self-publishing

Self-Publishing in 2020: A Complete ACTIONABLE Guide

Don’t you agree that there’s almost too much information online about how to self-publish a book? So much that it can be really hard to actually determine what’ll be helpful to YOU?

We get it. We’re in the space every day, and we have to say…not all the advice you read will work.

Much of it is outdated in this everchanging space and doesn’t help you self-publish on Amazon in a way that actually brings you SUCCESS.

There’s far more to self-publishing a book than simply uploading it on Amazon and hitting “publish.” You can absolutely do that.

But don’t you actually want to sell books?

No matter what your goals are, to grow your business with a book, become a full-time fiction author, or simply to publish a memoir or self-help book to create an impact, we here at Self-Publishing School know what works.

We’re in the weeds with hundreds of students every week, learning, growing, and even expanding our program’s content to ensure it’s up-to-date.

And you know what? We want to give you a full, complete guide right here…for FREE. Nothing. Because we believe in you and the story you want to tell, no matter what it is.

WARNING: This blog post will be lengthy, and will cover topics not JUST related to uploading your book and self-publishing it on Amazon. Because again, there is MORE TO IT than just that. So focus, even bookmark this page, prepare to take some notes, and know that it’s possible for you to do 🙂

If you want to skip over some important points and JUST get down to the how-to list, click here.

Here’s how to self-publish a book for success:

  1. What is self-publishing?
  2. Is it a good idea to self-publish?
  3. What are the best self-publishing companies?
  4. Cost of self-publishing a book
  5. The BEST way to self-publish a book
    1. Create a self-publishing plan
    2. Choose the right book idea
    3. Mindmap your idea
    4. Outlines your book
    5. Write & produce your self-published book
    6. Get an ISBN & Copyright
    7. Decide where to print & distribute
    8. Set up your Amazon Central profile
    9. Set up your launch team
    10. Create a launch plan
    11. Upload your book to KDP to self-publish
    12. Launch!

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is when you publish a book without a publishing house first buying your book’s rights and producing the book for you. With self-publishing, you maintain 100% creative control as well as 100% of the royalties.

We have a handy self-publishing vs traditional publishing blog posts that really dives into specific differences you can check out. But really, self-publishing is all independent.

While traditional publishing requires writing a manuscript, querying, landing an agent, agent selling to the publishing house, and ultimately, you only writing and editing based on what your editor wants, only to receive 8-10% royalties AFTER printing costs and AFTER your advance gets earned-out.

There’s really no wonder we believe, in today’s world, self-publishing is the superior option.

But hey, you can decide for yourself after reading through this post 😉

Is it a good idea to self-publish a book?

The best way to publish a book is dependent on what your own unique goals are. Some people will find great success in self-publishing while others are better suited for traditional publishing.

Ultimately, unless you have a good amount of experience as well as connections in the traditional publishing world, this route will be difficult, and you may not ever get published.

With self-publishing, anyone can do it. Anyone can get on Amazon and upload a book. HOWEVER, not everyone can do it well in order to succeed.

There are thousands and thousands of authors making full-time income and MORE from self-publishing. Those people have figured it out. Some of these people are our very own coaches here at Self-Publishing School, teaching our students what it truly takes.

Others, have done the work and have spent years honing their craft and series’ in order to see success.

So ultimately, you have to ask a couple of questions in order to determine if self-publishing is a good idea for you:

  1. Do you want to maintain creative control and tell the story the way YOU want, with a cover that YOU want, and keep 100% of the royalties?
  2. Do you want to simply write and let others dictate the rest?
  3. Do you want to market your own books? SPOILER: this is required for BOTH publishing avenues.
  4. Are you serious about this?

No matter which way you choose to publish, you have to do the work. You have to do the book marketing. You have to commit, set writing goals, and work toward it.

What are the best self-publishing companies?

There are a couple of different ways to look at what “self-publishing companiesmeans.

You have retailers to publish, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more. You also have aggregators like IngramSpark, Lulu, Bookbaby, and more that print your book and distribute it TO the retailers.

And then you also have self-publishing education companies, who teach you the ropes about how to self-publish the right way, with resources to help you get there.

The latter is what Self-Publishing School is. So of COURSE we’ll put ourselves at the top of this list, because we truly believe it’s the smartest and best way to self-publish.

Why not take the guidance from those most experienced? But because we want you to make the best choice for your needs, we’ll cover the other types as well.

Here are some of the best self-publishing companies you can work with:

  1. Self-Publishing School (That’s us!): An education company with 1-on-1 coaching, a private and exclusive Mastermind Community, and an entire digital course you keep access to for LIFE, all dedicated to helping you not only write a high-quality book, but also publish it for increased visibility and that coveted “Bestseller” banner. Learn more about our various programs for various types of authors-to-be here!
  2. Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks: These are retailers, places readers can go to purchase your book and have it shipped to them. Amazon is by far the largest of them, however, you should aim to self-publish across all mediums to increase buyers.
  3. IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Smashworlds, Lulu: Through these companies, you can have your book printed and distributed to the retailers listed above (and more). Amazon also prints its own books. So you could go exclusively with Amazon. But Amzon doesn’t publish hardback covers, like IngramSpark does. Do some research, and check out some reviews to choose where to print yours from.

When you self-publish a book, you’ll use a variety of these types. You can go it alone and simply upload with Amazon, using KDP Print (their book printers), or you can learn what it REALLY takes to do this successfully, and potentially work with us.

Cost of Self-Publishing A Book

Since you don’t have a massive publishing company backing you, there are expenses you’ll incur on your journey to self-publish a book.

Most are very mild, but they may seem like a large chunk of change to invest in your book (really, your success).

Thankfully, there are ways to cut costs. Our students have discounts through book designers, formatters, editors, and other book production services they’d have to pay full price elsewhere.

It’s likely that you can cut self-publishing costs by opting for freelancers or even checking out Reedsy’s resources to find someone to work with.

That being said, we have an entire post about how much it costs to self-publish, so we’ll keep it brief here.

Here’s how much it costs to self-publish a book:

  • Writing: free, but costs time
  • Editing: $200 – $2,000+ (this depends on word count)
  • Cover Design: $300 – $500 average (this is IMPORTANT!)
  • ISBN & Copyright: $100 – $400 (depending on country and number of ISBNs you choose to purchase)
  • Interior Formatting: $150 – $300 (depends on internal design)
  • Proof Copies: $50
  • Launch Team Goodies *Optional*: $100+ (signed copies, posters, etc.)
  • Self-Publishing Resources to Succeed *Optional*: $500 – $5,000+ (education companies)

TOTAL COSTS: $850 – $3000+

DON’T LET THESE NUMBERS DISSUADE YOU! You can save up while writing your book (which takes a good chunk of time). Just be prepared to invest in this if you want to be successful.

Also keep in mind, this is to produce a HIGH quality book. Which is the entire purpose of finding success in self-publishing a book. You have to be able to compete with traditionally published books, which are backed by massive budgets.

You can stick to the low-end of these costs and NOT opt for a developmental edit, which is one of the most expensive components.

But ultimately: do NOT skip at least a copy edit and do NOT skimp on the book cover. The book cover design…is the most important in today’s world of visually stimulating content.

What is the best way to self-publish a book successfully?

As the leading experts in this industry, we here at Self-Publishing School know we have the best way to self-publish.

It’s about more than just how to upload your book onto Amazon. And most people forget this. Most people who want to succeed in self-publishing a book, at least.

So we’re breaking down the best way to self-publish a book for maximum SUCCESS, from start-to-finish.

#1 – Create a self-publishing plan

You want to do this the right way, yes? And skip over the crap that’s not useful or the stuff that won’t really make a difference?

Good. Then you need a plan so you understand what it really takes to succeed. We don’t mess around here at Self-Publishing School.

So this includes putting together a timeline—or at the very least, a to-do list—of all the steps you’ll need to accomplish in order to self-publish your book.

You can even just jot down notes from this blog post in the order they’re here, since we’re handing you the ultimate blueprint for self-publishing in this blog post.

Our recommendation? Get a calendar, get an author planner (we actually have a GREAT one with author-specific prompts here).

Here’s how to plan to self-publish a book:

  1. Give yourself 1 full day for ideation (if you don’t have a book idea yet)
  2. 2 – 3 days for mindmapping
  3. 1 day for outlining (planning a novel may take longer)
  4. 3 – 8 months for drafting (this depends on your type of book. Fiction will lean months-long, nonfiction can be done in 90 days with the right system) but SCHEDULE writing days.
  5. 1 month for self-editing, revising, or beta readers
  6. 1 – 2 months for a hired book editor (book this out as early as you can so you’re not waiting forever on this!)
  7. 1 month for cover design (can be done along with hired editor)
  8. 2 weeks for formatting (can be done AFTER the final book edit)
  9. 1 week for ordering author copies + any time for revisions in formatting here
  10. 1 week for uploading, creating your Amazon description
  11. 3 weeks for launch team initiatives (can be done while cover is being done, etc. so long as you have a PDF copy they can read)
  12. 1 week for the full launch!
  13. At least 1 full day of celebration (far more preferred 🎉 🎊)

This seems overwhelming, and that’s because doing this process well takes time, planning, and focus.

#2 – Choose the right book idea to self-publish

Now’s the time to determine if you want to write whatever type of book you want OR if you want to write-to-market in order to build a full-time writing career.

Both are equally as lucrative if you know how to do them well.

But ultimately, you have to decide which avenue to take, and this will help you develop a plan for book ideas you want to write.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we teach our Become a Bestseller and Fundamentals of Fiction students to choose their first book idea based on a few key criteria:

  1. Which will be the easiest to write?
  2. Which do you have the most passion for?
  3. What can you write and publish the fastest?
  4. Which idea has the most need in the market?

Now, obviously the above questions are for those of you who have many ideas already. But what about if you don’t have a full, developed idea just yet?

Here are some tips if you don’t know what to write about yet:

  • Do you want to write a nonfiction book or write a novel?
  • If nonfiction: what do you know the most about? What do people often tell you you should write about? What do you find yourself explaining over and over (for example: I often get asked “how’d you turn out successful?” from those who know my upbringing–this would be a great topic for nonfiction).
  • If fiction: start with some writing prompts. Try the “what if” strategy: what if a character in a certain town comes across a certain oddity?

Let your mind wander, come up with a book idea you think is GREAT, and dive into the rest of the self-publishing process.

#3 – Mindmap your idea

Have you heard of a mindmap? This is a powerful tool we use here at Self-Publishing School to help our students when they “don’t know where to even start” when they have an idea.

It allows you to get ALL your ideas out so you can better organize in the next step.

A mindmap is what you create when you start with a blank sheet of paper, and in the middle you draw a circle with the main topic of your book, or the main plot.

Then, you draw branches from this for other main elements, where you create more branches to fill out those ideas. It’s hard to describe in words, so here are some examples:

mindmap example
mindmap for a book example

A mindmap is the space to dump ALL of your ideas, no matter if they’ll make the final book outline or not. Anything you can think of, the more, the merrier.

Then move on to the next step.

#4 – Create an outline for your book

Outlining a book can be really fun, and really difficult at the same time. It’s when you’ll finally put your ideas in the order you want them to appear in the book itself.

You trim the fat. You add the details. You have a clear blueprint for writing your book.

This step is also completely up to you. Different people outline in different ways.

Here’s a brief overview of only a few of the various methods to choose from (we suggest watching this video for more tangible examples):

  • Sticky Note Method: This is when you find a blank wall or large poster and use small sticky notes to write your main plot point or book elements and then arrange them in the order you want to write them.
  • Skeletal Method: This one is like what you may have written in school. You start with the main point as a title (chapter title maybe), then the next bullet can be the overarching idea, and then beneath that, you’ll have the supporting details or events you want to write about.
  • Basic Bullet Points: For this method, it is as it’s named. You start at the top and create bullet points for all the events you want to happen and write about. After this is complete from start to finish, draw lines to separate chapters.
  • Snowflake Method: This method involves starting small and broadening the outline. You start with one sentence of what will happen, expand this into a full paragraph, and then multiple for each chapter of your book.

#5 – Complete the book you’ll self-publish

This includes the entire writing-to-finished-product process, and we’ll outline this in just a moment below. But just know that this is the longest and most difficult part of self-publishing.

Yes, the actual self-publishing part isn’t as difficult as creating and maintaining the discipline to finish your first draft, self-edit, revise, hire an editor (YES, you need one), format the book, have the cover designed…I think you get the point.

Getting the first draft done is the most difficult part for most of our students. So let’s break down what this looks like, along with the other steps mentioned above to complete book production.

Here’s how to actually complete a book:

  1. Start writing, and follow our outline IN ORDER
  2. Maintain a writing schedule to finish your book
  3. Once the first draft is complete, let it “rest” for a week or so
  4. Book an editor (do this now, they usually have waitlists and you can do the next step while you wait. Plus, it’ll give you a deadline 🙂)
  5. Self-edit the book chapter by chapter, rewrite, and make any changes
  6. OPTIONAL BUT SUGGESTED: After you have it the best it can be, send it to beta readers or critique partners for feedback (DO THIS BEFORE SENDING IT TO AN EDITOR)
  7. Book a formatter and cover designer (some services have packages that include both)
  8. Perform book edits from the editor (really take their feedback to heart. It’s easy to be offended or not want to listen, but if they’re qualified they DO know best) and set up launch team and marketing goals while you wait to get it back
  9. Send to the formatter when it’s 100% edited
  10. Get your ISBN and copyright your book
  11. Work with the cover designer on tweaks (they’ll also need the barcode, ISBN, etc.)
  12. Order proof copies and review, adjust if needed
  13. DONE 🎉

This process is extensive and what our students truly get a lot out of our programs, since each of these steps is thoroughly outlined with video tutorials. But, we’ll still cover a few more points below.

