these self-publishing scams?
Let’s take a look.
Why Authors Fall for Vanity Press Scams
There could be many reasons why someone would sign up with a scammy publishing company that wants you to pay big money up front.
There is no shortage of scams out there when it comes to self-publishing. The biggest reason authors fall into these scams is because…well, they don’t know what they should know to avoid being scammed in the first place.
The fact that you have to pay a publisher to get your book published is warning sign enough: The lies are on the wall. Most authors who fall into this trap are not published authors yet.
You are either thinking of writing a book, you’ve started writing it, or you’re done and can’t wait to get it out there.
So, when a publisher comes along offering to get their “just finished” manuscript into the hands of thousands of readers and sell millions of books worldwide, I would grab at it, too. Who wouldn’t want that?
As a first time author, you are most likely not going to write a book that sells thousands of copies. And if you do, it will not be through a company that you just paid $5,000-$10 to for this to happen.
Most soon-to-be-published self-publishers fall into the lap of predatory publishers because they need help.
For someone who wants to become a successful author, your passion to publish is so strong that it overrides the sudden impulse to take the first offer on the table.
Here are several reasons why you might fall for the vanity press trap:
You are desperate for the know-how of book publishing.
The publishing process is too complex.
You are scared of “not publishing” and want it done right now.
You are not tech-savvy and would rather pay someone to overcome the hurdles.
Your friends keep asking you “When is your book coming out?”
You know nothing about book marketing and need to hire the experts. Guess what: Vanity publishers don’t know much about it either and you’ll have to market no matter the avenue of publishing you choose.
You watched a video of a self-published author who just signed a 6-figure deal with a large publisher…and you think that is what usually happens.
Before you make any hasty decisions, stop and breathe. If you need help with publishing your book [and everyone does] there is a right way and…
The other way that steals all your hard-earned dollars.
My hope is that you read this post before signing anything. If you can know the danger signs to watch for, you’ll pull yourself back from making a decision that costs you thousands of dollars, not to mention the heavy burden of regret later.
Early Warning Signs: The Lies of Vanity Press
Vanity presses are generally a bad idea all around, but we’ll cover some specific ways they can scam you and why they’re often on the list of self-publishing companies to avoid.
How Vanity Press Publishers Scam You
It is actually easy to spot a predatory publisher. I only hope you get to this post before they get to you. Here are the 5 big signs you are at risk of being scammed.
#1 — The company asks for publishing fees. This should be enough right here. Although Hybrid Publishers require authors to pay for all the publishing services upfront, they usually split the fees later.
A vanity press publisher will charge thousands for a publishing package. You are told that the book sales will be recouped later through book sales…which almost never happen. Don’t listen to the so-called “reviews and testimonials” on the websites. These are rigged, of course.
#2 — “We will publish your book for you on Amazon.” Let me be clear about this: Publishing on Amazon is super easy, even if you have limited tech skills. Not to mention Amazon has an excellent support system in place. The response time to inquiries is less than 24 hours and they are very detailed when it comes to responses.
A vanity publisher will make this sound more complicated than it really is. They will “take care of everything” and upload the book for you. What this also means is you lose control over making any future changes to the book. The only person that should be uploading the book to Amazon is YOU under your own account.
#3 — Charges for A Reading Fee. Never. This just isn’t done. A traditional publishing house never asks for this. If you are told by the sales rep they will read your book for a certain fee, red flag this. The “reading fee” scam is less common today, but just in case you do run up against a company that tries this old scam.
With a real publisher, nobody makes money until the book is selling. Actually, this practice has fallen the wayside these days and it would be rare to come across. But there is always someone willing to try…
#4 — The publisher will buy you an ISBN [because they are so hard to get]. You can buy an ISBN through Bowker.com if you reside within the USA. The cost is $125.00. In the U.K. you go through Nielson. In Canada ISBNs are free through ISBN Canada. If you buy this through IngramSpark they offer a slight discount. Again, this is just another ploy to make you think it is a difficult process that is better off left to the “professionals.”
#5 — “We will take care of all the marketing, because we know how difficult it is.” Yes, marketing is difficult, especially for authors. But a vanity press company won’t market the book to sell, they will do the bare minimum required so it appears as if the book is being placed in the proper channels.
My advice: Grab a book on marketing for authors or enroll in a course. Learn it. You can even outsource it out so that you doSell More Books. But in the end nobody is better at marketing their own book than the author.
#6 — Excessive use of flattery. The first time I spoke to a vanity press sales rep I remember the praise she gave me for my book. I felt as if I had written a book that was going to sell thousands of copies in the first week.
The rep was quoting passages from the book and referencing everything from the first page. Mind you, I later realized, everything she was quoting was from the first few pages. So did she read it? Of course not.
#7— A sales rep calls you several hours after you sign up to their newsletter with a sales pitch. I tested one of these sites by enquiring about their services, and I downloaded a freebie. The next day I received a call from my “Publishing consultant” ready to help me fulfill my dreams as an author. Wow. The sales pitch was impressive, but if you already knew the situation, it was a total scam. You can smell it.
But, for a new author excited to be part of the publishing journey, listening to someone else tell you how excited they are to publish your boom is a very tempting catch. In the end, they don’t care about your book or you. Whether it is Author Solutions or another of the dozens of publishing scammers out there, they get your money and keep milking it with constant upsells.
#8 — Make “over the mountain promises” to get you endorsed by Hollywood. It is not unusual for these companies to tell you that your book has a shot of being featured in Oprah’s book club, or that they will send your manuscript to one of their agents in Hollywood for review.
I can promise you one thing—Your book will never see the inside of a movie studio. Not unless you are a well-established author who has already proven themselves, and even then, it will not be through a vanity press company that you get there.
#9 — Promises to get your book into barnes and noble and other bookstores. In this case what happens is, they put your book into a large catalogue where bookstores and libraries can order it. But realistically, you’ll be hard pressed to sell a single book in any bookstore if you publish through a vanity press company. Libraries and bookstores won’t even consider it in most cases.
#10 — Insists you sign a contract handing over exclusivity. If this final dose doesn’t make you run the other way, I don’t know what will. By any and all means, as a self-published author, you do not sign over your material rights to anyone. This gives the vanity publisher the right to further exploit your work and profit from all sales. The author, in this case, gets a lower end percentage.
Now that you’ve seen the red flags, you are well-informed to make a decision if you come across what appears to be a shady publisher. You don’t need to sign anything or pay huge amounts of money for the publisher to “publish you to Amazon” or set you up with a movie deal.
Now, let’s take a look at…
Your Self-Publishing Options
We are not living in the 1990s anymore. Back then, choices to self-publish were limited. You either paid a company—like a vanity press—a lot of money. Or, you went on your own and hired a printing company to run off tons of copies that were not cheap.
Today, you will see that you have many good choices these days that make it easier for you to get your book published.
#1 — Self-Publishing Courses
There are quite a few reputable self-publishing courses out there. You buy the course, and work through the modules to write and ultimately publish your own book.
There are costs to publish your book, including creating it, cover design, editing, and launching your book.You still have to pay for these services, but at least you get to choose who is working on your book.
It is up to each individual author to outsource his or her own book. Publishing courses provide the content you need to get it all done, but you do all the work and take on additional costs outside the cost of the course.
You have to pay for the basics that any author pays for: A good cover design, hiring an editor and formatting, and maybe a budget for marketing services such as book promo sites or a media package.
But many new authors are weary about self-publishing and think uploading to Amazon— or other publishing companies—is a complex ordeal. It isn’t. I have been coaching authors for years and, nowadays, the system is built in that all you have to do is plug your book info into the Kindle Direct Publishing Bookshelf and away you go. The cost for actually self-publishing your book is O.
The production cost for the average book is about $1500. If you pay $1000-3000 for a course + $1500 for the book production, you are still under $5,000. If you continue to write more books, you’ve already paid for the course that usually gives you access for a lifetime.
Taking a self-publishing course is the best option we think. You learn how to do so much of the process yourself, and can rinse and repeat for future books. You still pay for everything but, who you decide to hire is up to you and the creative decisions are all yours.
#2 — KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing]
The KDP platform is Amazons book publishing platform. Publishing a book is so much easier now than it ever used to be, especially with Amazon self-publishing.
You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings. You don’T have to sign up and fork over thousands to a vanity press company.
You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by publishing directly through Amazon self-publishing.
Setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.
Here’s how to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account:
Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
To start printing your own books with IngramSpark, visit their website and set up an account. Do the same with Amazons’ Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Do it yourself. It’s not the difficult process many would have you believe, and there is lots of support on these sites ready to help you right away.
How much is the cost to print a book?
It depends on the book size but, for a book that is 30k in length with little to no photos or graphs and text only, expect to pay less than $4 per copy. The average scammy publisher will charge new authors $15-20 dollars per copy.
But for them, they print the books at the same cost as an author who sets this up through KDP or IngramSpark.
In fact, many vanity press publishers use IngramSpark for the print-on-demand service only just to sell the books back to the author at 5x the print cost.
#4 — Vanity Press Publisher
Vanity press publishing, also called subsidy publishing, differs from self–publishing in that the author assumes all the risk and pays the publisher for everything.
The editing, formatting, cover design, and even marketing the book are paid for by the author through the various packages offered when an author signs up.
But, there is a trap here: The costs are more than you initially pay for, and they don’t tell you this until later when you’re mired deeper into the project. Once invested, most authors are compelled to publish the book no matter the costs.
The emotional investment is what these companies prey on. Knowing how you feel about your book, they are ready to help you do anything to get it to market…and that means offering more expensive services.
By the time you are done and the book is published, potentially you have just spent $10k. With close to 0 book sales.
Vanity publishers make money, not from selling books for you, but from the author buying their own books back from the publisher. It is a scam where the author always loses.
#5 — Traditional Publishers
This is not a self-publishing route but, if you want to take the traditional path, you can begin by querying your manuscript with agents. Keep in mind, you may not see your book in print for a couple of year due to the lengthy process of first finding an agent, and then having them submit it to publishers to buy.
What is a traditional publisher?
“A traditional book publishing company buys the rights to an author’s manuscript. Buying rights from the author is how book publishers have traditionally acquired books. …The advance is deducted by the book publisher from any royalties the author receives from the sale of the book.”
That’s right, they pay you an advance for the book. You don’t pay them anything. It depends on the publisher’s contract but they will pay for [some] marketing.
The editing, cover design and formatting is taken care of by the publisher [in most cases].
There are a lot of nightmare stories of authors signing on with traditional publishers, but that usually equates to the publisher not trying hard enough to sell any books. In this case the author may end the contract and, after that, many authors take up with self-publishing and find better success. After all, why not be in charge of building your own book business?
#6 — Hybrid Publishers
A hybrid publisher is what you will find between a traditional publisher [pay nothing upfront but get paid an advance] or a vanity press publisher [pay for everything upfront and keep all royalties.
The hybrid publishers model is simple: An author pays for everything upfront but gets a bigger cut of the royalties after book sales, upwards of 50%. The initial cost means that the author assumes all the financial risk in order to get the book to market.
One other difference between traditional and hybrid publishing is, the hybrid has to pay the author a higher percentage of royalties than a traditional publishing house.
In order for a company to be called a hybrid publisher, there are 9 criteria set out by the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) that must be adhered to:
In order to not be classified as a vanity press, ALL book submissions must be reviewed. This means if your book does not meet the criteria, it should be rejected. A vanity press doesn’t care. Anything and anybody will do.
Hybrid publishers must clearly define a vision to follow for their company.
Must report reputable sales on all titles they publish.
Authors who sign with hybrid publishers must be paid a higher royalty than that of standard traditional publisher rates.
The quality of the production—cover design, editing and formatting—must meet industry standards.
The publisher must publish as its own defined imprint and request its own ISBNs.
Manage all distribution services for the works.
Hybrid publisher must manage the rights of the works they publish as well as any subsequent rights acquired.
Hybrid publishers must meet the standards and best practices set out by the publishing industry.
But…the vanity press publishers are bad seeds. Lately they are disguising their services as “hybrid publishers” but still operate with the same scammy tactics.
Take caution here that, while a hybrid publisher might look legit on the surface, there is a possibility you could get ripped off if you are not 100% sure.
Taking Down the Scammers
As a coach and self-publishing authority, I have worked with at least a dozen authors who’ve come away from a vanity press publisher broke, not just financially, but emotionally as well.
Like most authors, they just wanted to fulfill a dream and publish a book. But as soon as you sign up with a self-publishing scam company, your dreams are ripped apart and so is your bank account. By the time the not-yet-published author realizes it, they are invested by thousands of dollars and bound by a contract.
Over the years several class-action suits have been launched against scammy publishers for bad business practice. The worst of these publishers is Author Solutions, a company with a bad rap and a long history of complaints targeted against it by authors who have been exploited.
This company boasts on its website “300,000 authors published.” I would be hard-pressed to believe this and to go a step further, the percentage of those authors who would use Author Solution service again?
Chances are if you have been down this road, you realized before you were half way there that you’d taken a bad path.
Author Solutions is at the top of the chain of seedy publishing houses promising to get your book to market because the world needs to hear your story. And for a publishing package upwards of $5999 it could all be done for you. Well, initially you are led to believe.
Author Solutions is the parent company of several subsidiaries that operate, not only in the US but now have an International reach as they have set up in countries worldwide.
How do they make their money?
It isn’t from helping authors to sell books.
The authors usually end up selling nothing. Instead, they are made to buy the books they want from the publishers at a high cost just so they can have their own copies to sell or giveaway.
Fortunately, authors are better educated these days on the publishing options available. Vanity publishers are disappearing. But do return “wearing different clothing”, disguised as the next best company to get you that bestselling book.