We do have blog posts and/or videos for many of the steps above if you want more details. Just do a quick search in the bar at the top (or click the three bars to see search if you’re on mobile), or head to our Youtube channel and check them out.

#6 – Get an ISBN & Copyright your book

Amazon provides a free ISBN if you choose to use this. However, keep in mind that with an Amazon ISBN, you cannot sell your book on other retailers (like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) with that same ISBN.

For this reason, we always recommend our students buy their own (and get a package of them if you plan to publish more than one book).

Here are the quick steps to get an ISBN number & copyright your book all in one step, bundled at Bowker.com (or you can click that highlighted text to read a full blog post):

  1. Go to myidentifiers.com
  2. First, make an account (you need this to check out)
  3. At the top right, under “Register and copyright your book” hit “CopyrightsNow!”
  4. On the right, select which package option you’d like and add it to your cart–we suggest the 1 ISBN and Copyright, but if you plan to publish more than one book soon, choose another
  5. Click “go to cart” from the pop-up screen
  6. Click “checkout”
  7. Follow the process to check out

This process is pretty painless, but it does cost $184 USD for 1 copyright and 1 ISBN. These are essential costs.

If you want to add a copyright paragraph into your book, we have an actual book outline template you can use for those opening pages. Just choose fiction or nonfiction, fill out your details, and check your inbox for DIRECTIONS for how to use and access.

Book Outline Template Generator

Choose your book type to receive a "fill-in-the-blank" book outline template you can use to plan your book.

Enter your information below to receive your free outline template!

Book Outline Template Generator

Thanks for submitting! Check your email for your book outline template.

In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.

#7 – Decide where to print / distribute from

There are a growing number of options for where to get your book printed and distributed from. For self-publishing a book, Amazon is a typical go-to, but KDP print has some limitations that can move your attention elsewhere.

Why do you want to go with someone besides Amazon to self-publish a book? Because you can get your book into other online retailers, like B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and many more.

Amazon keeps everything on Amazon.

Here are the main print/distributors and their differences in self-publishing:

Amazon’s KDP Print —

This is Amazon’s own printing press, which used to be CreateSpace. It was acquired by Amazon so they could serve self-publishers on their platform all in one place.

Ease of use: 5/5

Cost to publish: $.85 flat fee per book over 108 pages + $.12 per page (for a 300-page book, Amazon would take $4.45 in printing costs out of your retail price)

Retailers included: Just Amazon.

LEARN HOW TO USE IT: KDP Print Guide & Review

IngramSpark

IngramSpark is one of the most popular book aggregators out there because they include hardcover in their printing options, where Amazon’s KDP Print does not. Many find this to be more appealing and a higher benefit.

Ease of use: 3.5/5

Cost to publish: $25 – $49, with a $25 per book edit fee, plus handling fees per book. You can see a breakdown of the costs here in the review linked below.

Retailers included: They have global distribution, you can read the full list here.

LEARN HOW TO USE IT: IngramSpark Guide Review

Draft2Digital —

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Cost to publish: They take 10% of the retail price of a book for a sale. (if you price your book at $14.99, they will receive about $1.50 per sale)

Retailers included: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (including Kobo Plus), Tolino, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Scribd, 24Symbols, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla

FULL REVIEW: Draft2Digital vs Smashwords

BookBaby

This is another distributor that’s been around for a little while. They have a flat fee for using their service, plus a royalty rate for you. Their services range from book printing to distribution to even ad management serivces. However, in all honesty, you can get the same level of service with a higher royalty rate elsewhere, but you may find they work best for you!

Ease of use: 4/5

Cost to publish: You pay $99 – $399 depending on distribution choices, but only KEEP between 11% – 20% of your royalties. PLUS, there are fees for editing your books.

Retailers included: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!, BookShop, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Powells

LEARN MORE: Full BookBaby Review

Smashwords —

Smashwords was one of the first alternative options for self-publishers, that made sure authors could get their books distributed to other online retailers other than Amazon.

Ease of use: 3.5/5

Cost to publish: You can make 70% – 80% royalties from retail price, while Smashwords keeps the rest

Retailers included: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!, BookShop, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Powells, Blio, Hive, Overdrive, Tolino, Scribd, Odilo, Apple iBooks, and more

FULL REVIEW: Draft2Digital vs Smashwords

#8 – Set up your Amazon Central profile and account

Your Amazon profile does matter. It can help people find you, and you can optimize it in order to sell more books as well grow your author platform.

And best yet? It’s free! You can create one and it’s the space all of your books will be hosted on Amazon’s platform.

Here’s how to make your Amazon Author Central account to self-publish your book:

  1. Log in here
  2. Follow the prompts to set up your page
  3. You’ll receive a confirmation email to finish setting up your account

If you want a more comprehensive guide to Amazon’s Author Central page, click here.

#9 – Set up your launch team

It’s time to start building your launch team! This is such an exciting time, because self-publishing your book is getting REAL!

If you’re not sure what a launch team (or street team) is, it’s a group of people who are dedicated to reading your book, writing a review on the platforms you want, and helping your self-publishing journey become a success.

Overall a launch team helps you build hype and market your book before and during your launch.

When you build your launch team, you’ll want to find people who are actually interested in your book. Yes, friends and family can certainly help, but tapping into the market you WANT to sell to can be more effective.

Here are a few steps for building your launch team:

  1. Create a social post, email, or announce it anywhere else you see fit
  2. Offer a FREE version of your book (a PDF copy is usually fine) to get people to sign up
  3. If you have an email list or a website, use a form to capture their information for use later
  4. Create a Facebook Group or a Discord or something equivalent where you can communicate with the launch team all at once in a singular location
  5. Set up a list of tasks, challenges, or other initiatives to ensure your launch team is invested in helping you market the book
  6. Set them up for success by clearly communicated and listing DATES you expect things completed by
  7. HAVE FUN!! This team is here to help you succeed! Be kind and treat them well.

#10 – Create a launch plan

This highly coincides with the previous step on building a launch team and creating a plan for THEM. Ultimately, to self-publish a book successfully, you should also set up an effective launch plan.

We have a book launch checklist available to download here to help you get started on this.

We also have an entire blog post dedicated to running a book launch, which we think should be a topic on its own. Check it out right here and keep this page open to come back to.

#11 – Upload your book to KDP to self-publish

There are many steps in this process. You’ll have to have your cover, your manuscript file formatted effectively, and more.

Typically, it can take a few days for Amazon to approve your book being uploaded.

For a step-by-step guide here, we wanted to point your toward the experts over at SelfPublishing.com for a complete set up, with all the information you could need to get this right.

Read how to upload your book to KDP to self-publish here.

#12 – Launch! And celebrate!

Once you set your date and click “publish,” THE CELEBRATION BEGINS!!

It’s a huge milestone to write a book. Let alone go through the process of editing, cover design, formatting, and actually self-publishing it.

BE PROUD!

And let us know how it went in the comments below!

New call-to-action

What Can Authors Expect from the Publishing Industry in 2020?

2020 hasn’t quite gone as planned, has it?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted practically every person, and practically every industry, often in more ways than one. But we’re here to tell you that now isn’t the time to put down your pencil. 

Shakespeare famously wrote not one but three tragedies – King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra – during the bubonic plague. The literary world doesn’t stop moving, even in times of crisis. 

But it’s moving towards a different landscape than what many of us were anticipating. So exactly what can authors – and self-publishers in particular – expect from the publishing industry throughout 2020?

Let’s take a look…

Increased Competition

OK, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This year, the industry looks set to be more competitive than ever before, driven by a slew of new authors using their newfound free time to finally get to work on those short stories they’ve been wanting to start but have never been able to get around to writing. 

Speaking with David Barnett at the Guardian newspaper, literary agent Juliet Mushens reported that her average 10 – 15 daily requests for representation had risen to 27, while Ireland’s Tramp Press editor Lisa Coen was said to be experiencing a threefold increase in the number of submissions received each day. 

And this increased competition is expected to be greatest amongst self-publishers as writers explore alternative publishing options to reduce reliance on traditional brick and mortar publishing houses. 

A report by The Bookseller magazine suggests that 60% of small publishers believe that they could be out of business by Fall due to a drop in sales and the subsequent cashflow problems that come with it. 

Image source

It’s natural that new writers breaking into the field will want to take the approach that we’ve been rooting for all along: self-publishing. And while this may mean more fierce competition for self-publishers in the industry this year, it definitely doesn’t mean that you should think about quitting.

Instead, it could be time to take a closer look at what you’re doing and optimize your strategy to ensure you stand out among the crowd. One option is to consider hiring a literary agent. We know, we know, self-publishers don’t always need an agent. But here’s the thing: literary agents don’t just work with publishing houses; they could help to get your work recognized by film and theater producers, too. 

If you’re not sure how to get a literary agent, then now is the perfect time to learn. Writing a great book isn’t always enough; you’ll need to make sure you’re properly preparing your manuscript and sending out submissions to the right people, at the right time. It doesn’t hurt to have a killer query letter, either. 

Greater Demand

If there’s one thing that the publishing industry is asking for more of this year, it’s content. 

Reports show that around one third of all US adults are reading more during the pandemic, with figures ranging from 28% for ‘Baby Boomers’ to 40% for ‘Millennials’. And a similar trend is being seen across the world. Nielsen reports that 2 in 5 Brits are reading more in isolation, while 58% of Canadians are reading more, and 22% are buying more books now than they did prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The reason, of course, is that many people have more time on their hands to enjoy the things they really love, such as reading. Job loss in the United States is at its highest since the Great Depression, and while this is devastating, it is certainly good to see that many people are filling their time with literature. 

Whether you use a traditional publishing house, or you’re a self-published author, demand for literary content from the publishing industry this year is expected to be greater than ever due to COVID-19. 

But the big question is… what sort of themes are 2020’s audiences looking for? Read on to find out…

Shifting Interests

One of the first pieces of advice you may have been given back when you were just starting out was probably to ‘write what you know’. After all, it makes sense to talk about issues we’re familiar with. 

In 2020, while that advice still stands, the boundaries are beginning to move a little, especially for fiction writers. And this is causing a pretty notable shift in demand from the modern-day publishing industry. 

When you’re writing a book, you not only want to write what you know, but you want to write about something that your audience knows, too. And what do we all know this year? We all know Coronavirus.

But will a book proposal about COVID-19 really hit the mark with the 2020 publishing industry? Perhaps not. Recently, HarperCollins Editor Phoebe Morgan took to twitter with some advice for her authors.

Image source

If you’re used to writing about your life as you know it, now could be the ideal time to start branching out and exploring some new ways of getting creative. Submitting a strongly written book proposal about themes that can help readers to escape from the everyday could be your ticket to success this year. 

Continued Digitization

The large scale shift from print to digital is already well underway, but authors can expect an even bigger move to alternative formats from the publishing industry in 2020 as more people spend time at home.

With worldwide stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, coupled with a widespread reluctance to be out and about, an increasing number of people are looking for easy-to-access, at-home entertainments. This means that digital books, such as ebooks and especially audiobooks, are in more demand than ever. 

Audio books are already an area that we recommend self-publishers should be exploring. Last year, a report by the Audio Publishers Association found that half of all teens and adults in the US had listened to an audiobook within the past 12 months. Those are some pretty impressive statistics if you ask us! 

If you want to give the publishing industry what it’s looking for this year, now is the time to start learning more about the audiobook landscape, especially distribution techniques. It might also be a good idea to chat with some authors who have ‘been there, done that’… we’ll talk more about the community later.

No matter what format you decide to release in, it can definitely be nerve-wracking launching a new book at this uncertain time, but think about this: a book on your hard drive does nothing for you. You have the technology you need to get your book in front of the right eyes… you should make use of it! 

A Change in Promotional Opportunities

Social distancing regulations and a ban on large scale gatherings have meant that many of this year’s biggest literary events – events that self-publishers may rely on for marketing and promotion – have been canceled. This includes Penguin Presents, the Sydney Writers Festival in Australia, and PEN America’s World Voices Festival in New York, which had Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith in the 2020 line up. 

Image source

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, there is a rapidly emerging trend in the marketing industry to delay promotional campaigns at this time. And as a writer, you may think that a lack of physical events means it’s necessary to put off your plans. We say that you should keep moving forward. 

After all, it takes energy to change your plans; energy you could be pouring into your next book!

Penguin CEO Tom Weldon says that now is the time to ‘be imaginative and creative about how to develop clever solutions to promote’. This could mean shifting your approach from physical events to online events, or looking to work with others who are finding themselves in a similar situation. 

Writer collaboration is expected to be a hot topic this year, with self-publishers pooling their resources to help the community thrive at this challenging time, rather than simply survive. If you haven’t already done so, start forming relationships with others in the industry. Learn and grow from each other. 

And don’t forget: support from other self-publishers is just one type of support available right now…

Increased Support

Perhaps the most important thing authors can expect from the 2020 publishing industry is more support. 

Hurrah!

The Self-Publishing School, for example, has been giving away all resources for free for the first time ever. The platform is proud to be supporting self-publishers and the publishing industry as a whole at this challenging time by providing more than 20 writing and publishing resources free of charge this year.

And they’re not the only ones. 

As self-publishing is gaining more and more momentum under the ‘new normal’, it’s expected that other online publishing channels will start to extend services to provide more support when you need it most. 

Amazon’s KDP platform has already started to globalize its offerings, extending its advertising opportunities across both the US and Europe, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and the UK. Google Play and Apple are also expected to up their game this year to support self-publishers. Apple in particular is rumored to be placing an increasing focus on its Apple Books branch in the near future. 

As an author – and as a self-published author especially – we can all feel like we’re not always supported by the publishing industry. But we’re confident that we can expect more from the industry this year. 

Riding the Wave

It’s safe to say that 2020 isn’t the best year we could have hoped for. 

But let’s look at this, this way: writers – and self-published authors in particular – are self-motivated, hardworking, entrepreneurially-minded, and certainly aren’t afraid to face a challenge head on. 

This year, while the heart and soul of the publishing industry may not have changed, the pathways that we take to research, to write, to market, and to launch our ideas are becoming more and more flexible. 

Ultimately, what we can expect from the publishing industry this year is an opening up of multiple different avenues to success that, while may have already existed within the literary world, have largely been overshadowed and limited by tradition; by a focus on traditional publishing houses and print. 

This is the year that is going to push us all to our limits, and test us all. But it’s also the year that self-publishing really shines. This is the year we can create truly positive change across the industry.

Whether we write to entertain, to inform, to humor, to inspire, to motivate, or for any other reason, the unique challenges this year won’t harm the publishing industry; they’ll merely accelerate the much-needed change that we’ve been waiting for. Maybe 2020 won’t be that bad after all…

Best Time to Launch a Book

Successfully writing, publishing, marketing, and selling your book is a serious entrepreneurial business.

Think about it: you are taking, in essence, your thoughts (the raw material, let’s say), forming them into concrete sentences and paragraphs to make up chapters of a book (the work-in-progress), followed by selecting a stand-out title and amazing cover art – with the ultimate aim of marketing and successfully selling your “finished product.”

Figuring out just when to launch your book is equally important, perhaps one of the most strategic aspects of the book publishing process.

As with most things in the publishing world and the endless number of writers seeking publication, there are no hard and fast rules. There is no magic step-by-step formula. When to launch your book – like what to title your work and whether or not to use a pen name – is arrived at after careful consideration of many factors.

This article explores some of the changing factors in the publishing world, various things to keep in mind regarding the “new way” to launch books, and, lastly, some helpful tips on when and how to release your book for maximum impact.

Self-Publishing, the “New Way” to Publish: Keep These Things in Mind

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

While with traditional publishing you might have access to a team of professional marketers with industry experience, in taking the self-publishing route you are, in effect, assuming chief executive responsibilities.

Traditional publishing follows the brick-and-mortar commercialized model: consider a fun summer read, say, a warm-hearted novel by an established author with a few bestsellers under her name. Following the traditional book publishing calendar, the release date for such a book will likely fall during the summer months, not the fall or winter where other book genres generally do better (see below for a month-to-month breakdown on when certain genres are normally released).

The self-publishing route follows a different, though somewhat similar, marketing approach regarding launch dates.

With self-publishing, given the amazing potential for building an organic audience through social media, blogging, podcasting, etc. book launches follow a more case-by-case model. The first-time author, for instance, with millions of youtube fans – say PewdiePie, whose 2015 book became an instant New York Times Bestseller – can release his or her book practically at any time because the demand for such work will likely already be very high. One announcement is really all it takes – especially for someone who has an especially loyal following.

Granted, not everyone publishing a first-time book will have stardom at that scale. This is why aspiring writers need to be already creatively building their name, reputation, expertise, brand, etc. on the various social media platforms. This will look different for everyone, of course. For successful digital publication, branding, and sales, the key is to have a pre-existing list of followers, subscribers, etc.

What are some of your writer goals – what end objectives do you have in mind upon your books release? Clarifying what some of these goals are will better help you with selecting a timely release date. For instance, you might want to consider some of the following:

Are you looking to publish purely out of passion? Is this book simply flowing out of you that you simply just need to get it out to, say, your loyal blog following, friends and family, etc? In such a case, a specific release date may not be too pressing. Perhaps you have reached a critical point in your life – retired after years serving as a teacher, police officer, lawyer, etc. Personal memoirs – even fictional works – can work here. Say you went through a grueling but memorable life-changing event. Say, against all odds, you graduated from medical school and want to share your story.


Example: Look at Scott Turow, whose book One L, an autobiographical work on what it took to graduate from Harvard Law School, earned him much recognition. This was his first book, published in 1977 (a lot of reprints since then; more on “evergreen” books later). He has since become a very successful author, having sold more than 30 million copies, including several movie adaptations.


Few more things to note about his success:
Turow began writing his work while still in school, perhaps as journal entries. This enabled him to record the events in stark detail.
He strategically released after graduation. Imagine that: he’s being educated at one of the finest schools in the country while documenting the kind of journey that, until then, was probably not common knowledge.
Ask yourself: What special experiences do I have that are not common to most that can form the basis for a powerful/interesting reading? Wherever in life, you may be, BEGIN DOCUMENTING NOW


After he landed success with his first book, he later would establish a career in a different genre – legal thrillers.
Is big commercial success what you are after? Who doesn’t want their book to be top-rated, reviewed extensively, perhaps even quoted and remembered for ages to come? You are in it to win it, right?! While there are no guarantees, strategically releasing your book can definitely help with getting it out at the “right” time – hence, leading to more exposure and the “right” person picking it up. More on how sometimes this happens unexpectedly below.


What about an audiobook edition? People are on the go today. Sometimes hearing a book is more effective and more commercially viable for both the writer and listener. In fact, audio content is getting more popular as podcasts and, yes, audiobooks take off. This might be an excellent opportunity for you to be creative. Typically, print books come out first, whatever the release date. For a more personal and creative impact, audiobooks then follow. Depending on your foundational pillar in the digital social media space, an audiobook might be more advantageous for your brand.

Here are some things to consider:


What if your voice is simply stellar, soothing to the core?
Perhaps your book just sounds better to read aloud, not read quietly?
Maybe you’ve already “read” a book length’s work to your audience through your mastery of a subject you display through your twice-a-week podcast show.
If so, offer some free previews to your loyal fan base. This builds momentum and spreads the word. You’ll know when to release it.
NOTE: certain genres may sound better through audio. Think outside of the box and dare to do what nobody has done: a kids adventure book, a deep confessional, an unsolved mystery, etc.


Who is your intended audience?
Might you simply be writing an industry-specific book intended to be read by colleagues? In this case, you might be more concerned with developing greater authority in your specific field and likely not looking for broad commercial success. A release date would likely be ASAP.
Is your book the first in a series, a sequel, perhaps the fourth book in your line? If the first, you should definitely pay attention to the genre and book calendar, especially if you are looking to make an impact and leave readers wanting a follow-up. If established already, then, your loyal fan base may not be too concerned with a release date.
EMBRACE – Don’t Shun – CHANGE. Life moves fast. As it is with life, so it is with business and self-publishing entrepreneurial success. For better or for worse, sometimes there are factors out of your control. Consider some of these real-life and hypothetical scenarios:
You “time” the market perfectly and announce the publication of your book just when the world seems crazed to read about that subject you endlessly studied and passionately wrote on for years. Your book does well at first but years later it simply flops out of lack of interest, perhaps due to new information on the subject that challenges an original theory, etc. Books on certain historical time periods covering, say, a major war, come to mind.
For instance, new books on the Civil War – or some critical aspect of it – seem to come out yearly. This is both good and bad. While there is room to compete, it could also be that no matter how well an aspiring writer times their books’ release, the market may well be too flooded or dominated by key authority figures.
NOTE: Many subjects/genres simply are not evergreen enough. In fact, no book is. Even beloved classics that have sold millions get special and/or commemorative editions. Sometimes the publishers include a new cover page, interesting artwork, a foreword by a famous scholar, etc. This is why a lot of books undergo updates and revisions, sequels, why writers delve into various subjects/themes, etc – fresh content, like a new movie with a twist, keeps people loyal and engaged
Maybe somebody in the mainstream media mentions a particular literary figure once formerly obscure to most of the general public but now, upon the mentioning of that person, interest rises like crazy. Google searches, Amazon book searches spike overnight. Let’s say you wrote a biography of that literary figure years ago at a time when no demand existed, highlighting some unique aspect of their life. Chances are, your book will be found and interest for it – probably little to none prior to this time – suddenly explodes. That means more for sales for you, higher visibility, and status as a writer.


QUICK RECENT REAL WORLD EXAMPLE: Daniel Golden’s book The Price of Admission, recently got much national attention when his book – an expose on corrupt university admissions – was widely cited when the national conversation centered on the recent college admissions cheating scandal. I cannot presume to know his – or his publishers’ – strategic plan regarding the books release except to say that 13 years (it was released in 2006) after its publication it got some serious attention (and sales).
For the last example, I’ll get personal. A friend and I are currently co-authoring a book on the failing state of education in a New England city where we live. Right now, aside from maybe concerned parents, educational reformers, and urban political news junkies, there may not be much demand among the general public for such a book. For that reason, there is really no precise “release date.”
But here’s the catch: my friend has many years under his belt as a principal and is actually in the process of opening up his own school. Say his school takes off and becomes the focus of local and statewide attention, perhaps even national.
At this point, our book would likely be mentioned. As we do interviews, get featured on radio, podcasts, it gets all-the-more popular.
Before we know it, we are working on a second book, perhaps a documentary (heck, it could be featured on Youtube)
My personal blog suddenly experiences a surge (meaning more subscribers/potential readers)
We become more recognized as experts in the field, consulting later down the road, etc….

Scenarios like these are virtually endless, involving any number of variables. Again, there is no exact formula for a book release date. Eventual commercial success can come in a variety of ways, in the most unexpected times, and from the most unexpected of places.

The takeaway is simply to stay motivated. Simply write. You just don’t know when it will take off. At best, you boost your resume; at worst, perhaps, interested readers find your book years from now. Still seems like a safe wager to me.

Some Guidelines on Genre and “Tie-ins” for Book Launches

Retail stores have their displays boiled down to a science. In the traditional book stores, the same applies. Walk into any bookstore and you will see that it is carefully arranged by genre – and, depending on the time of year, you will notice certain genres more heavily promoted than during other times.

Alan Rinzler, a traditional publishing expert, in his highly informative and widely cited article, “Timing Your Book’s Launch for Maximum Impact,” provides this helpful month-by-month breakdown on the best times to publish by genre:
Tie-ins by the month
January
Post-holiday: Prime time for diet books, celebrity exercise books, and how-to books, including self-education, home repair, adventure travel planning, languages, and self-help books about finding a new relationship, renewing a marriage, or becoming a more effective parent.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: For inspirational books about African American history, civil rights, peace, and freedom.
February
Valentine’s Day: For loving gifts of books with hidden agendas, including collections of lyric poetry, romance novels, dreamy photos of romantic foreign cities like Paris or Prague.
End of the month: Books related to Major League Baseball’s spring training, with celebratory biographies, compilations of new statistical records, glossy picture books, and metaphorically inclined literary novels, all in place for the sport’s big opening day in April.
March
International Women’s Day: Books on the latest topical or historic issues around women’s health, reproductive rights, freedom from oppression and exploitation in hostile cultures, personal memoir, biography, quality fiction.
Easter: Books about Christ, biblical exegesis, inspirational, archeological, and illustrated children’s books about the resurrection and other relevant topics.
April
Holocaust Remembrance Day: Books about Jewish calamities and heroism during World War II, personal memoirs, new research about partisans and German rescuers. There are always many new titles for this large book-buying demographic.
May
Cinque de Mayo: Books targeting the rapid growing market for Hispanic-American fiction and nonfiction, history, politics, culture.
Mother’s Day: An occasion perfect for celebrative fiction, memoir, and appreciation to go with that bouquet of roses.
June
Graduations: Gift books for high school and college students. And in these economic hard times, a new category for graduating college students has emerged like Finding a Job When There are No Jobs, Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters and many others you’ll see on the front tables during June.
July and August
Summer reading: These are the weeks devoted to summer book sales, the season for category fiction like paperback mysteries, romances and science fiction.
September
The anniversary of September 11th: The events of that day have inspired books in many genres, including politics, history, memoir, biography, education and children’s books.
Off to college: Books for for college freshmen learning the ropes about class and time management, roommates, and coping with issues like sex and drugs, loneliness and insecurity. Also advice books for parents seeking guidance for their 18-year-old’s first time away from home.
Back to school: Children’s books, also parenting, education, technical, professional, literature and fiction.
October
Halloween: Horror movie tie-in books and new titles in costume, art, graphic novel and other fiction.
November
Thanksgiving: Books for children, cookbooks, history and spirituality are popular markets for this holiday.
December
Holiday books for Christmas, Chanukah, the traditional African American Kwanzaa feast, and other special year-end observances.

In his article, Rinzler points out various critical strategic tie-in strategies that would-be and established writers should be aware of. These include:

Various “Seasons,” literal, cultural, and otherwise: the obvious include Christmas-themed books during the holiday months; self-help books (weight loss, business, etc) during January as part of New Year’s Resolutions.
Speaking of which, a book’s title along with the release date can be strategically paired.
Example: Not to sound cheesy but consider promoting a book mid-way through the year and releasing it by the year’s end titled, “365 Days to a Healthier You: Dieting, Relaxation…Tips, etc…”
Say you already have a handle on this niche, have great Youtube content, and so forth. This may or may not work. Perhaps it has already been done.
Point Being: Know the particulars of your industry and what thought leaders – historical and current – have done.
Annual Events And Anniversaries: Rinzler mentions as an example a recent book being featured in the New York Times titled 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. It is being released during the company’s 125th anniversary.
Many examples abound here: D Day, World War II, Black History Month. If you look hard and long enough in a bookstore you’ll see countless examples spanning many different genres of books being released during key times throughout the year.
Combining these annual events/anniversaries with an in-person event celebrating/remembering, say, the 50th anniversary of fill-in-the-blank subject and you can score big!

The more creative you can be with a tie-in the better. If you need help developing a tie-in for your book, definitely check out Rinzler’s article where he provides some very helpful steps.
Final Note: Combine the Best of Both Worlds

Just because you may be self-publishing your book does not mean that you cannot take full advantage of “traditional” book publishing methods. In the world of traditional print, when a book release is announced, various “follow up” events happen to further promote the book.

While established authors with huge fan bases can land corporate gigs and do book signings – even go on tours, etc – beginning writers can make use of many different venues to better launch and promote their book.