Red Flag List: Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
I have compiled a list of publishing companies you should avoid at all costs. This is not a complete list but includes names of the major companies flagged by Writer Beware and Alliance of Independent Authors.
For a very thorough listing, I would recommend you check with the Alliance of Independent Authors. ALLi stays up-to-date on the scammy reports, warnings and lawsuits taken against bad publishers.
Here are some self-publishing companies that have made the list of those to watch out for:
Archway Publishing [Simon and Schuster]
LifeRich Publishing [Reader’s Digest]
Palibrio [for the Spanish-speaking community]
Christian faith publishing
Balboa press [a Division of Hay House]
Newman Springs Publishing
Xlibris [UK, AU, and NZ]
Dog ear publishing
Writers Beware and Watchdog Groups
Remember: Always do your homework. To make sure if you are buying into a legit business you should check in with these sites listed below.
“Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.”
A detailed breakdown of self-publishing companies and their ranking based on service and reliability.
Educate Yourself in Self-Publishing
Publishing scams will always be around as long as authors are paying for their services.
How do you, as an author, avoid falling into this trap?
The self-publishing arena is like a vast oasis of information and a never-ending learning process. Vanity press publishers are banking on you having no idea what to do, which is why you might consider turning to a publishing company in the first place.
You will learn how to write and market your book your way and all of it within your control. You won’t have to give up anything or sign your book rights over to a publisher that will exploit your creativity.
If you are uncertain as to whether you should spend money on a course or not, but you want to know the ins and outs of self-publishing, grab a $5 book and start here.
Meanwhile, the scammy publishers are on the phone right now with a future author that isn’t doing these things.
Read Books on “How to Write” and Self-Publishing
Reading is a cheap way to educate yourself on writing. Make it a habit to read for 30 minutes a day. Educate yourself on the publishing industry.
Top 10 Book Recommendations on Writing and Self-Publishing:
Amazon self-publishing is on the rise. With it being the #1 retailer for books worldwide, that makes sense.
But if you wind up making some errors in publishing on Amazon…let’s just say your results as an author will be less than satisfactory.
After all, the self-publishing industry is pretty sensitive to those making mistakes.
But Amazon self-publishing is the best option to self-publish and we’ve made it even easier for you with this guide for doing it with Kindle Direct Publishing.
You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings.
You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by Amazon self-publishing.
But many writers get overwhelmed by the abundance of information about self-publishing. It can be intimidating for first-time publishers. We get it – we were just like you!
So to ease some anxiety and uncertainty, we created this step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide for you to follow in order to get your book published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Network.
Here is your full guide for Amazon Self-Publishing:
Traditional publishing is on the way out. This has been the reality for some time now and for good reason.
While traditional publishing had its time and was once the only option for publishing a book, the system in place right now is one made for the next Stephen Kings – not for those who have value to share with the world.
Why Amazon Self-Publishing is the Best Option
Though traditional publishing is still a viable option for some, Amazon self-publishing is the best option and here’s why:
Over 70% of books are sold on Amazon
310 million book buyers through Amazon last year
Those buyers accounted for over $178 billion in sales
It’s easier and faster with Amazon self-publishing
There are major differences between traditional vs self-publishing with the majority of authors opting to take their talents to Amazon instead of through one of the Big 5 publishing houses.
Throughout this guide, you’ll read the term Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. It might sound self-explanatory but we’ll cover some basics.
This is an Amazon self-publishing platform that allows you to create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and even audiobooks in a single place. It’s widely used to build books from the ground up.
And fortunately, setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.
Your Guide for Amazon Self-Publishing
Sure, anyone can technically self-publish on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it will do well and actually sell. You have to know the specifics, from setting up your KDP account to the pricing of your book.
If done correctly, you can expect a successful launch and a substantial amount of passive income. Here are our steps for Amazon self-publishing.
#1 – Create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
Before you can start with Amazon publishing, you first have to have an account set up with them.
Here’s how to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account:
Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
Your profile is complete!
With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book, as seen in the areas below.
#2 – Choose a Book Title and Subtitle
In your Kindle Direct Publishing profile, you need to fill in the title and subtitle of your book. While a subtitle is optional, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider to bring in more views and create stronger intrigue and help people find your book when searching.
Use a Book Hook: Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention and feeds into what they are looking for.
List the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. One technique is to deliver the benefits in the subtitle, providing enough tantalizing information to further attract readers.
Think about what you would be attracted to in a book title. Keep it simple, clear, and unique. Research the title you want to use and make sure it hasn’t been scooped up by a high-performing book already.
You don’t want to make competition for yourself.
#3 – Write Your Book Description for Amazon
You need a powerful book description in order for potential buyers to read what it’s about. Even though the cover and subtitle should do a great job of this, we all want more information when it comes to putting money toward something.
Here’s what people notice first when seeing a new book:
A book description is essentially a short written narrative that illustrates what your book is about. It should be written like a sales page to capture the interest of your reader.
This is crucial because the description, in many cases, is the final factor that determines whether the reader will read your book or not. That, and great Amazon reviews.
When done correctly, a well-written book description can practically sell a book on its own.
Here are some strategies to help craft your perfect description:
Make your first sentence as enticing as possible
Write your description like a sales page or advertisement, not a dry summary of your book
Have the description feel personal and empathetic
Detail the benefits your reader will gain by reading your book
Here’s a great example of a full book description on Amazon:
You can find more amazing description examples with these books:
If you want your book to show up in Amazon and Google search engines, you’ll need the right mix of keywords. Since Amazon allows only seven keywordsper book, keyword selection requires strategy.
But what are keywords exactly?
Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe your book. If someone was looking for a book on your topic, they might type one of those keywords into Amazon or Google in order to find it.
For example, if your book is about perseverance, you might find keywords like this useful:
how to have perseverance
what is perseverance
persevering when it’s hard
These are all phrases or words people looking to better themselves with perseverance would type into search engines in order to find what they’re looking for, like in the image below.
You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:
KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making. You can check out this KDP Rocket Review.
KW Finder: This tool gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. You can search for five keywords for free per day.
Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.
Make a list of possible keywords for your book, then leverage the tools above to test your keywords. Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers.
#5 – Select Your Amazon Categories
Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition.
If you visit your book page, these categories will appear partway down the page, displaying the rank like in the image example below.
These categories are what you will rank as a bestseller in, which is why you want to make sure you pick fitting categories that are specific, but also not super competitive. You want to stand out.
You can also check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.
Amazon sales ranking measures how well a product is selling compared to its competitors. All books that are ranked 2,000 or less are considered to be highly purchased products in that particular category.
Here are a few tips when publishing on Amazon in order to rank in more categories:
Research your competitors keywords
Choose trending categories with lower competition
Acquire additional categories by contacting Amazon and asking for keyword placement
Unless you have an established audience with significant downloads and reviews, try to aim for categories with books that rank between 10,000-30,000.
In your Kindle Direct Publishing account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of your book.
Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.
You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing.
It’s important to check how your book looks using the “Look Inside” feature once the book is live on Amazon. This feature is often the first thing your prospective readers will click on when checking out your book.
When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover design is one of the most important aspects to get right. Contrary to what we were told growing up, people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. It’s actually one of the biggest deterrents.
Your cover is exactly how your book will be judged at first glance.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
You can find cover creators on freelancing sites such as:
One popular strategy for beginners is to price your book at $2.99 and gradually increase it by $1 per week. At some point, your sales will begin to dip. And while that’s normally a negative statistic, for this case, it confidently tells you the perfect price of your book that guarantees a profit.
Here are the 4 main pricing strategies to consider in order to be competitive and sell books:
Know the price of your competitors. Compare the list price of your book to the books around you and determine if you would be able to sell your book for a higher price.
Know the size of your followers. Famous authors can charge a lot for their books because they have a big following. If you’re not in this category, your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to buy your work.
Determine price based on the size of your book. Size does matter when it comes to books. Don’t charge $20 for a 75-page book. Customers will immediately be turned off with the lack of content at that price point.
Measure price based on reviews. Reviews carry a big weight on influence, and is social proof that your book has been read and well received. Therefore, a book with higher reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).
Not having an audiobook version of your book might, quite likely, be the death of your success. Which means you must know how to make an audiobook to fix that.
We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook. But many writers get scared off by the thought of creating an audiobook.
“Isn’t it expensive?”
“Won’t it take a ton of time?”
“How do I even do it?!?”
Thankfully, self-publishing an audiobook now is as easy as self-publishing your book. It has become cost-effective and approachable for self-published authors, and there is a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.
Here are the exact steps you need to follow, and our suggestions for turning your book into the next big audiobook.
How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step
Audiobooks are on the rise, and if you’re an author who’s not pursuing this book format, you’re missing out on an entire audience who could be enjoying your story.
Here are our top steps for creating an audiobook.
#1 – Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording
If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording.
This creates a script you can read as you record the audio version of your book. You don’t want to get tripped up while you (or someone else) is reading through the manuscript, so you need to remove everything that won’t make sense in the audio version.
These are the pieces you should go through and look for to cut out:
Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts
Once you’ve created your new script, read through it one last time to make sure it all makes sense in audio form.
#2 – Decide who will record your audiobook
The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. But before you can do that, you have to decide who will record the book.
Here are your choices when deciding who will record your audiobook:
If you’re writing nonfiction, particularly a story about your life, you may want to record the book yourself. However, if you aren’t confident in producing the best quality audiobook, you can still hire a narrator.
For those of you writing a fiction novel, you’ll likely want to hire an audiobook narrator, as these stories often need a narrator with an acting skillset.
#3 – Hiring an audiobook narrator
Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and least painful route. You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost of this service can be quite reasonable.
In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself.
Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.
If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent. First, you’ll need a proposal.
The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal. Your second step is to create sample audio content to share with potential freelance narrators. This is your “retail audio sample.”
The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold:
It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to pique their interest in your book.
Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights.
The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and pique their interest in your book, they’ll want to hear more.
If you’ve never worked with a freelancer, check out Voices or Upwork for a list of narrator pros.
You can also do a simple Google search to find those who have a career in narrating audiobooks.
#4 – Record the audiobook yourself
Your second option for creating an audiobook is self-recording in a studio. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, especially from the paid time to use a pro recording studio.
We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook.
Here’s a good timeline for self-recorded audiobook production:
Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.
Of course, these times are just guides; the time-frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit.
Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.
#5 – Work with an audiobook producer
The third path to creating an audiobook is to hire a professional producer. If you have never recorded an audiobook before, working with a producer would help you through the technical difficulties.
Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. You can download Audacity here.
You could go fancier and get higher-end equipment, but these tools should be more than enough to get the job done.
Location and Space for Making an Audiobook:
You want to find an isolated, padded room or recording box. “Room Tone, or “Noise Floor” can bring in all sorts of sounds from around the environment.
Recording in your room is an option but make sure your space is set up for recording and that it is “silent.” If this is difficult, hiring a producer, in this case, would be a recommended option.
Audiobook Recording Tips:
Next, you need to make sure you avoid any random noises that might pop up, and any variances in the recording quality.
Here are some tips to help make sure you do that:
Turn off all fans and machines.
Read in a small, carpeted area
Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.
Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.
Read the chapter through from start to end.
Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.
Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.
Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.
Schedule sessions several days apart. Avoid sounding exhausted.
With the Audacity software and your mic, you should be able to get a decent quality recording of your book. But keep in mind that, recording you own audiobook is an exhausting process and it isn’t for everyone.
You have to set yourself up with the proper environment, and set aside the time for recording. If you have never used Audacity or any type of recording equipment before, there is a learning curve that adds weeks to the audiobook production.
For these reasons you may decide to hire someone for the first audiobook, learn what you can, and then try it for your next book.
#7 – Upload your audiobook to audiobook creation exchange
Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Audiobook Creation Exchange, also known as ACX.
When you publish on the ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store.
It’s the only place you need to go to make sure your audiobook gets heard by as many people as possible. You retain all of the audio rights, while ACX handles all of the distribution for you, similar to how the Kindle Direct Publishing platform works.
While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook on ACX:
Click “Add Your Title.” [Note: You must have a Kindle ebook published]
Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
Choose your territory and distribution.
(Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
Complete the “About My Book” section.
(Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
Complete the proper copyright information.
Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
Click the “add audio file” prompt.
Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
Finally, upload your book cover.
Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should be the same as appears on your eBook.
ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.
What are audiobook royalties on ACX?
When you publish your audiobook on the ACX, you’ll earn between 20%-40% of their title royalties. If you work with a producer, then you’ll have a royalty share with them, and the rate that you receive is dependent on how your producer is compensated.
If you work by yourself, you keep the whole 40%, if you split it with a producer, you could each earn 20%.
Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords, first-time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000.
On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget. Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process.
We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.
The Rise of Self-Publishing
If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money, and a little bit of sanity.
Before we dive into how much it costs to publish a book, check out how much you will make if you choose to self-publish your book.
Knowing how much you stand to make can help you understand that any investments into publishing your book (like the expenses we’ll detail below), can be earned back—and this shows you how many book sales until you will have earned it.
Because there are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book.
What it really boils down to is this:
How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?
The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.
When publishing on Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.
How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?
The cost of publishing a book varies greatly but self-published authors can expect to spend anywhere from $100-$2500 to publish a book based on additional book production costs like editing, cover design, formatting, and more, which we cover.
To start, let’s look at a sample budget for publishing a book.
Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.
As with really any service, you can choose to spend a lot more for more experience or you can opt for someone really great at what they do, with cheaper prices.
Just keep in mind that quality matters with your book!
It’s better to invest in yourself like you’re a business. Because as an author, you are one!
I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget.
Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.
However, these are some average prices you can expect when self-publishing your book.
What You Need
Professional Cover Design
Each book NEEDS a professional cover. People judge books by covers and without investing in one, your book will fail.
$100 - $600
Even if you're the best writer out there, your book will still need a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes on it.
$300 - $1,500
A good book needs proper formatting for paperback, hardback (if you want this) and for Ebook. Luckily, this can be included with cover design at many design firms.
$50 - $300
If you want to run ads for your site or pay your launch team in any way, these are costs you will have to cover.
$0 - $500
This includes courses, building your site, automated email services, writing software, and more.
How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?
Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway.
The book cover design can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat. If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it.
A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.
Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat.
Make sure you shop around when hiring a book editor. Since book editors rates vary so greatly, you can often find an amazing editor as a fraction of the price of bigger editing companies, like NY Book Editors.
If you’re a Self-Publishing School student, we provide a rolodex of tried-and-trusted editors with reduced rates.
A 40,000 manuscript edited through NY Book Editors can run you up to $2,700 for a comprehensive edit.
Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.
You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250 if you search a wide variety of editors and find one with reasonable pricing.
Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.
How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?
When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200.
Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices. I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters.
Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.
Take a look at these costs of publishing to get an idea for this:
How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?
When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.
Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and Ebook Launch go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.
Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.
For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:
You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy.
But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.
#2 – An Author Website
Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in.
It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.
Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:
Hosting: You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.
Domain Name: You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 per year.
Email Subscription Services:
If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:
MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.
#3 – Publish Under Your Own Company
I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace (which has now merged with KDP) ISBN or another print-on-demand service.
The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.
If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or Ingramspark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book.
Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.
Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.
This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.
How to Increase Book Sales
We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.
Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales, crush those low book sales, and get more eyeballs on your work.
Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.
This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?
You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.
#3 – Barter When You Can
If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.
As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills.
See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book.
It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews. If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book.
See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.
#4 – Write a Great Book!
This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.
You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows, and any future books you release will practically promote themselves.
Your Next Step
We are in a great era of self-publishing.
Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash, and a great book idea. We’ve broken down the cost to publish your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000.
It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.
Taking that leap can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Let us do some decluttering of your mind by cluing you in on some of the unexpected realities of self-publishing your book!
#1 – You’ll become a tech-savvy self-publishing whiz
Self-publishing involves a number of different technical capabilities you probably don’t know of before starting the process.
And because you’ll be responsible for the entirety of your publishing journey, you’ll learn a lot about all of the different platforms you’ll need to make it happen – which is made a lot easier with a program that shows you exactly what you need to do, when to do it, and how to get it done.
#2 – A lot more income
You probably think of self-published authors as the “starving artist” type, forever playing catch-up with bills and life in general.
In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, check out this book profit calculator to determine just how much money you can make depending on how you price your book, the royalty rate, and how many book sales you acquire.
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If you do work hard and pursue self-publishing by learning from those who have done it before, you can actually expect some cushy additional income.
Why is that, you ask?
Because you don’t have to fork over a chunk of your earnings to a publisher. Because you are the publisher.
#3 – You’ll learn a lot about yourself
This is especially true if you’re writing non-fiction but it’s just as meaningful for fiction authors as well.
Writing a book takes a lot of your own experiences, values, and meaningful content to you. That means you get to do some digging into your psyche to uncover the very core of who you are. And if you’re writing a memoir, be prepared for a lot of this.
That’s a bit deep, but I really want you to understand just how much you can learn about yourself from self-publishing a book.
And it’s not even all about the writing itself, either.
Self-publishing takes a lot of drive, ambition, and a very determined individual.
It’s a challenge and whenever we enter into challenging times in our lives, we learn more about ourselves than ever before.
Self-publishing a book is the same.
Through your writing, editing, rewriting, marketing, and self-publishing journey, you can figure out more of who you are and what you want out of life.
And that alone is worth it.
#4 – You’ll make amazing connections
Networking isn’t really something many people think of when they consider self-publishing.
In fact, most people assume self-published authors are shut-ins who spend all their time shrouded in thick blankets with a steaming mug of spiked coffee between their hands.
And knowing talented, hardworking individuals will only help you reach your goals faster.
The point is, self-publishing helps you build those connections you might not otherwise get. After all, self-published authors stick together.
#5 – You build almost-instant credibility
The crazy thing about self-publishing is how much other’s view of you changes.
Before, you may have just been a blogger with a business that just wouldn’t take off. After you have a book available, others will see you as an authority figure in your field.
They will feel more comfortable paying for your products or services simply because you wrote a book.
It might seem a little silly because your knowledge base is the same, but when a potential customer can purchase your book, they instantly see you as someone with expert knowledge and this increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you.
Even if you’re not a business owner, self-publishing a book will still give you a boost in the eyes of strangers and even people you know well.
#6 – Opportunities will come knocking
We like to refer to self-publishing a book as opening the door to Narnia. Once you go through with the process, you will throw yourself into an entirely new world where opportunities basically fall into your lap.
One of the (arguably) best opportunities granted was becoming part of the Self-Publishing School team behind the scenes by teaching and helping other students find the same success she did.
Bottom line: you might become addicted to writing books.
#9 – You’ll generate tons of new ideas
Writing a book forces you into a quicksand-like imaginative headspace. The more you write, the more you understand what else you can be writing and you end up in a pit of creativity that releases your mind and allows you to think outside the box.
You practically get sucked into creative thinking.
Meaning, you’ll come up with so many new ideas for other books, blog posts, or even business ventures.
Think of your creativity like a muscle and self-publishing as the gym. Each time you sit down to further your self-publishing progress, the more creative you will become.
#10 – You’ll become a routine-writer
Before you learn the real process of self-publishing a book, you probably only ever wrote when you were inspired.
And that’s not always useful.
You’ve always had this book idea and would spend bursts of time typing out so much content…
only to lose that inspiration the next day…and the next…and the next, until you basically forget all about it.
When you actually self-publish a book, you learn that becoming an author isn’t just about writing when you want to but writing anyway.
The best part about this?
You write faster, become better, and can publish much sooner than if you waited around for inspiration to find you.
Ok, so here’s the deal. What I am just about to tell you might sound controversial. It might even sound downright ridiculous.
You could even get offended.
But bear with me for a while. Just hear me out…because what I really want for you is to sell more books, and your book cover is one of the most important factors playing into that reality, even though we’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover.
The book cover exists to serve one – and only ONE – purpose. And that purpose is to sell your book. Everything else is details.
Shocked? Offended? About to pick that nearby glass of water and smash it on my head? Just hold it for a few minutes.
I understand how we creatives hate the four-letter words starting with an S. Sell? Sale? Sold!?
But it’s true. If you haven’t read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad yet, I urge you to get a copy and read.
Robert Kiyosaki was once being interviewed by this bright young journalist. She had a real flair for writing. She asked Robert if he had any advice for her. And guess what Robert told her. “Go take a sales course”, he said.
The young lady was shocked. She sat there silently for a few minutes, staring at Robert Kiyosaki in disbelief. And then she spoke. She told him she had spent all her life writing and studying. She held master’s degrees in literature and journalism.
And she had worked so hard all her life, so that she won’t have to “stoop so low” as learning to sell!
Robert explained how she was a far superior writer than Robert could ever hope to be, but Robert was still a best-selling author, while she wasn’t. She could write the best book ever written by a human being, but it wouldn’t matter if nobody read it.
And that is why you need to “SELL”.
Makes sense? I hope it does because as I mentioned above, your book’s cover is one of the most important pieces of becoming a successful author.
What makes for a good book cover?
I have been on that side of the fence where creatives hate the concept of selling or marketing. And I have been on that side for the longest time. But the sooner you get yourself comfortable with these words and concepts, the better.
And the best way to start is by understanding that investing in a goodbook cover design, and knowing what makes a good one. Knowing the basics is still really important even if you plan on hiring a professional cover designer.
And why should you even listen to me? Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in marketing. And trust me, I learned nothing at school.
After my bachelors, I spent nearly ten years convincing myself and the world that I am an artist.
And you know the funniest part? All of my creative buddies and peers were in the same situation.
And that is when I decided I needed to learn what I had shunned for the longest time. I needed to learn to sell. We founded Dastaan Online. And the first business that needed our help was our own. We started publishing a literary magazine called Dastaan World.
Writers, artists, photographers, even those who write poetry along with readers flocked to us. I decided to design covers for every story we published. And our contributors loved them!
My covers might well be beautiful, and thought-provoking and sublime and what not. But that is all secondary. They keep coming to me, because my covers help them sell their books.
Every other quality of a good book cover can be indented as a subcategory or explanation of this one point.
Use texture and patterns to add non-distracting details
Use high and low angles
Combine several composition tips into one for full-effect (but not ALL of them)
But you can start off with a few interesting guidelines or you can simply hire a book editor who’s experienced in the field of composition.
#3 – Develop a Clear Focal Point
Every composition, every piece of deliberately designed visual communication, needs a focal point. The easiest way to find your focal point is to ask yourself (or, preferably, a friend) where your eye goes first on this piece.
Whether it’s the title, your author byline, a figure in the artwork, some specific abstract shape, your focal point is what grabs your attention and catches your eye the first.
And it’s not accidental.
In this example by Self-Publishing School’s Omer Redden, you can see that the focal point of his book Life Doc is very clearly and intentionally the eye-catching title.
There’s a whole science behind this elusive art called composition. It is this magic skill that dictates where a viewer is going to look, and in what order.
You can have multiple focal points, but they should not compete with each other. They grab your viewer’s attention in the order you have designed them. Primary, secondary, tertiary and so on.
This dance of attention depends on what story you want to plant in their head. This story will make them open your book and eventually decide to buy it.
#4 – Title, Subtitle and Their Relatives
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking your cover is completely at your designer’s mercy. No. You are the writer. And you play the key role in determining how well your cover is gonna perform.
When trying to come up with a book title idea, ask yourself this: Will it pull your reader from across the store? Or the webpage? It should be compelling. It should be visible and readable.
AND it should be strengthened further by any additional visual elements on your cover.
Self-Publishing School coach Scott Allan’s book Undefeated is a great example of this. Here you can see his title plays an integral role in the cover design as a whole, with a very telling message with the torn reveal of “un” in “undefeated”
Your title, and any subtitles and taglines are going to play a pivotal role in selling your book. So get your inner Don Draper out when crafting your cover copy!
#5 – Simplistic Book Cover Design
And finally, I like to keep my covers simple. And I personally tend to like covers that are simple and minimalistic.
Although, my covers may sometimes look complex because of all the digitally painted and photo-manipulated detail, the ideas and composition must remain simple. It all goes in favor of the focal point and our intention to just say enough that will compel our viewer to buy the book.
Overly complex covers usually give a very blatant impression of desperation, where the designer didn’t exactly know what to put in.
And hence, they put everything they could think of in there. Not cool. Don’t do this. Keep it simple!
So when you decide to finally lock down your book cover, remember to keep it simple stupid. Keep the big picture of your story in mind.
Make your viewers focus on the key selling points of your book.
If you feel stumped about your book cover design, you can always reach out to a professional for help. If you’re a student of Self-Publishing School, you’ll even be provided a list of cover designers whose work already checks the boxes of this list.
You can see a little preview of this below:
Just keep these guidelines in mind, whether you are designing the cover yourself, or paying someone to do it for you.
For example, most lists only take into account the number of book sales in a very specific time period and from very specific places—and most of them don’t count online book sales the same as in-store sales.
What does this mean for you and your desire to be on a bestseller list?
While bestseller lists aren’t exactly a “lie,” they don’t paint the whole picture. Someone who sells a lot of books right at launch and then nothing for a while can still make the New York Times bestseller list…even though they might sell far fewer books than someone else who just didn’t have as many sales at once.
Essentially, it means that becoming a New York Times bestseller is a great goal to have, but it doesn’t mean that your book is any better than the millions of others out there.
That being said, many of us love the title of becoming a bestseller, so I’m here to walk you through how to do that in the way that makes the most sense for you.
Benefits of being a bestselling author
Even if most of the popular bestseller lists aren’t necessarily “fair,” there are still some perks to becoming a bestselling author.
Here are some benefits of landing your name on a bestseller list:
The title. There’s really nothing that has quite as satisfying of a ring to it as “bestselling author” does. It makes you feel good and rightfully so! It’s an accomplishment no matter how it happened and the confidence boost alone is enough of a reason to work hard to reach that goal.
The credibility. People just take bestselling authors more seriously. Because there’s some sort of proof that your book sold more, people think that means it’s better. When they feel that way about you being a bestselling author, they’re far more likely to respect you, your book, and anything else you put in front of them—like a business.
It helps you sell more books. Just like I mentioned above, being a bestselling author increases credibility. That means people will buy your book simply because it has that title—even if they’re not quite sure who you are or what’s in your book. It’s a simple way to increase your book sales.
It’s easier to sell future books. Once you hit bestseller status once, you can then add that title to your future books. Because of the same reason I mentioned in the point above, people are more likely to buy your book because the public perceived a bestseller status as an indicator of a good book.
You can charge more for non-author gigs. This includes if you want to be a speaker or any other side business connected to your book. Because you have that bestseller status, you can charge more.
How to become a bestselling author
If your heart is set on becoming a bestselling author and reaping all the rewards associated with it, we can help you get there
No matter if you want to become a New York Times bestselling author or an Amazon bestselling author, we’ve got you covered.
#1 – Decide which bestseller list you want to get on
This will ultimately define which path you follow to get published.
Our list above details a couple bestseller lists you can aim to get on, or you can shoot for all of them if you’re really ambitious.
Here at Self-Publishing School, we teach our students how to excel in becoming Amazon bestselling authors in order to gain authority, increase your book’s rankings on the #1 platform for book sales in the world, and ultimately, sell more of their books.
It’s up to you to determine if you want to get on one, two, or even all of the bestseller lists available.
#2 – Write an amazing book
Obviously, your book is important. While there is a lot of strategy involved in becoming a bestselling author, you do have to write a book worthy of selling.