For instance, your local library may have events where they feature local writers. Look these up.
”Pitch” an idea to a local library, university department, newspaper, museum, cultural organization, non-profit dedicated to the cause your book touches on, etc. – institutions that generate people with interest in the subject (s) you are seeking publication.
Example: Maybe around St. Patricks Day as your local paper focuses on the various festivities, you write a column about Irish history and in the bio section announce when your book on the subject will be released and how it can be purchased.
Look into the various Irish organizations in your area that are hosting events and ask for a speaking engagement to really double down. At this point, your book is published and, by raffle, you give out a free copy or two, etc.

The Pros at Self-Publishing School have been strategically launching books for many years now. No matter where you are in your writing journey, they are here to offer top-notch consulting services on every aspect of the writing, marketing, and book promotion process. Get in touch with them now.

Top 23 Book Cover Designers – You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover!

You’ve done the most difficult part… you’ve written a book! Now, you’re getting your book published and all you need to choose is a designer to create your unique book cover.

Well, you thought writing was the difficult step, but here you are. Not a clue about where to start or who best suits your style.

I really do believe that choosing your book cover designer is one of the most important steps of writing a book and I can’t imagine having to start from scratch. If you don’t have any designers in your mind or you just haven’t found the one, we’re here to help!

Your cover has to speak volumes because it’s the first thing your readers will see. And yes, I am quite familiar with the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” but today we’re throwing that out of the window, and we will be judging every single book by its cover! Trust me when I say your future readers are also judging your cover. Maybe not everyone, hopefully not even the majority, but plenty. I’m also guilty of buying books only because I fell in love with their covers. I knew nothing about the book or the author, I just found it really, really pretty. (don’t judge me!)

So, are you looking for the best cover designer?

Do you want to find someone who completely suits your style and personality?

Are you in a hurry?

If you’ve answered yes to these, then let’s get started!

Here are the crème de la crème, the best book cover designers of today!

BuzBooks

Wow! Would you look at these!? These are definitely my favourite out of their portfolio and they have a vast portfolio! I love how contrasting these are too, side by side, and how simple they seem to be. The book title and author are more prominent in these covers but the artistry in them makes me really want to grab a copy and devour them! Find BuzBooks here. https://buzbooks.com/portfolio/

Na Kim

I’ll say this with the best intentions ever, this cover still gives me the creeps! I’m pretty sure this was what Na was going for and I can tell you, it worked! At least, on me. Ever since I saw this book for the first time, I can’t forget it. It ties with the book title so well that it feels just like the hands laced together. It is pure genius! Find more of her work here. https://www.instagram.com/na_son/?hl=en

LBarros

You know I just had to include a children’s book cover, don’t you? I mean, it’s a must! And I had to find the best one, the one that I would have loved to read myself when I was little, the one I wish I had to show my kids one day. Because children are the best judges of book covers, aren’t they? They see it with their eyes first, then if the story’s good, they’ll love it even more. This one did it for me! Contact the designer here. https://en.99designs.fr/profiles/2726185

Coralie Bickford-Smith

Coralie is best known for her clothbound covers and because I’m a huge fan, I had to share them with you. I’m sure you’ve seen these, I’m sure you love them too. But in the slightest chance you haven’t, here you go. Enjoy. Order them already. Coralie is probably that artist that will shape the world of reading and take it into a different galaxy. Find her here. https://www.instagram.com/coraliebickfordsmith/?hl=en

Jenna Stempel-Lobell

I’m sure you’ve heard about Jenna before! She’s an absolute queen in the covers design world! You might specifically know her because of Angie Thomas’s The Hate You Give, but don’t be fooled – she’s amazing at everything she does! Just look at these two examples… I still can’t believe how these covers exist! Please hurry up and find Jenna here. https://jennastempel-lobell.com/

Tanamachi Studio

I really love the beautiful, intricate designs of this studio. They’re so complex yet they work so fluidly that it’s impossible not to catch one’s eye. And what a beautiful new cover for Pippi Longstocking! Don’t you just feel like buying it just to keep it in your collection?? Talk about judging books by their cover! Amazing job! Find Tanamachi Studio here. http://www.tanamachistudio.com/archive

Jake Nicolella

I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that drew me to this cover but I just feel so connected to it. How simple an image can be and how powerful and with such a strong message it has. The frames just fading away with a pale background, so neutral but with a thoughtful process. That is why Jake needs to be part of this list. Find more about him and his life here. https://www.instagram.com/nicolellalalala/?hl=en

Helen Crawford-White

I mean, how could anyone not love Helen’s work?? These book covers give me life! Such a breath of fresh air and so, so well-thought! I love how the colors meet, the sharp lines, the effect both covers have on the eye… just exquisite. Everything looks perfect to me and what’s more is that she has a ton more beautiful covers and you can find them all here! https://www.instagram.com/studiohelenbooks/?hl=en

Isabel Urbina Peña

If you’re looking for cool fonts and lettering, Isabel is your woman! She does the illustrations and lettering on her covers herself and I’m sure we can all agree she does a tremendous job. I especially love how simple these look, but still have something quite unique about them that it makes me want to pay attention. What do you think? Find Isabel on Instagram here. https://www.instagram.com/bellera/

Rodrigo Corral

Rodrigo is another big name in the design world; he doesn’t only design book covers but you probably know him for his iconic cover of The Fault in Our Stars. If that one didn’t convince you, however, you can find a couple more here and these are just stunning. There’s a connection between the art and the novel and that you can’t just pretend, you have to feel it and transform it into a piece of art. Find Rodrigo here. https://www.instagram.com/rodrigocorral_/?hl=en 

Alison Forner

Alison works at Simon & Schuster and her beautiful creations can be found in plenty of different books. To this smart (and colorful) cover she said she’s “indulging [her] science ephemera obsession.” – we can tell! Amazing job! Find more about her and her art here. https://www.instagram.com/aforner1/

Book Covers Art

If you’re looking for a more thriller/sci-fi/fantasy kind of cover, this company might just be the right one for you. They have a variety of covers, all following the dark, mysterious vibes and they give you options to choose what’s best for you and your book. Their portfolio is very complete, give them a look here. https://www.bookcoversart.com/

Venanzio

I fell in love with these covers right away. There is something simple about books and life that intrigues most people and that is why I think Venanzio’s work will please many of you out there. Sometimes the best things are simple and basic but not vulgar and I believe this is what this work shows. Contact Venanzio here. https://en.99designs.fr/profiles/249130

Janet Hansen

It is hard to describe Janet’s work because I truly believe that there are no words to describe this amount of artistry and creativity. She transports the reader to the book’s universe even before turning the first page. She makes simplicity look detailed and layered. Find more of her stunning work here. 

Holly Ovenden

When I found Holly’s covers and work, I knew she needed to be part of this top list. There is no doubt about how talented she is, but what surprises me the most is how diversified she truly is. These covers below speak for themselves! I know anyone would be so honoured to work with Holly. Get in touch with her here. https://www.instagram.com/hollydrawsinink/?hl=en

Andrei Bat

I really like Andrei’s work for the mysterious/fantasy feel too. He’s doing so well with his work and I love what he did with The Marked series. Check out his work here. https://en.99designs.fr/profiles/bandrei

Kate Forrester

These covers are amazing! So, so beautiful and pretty to display in your bookshelf. These books are those I could never put them next to others, I would feel the need to display their cover in a nice glass showcase. Wouldn’t you agree? Kate does an amazing job, find her here. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvg_1MdluQR/

John Gall

I love how John is so realistic in these covers. They look so real and 3D – I wanted to include these specifically because I haven’t seen anything like this. If this vibe is yours, I definitely consider John Gall one of the best at this. It just looks incredible!

Sarah Kaufman

I’m a little biased here, Red Queen is definitely one of my favorite series of all time, but I have to say, the first thing I knew about this series was the cover of the first book. I didn’t know anything about the story and to be honest, I didn’t want to. The cover made me buy it and then, I fell in love with the story. All four covers are beautifully designed, and you can feel the crowns in each one. This series proves Sarah’s talent and she deserves to do many more.

 Will Staehle

Will has done Circe’s cover and so many others. He’s different and fresh and his covers are getting better and better. He is one of the best and his work reflects it. Contact him here. https://www.instagram.com/unusualco/?hl=en

Subsist Studios

Subsist Studios are making great covers with books that matter. They’re spicing things up with bold colors, intriguing designs and 90s-styled fonts. What else do you need in a book cover? I’m loving their covers! Contact them here to know more. https://en.99designs.fr/profiles/subsiststudios

Stefan Sagmeister

How much more creative does one get? Apparently, Stefan has a whole category above everyone else, just for himself. I mean, how do you even describe this cover? Am I dreaming? Did I just wake up in book covers 2.0? Definitely someone to keep in mind when looking for a designer!

Kimberly Glyder

Kimberly, to me, does the type of art I would love to include in one of my books. It feels intimate and feminine with a perfect balance of colors. I also think she does a great job with her fonts and they complement the design perfectly. Find more of Kate’s art here. https://www.instagram.com/kglyder/?hl=en

We hope you liked these! It was a complete task choosing these exact 23 designers because there are so many other brilliant ones out there! If you’re in the need of one, I highly recommend going with who feels right to you. Don’t narrow it down to genre because as you could see from this list, some of these brilliant designers do so much more than just one specific genre.

In the end, the choice is yours and it better be a great one! 

Remember, we definitely judge a book by its cover! (even if we try really hard not to!)

Who’s your favorite book cover designer? Have you fallen in love with a book cover and hated the book? Who’s your favorite from our list? Let us know everything down below in the comments section! We can’t wait to hear from you!

ghostwriter

How to Hire A Professional Book Editor (Three Steps)

So your book is so close to being finished, or finished already – sealed with the last two magic words: “The end!” It is now time you pat yourself on the back, rest, and let the fun begin: celebrating this grand achievement with some mashed potatoes, bubble bath, chocolates, or Groupon massage.

Wait! Not so soon. I know the feeling we writers get when done penning a manuscript. It is so cathartic to our well being. However, finishing your draft is just one of the many roadblocks you have to overcome in self-publishing. It merely means one road has come to an end, and others lies ahead. In other words: editing the draft, promoting the book, and also amassing a fanbase.

If you refer to the title of this post, you already know it aims to lead you through finding a book editor; but if you are looking at self-editing, here is an article to inspire you all the way.

Let’s take off.

Who is A Book Editor?

Ideally, a book editor can be an individual or a book editing firm whose practice involves refining a piece or pieces of written work. Most book editors have some level of higher schooling: holding a major in English or journalism; required to be objective in their work, ruthless, and have some insights into the craftsmanship of a story.

Two critical questions most authors asking when seeking a professional book editor, are:

1. Is Getting A Book Editor Right for My Book?

The honest answer is: it all depends!

Why do I say so?

As an author, you know the first line of defense in self-publishing is self-editing; however, your book would be better with another pair of eyes to critique. It is always the ideal option.

An independent editor can be the difference between publishing an average book and a bestseller.

On the other hand, if you are a professional editor, or have been trained to edit, then you might get away with publishing a book without seeking editorial services.

2. What About Beta Readers, And Can They Replace A Professional Editor?

Anyone can be a beta reader: friends, family member, or anyone in an online writing group or critique cycle. Unlike professional editors who can cut to the chase, beta readers provide feedback similar to that of an occasional reader. They too can serve as editors for your book. You can let them provide suggestions on your manuscript, straighten out the issues they find before you drop your draft to the editor.

Here are the places you can find beta readers for your book.

Four Things Editors Can Bring To Your Book

Working with a professional book editor is the standard rule in self-publishing. Nothing matches the experience an expert can bring to your story, especially these days where readers have become so judgemental, critical, and unsupportive.

Here is what your book stands to gain from an experienced editor irrespective of the role.

1. Polish Style

Here, editors will review your writing for word choice. They will examine your book for uniformity of context and vocabulary to ensure no cliches. They will look at whether you are using enough expressions and what response they evoke on a reader.

2. Cut The Excess Fat

Sometimes when we write, we find ourselves with redundant, lengthy, and clumsy sentences. Editors will help cut these missing words to make the syntax and context clean for the reader to understand.

3. Identify Plot Holes

Here, editors examine for the theme and character consistency: knowing where the author is coming from and guiding them to their destination.

4. Mood And Tone of Your Book

Ready to Hire A Book Editor

OK. So you have already done the heavy lifting, poured your heart and soul into your manuscript, and understood the benefits your book stand to gain from an edit. You may also have self-edited, probably made all the necessary corrections friends and family members suggested. Now you are thinking it is time to tighten those loose ends in your story by sourcing out the services of an experienced editor.

Before you do that…

Here are The Reasons to Outsource for A Book Editor

  • You need an extra pair of eyes with good judgment to identify any errors that passed by your notice.
  • You are too busy: If you are an editor/author, such that you have not time to edit.
  • You have a budget: There are a lot of factors that go into getting a quote for editorial services. We have got things like genre, editor’s experience, and the shape of your book as factors that will affect the overall cost of editing a manuscript.
  • You are terrible at editing.

If you answered yes to all these reasons, then finding a professional book editor will surely make sense to your book.

Now the easy part.

Who Can Edit Your Book? Freelancers or Book Editing Agencies.

Hiring editing agencies seems to be the most viable option for most authors looking to outsource for book editing. It is the standard norm in self-publishing.

These firms comprise a group of professional editors fighting for the same goal or experienced authors with a registered business to see authors or writers beyond the editing process. Their editorial process is rigorous and may go through three methods: a developmental edit, copy edit, and proofread – your choice!

However, you could also delegate the work to freelancers, who are standalone professional editors with unimaginable options at their disposal: not limited by the knowledge of in-house editors.

Here are the places one can find a professional book editor, whether freelance or an agency.

As aforementioned, hiring agencies may seem like the best option. However, it can be difficult and expensive, especially on the time factor. If you are low on resources and want the work done quickly, start by hiring freelance editors.