Here’s how you can write an amazing book:
Decide if you want to write fiction or nonfiction. Both types of books can land on their respective bestseller list. This is a fairly easy decision—just go with the first idea you have.
Come up with a book idea. This can be made a lot easier with a list of writing prompts like this one right here. Remember that you have to be passionate about your book because if you’re not, your readers will be able to tell. No “bestseller” banner will save you from negative reviews.
Outline your book. One of the best ways I’ve learned how to write a good book is to outline it. When you know where you’re going, everything in between is easier to write, and that means you can focus on writing with quality.
Write your book. It may take time, but if you follow our process for writing a quality book, you will be proud to have it out into the world. Keep our tips in mind throughout the process and you’ll write a better book, faster.
#3 – Build an author platform
This should happen before you write your book—or during it, if you just decided you want to become an author at all, let alone a bestselling author.
What is an author platform?
Your platform is your audience. In order to sell your book and on a consistent basis (which is key if you want to be a full-time author), people need to:
know you exist and
that you’re writing books for them to read.
In order to do this, you have to be present on social media, have an author website, and market yourself as an author regularly.
Where you spend your most time and how you go about that marketing will depend on what type of book you’re writing and who your audience.
As an example, if your intended audience is an older generation between the ages of 45-60, they’re more likely to be on Facebook than other social platforms simply because those are Facebook’s deomgraphics.
Here are the demographics for social platforms so you can determine where you’ll focus your efforts:
Facebook: 54% female, 46% male, 65% between 50-64 years old
Twitter: 24% women, 23% men, 40% between 18-29 years old
Instagram: 39% women, 30% men, 72% between 13-17 years old
Pinterest: 41% women, 16% men, 34% between 40-49 years old
Using these numbers, you can get a better idea of where you should start building up your author platform first.
#4 – Market your book NOW
Yes, before it’s even done.
If you start on your author platform like I mentioned above, you can start marketing by simply creating social posts, videos, and more content related to your book and its contents.
Here are some ideas for marketing your book before it’s done:
Create social posts with tips and tricks related to your book’s contents
Update your followers on your book’s progress
Talk about the process of writing a book
Voice your challenges with the writing or content itself
Create countdown posts when it gets closer to time to launch
Engage with your followers by asking them to comment below—and then have conversations with them
#5 – Decide to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing
This is where your earlier decision of which bestseller list you want to be on comes into play.
If your goal is to become a New York Times bestselling author (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you do you), you’ll have to go the traditional publishing route and commit to spending a couple years mostly waiting.
However, if you want to become an Amazon bestselling author, that achievement is right around the corner.
Ultimately, we here at Self-Publishing School believe becoming an Amazon bestseller is not only the most attainable goal of becoming a bestseller author, but it also grants the same rewards as the others.
A self-publishing company is a business dedicated to helping you achieve your desired level of success within your self-publishing journey.
They detail the process and streamline otherwise difficult avenues you might not be able to maneuver yourself.
But every self-publishing company is different.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our mission is to make the process as easy as possible for you while ensuring you do everything you can to succeed the right way.
Sure, you can throw your book online with a cover you created in Canva and call yourself a self-published author. But will that yield book sales? Will that give you the authority, recognition, and fulfillment you’re looking for?
How is a Self-Publishing Company Different than a Traditional Publishing House?
Traditional publishing houses are where you first land an agent, and then they submit your manuscript, and they take care of the printing/editing/publishing – at the expense of your hard earned royalties, of course.
Here’s a table detailing the differences between self-publishing companies and traditional publishing.
What You Get
Sole control of your book's outcome
Sole control of your book's rights
Control over the story
Control over the cover
100% of royalties
Why Use a Self-Publishing Company?
After all, you want to do this yourself, right? Self-publish. But like I mentioned before, you don’t know everything about self-publishing.
Do you know the best book launch process for getting your book with the coveted orange “Bestseller” banner (that also increases your book’s ranking, and sales!)?
There is far more to self-publishing than simply hitting “publish” on Amazon, and without the right process, your book might end up as one of those stereotypical self-published books that sells 3 copies – to family members.
And that’s why you use a self-publishing company. Someone else has already done the research, the work, and has the experience to guide you through the process.
If you’re someone who wants to see real book sales and achieve other goals, like growing a business or becoming a full-time author, then a self-publishing company will help.
What You Can Expect with a Self-Publishing Company
What does working with a self-publishing company look like?
While not all self-publishing companies are the same or provide the same type of information and training for you, it’s important to understand what you’ll take away from working with one.
This is what you can expect when working with a company that helps you self-publish.
#1 – You keep all rights to your book
Unlike traditional publishing houses, you actually get to keep all the rights to your books.
What does this mean?
It mean that, when you publish, you are the sole owner of the book and all of its contents. It’s copyrighted under your name and the self-publishing companies will not have any of their information inside of the book (unless you want to thank them for everything they’ve helped you with).
This is a major benefit because with self-publishing companies, you can keep the book in print for however long you want.
On the flip side, traditional publishing houses can choose when to pull your book from shelves and simply no longer print or sell it. And since you no longer own the rights, you can’t self-publish that book unless you buy the rights back (which some publishing houses don’t even offer you the option of).
#2 – You’ll save time
Time is our most valuable asset. It’s the one thing in our lives we can never get back no matter what.
Unless you’re a secret time traveler and have uncovered the secrets of bending and warping time (and if you are, PLEASE SHARE), you have to treat time like it’s precious.
One of the biggest perks of using self-publishing companies to help you get your book published is the simple fact thatthey tell you what needs to be done, when, and how.
Not only will you save time actually writing the book (assuming the company gives you instructions on how to write faster, like we do here at Self-Publishing School), but you won’t have to go through the hours upon hours of research in order to get it right.
And, you don’t have to waste time making mistakes and adjusting them.
#3 – You keep 100% of royalties
Everything you earn, you keep. Now, there may be self-publishing companies out there who require a percentage of your royalties, since they helped you, but here at Self-Publishing School don’t’ believe in that.
After all, you did the work. You put forth the time and effort. This is your book. Therefore, you keep what you actually earn.
Aside from what Amazon takes for allowing you to use their platform, 100% of your profit is yours to keep.
This is much different than traditional publishing houses in the sense that through them, you’re only pocketing about 10% of royalties (and sometimes even less).
#4 – You’re kept accountable
The hardship is in the name itself: self-publishing.
It’s a very lonely process if you don’t have anyone else going through it with you. And we all know how much easier it is to stay on track when we have someone else rooting for (or hollering at) us.
Many self-publishing companies have some sort of progress tracking, coaching, or community to help keep you motivated and working to achieve your dream.
How we do that here at Self-Publishing School is through all three of those methods, including a Facebook Mastermind Community with hundreds of dedicated current and past students ready to help.
#5 – You get coached by experts
At least here at Self-Publishing School, you do. Not all programs have this perk, and boy is it a perk.
Our coaches are all experts in their field. You get one-on-one coaching that allows you to take personalized tips and put them to use in your own publishing journey.
Since coaches have been exactly where you are and have come out on top, and maintained book sales themselves, you get a leg up on anyone else doing this without that help.
Take a look at one of our amazing coaches, Lise Cartwright, and how she still manages to bring in $4,000 on her self-published books, all while helping our students learn to do the same.
Again, not all self-publishing companies offer this service to their students, but if they do, it can help you understand a side of the industry you likely wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
#6 – You make connections
This is particularly true for programs that include access to a community of somesort.
You never know who you’ll get to know, like, and befriend. These are all like-minded people who are after the same things as you.
You can make dear friends, get even more advice when needed, and maintain a sense of purpose when you’re constantly fed motivation from them.
#7 – You create a bigger impact with your book
What’s the reason you’re self-publishing. Why do you really want to get your book out into the world?
I’m willing to bet it has something meaningful to you. You want to help others, share information, or show the world a theme or message that’s important to you.
By using one of the self-publishing companies out there, you’re able to create a bigger impact with your book.
Because you will write it better, market it smarter, and sell more. And after all, that’s the point. Right? You want to get as many eyes on it as you possibly can.
#8 – You gain more opportunities
Because your book will do better than it would if you didn’t have that outside help, you gain many more opportunities.
Becoming a published author places you as an authority in any field you’re writing in. Not only does this help your business grow, if that’s your goal, but it also helps you sell more books through new and better opportunities than you’d have otherwise.
Take these students of ours for example:
After publishing their books, they have been either contacted or pursued speaking engagements on their own along with other opportunities to grow their book and platform.
#9 – Your business will grow
Leveraging your book to grow your business is one of the best methods out there.
Chandler Bolt, you know him—the guy who built this 8 figure business from his first bestselling book—swears by it.
But he’s not the only expert out there who agrees.
Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer, also uses a book to grow his business. You can check out how he does so in the video above, but the point remains: self-publishing is a perfect way to grow your business.
And if that’s your goal, then you want to make sure you’re self-publishing for success. Otherwise, your book won’t make nearly as big of an impact on your business, which is why working with a self-publishing company can help.
#10 – You have a repeatable, successful process
Many of our students write multiple books with our program – not just one.
As one of our favorite author says, if you write one book and you enjoy it, you will write another book.
The most successful self-published authors out there are those who write more than one book. Not only do they maintain a steady stream of passive income this way, but since they have a reliable, repeatable process, it makes it easy for them to publish multiple.
So long as the self-publishing company you’re working with has lifetime access (like we do), you can hop on and go through the system every time you want to.
Plus, imagine how nice it would feel to say, “Yes, I’m a published author of multiple books.” Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid
Not all self-publishing companies are created equal. Unfortunately, there are some self-publishing companies who only want your money and don’t want to see you succeed.
These are some red flags to keep a lookout for when researching self-publishing companies to help you get your book out there.
#1 – They take a cut of your royalties
Why even self-publish if you don’t actually get to keep your hard earned money?
This won’t necessarily mean that self-publishing company is a scam or fraudulent in any way. However, it is something to think about and be wary of.
You want to make sure you’re actually benefiting fairly for your book’s success. So working with a company that allows you to keep every cent is essential.
#2 – They make you sign over your book rights
As mentioned earlier, traditional publishing houses technically “purchase” your book from you. It’s why you get that nice big (usually not big, though) advance.
However, self-publishing companies should not require this. Since you are self-publishing, all of the rights should remains 100% yours.
#3 – They maintain creative control
Obviously, self-publishing companies are meant to help you.
That being said, they can certainly offer advice on your book title, subtitle, cover, and even contents, but they should never demand something of your book in order for you to continue with their program.
#4 – Unrealistic expectations
Self-publishing is a varied game. No two authors can expect the exact same outcome and your results largely vary on how much you’re willing to work and how well you’re following their program.
However, self-publishing companies also shouldn’t guarantee crazy expectations—especially without having the proof to back it up.
Guarantees of making $10,000 in the first month are often unfounded. Look for company promises that you feel good about actually being able to achieve them.
#5 – There are a large number of complaints online
Not every self-publishing company can meet everyone’s expectations. Not every single review will be positive – and that’s understandable.
What you do want to lookout for is a large number of negative reviews, complaints, or claims of fraud or scams. These are certainly something to be wary of, but make sure you research some positives as well.
Amazon is the biggest retailer online and with the world of book-buying migrating and settling on the internet, Amazon is the place to publish.
Here’s how you can publish an ebook on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing.
#1 – Write a book worth buying
There’s no point in publishing a book that’s not your best work. But if you’re not much of a writer or have no idea how to write a book in the first place, that can make this entire process much more daunting.
This is a very simple step for publishing an ebook. All you really have to do is “plug and chug,” as they say.
You have all of the information you need and now it’s just about uploading your formatted manuscript to your KDP account and filling in the information you need to.
That means you’ll need to fill out the title, subtitle, and the description.
Now, you really don’t want to write a boring “filler” description. After the cover, this is the single most important part of publishing an ebook.
If people aren’t sucked in by your description, they won’t buy your book.
Here’s an example of a killer description that has helped sell thousands of copies of this book:
#5 – Choose a launch date
Believe it or not, there are actually good and bad days to launch your book. Typically speaking, the winter holiday season is the worst time to publish a book simply because the advertising market will be super saturated.
Everyone is putting their best ads forward so they can reap the rewards of those holiday spending dollars.
And although this might seem like the perfect time to launch, it’s actually one of the worst.
Your book can easily become lost in the hype of literally every other book and product marketed during that time.
If you want to launch a book during the best possible time for its sales, use this guide below:
#7 – Build hype for your ebook on your website or blog
Many who publish ebooks usually have a website or blog they can use to drive traffic to it. Not only that, but some actually use the ebook as a lead magnet and even the main source of income on their site.
What you have to do before your launch is to build interest about the ebook.
Here’s how you can build hype for publishing your ebook:
Link to your book within blog posts
Create blog posts related to the topic of your book
Create graphics for your book and place in your sidebar and within blog posts
Create a graphic to use on the front page of your website
Create an email sequence to sell your book (this is for those more advanced with a larger email list)
Continuously look for ways to integrate your book into blog post ideas and on social media
The idea with optimizing your website with your book is to convert your blog followers into customers and to give those coming to your website from your book the content they’re actually looking for.
All of this builds fans and most importantly, a loyal and engaged following!
For example, we use Chandler Bolt’s book Published. as a main point of interest on our website. This gives those who are already interested in the publishing industry something of high value right off the bat.
#8 – Publish your ebook!
It’s time to kick off your ebook and launch! If you’ve followed the steps above, then you’re ready to get your book published and start reaping the rewards.
The best part about publishing an ebook is that you don’t have to worry about ordering prints and going through the proofs and the entire process of adjusting how they look.
Once the ebook format is complete, that’s all you need to concern yourself with in terms of delivery!
Your launch day is very important and exciting.
Make sure your launch team is ready for a day of sharing and even some activities.
It’s best to host activities that your audience can actually engage in. Some fun launch day activities include things like hosting a live webinar, doing a Q&A on Twitter or Facebook or your preferred platform, sending out an email to your entire email list, and any other fun pursuit your readers will benefit from.
Get together with your launch team beforehand and have everyone brainstorm some launch day events.
You can even give prizes to those whose ideas get used!
#9 – Create emphasis of your book on your webiste, social, or email list
Now is the time to leverage that book!
Writing the ebook itself isn’t the hardest part of this process; making continuous sales is. And the best way to ensure you keep pushing buyers to your book is to make it the focus of your blog and website.
Plus, if you have those great reviews from your launch team, you can actually leverage those to make more sales.
Place reviews on your website on the same page your book is linked to. They’re kind of like testimonials for a service. Except, in this case, your service is a book.
You can feature them on your website wherever you want.
Obviously, if you’re someone who only wants to sell your ebook, a blog or website might not even be something on your ebook publishing to-do list.
You should, however, think about creating a website to at least host your book and information on in case others want to find you and even connect with you about speaking engagements and other amazing opportunities a book can grant you.
The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years.
Self-publishing a book is done with these steps:
Write a book you’re proud of
Decide which self-publishing platform to use
Get your book edited, a cover designed, and it formatted
Upload your manuscript and accompanying assets
Hit “Publish” when you’re read
Your book is self-published!
It’s really that easy.
Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.
I’ve created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide that will walk you through the beginning steps of how to write your book all the way to how to self-publish it on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.
Let’s get started so you can get started!
#1 – Decide Why You Want to Learn How to Publish a Book
Come up with at least 10 valid reasons why you want to write a book. Use the questions above as a starting guide to brainstorm.
#2 – Write Your Book
If you’ve ever tried to start writing a book, you might have had moments where you’ve stared at a blank page for hours with nothing to show for it. Feeling frustrated, you resort to procrastinating and get nothing done!
This is normal, writing a book is hard work.
In fact, coming up with a book ideain general can be very tricky. But in order to start writing your book, you must develop a writing process.
Here’s are some effective ways to write a book worth self-publishing:
Buy a calendar. The best way to have your book complete is to have a calendar that schedules your goals per day/week.
Create an outline. An outline is like a map of your book that provides direction to your story. It keeps you on track and ensures that your ideas are organized.
Develop a writing habit. Condition yourself to write at the same time every day. With this practice, it will soon become a habit that will make writing a book automatic.
Get an accountability partner. You can hold each other accountable to write and finish your by your “draft done” date.
Build your writing environment. Yes, this can be a blanket for if you choose to use “build” literally or you can simply find an area where your head is clear, there are no distractions, and where you can write in peace.
To learn more tips on how to write faster, here’s a tutorial video of the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour:
Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out the negative noise to get you into the writing process.
#3 – Get Feedback on Your Book Before Publishing
When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible.
It’s essential to get this feedback in order to improve your writing.
Everything from creative writing to factual, non-fiction works needs feedback in order to produce a polished publication.
As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.
Writing tips can come from anywhere and the best usually come from those reading your book for the first time.
Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear, like in the example below.
Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor and self-publishing can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.
Reach out to a few friends who could provide good (preferably unbiased) feedback, and ask them if they’ll be willing to read a chapter or two (or the whole book!) as you finish writing
#4 – Choose a Book Title
Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft.
This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to keep it simple.
Your title should also be clear on what your readers will receive by reading your book. This is because experts state that a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable book title:
Is your title going to teach a high demand skill?
Can your title impact someone’s life?
Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Is it short enough to read in a thumbnail image on Amazon?
Does it elicit an emotional response?
Once you’ve narrowed down your book titles, send out an email to your friends and family or put a poll up to your audience asking what title they’d prefer. You could also ask a community of other authors what they think.
Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor? If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry!
Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. But be careful and always check references and portfolios of work.
As a Self-Publishing School student, we will also provide you with a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job, as you can see in the example below.
No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book.
Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you.
If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go and find an editor who’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.
Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.
Find a friend or professional editor who can make sure your book is error-free, and start working with them sooner rather than later!
#6 – Design a Book Cover that Converts
When it comes to self-publishing, a high-quality book cover is one of the most important elements that will get your book to convert into sales!
The reason is that yourbook cover design is what readers see first and will immediately determine whether they want to read your book or not.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” simply doesn’t apply to actual book covers, as much as we wish it did.
The hard truth is that everyone judges a book by its cover whether they realize it or not.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
What makes a good book cover?
Simplistic styling. Too much going on will make readers unable to figure out what your book is about. Keep the cover minimalistic and it will convert more readers.
Professionally designed. Book cover designers know how to create book covers that convert. They have industry knowledge and have studied what works and what doesn’t.
Clear title and subtitle. The title on your cover does matter. The easier it is to read, the better. This allows your readers to clearly see what your book is about as they scroll through Amazon or other book retailers.
A design style that fits your intended audience. If you’re writing a faith-based book intended for an audience of faith, having an overly dark, devilish cover doesn’t make sense.
You can find amazing book cover designers on freelancing sites such as:
You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.
Also keep in mind that formatting will look different for fiction versus nonfiction books.
Typically, nonfiction books don’t have an indent between paragraphs but instead, they have spaces whereas fiction books are indented with each new paragraph.
If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writeris a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle.
Just be sure you hire someone who knows how to format your specific book genre.
Make sure your book is formatted properly by using the free online resource above or hiring someone who can handle the formatting process for you.
#9 – Self-Publish Your Book
When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book.
This is how to upload your book on KDP:
On the KDP mainpage, locate and click on “Your Bookshelf”.
Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions”.
Then, locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
Finally, click on “Upload eBook Manuscript”, and upload your manuscript file from your computer.
It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories on Amazon your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience.
To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors. Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book.
Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.
Afterward, you should be ready to publish your book! Just click “save & publish” in the book editing screen!
Follow these steps to upload your book. You are allowed to upload your manuscript as many times as you want with each upload overriding the previous.
#10 – Price Your Book
One of the most important decisions when it comes to self-publishing a book is how to price it. The most common question I get from new writers is, “How much should my book cost?”
To answer this, my general rule of thumb is to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $5.99. To be more specific, when beginning a launch, I would begin by pricing the book at $0.99 for the launch period.
Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by $1 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.
Find the perfect price by using this strategy that will attract your readers and best drive long-term success.
#11 – Form a Launch Team
Your launch team is the group of people who are dedicated to helping make your book successful.
They should be a passionate group of individuals who are eager to make your book launch successful. Remember, one highly skilled team member is better than a group of mediocre ones!
Here’s a video detailing how to use a launch team effectively:
To find quality candidates, here’s a questionnaire you can use to assess applicants and see if they’re qualified to market your book:
Why do you want to support my book?
What goals are you trying to reach with this project?
How would you market this book?
Which influencers would you reach out to and why?
Do you have a genuine interest in my book and its genre?
Create an application with questions that align with your thought process. Try to be open-minded with those who think outside the box – they may be the perfect candidates that can get your book to become a bestseller.
#12 – Maximize Book Launch Exposure with Reviews
It’s not enough to learn how to publish a book and be done with it. You still have to take action even after your official launch.
As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, be sure to leverage your launch team and your audience to help you market your book! It may be odd to ask your fans for help, but your fans are there to support your project and want to see you succeed.
You might be surprised how willing they’ll be to help you if you just ask!
Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team and audience to do:
Share content from your book as blog posts across social media
Reach out to influencers for a future guest post or podcast feature
Share a book review on their YouTube channel
Buy extra copies to gift their friends
The additional exposure generated from your launch team and audience will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, which will drive more sales!
Create your book marketing launch plan using these methods. Measure each of these methods to see which will best get your book in the hands of new readers and convert into sales.
#13 – Celebrate Learning How to Self-Publish a Book!
Publishing after writing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self-publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche.
This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise.
Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.
Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.
What to do Now
Now that you’ve learned how to publish a book, it’s time to take action and bring yourself one step closer to your goals and dreams.
If self-publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need a step-by-step system to follow to take action.
However, please keep in mind that if you hire someone to design your book cover, they may not have availability right away. Meaning, reach out a few months before you want to launch your book in order to hire someone.
Design your own book cover
If you’re not quite ready to put your book in the hands of a professional designer, we have methods to help you design your own book cover.
#1 – Develop book cover ideas
We all typically have a thought about what we want our book covers to look like. Sometimes we even save images to our phone of covers we really like or want to emulate.
Your first step for designing your own book cover is compiling all these ideas into a single place.
You can find book cover ideas in all of these places:
Pinterest – sign on to Pinterest and look up “book covers” to get a ton of brilliant covers all in one place. This is also a great place to create a board specifically to save book covers for future reference.
Goodreads – There are so many books on Goodreads for you to look at as covers inspiration. You can even simply add these to your “to be read” list in order to save them for reference as well.
Google book cover ideas – Others have already done the work for you! Just go to Google and type in “book cover inspiration” and click on the “images” tab to be greeted with tons of great options you can save. Or you can check out helpful blog posts like this one on the 100 most creative book cover ideas.
Peruse Amazon in your book’s genre – This is by far the best method for coming up with book cover ideas. Simply go to your book’s genre by navigating to books > your genre > subgenre and look at the typical covers of bestselling books, like in the image below.
#2 – Use free stock images for your book cover
Once you have an idea for your book, you may need to outsource the images by using free stock photo sites.
We highly recommend stock photos (if you can’t have professional ones taken) because they are readily available for use, unlike some you might find on Google and want to use.
Here are a few places you can get free photos for your book cover:
Fonts matter! Depending on your genre, the style of your book, and even the vibe or voice you want to convey, your book cover fonts can make a major difference in how potential readers view your book.
For example, I used three different fonts to make up the covers in the images below. Depending on which font used, the title suddenly has a new meaning—and a new audience.
You have to make sure you’re using a font for your cover that coincides with its message, tone, and the audience you’re trying to reach.
#4 – Find the right book cover dimensions
You can’t design a book cover all willy nilly. The right book cover dimensions are crucial.
What are the proper book cover dimensions?
This is often your call and depends on your book formatting, but the most common paperback book dimensions are 6″ by 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm).
This doesn’t mean you have to use this size, but this is the most common size for a paperback book, and is Amazon’s default book dimension option if you publish through them.
Here are more book cover dimensions for the multiple platforms you may publish on:
Book Cover Size (suggested)
Cover Size Requirements
JPEG or TIFF
- 2560 x 1600 pixels - Ratio of 1.6:1
Between 1000 x 625 pixels AND 10000 x 10000 pixels. One side must be at least 1000 pixels long/wide.
Barnes & Noble
JPG or PNG
- Height and width of 1400 pixels minimum
750 pixels minimum for height and width
JPG or PNG
- 1400 x 1873 px - 1600 x 2400 px
1400 pixels wide as a minimum
Draft 2 Digital
- 1600 x 2400 pixels
Tall rectangle of 1600 wide and 2400 pixels long
JPG or PNG
- 1600 x 2400 pixels
1400 pixels wide as a minimum
#5 – Use free or paid cover design software
Now it’s time to put everything you’ve created and gathered together and design your actual book cover.
There are many different options to choose from, some of which don’t cost you additional money, while others do.
You don’t have to be an expert designer to create a great cover, but you do have to use certain methods to make it look like your book cover was designed by an expert (and we’ll cover professional book designs in a bit).
Using different design softwares, much like writing softwares, allows you to upload your work in a way that provides you with a clean finished results.
Here are our top free book cover designs softwares to use:
They can create custom designs, instead of using stock photos
They have inside knowledge about the book cover world
They will almost always make something of higher quality
You can trust that your cover will be good for its genre
There are many ways you can go about hiring a cover designer, one of which we discuss in the video below, but following our steps for working with a professional will help you come away with the best book cover you can.
We mentioned perusing Pinterest, searching for book cover inspiration on Google, and even heading to your book’s genre on Amazon to find what covers are performing best.
The main difference when working with a professional designer is that you should compile these ideas somewhere you can share with them.
Ultimately, they will create a cover they know to be great for your book, but they also want to know your vision for the project as well.
#2 – Research popular book covers in your genre
We touched on this in the above section as well, but when looking for book cover ideas, spend some time to research what’s populat in your genere.
Your cover designer will likely have experience creating in your genre (if you chose one wisely, at least) and can help with this but giving them a starting point will help you get to the cover you’ve always wanted, faster.
#3 – Hire a book cover designer you like
Finding a cover designer can be tricky. Here are Self-Publishing School, we actually provide a Rolodex of talented book cover designers (as seen in the image below) in order to allow our students to cut down on expenses and time spent searching.
That being said, there are many methods for finding cover designers.
Here are the many places you can find book cover designers for hire:
If you’re a student of ours, the Rolodex featured above in your course
Once you find a book cover designer you want to work with, the rest of this process continues.
#4 – Communicate your ideas about the book cover
Be as clear with your design as you can about what you want and expect for your book cover.
Remember, they’re not miracle workers, but if their experience is in line with what you’re looking for, be very upfront about what you want.
Share your book cover inspiration ideas with them in order to give them an idea of what to create for you.
Another thing they’ll ask is what your book is about. Give them the core elements, the style of it, and the tone you want it to have along with who your core audience is.
#5 – Ask for 1-3 options
At minimum, you should have 2 different cover options completed, though we highly recommend 3 in order to get a wider range of what you truly want.
This allows you to find the cover that BEST suits what you’re looking for.
Like in the example from our very own team member, Michael Lachance’s book, Land Your Dream Job, these cover design options should vary greatly from one another, and not just be different in their text or colors. Make this very clear to your designer—most offer 3-4 cover options within their packages already.