Here is why:

  • First, it is cheap.
  • You can decide to hire and let go when you want.
  • You can opt to pay a fixed rate regardless of the length of your draft.

On the other side:

  • Freelancers may work for multiple authors at the same time or even an agency, hence may not be involved in the work as much.
  • Freelance editors can be unreliable.

How to Hire a Professional Book Editor in Three Steps

#1 Decide on the type of book editor you want.

#2 Reach out through job ads or in the mail.

#3 Test.

#1. Decide on The Book Editor You Want

Editors like all of us come with different talents or skill set. There is a development editor, a copy editor, proofreaders, and content editors.

So, the first step to hiring a professional book editor is to be clear on the editor you want to polish your book.

In this stage, avoid using human instinct, so as not to pick an editor who may not meet your book editing demands.

With that information in mind, there are metrics you need to check in this decision-making process:

1. Vendor/type of Services

Find what other services the firm or book editor provides. If it is a traditional book publishing or editing firm, find if they can help publish your book and possibly market it on your behalf. Such “after-sale” services may relieve you the extra marketing/publishing cost of your book.

2. Expertise

Which books have they edited? What relevant experience and knowledge do they have with editing? What is their level of education? Do they work with companies or individual? And in what capacity and what sector?  How about their reputation, reviews, and portfolio? Ask the editor if they have any training or certification and how long they’ve been editing. These are just but the few questions to ask before settling on who will polish your book.

3. Cost

No need paying a King’s ransom when shopping for a book editor as you have already spent enough on the writing process. Finding how much the cost of their service is can go along way in meeting your book’s financial obligations. Factors like:

  • Genre or your priorities.
  • Editor experience level.
  • State and length of the manuscript will also influence the cost

4. The Editing Your Book Needs

As an author, it is upon you to determine what type of editing your book needs. If you are new to editing or self-publishing, then you already know that your book will deserve more than a proofread.

5. Customer Experiences and Reviews

How quickly are other authors ready to recommend their services? What about customer reviews or references? Are there any worth compelling to enable you to go after their services?

The answers you will get from this decision-making process will affect the whole process of hiring a book editor, such as places to look for an editor. So you should try and get persuasive with every question or decision you make.

#2. Reach Out in The Mail or Via Job Ads on Book Editing Sites

Having decided on the editor you want, you can do a job ad on job boards or writing groups and wait for the applications to roll.

To succeed at hiring an editor from job boards or on book editing platforms, give clear instructions regarding the editor you want to wade off ‘non-serious’ editors. Then vet them one after another.

Here is a sample job listing on Flexjobs for a client seeking a proofreader.

Do you notice how specific they are with the type of proofreader they want for their client?

Their goal is to find and only attract the relevant person for the job, by:

  • Giving clear instructions on how one should apply.
  • Asking insightful questions to determine their genuine interest in the niche or editorial experience.
  • Giving the applicants a reason to apply by including the budget, packages, and basically what type of editing they will do.

Without that much clarity, you may end up with the wrong editor; hence, more work on your side.

If step one was not easy, fear not! There are other ways of finding a professional book editor.

Since you already know your industry, you can narrow down to self-publishing. Looking for a self-publishing site like Self-Publishing School and enter the word editor on the search bar. The report you will get will show you the names of editors who are hired on a freelance or full-time basis or have written content for the site. 

Here at Self-Publishing school, our most relevant search for editor gave us Qat Wanders. You can now go further and search if Qat (or the editor) appears more frequent on similar sites, find their contacts then reach out through mail asking if they can take editing work within or outside their routine.

Also, you can find editors on social media, writing groups, or professional platforms like LinkedIn.

Eventually, once you have found an editor, you can ask knowledgeable editing questions such as:

  • What tools and SW they use for editing or tracking changes.
  • Companies or authors they have worked with in editing.
  • Knowledge and book editing experience of your niche
  • Level of education
  • What value or addition they will bring to your book

Of course, this you do after going through their profiles.

You can also use your referral network to find a book editor. Referrals are great for seeking the right editor since you are relying on a trusted source and their experience working with that editor.

#3. Test

So you have already chosen the editor to polish your book, it is now time to challenge them – early – by putting them on probation. The most important part for both parties at this stage is the ‘test draft.’

A ‘test draft’ will determine whether the editor is reliable, talented, or skilled, and whether he/she will make your book business go through the ceiling.

In the ‘test draft,’ decide the number of words or pages to edit and duration it would take for the editor to complete the work. Negotiate also on the pay rate, a discounted if possible.

Luckily, and in most cases, you will find that many editors are willing to edit the first chapter of your book for free. 

If they do not satisfy you with their work, you can pay as agreed and say goodbye.

Found A Professional Book Editor?

If their services meet your standard and specification (the edits and comments they inserted in your book a good match for you) in the trial phase, it is a neat sign you have found a good editor. You can now see your book on book review sites. It is now time to bring the editor up-to-date with your plans.

The next step is to communicate your book goals and probably the challenges you experienced while writing the book or the other matters you need the editor to address in your book other than the usual editing. 

At this stage, ensure you give the editor all the detail about your book as your relationship will depend on a successful onboarding experience.

Working Together With Your Editor

Once they have understood your book goals, it is time to establish a good working relationship with the editor.

Unfortunately, there is no one exact way of doing this. Each author will have to devise his/her way of maintaining an excellent relationship with an editor.

However, here are some ways we think may be of help if you are stuck.

  • Showing them the author you are and your expectations.
  • Your overall budget.
  • The tools you will use for work and collaboration. Google docs, Slack, or Microsoft word tracking changes. Such tools make commenting, editing, and communication seamless for both parties.
  • When you will want the work completed
  • Keep them motivated by making their job easy. I know editors are always eyed-shaped, ruthless, and will surely fill your pages with red marks as they go through your book. Do not make their work unbearable. You never know, the relationship may develop into a potentially long-term one as you will need more of your books edited or learn how to be an editor yourself.

Other ways to keep them motivated include:

  • Sharing your book news and your progress.
  • Show performance metrics if you got any or provide ratings.
  • Let them know of their importance to the success of your book. Editing is challenging, as Stephanie Rische puts it: “sometimes an editor’s job is to find the pulse of a manuscript and resuscitate it. Sometimes an editor’s job is to hold the author’s hand and coax her through the final chapter. Sometimes the editor’s job is to recognize a thing of beauty and then get out of the way.”
  • Offer feedback on their work, reviews, and referrals.

These the ways you can succeed in hiring a professional book editor.

Additional Resources

To learn more about editing/publishing or how to take your manuscript to a bestseller, check these sources to expand your knowledge base:

Have you worked with a book editor before? How was the experience? We would love to hear them in the comments section below.

Benefits of Using A Pen Name

Pen names (or non de plumes in French) are pseudonyms adopted by writers with a long, interesting, and sometimes funny history.  

Similar to a musical artist (whether single/duo/or group) who might employ a pseudonym for purely stylistic purposes – to be catchy, to encapsulate their brand/image, to better represent their alter persona – writers often employ pseudonyms for easy recollection, ease of pronunciation, and, in some cases, for their name to better match the genre in which they are seeking publication (a darker, more mysterious sounding name, for instance, for mystery/thriller-themed books).  

But given that authors write in various historical time periods each with their own set of political, social, and economic mores, the reasons a writer might choose to write under a pen name are often very different.

In reading this article, you will learn about some of these reasons.  

Additionally, you will learn about the various benefits of using a pen name.  

Lastly, you will also better appreciate the virtually limitless creative energy flowing in each and every writer and how pen names, far from being used for a single purpose, can be used to experiment across various genres and potentially unlock hidden writing talent.  

Let’s get right into it.  

I love the language an article published on the website electricliterature.com used when explaining the various reasons authors have used (or continue to use) pen names.  Noting that some have used them for “political reasons, others for personal concerns, and some simply for the joy of mischief… pseudonyms are a powerful tool for writers, allowing their pens to say what perhaps their mouths couldn’t”

Here are just a few writers whose pens were used to do the talking.

Notable Writers Throughout History Who Used Pen Names

  • Daniel Defoe, the English writer, journalist, and spy, widely considered to be one of England’s earliest novelists and most controversial writers of his time, having produced more than 400 works ranging from books, pamphlets, songs, essays, and journalistic works spanning many subjects, used 198 different pseudonyms
  • Theodor Geisel, the beloved children’s author who wrote under the pen name Dr. Seuss, whose pseudonym resulted from being caught drinking as a Dartmouth undergrad (for which he was forced to resign as Editor-in-Chief of a campus humor magazine) holds the record for the most books written pseudonymously (57).
  • Stanley Martin Lieber, widely recognized as Stan Lee, who would eventually achieve worldwide literary acclaim as a comic book writer, producing such classics as The Amazing Spider-Man, planned to save his real name for more “serious” literary work such as novels
  • Eric Blair, who wrote worldwide classic novels such as 1984 and Animal Farm and whose literary masterpieces denouncing the evils of totalitarian government has instituted a “language of dystopia” – such words as “Orwellian” and “Big Brother” –  wrote under the pen name George Orwell so his family wouldn’t be embarrassed by his time in poverty – an experience he recounts in his classic work, Down and Out in London and Paris.  

For more interesting, fascinating, and sometimes hilarious tidbits of literary history regarding pen names, check out this very artful, historical infographic timeline provided by electricliterature.com.  

Common Reasons Why Authors Use (Or Have Used) Pen Names

Anonymity / Privacy

Some of the greatest works of literary fiction that would go to achieve much acclaim were, in many instances, scathing indictments on the current political power, economic order, social value system, etc.  Writers, then and now, needing protection from the government, enemies of one sort or another, chose to write under a pen name for their personal protection.  

In some cases, though, it’s simply a matter of privacy.  Social media being all the rage, if you wish to retain some privacy regarding your thoughts on touchy subjects – and believe you have what it takes to publish a book on such things – using a pen name is definitely recommended.  Hiring managers no doubt check social media profiles, workplace friends have access to your every thought it seems like, so it’s definitely preferable to make a clear boundary between your public and private life.  

George Orwell mentioned previously, was motivated by both concerns:  he feared what his family might think as he lived destitute in many of Europe’s leading cities and he certainly knew that his writings were taking on the elites of his time.  

Conceal Gender, Marketing, and Reckless Abandon

From England’s Victorian Age up to the present postmodern world of liberal publication, women have penned works under male names for a variety of reasons.  In more historic times, given the male-dominated nature of authorship and publication, aspiring female authors, to be taken seriously and have their works published at all, wrote under a male name.


Combine this social and political climate with literary works criticizing these very norms and it makes sense why  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (‘Currer Bell’), Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (‘Ellis Bell’), and Middlemarch by Mary Anne Evans (‘George Elliot’) – three of the most celebrated English literary classics – were written under male names.  

More recently, Joanne Rowling, popular author of the Harry Potter Series, one of the best-selling book series of all time, penned her works under the more gender-ambiguous ‘J.K. Rowling.’  In 2013, when she published The Cuckoo’s Calling, she adopted the even more straightforward male name of ‘Robert Galbraith.’ 

In the case of Rowling, because the intended audience of her Harry Potter series were young boys who presumably would not want to read fantasy books written by a woman, publishers decided that she use the more gender-neutral J.K.   

Sometimes a flat out rejection of traditional standards of decency and modesty explains female to male name changes.  Speaking about Amantine Lucile Dupin, the famous French novelist and memoirist, Carmela Ciuraru, author of Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms writes: 

“bored by her aristocratic milieu, a cigar-smoking, cross-dressing baroness rejected the rules of propriety by having sexual liaisons with men and women alike, publishing novels and plays under the name George Sand.”

The rationale behind the name change for a more gender-neutral or male-sounding name sounds antiquated but it nonetheless remains true in some parts of the literary publishing world.  Ciuraru, for instance, during a CNN interview, speaking about Rowling’s decision to write under a male name, stated that “Sadly, in certain genres, it still helps to be a man – particularly in crime or science fiction.”  

In the late ’60s, as one example, James Tiptree Jr, a very popular science fiction writer who seemed to have come from nowhere, was actually Alice Sheldon, a former CIA officer, and experimental psychologist.  

CHANGE GENRES / FAN EXPECTATIONS

Say your favorite writer of legal suspense decides to write a coming-of-age novel, just how motivated would you be to read it?  Would you be suspicious, maybe even questioning the quality of the book?  

Aside from answering to their critics, many notable authors have big fanbases who, like it or not, have to be catered to.  While book titans James Patterson and John Grisham have been able to “get away” with writing outside of “their genre” the same may not apply to a lesser-known and beginning writer.  

Here’s what even established authors likely consider: 

  • Feeling disingenuous they may wonder, “how can I write a book of poetry if I only am known for romance novels?” 
  •  Fearing backlash they may think about fans or even first-time readers coming down hard on them and judging their work extra hard.  
  • As public figures, bad PR might keep them up at night: say the writer writes mainly fictional Sci-fi books and one day decides to pen a non-fictional work on the latest culture war topic.  

These scenarios–internal debates about whether or not to shift genres (and the potential consequences of doing so)–are virtually endless.  

This is where pen names come in.  

The biggest names do it–or have done it.    

  • Nora Roberts becomes ‘J.D.  Robb’ when writing erotic thrillers.  
  • Samuel Langhorne Clemens, when writing across different genres, was known to the world as ‘Mark Twain.’  
  • The King of Horror himself, Stephen King, has penned various novels outside of horror under ‘Robert Galbraith.’

For the Weary Reader…When Pen Names Can be Beneficial 

A quick note on King and others like him.  Writers who have an especially large output – such as King and other authors who publish in different genres – are wise to use a different name if they are simply publishing a ton of material – more than a loyal fan base might be able to keep up with.   