#6 – Test your book cover options with an audience
The above image is an example of getting feedback of your cover design. It’s always a good idea to run the final cover options through a feedback group in order to see what OTHER people resonate with.
Sometimes your target market will like a book cover that isn’t your favorite.
While it’s completely up to you which cover to go with, remember to keep your audience in mind. After all, your book is for them, not for you.
#7 – Finalize your cover options
The final step for your book cover design is to finalize it! Work with yoru designer to choose your favorite design, finalize the color and font options, and that’s it!
We recommend hosting a book cover reveal as a way to stir up more anticipation for your novel before your book launch as well!
Knowing how to copyright a book — the right way — is something that scares the crap out of most authors!
After all, if you get it wrong, someone could steal your work and pass it off as their own. It’s practically an author’s worst nightmare – for good reason.
A lot of us get caught up in a confusing haze of copyright laws, infringement, and wondering how to stay out of hot water with the law and angry lawyers (okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic) while also protecting our book babies. Learning how to copyright a book can help alleviate all of that worry.
With the explosion of self-publishing, authors must be aware of what they can and can’t do when it comes to quoting, borrowing, and publishing works from other authors.
We’ll give you all the information and resources you need to protect yourself and your own work from being misused or stolen while keeping you from committing the same crimes against your fellow authors.
Navigate to “Register a Literary Work” on the right sidebar
Select either “new user” or login with your account
If you’re a new user, fill out your information
Navigate to “Copyright Registration” on the left and select “Register A New Claim”
Select “Start Registration”
Fill out the copyright form
Pay your $85 copyright fee to complete registration
Submit your finished manuscript to the U.S. Copyright Office
Copyrighting your book is much easier than it seems
Create Your Copyright Page
The copyright page will appear in your book right after the title page and just before the table of contents. The copyright page needs to include some essential information in order to copyright your book.
You may not think you really need a disclaimer but it’s essential for protecting yourself and potentially others.
So how does a simple sentence or two do this?
If you are writing a book on health and fitness, success as an entrepreneur, providing financial advice—anything that readers could fail at—an extended disclaimer is something you should consider.
If you give advice on earning a million dollars this year, and the reader ends up losing money, you could be blamed for their misfortune because of a promise you made. Consider putting an extended disclaimer in your book that comes after the copyright jargon to protect your opinions, advice, and information.
In other words, tell readers that they are reading your book and applying your advice at their own risk. The thing to be aware of that most authors don’t realize is that these don’t have to be boring.
On the contrary, the more personality these have, the more likely they’ll be read.
A disclaimer is meant to protect you, but it can’t hurt if your audience actually reads it.
The characters in this book are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
How could this be “livened” up? See how Thomas Wolf in A Man in Full, acknowledges that parts of his story are from real life:
This novel’s story and characters are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary.
Or Margaret Atwood in Cat’s Eye tries to dispel readers’ assumption that the book is the alter-ego of the writer:
This is a work of fiction. Although its form is that of an autobiography, it is not one. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
If you’ve written about a prominent figure that people might be familiar with and don’t want confusion over whether you’re now writing history or still sticking with fiction, you can approach it similar to D. M. Thomas dealt with using Freud as a character in The White Hotel:
The role played by Freud in this narrative is entirely fictional. My imagined Freud does, however, abide by the generally known facts of the real Freud’s life, and I have sometimes quoted from his works and letters, passim. The letters . . . and all the passages relating to psychoanalysis . . . have no factual basis.
Here’s an example of what your book copyright page would look like for a fiction book.
#2 – Nonfiction Copyright Disclaimer
The typical disclaimer you’ll find in works of nonfiction?
The advice and strategies found within may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher are held responsible for the results accrued from the advice in this book.
However, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks found a way to get her disclaimer to speak to the honesty of the text:
This is a work of nonfiction. No names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated.
This book is memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over time. Some names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated.
But in The Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolf, he buries his disclaimer in his acknowledgments. As he thanks those who read drafts of the book, he says:
I have been corrected on some points, mostly of chronology. Also my mother claims that a dog I describe as ugly was actually quite handsome. I’ve allowed some of these points to stand, because this is a book of memory, and memory has its own story to tell. But I have done my best to make it tell a truthful story.
This is what a copyright page looks from our own student, Nadine Blase Psareas’s memoir Hope Dealers, that you can emulate if you’re writing a memoir:
How to Copyright a Book: Familiarize Yourself With Legal Terms
I know, I know…we would rather write books, rake in the cash, and sign autographs than worry about technical legal jargon.
I get it. It can seem boring but the better you understand how copyright law works, but the more you know, the more time you can spend writing without wondering, “Is this legal?”
Here are some legal terms to keep you informed on your rights as a self-publisher and protect your works:
Copyright infringement: is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement.
Intellectual property (or “IP”): is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks. It also includes other types of rights, such as trade secrets, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition. Artistic works like music and literature, as well as some discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.
Public Domain Work: refers to works whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, have been expressly waived, or are inapplicable. For example, the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven, and most early silent films are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, and are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, and all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are actively dedicated by their authors to the public domain; some examples include reference implementations of cryptographic algorithms, the image-processing software ImageJ, created by the National Institutes of Health, and the CIA’s World Factbook. The term public domain is not normally applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as “under license” or “with permission”.
Plagiarism: is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.
First Amendment (Amendment I): to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
Fair use: in its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an infringement.
Libelous writing: can be personal libel or trade libel, which is also known as “product disparagement.” Product disparagement can include a product, service or entire company. Libelous statements, whether against persons or products, are published statements that are false and damaging. Slander is the same as libel in most states, but in spoken rather than written form. The terms “libel” and “slander” are often subsumed under the broader term “defamation.” It is a tort (a wrongful act) to harm another’s reputation by defaming them.
You can also check out this handy guideline for authors from Wiley on what needs permission vs. what you can use without asking.
When in doubt, consult with legal counsel or take the time to research the material you are either protecting or planning to borrow from another source. The time invested could save you an embarrassing or costly situation down the road.
Knowing what you can and shouldn’t do is a critical part of the publishing business.
When you write and publish your own works, you are now in business for yourself, and business owners protect their property by learning how to copyright a book the right way. Don’t make things harder for yourself!
Like this post? Sign up below for a FREE video course and learn how to go from blank page to bestseller in 90 days!
How to Copyright a Book: The 9 Most Common Questions
Nowadays, with the massive expansion of self-publishing, it is more important than ever for authors, artists, and creatives putting their work out there to ensure that it is fully protected.
When we borrow work from other authors, living or dead, we have to consider:
What can I actually use?
When is permission needed?
Here is the golden rule when it comes to copyright laws: Never assume that anything is free!
Everything out there, including on the internet, has been created by someone. Here are common questions authors have about protecting themselves, their works, and others they may have quoted in their books:
#1 – Do I have to register my book before it is copyrighted?
Your book is legally copyrighted as soon as it is written.
But, to scale up your legal rights and protect your material to the fullest extent, register your book with the Federal Copyright Office.
On the chance someone does attempt to pirate your book or portions of it, registering with the US Copyright Office will give you greater leverage if it comes to action being taken.
#2 – How many words can I quote from another book or source?
Generally speaking, there are no set rules on how much you can actually “borrow” from existing works. But, it’s best to exercise common sense here and keep it short, as a general rule under 300 words.
Paul Rapp, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights, says that, “if the quote drives your narrative, if you are using an author’s quote in your argument, or if you are giving an opinion on an author’s quote, then it is considered fair use.”
What is fair use? A legal concept that allows the reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes without obtaining permission and without paying a fee or royalty. Purposes permitting the application of fair use generally include review, news reporting, teaching, or scholarly research.
If you use something published by someone else with the sole purpose of monetary gain, this doesn’t constitute fair use.
#3 – Can I write about real people?
Especially in works of nonfiction, real people are often mentioned to express an opinion or as an example to clarify the writer’s fact or opinion. Generally, you can use the names of real people as long as the material isn’t damaging to their reputation or libelous.
Stick to the facts and write about what is true based on your research.
#4 – Can I borrow lyrics from songs?
Stephen King often used song lyrics for his books including Christine and The Stand. He obtained permission for these works. King says, “Lyrics quotes in this book [Christine] are assigned to the singer most commonly associated with them. This may offend the purist who feels that a song lyric belongs more to the writer than the singer.”
Basically, song lyrics fall under strict copyright even if it is just a single line used. Try to get permission if you use a song.
#5 – Do I need permission to borrow material from a book that is over 100-years-old?
Once the copyright on a book or material has expired, or the author has been dead for seventy years, the work enters into the public domain and you can use it without permission or licensing.
BUT this does vary from country to country. You can check the copyright office in the US here.
#6 – Are authors liable for content used in a book?
Even with traditional publishing houses, the author is still responsible for the content written and used in the book.
In fact, traditionally published authors usually have to sign a waiver that removes the publisher from any liability pertaining to the material the author used if the writer included that material without proper permission.
Your launch team, also known as a street team, is a group of people who are going to set you up for success when your book launches. They could be fans of your previous work, readers of your blog, friends who want to support you, or the members in your mastermind group.
And, ideally, a combination of all of the above.
The launch team has a massive impact on, not only the success of your book launch but, the long term success of the book. They are a group of people who are passionate about your book, your brand, and they want you to succeed as much as you do.
Your job, as the author of the book, is to guide your team to take action both before the book is launched and then during the launch window.
Why do you need a book launch team?
Launch team members will help you to get reviews during the launch and, help you to share the book launch as well as get downloads for your book.
If you have a weak launch, you have weak book sales and you’ll be forever struggling to drive traffic towards your book.
Your launch team will read the book before anyone else and prepare an honest review of the work to be posted during launch week. Amazon favors books with review activity.
The more Amazon reviews you can get posted, your book moves up the rankings faster and gets promoted by Amazon under the “books you also might like” section.
Reviews also increase book sales. If you manage to get 20-30 reviews in the first week, this would create serious momentum for your book rankings. It is the best social proof that your book is getting read and people are taking an interest in the content.
The bottom line: Reviews convince browsers to buy. Amazon will rank your book higher as well if there is activity taking place.
Building Your Team: Where do I recruit?
The question that I often get is, “Where do I find people to join my team?” This is a challenge if you don’t have much of a following and have never launched a book before.
Let’s assume that this is your first book launch and you are looking for people to join your launch team. Where do we begin to build? Who can we ask?
Here are a few suggestions for building a book launch team:
Make a list of 20-30 people you can contact directly.These can be business contacts, online relationships, or subscribers to your email list. This list functions as your core team, what I call your level 1 launch team. They are the most committed to your launch. Perhaps they joined a previous launch you had and now they want to sign up for this one as well.
Post to your Facebook/Social Media Platforms/Mastermind Groups.This is where you can gather a lot of your level 2 launch team members. If you are going for a large launch team, this would be the next phase. If you want to keep it more personal and limit the number of people, just follow through with the first step and leave it at that.
Keep in mind, with your level 2 launch team, you could get anywhere from 20-200 people sign up. The reason we call it a level 2 group is, many of the people joining may not know you personally, but they have an interest in your book.
But the question is, how committed are they to following through?
It is just a fact that not everyone on your team is going to follow through. Maybe they didn’t like the book, they had no time to read it, or, they were uncertain what to do during the launch. There is the possibility that they won’t leave a review for whatever reasons.
This is why we have to be clear with our launch team as to:
What actions to take
When to take it, and;
How to implement the action plan
The best you can do is encourage people throughout the launch and keep the pressure momentum turned on. This is where team incentives and providing value will deliver in the end.
When people feel as if they are a part of something important, they are more likely to follow through.
Team Incentives: What to offer?
This is the part of the process in launch building that you can really make a difference to the strength of your team. By adding incentives to what you can give your team, you will increase the commitment of your team.
Decide what you will give to your team to offer quality incentives that makes them feel a part of the team.
Some of these perks included membership into a Mastermind Group on Facebook and an exclusive “ask me anything” webinar before the launch.
Likewise Michael Hyatt, when he launched Living Forward, offered launch members an exclusive look into how the book launch was structured as well as access to a special 30-minute group phone session with him prior to launching the book.
So, what you can offer your launch team is:
The digital version of the book way before anyone else sees it. This can be in PDF or Mobi file. For creating a PDF or mobi file of the book, check out the free calibre software.
A free hardcopy of the book delivered right to your door.
A free webinar or a facebook Live Q&A session: you can get close and personal with your team by hosting a live webinar where you talk about the book, get into behind-the-scenes strategies of the launch, and share inside tactics that nobody else can get.
Exclusive access to a private Facebook group. Here you can post videos, share posts, and converse with your team in real time as they get excited about the launch
Free training videos based on the content of your book
Additional freebies that you want to share with your team.
An advance copy of a workbook that you will be offering to subscribers
Early access to course material that won’t be available until the book is launched.
The goal is to provide your team with a lot of value so that they know they are part of something important. This will increase the level of commitment you will get from members reading and promoting the book during launch week.
Building a Quality Launch Team
When it comes to launch team members joining your team, it isn’t about the numbers. It is the quality of the team. It is much better to have 40 people who are committed than 200 that just sign up and don’t do anything.
You want your team to be involved and take action. So, how do you build a quality street team fully committed to launching your book to bestseller status?
Here are four strategies for building a quality launch team:
Reach out to people personally. By contacting people you know on a personal basis you can get a solid commitment from that person with a personal email.
Create an application form process. This creates a barrier to entry. The people who are serious players will fill out and commit. You can check out an application form template right here. In the application process you let the potential member know what is expected and what they will be responsible for. The application process creates accountability and exclusive access to the launch team material.
Invite people who you have worked with and trust, such as podcasters, bloggers and influencers, to help you with the launch.
Create a team of committed reviewers and promoters to set the launch on fire when it takes off.
How to Manage Launch Team Expectations
This is when you are up front with the launch team about what is to be expected during the launch. What actions are you asking them to do? On what days will they take these actions? What is at stake as far as the success of the book is concerned.
Remember: The success of your launch plan is critical, and the launch team is the all-important component to making it happen.
Expectations should be made clear from the beginning. When you put up a post for early bird readers, let them know that taking action is a must. This is the big ask and what you will expect from the team if they are selected to join your launch.
Here is what you could ask of your launch team:
Read the book before the launch day. Provide feedback if they pick up on such as formatting problems, misspellings, etc…
Write up an honest review of the book and post it during launch week.
Share word of the launch through your social platforms, mentioning the book in a weekly blog post, and starting a discussion about the book in chat forums. This could also include tweets, Facebook posts, or post the cover to Pinterest and Instagram.
Share promotional ideas within the launch group. This is where a Facebook Group would come in. Members can easily post ideas and swap strategies for promoting the book.
Take a photo of you holding up a copy of the paperback. This would require that the paperback be ready in advance to send to select team members so they have time to take the photo before launch.
Provide your team with a list of action strategies they can take during launch week. Let them choose what strategies they like and fits into their schedule. You can encourage the team by adding a points system.
The members who take action and complete each promotional strategy earn a number of points. This could lead to receiving even more freebies.
Launch Team Communication
Now that you have your team together with emails, you have set the expectations and outlined the launch plan, now you have to decide how you will communicate with your team.
People need to feel connected to you during the launch or else they lose interest and you lose the trust of your team. Set up your method of communication and invite everyone into the launch.
Set up at least 6-10 emails to be delivered throughout the launch. You can add your team emails to a campaign in your email service provider such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convert Kit. You can set up email autoresponders to go out on certain dates, or customize your emails as you go.
Launch Team Emails: How often and how many?
One question that comes up often is, “how many emails do I send out, how often and what should the content look like? Once again, if you are running a Facebook Group and using that as your main source of communication, I still recommend you have a set of emails set up to be delivered throughout the launch.
I send out an email every second day.
Here is a breakdown of what these launch team emails would look like:
Email #1: Welcome Email: Includes Intro to the team and the PDF of the book.
Email #2: How is the book reading? General overview of the launch plan.
Email #3: 5 Days Before Launch. Include a video of how to leave a review on Amazon
Email #4: The day before launch—Are you ready?
Email #5: LAUNCH DAY! It is time to take action.
Email #6: Review reminder, update on book status and current ranking.
Email #7: Final reminder. Leave a review and FREE paperback giveaway reminder.
Email #8: Final email. Thank you for joining the launch team.
What you want to do is take time to customize your own emails. You can space the emails out accordingly. I like to keep them balanced so that the team is getting the support they need without feeling too overwhelmed.
A group you can add your members to for easy access and communication. You can post regularly and easily add video and communicate with regular updates. Members can, as we mentioned, share ideas for promoting the book during the launch day.
Even if you do a Facebook Group, I recommend sending out regular emails regardless. Not everyone is going to be into joining a Facebook Group, so communicating with regular emails set up to be delivered on select dates will cover all the bases.
Sending Out Your Book to Your Launch Team
There are three ways you can get the advance copy to your team.
PDF Form. Attach the PDF to the welcome email if you are delivering it this way. For larger files, you can drop the book in Dropbox and share the link with your team. Dropbox allows people to download the book without having to sign up for an account.
Bookfunnel.com This is a great way to deliver your book. BookFunnel has a yearly subscription fee but it’s worth it if you launch regularly. The basic price is $20 a month for 1 pen name and 500 downloads per month. You can check out the features of bookfunnel right here.
The pigeonhole. I’ve used the pigeonhole before and I really liked it. How it works is like this. You upload your book in PDF form to the team at Pigeonhole. You provide them with your launch team emails and then, Pigeonhole posts a chapter a day of your book on their site. Members read right on line and can comment on the book as they work through it.
This is a great platform for improving the quality of the book as well. Early readers catch the small mistakes that were missed and you can fix everything up before launching.
4 Common Launch Team Mistakes to Avoid
In order to make the most of your launch team, there are different mistakes we see often that you want to avoid.
#1 – Sending out emails with long gaps in between
You want to be consistent in communicating with your launch team. Long gaps in between emails will result in people losing interest and not following through when they should. I average an email every 2-3 days. For a Facebook group, you could post something everyday, even if it is just a short blurb.
#2 – Failing to set expectations
Remember the list of expectations we looked at in the beginning? By not setting your expectations you are leaving the launch wide open to chaos. Be sure people know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Don’t just assume people will take action. They need you, the author, to lead them. Be upfront and let them know they are with you until the end to take action.
#3 – Setting your initial price point too high
Okay, you might think this is common sense but, you want to launch your book right away at the lowest price point possible. That would be 0.99, and then possibly free after you’ve set set your promo up in the KDP dashboard.
If your price is upwards of $5-10, people may not download it. You want your price to be low so the launch team especially can download it to leave a verified purchase.
When it comes to Amazon rankings, a book that has the verified purchase tag weighs more than a non verified review. Make it easy for people to download. Set your price low and get the rankings moving. You can increase your price point after the launch.
#4 – Giving unclear directions
You want everything to be so easy for your team that it can literally run itself. What this means is, setting up all the steps so that people know exactly what to so. Some of the questions I have had from team members were:
Where do I leave review?
How do I leave a review?
Where is the link for the book?
What is this Goodreads website?
You can eliminate confusion and wasting time answering basic questions by setting up the steps so it is like paint-by-numbers. For example, shoot a short video of how to set up a review.
Walk people through the process. Video is a fantastic way to visually teach the steps and can be done easily. You can then post it in the Facebook feed or embed the link in an email to be downloaded from Dropbox or Vimeo.
It all comes down to planning ahead. By foreseeing possible problems that can slow down your launch, prepare ahead of time and set your team up for success.
The Power of Sharing
Swipe Copy for Your Team is a set of pre-formatted/written emails and/or posts that the launch team can use to share either via email or online. You want this to be as simple as possible so people can just copy and paste to their social media platforms or deliver by email without it taking too much of their time.
The easier it is for your team to deliver, the better.
Create swipe copy for your book launch and make this available to your team via dropbox or upload to your Facebook Group. The swipe copy should be easy to use and provide material for sharing online or via email.
You should include specific instructions as to how to use the swipe copy. Not everyone has used this before and you will get questions from people if they have difficulty.
I would recommend shooting a short video explaining how to set this up on launch day. Show people how easy it is. Encourage them to share where they can and as often as possible.
If each of the people on you team threw up a post on their Facebook page, and they had an average of 500 friends each, that would exponentially share your book with a large community that you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Setting up a Launch Team Roster for Future Books
Once the launch is over, your facebook group will most likely be disbanded. You could try to keep it going but after the launch is over, but without a specific purpose for the group that extends beyond the launch, it is a lot of work to keep the interest going.
This is where a long term strategy for your books could be put into play.
Are you planning to launch another book? Do you want to use some of your core launch members for another book launch?
In that case, you could set up a street team of reviewers that are ready to support you on, not only this launch, but all future launches.
Remember: a launch team is more than just getting someone to review your book. You could take the relationship to the next level. Consider setting up a private facebook group for people who want to stay in touch and support your work in future launches.
And, if they agree to this, it will be far easier to tap into a group that is already in place then recruiting new members.
Build Your Launch Team [Master Checklist]
Here is a review of the steps to build your launch team.
Reach out to at least 20-30 people directly to begin the recruitment process. Ask for permission to put them on your launch team.
Expand to social media circles like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Put together an incentive package: free digital copy, paperback, question and answer group call, or a sneak peak at the launch behind-the-scenes.
Choose your method of communication: email, a Facebook group, or both. [Both methods are recommended together]
Be clear about your expectations for the launch [launch goals for reviews, ranking, and book sales]
Create a series of emails to send to your group. You can set these up beforehand or create as you go for a more ‘on-the-spot customized feel.
Decide the method to deliver emails: gmail template or email server campaign template [recommended]. You can use Mailchimp, free up to 2000 subscribers.
Prepare a “Welcome to my launch team” Video or Post.
Send out your Welcome Email. This includes the digital copy of the book. In your email outline the expectations for being on the launch team.
Create a “Swipe File” for the team to share. Deliver this to your team the day before launch.
Keep track of your team emails using an excel sheet.
Send out a “review reminder” a week after the launch.
Final email/posting: Thank your team for their support during the launch. Follow up on any final incentives promised.
Stay in touch with members of your team. Continue to build relationships with people so that your book launch can get bigger with every new book release.
Writing a novel is no easy feat! Make sure to take your time but commit to a deadline that will keep you moving toward progress every day.
This writing schedule should be realistic but difficult enough to require regular progress to achieve.
#3 – Decide your book’s distribution channel
Not every distribution channel is the same. When you’re making a book, you have to think about who is going to print this book.
Who to choose for book prints?
You may have heard that Createspace was bought out by Amazon, meaning KDP now prints your books.
Since there is really only one other major book printer for self-published authors, the big question everyone has on their mind is:
Amazon or Ingramspark?
Since you’ll already be familiar with Amazon from uploading the Kindle version of your book, it may seem like KDP paperback publishing is the easy choice.
But that’s not necessarily true, at least not yet.
At Self-Publishing School, we recommend you choose a means of making your book that best fits what you want.
There are pros and cons to using Ingramspark versus Amazon that you have to consider.
Here’s a list of what Ingramspark has to offer with their different packages for making a book:
Both Amazon and Ingramspark print your books and distribute them on Amazon. Meaning, they sell those books on Amazon without you as the middleman. They’re direct sale-to-print and they ship out from their warehouses.
That being said, they don’t offer the same perks.
For example, Ingramspark actually prints hardback copies of your book, where Amazon only prints paperback copies.
#4 – Factor in the cost of making a book
When you decide to learn how to make a book, you’re also diving into the world of business.
That’s right, making a book has a lot to do with business and we all know businesses have certain factors that can be a little confusing, including the cost of publishing a book.
So how much does it cost to publish a book?
The truth is that there are several factors that add to the cost of making a book.
time spent in the writing, marketing, and publishing phase
If you’re basing your decision strictly on revenue, then you’ll want to think about it before heading down the printing path.
Paperback can be costly to produce if you’re not sure what you’re doing, which is why we created a program to help you avoid those expensive mistakes.
Luckily with Amazon and Ingramspark, they take care of the cost upfront, but they will take a higher percentage of your revenue to make up for the printing cost.
This means you won’t make as much money off the sales of a paperback as you would with an e-book.
We’ve often seen that the most lucrative path for e-authors is the combination of a Kindle eBook and an audiobook.
If your goal is to make as much money as you can, and you have to choose between the two, then consider pursuing an audiobook over a paperback. (Although funding an audiobook can be pricey, and you are responsible for that upfront cost, so do the math!)
#5 – Determine your book’s contents
You’ve given it some thought and considered the factors above, and you’ve decided that you do want to print paperback copies of your book. Before you take the next step, it’s important to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” by figuring out your book’s contents.
Run through our pro-developed, pre-printing checklist to make sure you’ve checked all the appropriate boxes of making a book.
Choose the size of your book
Decide on black & white or color (Note: The prices may vary)
Price your book properly (which we cover in our book launch post)
Create a rough concept for your covers
Decide whether to outsource your cover graphics and design
Write your author bio for the back or inside cover
Pick your author headshot for the back or inside cover
This is the difference with many (not all) nonfiction book formats from Chandler’s Bolt’s Published.:
If you do decide to tackle the interior formatting yourself, then there are programs that can make the process simpler. Word has downloadable templates to make the work easier.
These formats vary, depending on how many pages your book has. Make sure to experiment with multiple formats to help you decide which works best for your specific layout needs.
#7 – Upload to Amazon
Once you’ve created your printed book, the next step is to find your fulfillment house.
There are many options available. Fulfillment houses pack and ship, and provide customer service for your books. We tend to overwhelmingly recommend publishing on Amazon.
Their services are user-friendly and simple to follow.
This works the best, as you can curb the costs of printing more than the number of copies you need because of Amazon’s print-on-demand.
There are multitudes of resources out there for learning how to. make a book. Whether you want to sell your printed books, use them as pro book marketing tools, or simply admire how lovely they look gracing your bookcase, realize that with a few easy steps, you can create your own beautiful paperback version of your eBook.
If you want your books to succeed, to get into the hands of your readers, to potentially achieve bestseller status…. you need a book launch plan.
After all, you’ve already spent months (or even years) crafting your manuscript. You’ve also spent a small fortune on a book cover, hiring an editor, proofreading, formatting, and other related expenses.
The last thing you need after all you’ve invested is for your book to fail, to make exactly zero sales.
(Okay you might make a few, to friends and family. But that’s not why you wrote your book, right?)
If you have a book, or are looking to write a book, and are already thinking about promotion, then this is for you. Contrary to what you might expect, launching a book isn’t hard, and it doesn’t need to break the bank (although you do need to invest some money).
By focusing on the minimal book launch strategy I’ll outline here, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed and launch your book on Amazon like a pro.
These are all plans that work because of one thing: They are strategic in their planning and strategic in their execution.
However, while there seems to be a lot of steps, an effective book launch plan isn’t complicated.
Your launch plan will depend largely on:
Your objectives and purpose.
Your platform. The bigger your platform and access to influencers, the bigger (and more diverse) your launch.
In the strategy I’ll show you, I keep things simple. It’s a 12-day launch, including a 3-day free promo through Amazon.
If you’ve ticked everything on that checklist, then it’s time to hit publish on your book and to start your launch strategy.
But, before we dive into that, there are a few things you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm as it informs your book launch strategy.