So, for instance, in one calendar year, once you have established a regular publishing pattern, one or two books a year, and you still think you can churn out a third, but, say, in a different genre, a name change might work here in terms of sales, marketing, and keeping a loyal fan base.  

Again, the particulars of this will look different for every writer but as an example, consider the following: you establish a great reputation, both in print and on social media, as an expert on the topic of, to use a modern trendy example, the ketogenic diet.  

You’ve written a book or two already, have a great Youtube channel, perhaps even a podcast.  You are firing on all cylinders.  Say, now, you would like to shift gears, and pen something on leadership.  

Here are some things to think about: 

  • Should you go full steam ahead and risk everything by delving into a brand new subject? 
  • What if it flops?  Perhaps the market is flooded with such books already.  
  • Maybe your fan base thinks you are “faking it to make it” by hiring a ghostwriter – your latest attempt to exploit your following by offering something they probably don’t even need. 
  • Worse, they begin to question your previous books and think it was a marketing ploy–using others to manufacture your claim to fame.  

Using a pen name is a strategic marketing decision arrived at after considering your track record, future goals, personal passion, and subject expertise.  

Below follow some reasons why ought to consider using one.  

Pen Names Are a Great Way to Test the “Writing Waters” and Experiment with Your Craft

Personal journals/diaries detailing your deepest darkest secrets were once the domain of only one person–you, the individual.  But, today, in an internet-crazed world where people are looking for more answers to more and more of life’s complex problems, you very well may have the answers people are looking for. 

Pen names allow you to publish material that you otherwise would not publish–material that could form the basis for a loyal following, people so loyal who could be salivating for your next biggest project–a book-length work that, who knows, goes on to span a fictional series, a memoir based on personal life experiences, a novel that you later sell the movies for, etc.  Most great fiction finds its basis on non-fictional real life accounts, after all.  

Think of it in terms of a question: why do new cookbooks or rock groups come out each year?  

Personally, I think it comes down to the market always allowing for new and unique voices that offer a fresh perspective on a given subject.  What you think is only good enough may very well be great for somebody else.  You may be that special person people connect with.  There’s only one way to test this out: get your material out there.

A Medium article published by the writer S.K. Anthony further elaborates on these above points.  Expounding on her point of what pen names do for a writer’s branding, Anthony makes the excellent point that “there’s no better reason to have a pen name than having flunked under a different name and needing to start over” – a phenomenon she says happens more than people even realize.  

Think of the virtually limitless creative opportunities that you, the aspiring writer, are afforded.  No other creative profession – no profession at all, for that matter – allows for such wondrous potential.  

The lawyer who loses too many cases develops a bad rap;  the athlete who blows the big game one too many times finds it hard to rebound; the musician who plays a horrible note hardly recovers his or her musical prowess; the restauranter who gets too many bad reviews on Yelp, and on and on…

Not so with writing…

If you fail to resonate with readers after publishing your deepest personal memoir but feel you can give it a shot at short story writing—who can stop you? 

Who will know you – the real you – failed?  

If the funny punchlines that you thought could form a humor book fall flat and get bad reviews on Amazon but think you can write the lastest Sci-Fi book, what law exists to prevent you?  

How do you make such drastic genre changes you still be might wondering?  

CHANGE YOUR “NAME!”

Perhaps you need reminding from a daring historical figure who stopped at nothing to accomplish greatness – Thomas Edisons’ timeless quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The only difference is his failings were made public; yours will remain private.  Talk about a win-win!!

The beauty of writing is that you can control the extent of your privacy; nobody sees you in the privacy of your home formulating your craft, nobody even has to know the person behind the name…too shy to engage with your audience live?  Do it through a personal fan page where you interact digitally until you announce your “coming out” moment.  

Not to go too far with my point here, though.  I guess I’m just pointing out some additional benefits to being a writer who dares to experiment and who, perhaps too shy and introverted, wishes to remain anonymous.  

BRANDING:  When pen names may work; when they may not be necessary 

Here are some pointers to keep in mind regarding pen names.  I provide some examples – some hypothetical, some real-world–on when pen names are appropriate and ways you might be able to further brand yourself:  

  • It seems that very famous writers, like celebrities, can “get away” with certain things based on how successful and loved they are; nobody questions when a celebrity of any field decides to write a book (that is standard practice), but when a writer decides to enter a new genre – write a screenplay, launch a videogame, invent an app – they can only do so if they have truly proven themselves
  • To give an example of the previous point, the creator of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, Robert Kiyosaki, has been able to successfully brand his international hit, the Rich Dad Poor Dad book, into many successful follow up books, a board game, popular website, speaking engagements, popular seminars, etc.  Keep in mind, his second book (you may not score big on your first)–which to this day remains a huge hit–allowed not only his writing career but his broader entrepreneurial brand to really take off.  
  • NOTE: There was no need for him to use a pen name because his books and larger brand centered around personal finance, investing, business, self-help, etc.  If he ever wanted to brand himself outside of this world, it might make sense to use a pen name.  
  • Genre-hopping requiring a pen name, to be clear, need not even happen for you, the aspiring writer.  If you truly find your niche and can keep building it up through follow up books, seminars, a game, a movie, consulting, etc…why rock the boat, right?  Consider the biggest brands like Star Wars and Harry Potter and the immense scalability they both wield across the globe.  From the first HP book to movie adaptations, LEGO sets, action figures, various toys, video games, etc.  THINK BIG.  
  • No matter where you are in your personal/professional life you likely already have a powerful story to share–and you need not even have to use a pen name, no matter how deep and personal.  I love the story of Matthew Crawford, the “philosopher-mechanic,” whose New York York Times Bestselling Book, Shop Class as Soul Craft, became an instant bestseller.  Here was a Ph.D. in political science working as the Director of a think tank who made the occupational change to a motorcycle mechanic who wrote a book – a very powerful thought-provoking one – to tremendous acclaim.  Imagine what his next move might be – speaker, consultant, follow up book on a similar topic.  No need for a pen name.  Judging by the reception of his first book, people likely want a second.  
  • Long complicated, difficult-to-pronounce name, too ‘soft’ of a name for a ‘strong’ subject you are tackling—these are situations where a pen name may work.  Again, many musical artists do it.  When they want to sound fun, upbeat, and energetic, they pick a name accordingly.  Think of the countless rock bands that pick names connoting danger, death, and what have you.  The literary equivalent for a writer would be picking a mysterious-sounding name for a suspense-themed book.  Many artists –including writers– “Americanize” their name, if, for instance, the name is too long/difficult to pronounce.  However, the opposite works too. To get in touch with their roots (and their potential readership) writers will use their foreign names to great effect.  Two such examples of works dealing with strong ethnic themes that have garnered much literary acclaim are Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.  

You literally have unlimited freedom when it comes to choosing a pen name. Whether or not you choose one comes down to a consideration of factors that this article hopefully helped to frame for you. Self-Publishing School can certainly help with this important decision and more. What are you waiting for?  

Publishing Houses

If you’re ready to publish a book, but don’t know what to do after you have your book finished…going with a publishing house might make sense. But then, it also might not.

You wrote a book? Congrats! …Now what?

You’ve got two basic options for publishing your book: traditional publishing and self-publishing.

But how do you decide which is best for you? Depending on your personal goals, each option could be your saving grace or your biggest downfall.

Choosing the best publishing option will set you up for success. But this means understanding them. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to explore publishing houses and if this method is right for you.

Here’s what you need to know about publishing houses:

  1. What’s a publishing house?
  2. What are the Big 5 publishing houses?
  3. How do publishing houses work?
  4. Overview of traditional publishing
  5. What’s a vanity press?
  6. Alternative: self-publishing
  7. How to get started with self-publishing

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

What’s a publishing house?

A publishing house’s main purpose is to find authors and their manuscripts to produce and publish into books.

They can be responsible for several things:

  1. Selecting marketable manuscripts. Publishing houses need to know trends, statistics, and market climates to choose the right books and frame them in the best way to generate the most sales.
  2. Designing and editing the manuscripts. As I said, publishers are responsible for framing. This also requires a knowledge of trends and market climates to design a book that will grab readers’ interest.
  3. Selling and promoting. The publishing house makes deals with retailers and companies for when, where, and how to sell the book. They also plan and execute marketing and promotional plans, if any, for the book. This isn’t something they do for every author. Publishing houses benefit from pushing their high sales authors–very little marketing budget goes toward newbie and debut authors, so if you’re into the idea of traditional publishing because you think they’ll spend their marketing budget on you: reconsider.

What are the Big 5 publishing houses?

There are five publishers known as “The Big Five,” and being published with them is considered a mark of significant success in the publishing industry.

These are the Big 5 publishing houses:

  1. Penguin Random House – they’ve published authors including: Kay Hooper, John Green, E.L. James, Markus Zusak
  2. Hachette Book Group – they’ve published authors including: Min Jin Lee, Malala Yousafzai, Chris Colfer
  3. HarperCollins – they’ve published authors including: Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, George R.R. Martin
  4. Simon and Schuster – they’ve published authors including: Mary Higgins Clark, David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  5. Macmillan – they’ve published authors including: Janet Evanovich, Sara Douglass, Tatiana De Rosnay

Of course, there are hundreds of more options for publishing houses, but these are the five most recognizable and most elite.

How do publishing houses work?

The first thing to understand about publishing houses is that they pay you for the rights of your book, ideas, and whatever else is in the contract. This means that the publishing house “owns” your book and you simply get a cut of the earnings (a small, 5%-10% cut).

The way this typically works is that you, the author, finds an agent. This agent then pitches your manuscript to publishing houses.

If the house likes the concept or even the full manuscript, they’ll purchase the rights to your book with a contract that typically includes an advance and royalty rate—occasionally with a multi-book deal if they see the potential.

From here, the publishing house pairs you with an editor, where you work to write the book, edit it, and get it publish-ready. Meanwhile, other individuals in the publishing house work on the book cover, title, and other tasks the writer doesn’t need to worry about when going through traditional publishing.

How to work with a publishing house

Traditional publishing used to be the only viable option for publishing a book. So what exactly is traditional publishing? Let’s break down the process step-by-step:

  1. Write your manuscript! If you’re a debut or unknown writer, you’ll almost always need a full manuscript before you begin the querying process. Once you have successful books and a readership, you can usually sell books with only a pitch and a first chapter.
  2. Determine your genre and category. Publishing is cyclical–genres, themes, and tropes drop in and out of popularity pretty regularly. Publishers strategically publish books based on what’s popular and what will sell. Some genres are just harder to sell to publishers–like extremely long books, memoirs, and short story collections–but most genres will eventually have their time in the sun if you wait out the market.

    Within genres, there are specifications to follow that makes your book more “publishable.” For example, different genres have prescribed word counts–romance novels are typically between 70,000 and 100,000 words. Fantasy novels are typically a bit longer. Books get shorter the younger your target demographic. Word count is just one aspect of industry standard expected in traditional publishing.
  3. Prepare your submission materials.
    • Query letter – this is a one-page pitch letter of your project.
    • Synopsis – a summary of your book, beginning to end (one-to-two pages)
    • Samples – for fiction, this is typically the first chapter of your book. For nonfiction, it might be any chapter you feel is representative. There may also be specific requests from the agent or publisher, like a different number of chapters.
  4. Find publishers and agents. The majority of reputable publishers do not accept manuscripts without an agent, so you will likely have to find an agent first. To find an agent, you might try looking at published writers in your genre–are any of their agents open to queries? This is an especially good option if you have a connection with that writer, as it can give you more context and a personal twist to your query.

    Outside of seeking agents individually, you might try one of these websites:
    • PublishersMarketplace.com
    • QueryTracker.net
    • WritersMarket.com
    • Duotrope.com
    • And my favorite recommendation for all things related to writer networking: Twitter.
  5. Wait for a thousand years to hear back. 🙂 Typical responses to agent queries are:
    • Nothing (rejection)
    • A rejection (rejection)
    • A partial or full manuscript request. This is the one you want, spoiler alert.
  6. Evaluate offers, if you receive any. If an agent likes you, make sure you like them! Of course, beggars can’t be choosers AND you hopefully filtered suitability before you applied, but do a little extra homework before you get into bed with a contract.

Sounds fun and easy, right? (heh) But don’t be lulled into a soft and warm cocoon of security yet! There are dangers in these waters…

Look out for: THE VANITY PRESS! (suspenseful music swells)

What’s a vanity press?

A predatory traditional publisher you should look out for is the vanity press. A vanity press is a publisher that charges the author to publish their book.

It’s for feeding egos and giving writers a false sense of accomplishment.

While legitimate publishers reject the majority of books submitted to them, a vanity press will publish anyone who is willing to pay for it. Vanity publishers don’t make their money from readers–they make their money from writers.

A legitimate publisher has to publish books that will sell in order to make their investment back. Vanity presses just need to dupe an author into paying them, then they don’t have to worry if the book sells because their money has already been made, and the writer is left out to dry.

Examples of vanity publishers you should look out for:

  • America Star Books (also known as: PublishAmerica, PublishAtlantica, PublishBritannica, PublishIcelandica)
  • AuthorHouse
  • iUniverse
  • Dorrance Publishing
  • Xlibris
  • Vantage Press
  • Matador

Be wary of any publisher that tries to charge you! You want to sell your book, not buy your book.

So now we know what traditional publishing is, how to do it, and dangers to avoid. Now the question is…

Is traditional publishing for you?

It certainly isn’t for everyone! Some writers may not thrive in traditional publishing.

Here’s how to know if traditional publishing, and working with a publishing house, is NOT for you:

  • Writers who have tried traditional publishing and seen endless rejection
  • Writers who want to keep their creative control of their books
  • Writers who want to be hands-on in the business of their books
  • Writers who want higher royalty rates on their books!
  • Writers with “unpublishable” genres or manuscripts. For example, I love writing short stories–that isn’t something publishers are jumping to publish. I’ve found a lot of success self-publishing my short story collections. Does that mean I’m sworn off of traditional publishing forever? Nope! I’m actually thinking about querying my fantasy novel, just to dip my toes and see if that’s a route I’m interested in pursuing to become a hybrid author.