The Amazon Algorithm: A Few Basics for Your Book Launch
Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales, and everything else on their platform. It’s worth remembering that Amazon wants you to succeed: if you make money, Amazon makes money.
Knowing a few basics of it can help you to have a greater launch and to sustain the life of your book for months (and years) after the launch buzz wears off.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
Your book starts ranking as soon as someone buys a copy. Every purchase of your book pushes the ranking up the ladder. As a book moves up, it jumps ahead of the other books in your selected category. The rankings are based on recent sales and Amazon favors a book that is getting consistent, ongoing sales.
A book that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same number of downloads over the course of a ten-day period.
Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your book.
Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.
It’s worth noting also that while reviews and the price of your book do not affect your sales rank, they’re still worth having. The more quality reviews you have, the more credible your book will be to shoppers.
This affects their decision-making power to buy, which translates into more downloads and an increase in sales rank. Focus on getting as many quality reviews as you can during this launch phase.
Then, continue to work on getting reviews from organic traffic.
With that out of the way, let’s look at two necessary steps you need to do before you promote your book.
Setting Up Your Amazon Bestseller
There’s a very specific formula to follow during your book launch that will have you hitting those Amazon bestseller lists. And you definitely want to become a bestseller so you can increase your sales and maintain your position at the top.
The $0.99 Launch Strategy
I know what you’re thinking, “$0.99? Why would I essentially give my book away for free? I didn’t get into this business to fulfill the starving artist stereotype.”
I know how you feel, but trust me, there’s a good reason for launching it at this price. You may be selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later.
Remember: think long term.
It’s better to have a book that has steady sales in the long term than to just have a burst of downloads now, then zero in the future.
Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.
The Free Book Launch Strategy
I mentioned that our strategy will have a 3-day free launch. Setting this up is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days.
A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.
If you don’t have a following (email list) or you are just getting started, I suggest you do the free promo. The free promo gets your book into more hands (that will hopefully read it) and increases its visibility across more platforms.
Action Item: Go to the KDP dashboard, and under “Kindle eBook Actions,” enroll into the KDP Select program. While enrolled in the KDP select program your book has to be exclusive to the Kindle Store.
Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.
Book Promotion Sites: Free and Paid
When launching your book, especially during your free promo, you want to put it into the hands of as many readers as possible. Amazon ranks your book in the free store based on how many downloads it gets.
The higher you rank, the more downloads you’ll get from Amazon browsers.
Which means to maximize your launch, you need an initial surge of readers that don’t come from Amazon.
This is where book promotion sites come in. You can use them for both your paid and free launch. In the launch scenario later on in the post, I’ll show you how to batch these sites together to give your book the boost it needs.
An aside if you have a healthy email list: you won’t need to rely on these sites as much. This is especially beneficial for authors who are just starting out and don’t yet have a strong platform.
Keep in mind that results vary for each site and your performance will largely depend on your book’s quality.
Below is a list of my favorites that I have personally used, in combination with an email list to launch multiple bestsellers. You can also check out Dave Chesson’s blog on this as he covers the best sites to use for both free and paid.
The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category.
The Best Book Launch Promotion Sites
Buckbooks. If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote the 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book. If you use their Archangel Ink book production services you’ll get a guaranteed placement.
Robin Reads — (need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating) Takes a couple days to get approved ($55). Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. https://robinreads.com/author-signup/ Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case, consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
BookBub. This is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on BookBub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature. https://insights.bookbub.com
Email your list (if you have one). if you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.
The Book Launch Sequence and Set-Up
To keep things simple, I’m giving you an example of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo. However, for this post, I will look at how to include a free promo as well.
Your launch will look and perform differently than this, but you can use this as a model and tweak as required. This launch assumes you are launching your book at $0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.
What is the difference between a soft launch and the actual launch?
I use the term soft launch below, which is different from your actual book launch. Your soft launch begins from the moment you hit publish.
As Amazon takes about 24 hours to set up your book, I recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours before you begin your actual launch. For example, if your launch plan beings on a Sunday, then publish your book on a Saturday.
The 12-Day Book Launch Model
Ready for your book launch? In this book launch model we use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.
Day 1: First Day of Soft Book Launch
The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price point is set at $0.99.
Here is a brief checklist of what to do on day 1 of the soft launch:
As soon as you have ten reviews, set up the rest of your promo sites for the week. Not all of these promo sites require a set number of reviews. Check the list for links to the sites and submission requirements.
Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will be 2-3 days. This will start on day 4 (or however long you decide to run your soft launch). If you do a 5-day soft launch your free promo will start on day 6. Set up several paid promo sites to advertise your book for free. Although your book is free, the promos will cost you.
For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:
James H Mayfield (Note: his calendar is very busy. You might not get on for the days you want with short notice. Consider using your remaining free days at a later date and arrange to have James promo your book.)
If you combine these promo sites with the organic traffic you’ll get from Amazon, you should do very well for free downloads.
Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch (Optional: You can extend this up to 5 days)
Social media burst to your FB page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word. Don’t forget about other social platforms with large reader audiences like Twitter and Tumblr.
Day 4-6: FREE Promo
The promotional sites you got in touch with on day 1 will be advertising your book. Send an email to your team to notify them that your book is now free. Promote to social media!
Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites
Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.
Day 11-12: Winding Down the Book Launch
If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both your free promo and your $0.99 promo. Remember that your numbers will vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck.
Email your list and remind them the book will be 0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support.
This is the last call for reviews and downloads.
Day 13: Increase the Price to $2.99
Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching what happens. Monitor the sales and adjust accordingly.
I usually spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you. Stagger them out over the course of 10-12 days.
Beyond the Book Launch
One of the biggest challenges authors have is where to go after the initial book launch is over.
Multiple books create momentum. Look at the army of fans that Game of Thrones had before the TV Show launched. How did George R.R Martin build that? By setting up and writing the books as a series.
Do you have a series of books you could write?
A series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and to keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.
#2 – Build your business on the back end
Create a business around your book with coaching, a course, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book.
They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.
Launching a book is a combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people (a small team will do) backing you up, you can have a great launch that gets your book into the hands of your market.
With every book launch, there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better. And as you get better, you’ll get more fans.
Eventually, you can turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status or get featured in The Wall Street Journal.
A lot of first-time authors make the mistake of editing their book to death, never progressing far enough to finish their book and getting to the publishing phase.
Others think they can toss a messy draft at an editor and expect them to fix everything. There’s a happy medium between making your draft good enough for an editor—and trusting when it’s time for your editor to step in and take over.
With that in mind, in this article, we help you navigate the process of getting your book edited—both by you and your editor—so you can get published faster.
Before we get into our seven tips for getting your book through the editing phase, let’s take a look at what an editor does – and why it’s crucial you have one.
What exactly does a book editor do?
A book editor is someone who reads through your book several times, correcting for grammar, punctuation, structure, content, and more, depending on the type of editor you hire.
Essentially, a book editor is there to help your book become the finalized version with the outcome being what you intended.
Because let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we can’t always get the book right by ourselves. We know all of the content, the message, the theme, and we’re far too close to the work to understand how an outsider will perceive it.
An editor works as that outsider as well as someone who views it with a critical eye. They can help you alter the book so your intended purpose is fulfilled by its end.
What type of edit does your book need?
Not everyone will need the same type of edit because everyone has varying levels of skill.
For example, someone who has a great mind for structure but lacks in the technical skills of writing will benefit more from a line edit versus a developmental edit.
That being said, here at Self-Publishing School, we highly recommend all writers of all skill levels get a full edit, which often includes copy, line editing, and developmental edits.
Here’s a table detailing each type of edit and what they entail.
Type of Edit
What it Means
In this type of edit, the editor will correct sentence structure, inconsistencies, tense, spelling and grammar, as well as some content feedback.
This is what most people think of when they think "editor." This type is when your punctuation, word choice, dialogue structure, and more is corrected.
This is where the editor organizes the structure, moves pieces around, and suggests changes based on how the information comes across in its order.
This type of edit is when the editor pays close attention to how each chapter builds on the previous, as well as comments and feedback on the content itself.
#1 – Edit Quickly
If you make the mistake of editing extensively, especially while you’re still actively writing, you potentially set yourself up for a major headache, which can delay publishing your book.
Look at the example of Scott Allan. Before he joined Self-Publishing School, he spent two years working on a voluminous self-help tome.
His first draft clocked in at an impressive 90,000 words. He spent months perfecting each word. In the blink of an eye, six more months had elapsed, and he had not only sucked himself into the drain of editing, he hadn’t written anything new since he became stuck in self-edit mode.
For one year, he wrote (and rewrote!) the book three times. Why, you might wonder? In his words, “I suppose I didn’t know any better, first of all. That was before I learned the expression ‘Done is better than perfect.’
I was under the impression that it wasn’t done until it was perfect.” Months later, he found an expensive editor to take on his book, but the author couldn’t stop tweaking the material.
Tweaking lead to rewriting…and the book which had been so carefully drafted, then rewritten, then tweaked, never saw the light of day. The book was never actually published.
Allan says, “Painful lesson learned: Unpublished books don’t make money!”
Eventually, the author went on to write Pathways to Mastery and publish it on Amazon. Using the lessons learned during his first failed self-publishing attempt, the author spent just eight months writing and only two months editing this time.
Since writing Pathways to Mastery, Allan has gone on to write and publish three more books, with a significant reduction in writing and editing time for each successive book.
His latest book was in the editing phase for only three weeks.
Letting go of perfectionism is one of the hardest things to do. It sounds doable in theory, but in practice? It’s a challenge.
Many writers strive for perfection—the perfect grammar, spelling, and choice of words. Especially when the story we’re putting out there is our first book, or about an intensely personal topic, it ups the ante significantly. We’ve been there, and we get it.
Here’s what you need to remember: Nothing in life is perfect. No person, book, nor writer.
You can spend forever and your book still won’t be 100% “perfect.” The editing phase can be rough because of the personal investment and attachment we have to our books.
Key Takeaway: Instead of striving for the mythical unicorn of book perfection, strive for a reality-based “as good as this book can be.”
#3 – Do a Quick First Revision
Before you give your book to your editor, you want to do a read-through to catch any glaring errors.
Say this with me: rip off the Band-Aid.
Make your first revision fast. Here’s the best way to make that change of phase from writing to editing: when you’re done with your first draft, circle back and do a quick-and-dirty first revision.
This involves a rapid read of the book, just to get a feel of what you’ve written. Brace yourself. This phase might just be the most painful part of the editorial process. This is because it’s the first time you’re looking at your book with a critical eye and reviewing the results of your first draft.
You need to make sure your book makes sense and that it doesn’t miss any words that would confuse a reader to the point that they don’t understand what you’re trying to say.
This will reduce the back-and-forth hand-offs between you and your editor and will shorten to overall editing phase.
If you notice any major problems, like plot holes or missing information, make a note of them but save these bigger edits for the next round of revisions.
Your mental game needs to be strong here. You’re going to think, “I really suck. I hate writing, I hate my book, and I’d rather watch Netflix than ever look at this crap again.”
The Buddha once said: “All things must pass.” Namaste, my friend. You’ll get through this phase and eventually love yourself (and your writing!) again.
Key Takeaway: Give your book the chance it deserves. Right now, it’s just you alone with your book. Make this first revision quick.
#4 – Read Your First Pass Out Loud
During your first pass, it’s necessary to read your book out loud to yourself. Your ear processes words in a way that your eyes may not so this gives you sense of pacing, chapter structure, and tone.
While you’re reading out loud, try to read through the eyes of a reader.
Imagine what your ideal reader looks like and how they’d feel reading this. Visualize their experience with your book.
During this read-through, don’t stop to make large corrections. Just use a red pen or highlighter to take notes of the obvious mistakes. Simply mark or circle these errors to come back to later.
Put yourself on the clock when you do this. Time yourself for ten-twenty minutes per chapter and keep reading the whole draft through to completion.
Key Takeaway: Reading out loud during your first pass can help with tone and pacing. Do this quickly, with a timer.
#5 – Delve Deeper With a Second Pass
Your next step is to go back to the beginning of the book and do a second pass. Your second revision should delve deeper. As you read, stay alert to passages that have “holes” or sections of the book which need to be filled out more.
Think of the analogy of building a home: First the frame goes up, then you build the walls. Keep adding to your book until your story and message is clear. Some of us have a tendency to change our voice from one paragraph to the next.
Tone shift is something that a strong editor will pick up on, but to the extent you can make things consistent, you should. As this point, your book should be more polished.
This is also the stage in which you should focus on making your book stronger by getting rid of weak verbs and replacing them with stronger verbs, like in this video of a live-edit below:
Your book still isn’t perfect (remember we cautioned against perfect!) but at this stage, you should have a working manuscript which should be close to publishable.
Key Takeaway: Your second pass should fill in the gaps in your story or chapters, and keep tone consistent.
#6 – Hand Over the Reins to an Editor
One of the hardest parts of the editorial relationship is handing over your passion project to a complete stranger.
You may be thinking, “What? I’m giving it to a complete stranger who doesn’t know me—and doesn’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this—just so they can mark it up and tell me about all the things I did wrong?!”
There’s a reason the editor-writer relationship can feel fraught. It’s because while your book is deeply personal to you, whereas for the editor, it’s just another day at the office.
Your editor’s job is to care about the flow of the book, the grammar, spelling, and in some cases, content.
They will take your draft and elevate it to a readable manuscript. Try not to take it personally or push back at their criticism.
Your editor will shape your draft into a “good” book to publish. Notice the deliberate choice of words—we didn’t say perfect!
A “good” book is enjoyable, useful, readable and publishable.
Key Takeaway: Don’t take your editor’s constructive criticism personally. You have the same end goal: a good book!