If you fit any of those categories, maybe you should think about the alternative to traditional publishing.

Alternative: self-publishing

For years, self-publishing was seen as the lesser option. With fewer barriers to entry, more freedom, and more inclusivity, self-publishing takes away the Cool Kid Club aspect of publishing.

Anyone can do it! Does that mean a few stinkers slip through to print? Sure!

But it also means MANY more authors have the opportunity to raise their voice. Do you know any famous writers who began their careers with self-publishing? I bet you do.

Authors who started famous careers self-publishing books:

  • Christopher Paolini
  • Andy Weir (The Martian went on to be a bestselling book and an Oscar-nominated movie)
  • E.L James (obviously)
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Margaret Atwood

While these are great examples of writers who have become famous for their books, there are COUNTLESS self-published authors who are making amazing livings through their writing.

Fame isn’t the only (or even the most meaningful) measure of success, so even though the authors listed above ended up traditionally publishing, there are many, many writers who continue to make healthy incomes through self-publishing exclusively.

Reasons to self-publish:

  • Higher royalties
  • Creative control
  • Business control
  • Fewer barriers to entry
  • Quicker turnaround (or work at your own pace)

Does it sound like self-publishing is for you? It probably is! If you want to learn more about this growing industry and how to do it for yourself, keep reading.

New call-to-action

How to get started with self-publishing

Self-publishing is probably a lot simpler than you think it is.

  1. Start building your author platform. You can sell anything if you’ve got the people to sell it to. My author platform is mainly on YouTube. I make videos on writing, editing, film reviews, and random nonsense. People watch my videos, and that’s “free” marketing for my books, services, and anything else. Having a platform also makes you wildly more publishable, if traditional publishing is still a goal you want to pursue in the future.
  2. Refine your genre and category. Each genre has different trends, tropes, and tricks. Settling into one or two specific ones will you give a tighter niche to learn and work in. Having a tighter niche in your writing also makes personal branding and marketing much easier to do.
  3. Get guidance. Self-publishing? We can help with that. Check out several of our programs to see if self-publishing successfully with our guidance is right for you.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Book Proposal: How to Write a Strong, Selling Book Proposal

When trying to sell your book to a publishing house (or elsewhere), you’ll need a strong book proposal.

While we’re all about self-publishing here (and are convinced you should be too, but you can learn more about that with our self-publishing versus traditional publishing analysis), we see the value of a strong book proposal.

You may want to sell it to a publishing house or you could use it to book speaking engagements, get features on websites to promote your book, and other countless uses.

But if your book proposal isn’t up to par, it can make your publishing ventures that much harder.

Let us simplify it for you in this guide for how to write a book proposal.

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

Here’s how to write a book proposal:

  1. Know what your book is about
  2. Write the book, or at least start it
  3. Put the right information in the header
  4. Give a short synopsis
  5. State your credibility
  6. Plant the hook
  7. Reveal the target audience
  8. Chapter outline
  9. Marketability
  10. Comparable books

What is a book proposal?

A book proposal is a “pitch” of a nonfiction book used to sell or get the attention of agents and publishers. The purpose of a book proposal is to intrigue publishers while also explaining your book and its marketability to them in order to get them to buy it.

Think of a book proposal as your book’s sales page or letter.

The idea is to not only give them a summary of your book, but to sell them on the idea, how popular the idea and concept could be, and how viable it is in current literary markets.

Book proposals are primarily for nonfiction books looking to make it in the traditional publishing market, but knowing how to write a great book proposal is also important for self-published authors as well, and we’ll get to those details more below.

Self-Publishing VS Traditional Publishing

If you want to learn how to write a book proposal, chances are you’re looking to pursue traditional publishing—meaning working with a publishing house to publish your book.

Now, from what many of our Become a Bestseller program students tell us when they first arrive, many of you might not know that another option exists.

It’s called self-publishing (in case you haven’t got the gist already!).

If you want a more deep analysis of the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, you can read the blog post here (or you can download our deep-dive 2020 analysis linked above).

But you can get a feel for the main differences in the chart below:

What You GetSelf-PublishingTraditional Publishing
Sole control of your book's outcome
X
Sole control of your book's rightsX
Control over the story X
Control over the coverX
100% of royaltiesX
Editing includedX
Cover designX
MarketingXX
DeadlinesX

How long is a book proposal?

Your book proposal should be 25 – 50 pages, sometimes exceeding 75 pages depending on how much sample material is included in the proposal itself.

While this seems very long, remember, you are trying to sell your idea to a publisher, and that requires some upfront work—especially when we’re talking about the traditional publishing industry.

Just getting in the doors it a task all in itself.

How to Write a Book Proposal to SELL

Ready to get into the good stuff? Let’s go through how to write a book proposal that’ll sell your book to a traditional publisher, if that’s the publishing option you want to take.

#1 – Know what your book is about

It might seem like a given to at least know what your book’s about before writing the proposal but keep in mind that you really have to know what it’s about, fully and in-depth.

This is why some people even suggest writing the full manuscript or at least starting to write your book before starting the proposal.

The main areas you really want to know about are:

  • Who’s your audience?
  • What message will they walk away with?
  • What will you be teaching them or what will impact them the most?
  • What will each chapter be like?
  • What tone and style will you use (think back to your audience)?
  • What examples will you be using to further confirm your message?

We do recommend you have a really, really strong idea as to what the book will cover in full. It makes the process of writing out your entire proposal much, much easier (and stronger).

New call-to-action

#2 – Write the book, or at least start it

Some publishers will want to see samples, but that’s not the only reason to write part of the book first.

In truth, you have to know what you’re selling in order to sell it well and write a book proposal that’s going to speak loudly about your message.

Most of what we find with our Become a Bestseller students is that they almost always change what their book is about when they get into the thick of it. Meaning, once they start outlining and getting feedback from their coach, a lot of their book changes.

Imagine writing a 25-page (minimum) book proposal only to be left to change almost everything after you start your book?

That would be a huge waste of time.

This is more of a formatting tip, but when you start your proposal, make sure you have the right details in your header.

This is where they’ll know to contact you and honestly, if this part isn’t organized and displayed correctly, they might just ignore your proposal altogether.

After all, not many agents or publishers will want to work with someone who can’t follow basic instructions.

Here’s what you need in your book proposal header for each page:

  • Your last name
  • Your book title
  • Page number

You can also learn more about how to format a book proposal here.

#4 – Give a short synopsis of the book’s contents

What would the back of your book say? That’s what you want to put here. But remember, this one can be a little more fleshed out than just a couple paragraphs.

You really want to give a sense of what your book is about, who it’s for, and what they can gain from reading your book.

Keep it strong, and clear.

You can learn how to write a synopsis or book blurb here.

#5 – State your credibility

It’s the one time all authors dream of: time to brag about yourself!

This is the section where you’ll basically show off and explain why you’re the person to be writing this book. State some awards, features, and other examples of what makes you credible to share this message.

What publisher are looking for in this section of your book proposal is something unique and interesting that would set you apart from someone else who might have a similar or even the same book idea.

Don’t be afraid to get personal—in fact, do! You have to make sure they. understand that nobody else is the right author for this book.

Focus and dig into what makes your perspective unique and therefore, better and more marketable than others.

#6 – Plant the hook

Now it’s your time to make a “big reveal” about what makes this book so unique and sellable.

What’s the hook?

What is the #1 thing that will get readers to buy, review, and love your book? In essence, this is the real selling point of your story!

Make it important, impactful, and most importantly: make it speak to them emotionally as well as in a light where they can see how it can be marketed.

#7 – Reveal the target audience

Who is this book for? You should be able to paint a really clear picture about who they are, what their needs are, and even what type of language they would use.

This should be direct, and the market for this audience should be wide.

This doesn’t need to be very long, but show them you have a strong understanding of the readers you’re speaking to, their age range, and why they’ll want to read your book.

#8 – Chapter outline

This is best with a sample chapter or two!

You should start with your book introduction, and move on to chapter one and possibly two.

After that, provide a fairly comprehensive chapter outline, including what each chapter is about, some examples you’ll use, and other details specific to your book.

You can even offer what the reader will learn specifically in each to help give the publisher an overview of the true contents of the book.

#9 – Marketability

Here’s where you’ll want to put in the research and pull some stats into play. You really want the publisher to realize just how much your book will sell.

Some important things to include here might be some search history for your topic, a blog or website you have and the website traffic, and any other information proving that your book will be easy and lucrative to market.

#10 – Comparable books already out there

While you usually want a publisher to think your book is 100% unique and nobody’s ever done it before, this is actually the wrong way to think about it. Reason being…they want proof of concept.

They want to know that your book will sell.

So while no book can ever be exactly like yours, they want to know a concept similar to yours has succeeded, and done well.

This is your time to convince them that your book’s idea is almost like another book that did really well. Make sure to put down some statistics if you can!

Show them this idea has value and that it will speak to people so loudly, they’ll have to buy.


Writing a book proposal takes a lot of work, and it doesn’t even include what’s needed to find an agent before publishers can see this proposal.

While there are advantages of the traditional publishing for some, it’s not right for the large majority of people.

That said, we hope this helps you write your proposal if you do choose to go this route!

New call-to-action

Publishing Options: How & Where to Publish Your Book

In this day and age, there are a ton of book publishing options. With the rise of the self-publishing industry (and subsequent dip in traditional publishing), your options to publish are wide and far.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we understand the power of self-publishing, which is why we have our Become a Bestseller program, where we teach people how to maintain control and become a bestseller.

However, there are a ton of other options, and we wanted to make sure you had all the information possible in order to make the decision that’s best for you and your needs as an author.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Here are your book publishing options:

  1. Self-Publishing
  2. Traditional Publishing
  3. Hybrid Publisher
  4. Vanity Publisher

Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

When thinking about your publishing options, there are two main avenues to take into consideration: self-publishing and traditional publishing.

We’ll go into more detail in each individual section below, but just know this is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to decide on if you want to be an author.

The short overview is this:

  • Self-publishing gives you all creative control, is faster to publish, gives you full royalties, with more upfront investments
  • Traditional publishing takes a lot longer, no upfront investments, but you make a small fraction of royalties per book

We actually compiled a ton of data on self-publishing versus traditional publishing you can find in this free download here:

Publishing Options: Choosing the Best Type for YOU

Not everyone will be a good fit for all of these publishing options. You have to think about your goals as an author, what you want to make financially, and where you see yourself in the long-term—as well as how many books you want to publish and how frequently.

All of these are important to consider when making your decision, but we want to give you all the information so that decision is easier.

#1 – Self-Publishing

If self-publishing isn’t on your radar, you’re severely missing out on a huge opportunity. We truly believe this is the best publishing avenue for the large majority of people.

This is why Self-Publishing School started in the first place. Chandler Bolt (the founder and CEO) started this company because he had such a massive success with his first bestselling book.

Since, he’s published 5 other bestsellers, and he gave all his secrets for doing that away in our Become a Bestseller program.

Now, that being said, there are things to think about when it comes to self-publishing.

So what is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is when you have complete ownership and control of your book and its rights, and you can publish on any medium that allows for it (including Amazon publishing, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and more).

Difficulty to publish:

It’s very easy to self-publish a book. In fact, pretty much anyone with access to Amazon’s publishing platform can do it.

But that doesn’t mean everyone should, nor should you publish a book that’s not ready (or not of high quality), which is why we have our programs in the first place.

Timeframe to publish:

Our students publish in as little as 90 days with our process for going from blank page (yes, nothing written!) to a fully published book. You can take longer to publish, and many students in our Fundamentals of Fiction program often do take longer since fiction can be more extensive.

Creative control:

This is the best part! You have 100% of the creative control over everything from your book’s content to its title, cover, everything. Especially the rights to your book!

Marketing responsibility:

This is all on you—just like it is with traditional publishing, which you’ll learn more about down below. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources online to learn how to market a book, as well as our Sell More Books program to increase your book sales.

Royalty rate:

When publishing through Amazon, your royalty rate will be anywhere from 35% – 70% depending on your book’s retail price. SelfPublishing.com has a fantastic book royalties calculator right here that you can check out for a comparison as well.

Cost to publish:

Self-publishing has a higher upfront investment and cost to publish. These can range anywhere from $300 – $1200+ for high-quality editing, book cover design, and more.

But do keep in mind, you make a lot more in royalties back straight away.

Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):

This is all on you. From the cover design to the book editing (yes you have to get it edited if you want it to do well) all the way to the inside formatting is up to you.

Thankfully, there are resources to help you do all of this right, and we cover this entire process in our programs for our students, as we’ve seen this is one of the most difficult parts of self-publishing.

Questions to ask if you think self-publishing is right for you:

  • Do you need 100% creative control?
  • Do you have the ability to invest upfront for a higher royalty rate later?
  • Can you effectively market your book (even with help)?
  • Do you want to write and publish multiple books quickly?

If you answered yes to the above, self-publishing is likely your best option, and you can learn more about how to do that with our free training. Just click the image below!

New call-to-action

#2 – Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is what we grew up learning was “publishing”: You get an agent through querying your book, that agent pitches your story to publishers, they choose to buy your book from you, and it gets published a while later!

Let’s look at some details about this traditional publishing option.

Difficulty to publish:

Very high. The traditional publishing industry is really hard to get into. It’s not impossible, but it often takes writers years just to land an agent. And then they have to wait until their manuscript is bought, which isn’t guaranteed.

Many will say traditional produces “better” books or you’re a “better” writer if you publish traditionally, but that’s not true. All this proves is that you have a book idea that’s “hot” and “trending” in the market: remember, publishing houses are after one thing and that’s book sales. If it’ll sell, they’ll purchase it, which means unless it’s a trending topic or book idea, you likely won’t get a book deal.

Timeframe to publish:

If we start the timeline to publish after your agent sells your manuscript, meaning a publishing house has purchased your book rights, it can still take up to 2 years for your book to actually publish.

And this doesn’t take into consideration the time spent trying to get an agent and the time it takes your agent to sell your book. You’re looking at a 2-4 year time period unless you get very lucky or have traditional publishing connections.

Creative control:

You don’t really have much creative control with this publishing option.

Ultimately, the publisher buys your book rights for the idea, but this is subject to change based on what your editor sees as selling the most.

Unfortunately, this can be everything from the main characters, the title, the ending, and even major plot points. The upside is that publishers do know what sells, so this could give your book a better chance of “taking off.”

Just know that you’ll have to make sacrifices with creative control through traditional publishing.

Marketing responsibility:

This is on you! Unless you’re a “big name,” (and even then) you do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing your book.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the traditinoal publishing industry. Many want to go with this publishing option because they think the publishing house will market their book, and they do, but only to a certain extent.

The bulk of the marketing is up to you, and this is increasingly more evident as book agents continue to ask about your author platform size as a decision criterion for representing you or not.

Royalty rate:

Many traditionally published authors can expect to make 10% – 12% and (very rarely) up to 15% royalties on their books. As you can see, this is significantly lower than self-publishing due to the publisher taking a big cut to pay for the editing, cover design, and everything that goes into it, as well as your agent taking a cut.

You do get an “advance” if you sign a book deal. This is a large sum of money, usually under $15,000 for new authors, that you have to make back in book sales before you actually get a royalty check.

Many traditionally published authors never see a royalty check because their books never sell more than their advance’s worth after publication.

Cost to publish:

Time. This is the real true cost of the traditional publishing option. If anyone tries to get you to pay them, this is not traditional publishing and is likely a hybrid or a vanity publisher (for the latter, RUN!).

Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):

This is all done in-house at the publisher. They have a cover made, editing completed, formatting finished, as well as book distribution—meaning getting your book in bookstores across the nation.

You can learn more about the main differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing by watching the video below:

Here are some questions to ask if you want to go with this publishing option:

  • Will you be okay with altering your story, characters, and plot?
  • Do you want to publish less frequently, at a book every one or two years?
  • Do you want to relinquish ownership over the cover design and more?
  • Will you be okay with a smaller royalty rate for your book?
  • Are you willing to spend a year or more querying just to find an agent?

If you answered yes to all of those, this avenue might be for you!

#3 – Hybrid Publisher

If you’re not sold on either self-publishing or traditional publishing, there is another option called hybrid publishing.

Hybrid publishing is just as it sounds: a combination of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Most often a hybrid publisher will have specific criteria for authors they work with and will have the distribution opportunities self-publishing doesn’t (like nation-wide bookstores).

One distinguishing factor here: the author usually has to make some sort of investment in order to publish through them.

Difficulty to publish:

This depends entirely on the publisher’s rules and regulations for new authors. Most don’t just take anyone in off the street, which means it is more difficult than self-publishing, though usually not as much so as traditional.

Timeframe to publish:

This is another differentiating factor. Hybrid publishers vary so greatly that most of these will depend on the specific publishing house. However, you can expect an elongated path to publishing here as well.

Creative control:

Since the publisher in this case usually deals with the book cover, title, and such, your creative control is at more risk here. However, most of these publishing houses are more likely to work with you to come to an agreement whereas traditional publishing houses don’t give you much of a choice.

Marketing responsibility:

Again, as with any publishing option, marketing responsibilities fall to you, the author. Though because this is a hybrid publisher, you’ll have more exposure due to their distribution capabilities (which is a note to make sure this is included if you choose this option).

Royalty rate:

Since this also varies, all we have is an approximation range: you can expect roughly 40% – 60% in royalty rates depending on the deal you make. This is definitely higher than traditionally published authors make, but you’ll make less than self-publishing simply because the publisher will still get a cut.

Cost to publish:

Guess what, this one depends as well! Different hybrid publishers work on different models, which means their revenue will be earned differently. That said, some authors pay a large sum to work with hybrid publishers, as well as give up a chunk of their royalties.

Book production (cover design, editing, etc.):

This usually goes through the hybrid publisher, and the process is much like that of traditional publishing. This means you don’t have to worry about any of this and that you also don’t get to change or alter any of this.

#4 – Vanity Publisher

CAUTION!!

We wanted to include this in the options because it is an option you’ll see out there. However, it is not an option to consider.

It’s here so you can know what to look for when a vanity publisher is involved in order to AVOID one. We do not recommend this option.

We wrote a blog post all about vanity press scams here, what they are, and why you should avoid them at all costs.

In other words: you may see people who look like hybrid publishers but are not. Do not work with them!

So what type of publisher is Self-Publishing School?

None! We’re not a publishing option, we’re an online education school that teaches you how to successfully self-publish a book so you can save time, money, (and tears), while earning a steady income from your books.

New call-to-action

11 Best Podcasts for Publishing, Writing, & Growth

If you’re anything like me, you probably get a ton of your information from podcasts or Youtube channels—some sort of medium in which you can listen and also do something else (yay for you multitaskers!).

When it comes to this industry, there are a few publishing podcasts that provide the best, and realest, information out there.

In this post, I’ll cover some of the best podcasts on publishing and a few related to it that can help you out along the way.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Here are the best podcasts for publishing, writing, and marketing:

  1. Self-Publishing School Podcast
  2. Writing Excuses
  3. The Book Marketing Show
  4. The Creative Penn
  5. Self-Publishing With Dale
  6. So You Want to Be a Writer
  7. Grammar Girl
  8. The Writer Files
  9. Dead Robots’ Society
  10. Helping Writers Become Authors
  11. Ditch Diggers

Continued learning makes the entire difference because…

The only way to make real change is to grow, and that often requires learning. After all, how can you do something differently if you don’t know what that something “different” is?

As an online education company helping people write and publish their books to bestseller status with our Become a Bestseller program, we know the information most don’t know or understand, and we break it down into chunks you can absorb and learn from.

That’s why we started up our own podcast again, and why we continue to put out free help for you on our Youtube channel and more!

Now let’s get into some of the best publishing podcasts, as well as great resources for writers in general.

The Best Publishing Podcasts

As we said, education is so important for continued growth, and that’s especially true when it comes to an industry so transformative as self-publishing.

It’s growing and changing every day!

That’s why we’re giving you some of the best podcasts to listen to with the most thorough, up-to-date information to learn and grow from.

New call-to-action

#1 – Self-Publishing School Podcast

That’s right! We brought this back with brand new content hosted by Chandler Bolt, with interviews with the likes of Russell Brunson, Ruth Soukup, Pat Flynn, and plenty of new names you probably recognize coming up!

Some of our previous guests included Gary Vaynerchuk, Joanna Penn, and other experts who divulge some of their best secrets to our listeners.

Here’s one of our newest episodes with Ruth Soukup about self-publishing versus traditional and her own experience (spoiler: it’s not looking good for the traditional industry…yikes!).

You can check out more about our podcast on this page, and listen wherever you typically do!

Don’t forget to subscribe, and hit us with a review 🙂

#2 – Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses covers much more than just publishing, and it’s all done in 15-minute bite-sized chunks for easy digestion.

It’s hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler—with the occasional guest speaker!

I could put this down in the writing section since they often go through questions and topics related to actually writing, but they also cover a ton of thorough information about publishing (both traditional and self-publishing), as well as general career advice from career authors.

publishing podcasts writing excuses

#3 – The Book Marketing Show

Dave Chesson is the host of The Marketing Show as well as the man behind Kindlepreneur and their excellent Publisher Rocket product.

He covers topics ranging from launching with consistent sales, choosing between self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and other topics all authors or authors-to-be should be in-the-know of.

You can even learn how to revive a dead book!

publishing-podcasts-the-marketing-show

#4 – The Creative Penn

If there’s one thing Joanna Penn knows, it’s how to use a pen 😉

In other words, she knows her writing and publishing world, and she shares this knowledge with the rest of us via her podcast, The Creative Penn.

We’ve actually had Joanna Penn on our podcast and know she’s a just a well of knowledge when it comes to writing fiction, nonfiction, and the behind-the-scenes publishing details.

Check out her podcast wherever you listen!

#5 – Self-Publishing With Dale

Dale is a powerhouse of information in the self-publishing industry. He has a popular Youtube channel along with his podcast, Self-Publishing with Dale.

publishing podcasts - self publishing with dale

Dale’s content ranges from marketing your book as a self-published author to audiobooks, ghostwriting, and more topics authors should be aware of int his industry.

We’ve even gotten together with Dale for our own little swap of information, and to learn more about him and his specialties.

You can check out that video below!

The Best Writing Podcasts

It’s not enough to know how to publish a book successfully. You also need to make the book you’re publishing stand out above others—especially in this industry.

So to bring you help with that half of the equation are our top podcasts for writers.

#1 – So You Want to Be a Writer

Australian-based Valerie Kho and Allison Tait host this podcast that delves into the world of author interviews, cover their processes, important issues in the literary world, and overall writing guidance.

You can check out their podcast here.

#2 – Grammar Girl

This tried-and-true writing podcast is on its 770+ episode, bringing some insight into the more technical side of writing.

While you may get broader overviews from time to time, Grammar Girl is largely known for helping you understand how writing works, how the sentences fit together, and why certain things and rules are the way they are.

From episodes like “Why do we say ‘cool on your heels’?” to specific episodes highlighting how your language can affect the perception of time, you’ll be more informed and you might come up with some cool ideas for our own stories.

writing podcasts grammar girl

#3 – The Writer Files

The Writer Files podcast covers topics ranging from writing to productivity, creativity and even neuroscience.

Essentially, everything you’ll need to hack your way to writer life.

While they don’t post too often, they do have consistent uploads every two weeks max, so you’ll have something new to consume (in order to further put off your writing, I’m sure).

You can listen anywhere podcasts are published!

#4 – Dead Robots’ Society

A twist on ye old Dead Poet’s Society, Dead Robots’ Society is a podcast all about so many lovely, nerdy aspects of writing. If you like chatting Gods and Monsters, dystopian topics, and more, this might be the podcast for you!

You can check out their website right here, and download wherever you listen to podcasts!

#5 – Helping Writers Become Authors

Helping Writers Become Authors is a podcast and website dedicated to exactly as it says!

Once you begin your writing journey, there are a ton of steps involved in turning that writerhood into authordom. This writing podcast helps you along with that very initiative!

From this podcast, you’ll learn tips for writing a great opening hook to the benefits of writing and much more to take you from hobby writer to fully published author.

writing and publishing podcasts helping writers become authors

#6 – Ditch Diggers

Keeping up on the latest publishing news isn’t as easy as it seems. In the world of self-publishing, with all its moving parts, it’s important to keep up on trends and changes in the marketplace on a highly consistent basis.

That’s what Ditch Diggers helps you do.

From updates in the publishing industry to growing your audience and more, it’s there.

You can listen where podcasts are published!

New call-to-action
how much money do authors make

How Much Do Authors Make? Complete Breakdown

If you’re looking to become an author, you might be thinking how much do authors make? Is it a sustainable career option?

Many will look at being an author as being a “starving artist.” And while this may have been true when the traditional publishing industry turned away almost everyone, it’s just not the reality anymore.

There are so many people out there making a living writing and publishing books. And not just barely making a living, making a full, healthy full-time income while pursuing something they truly enjoy.

With self-publishing becoming more and more relevant, people looking to become a full-time author can make more now than ever before, which is actually something we teach our students to do in our Become a Bestseller or Fundamental of Fiction & Story programs.

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

How much do authors make a year?

Authors can expect to make a full-time living provided they have multiple books, know how to market them well, and an active, engaged fan base.

There are a ton of factors that play a role in how much authors make in a year. No two authors will make the same amount, though we all wish we could be lumped with the income of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

How much an author makes per year depends on:

  • Royalty rate earned per book sale
  • Up-front advance offered (traditionally published only)
  • Scope of book marketing
  • Size of audience
  • How many books are published per year
  • How many books are currently out

While most people think traditionally published authors make more than self-published authors because of the fame of authors like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, that’s not actually true.

The averages actually swing higher in favor of self-published authors.

You can see a real breakdown of each with our self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis to see for yourself.

Here are the main differences in income for self-published authors versus traditionally published authors:

Self-Published Authors

Traditionally Published Authors

  • 40% – 60% royalties per book
  • Can publish 2-3 high-quality books a year
  • No advance, but you make money right away
  • 10% – 12% royalties per book
  • Can take 2-3 years to publish one book
  • Up-front advance (but you don’t make royalties until that advance is “paid back” to the publisher)

If you want a specific amount made per book between self-published authors and traditionally published authors (after printing costs as indicated by Amazon, etc.) at a $13.99 retail price and a 50% royalty rate for self-published authors and a 10% royalty rate for traditionally published authors, here you go:

Self-Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book

$4.77 per book

Traditionally Published Authors – $13.99 retail priced book

$0.95

Note: Traditional publishing houses may have a lower printing cost through partnership deals or owning a printing press, but a $4.45 printing cost was used in the above calculations for both.

Regardless, you can see the major difference between the two: several dollars per book for a self-published author and sometimes not even a full dollar for traditionally published authors.

How much money does a new author make?

This is such a common question we get here at Self-Publishing School, and it’s understandable. Most people think you have to be really well-known to make money as an author.

However, that’s not true. All you need is the right process to increase visibility for your book on Amazon, which is what we do with our Become a Bestseller and Fiction Publishing program.

We even developed a calculator to help you see just how much you can make in profit right here:

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Here's What You'd Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you'll make:

In 6 months, you'll make:

In 1 year, you'll make:

This will help you understand how to price your book and help you calculate sales goals in order to reach an income level you really want.

Many of our students sell 2 -3 books per day through our Sell More Books program, and with many having multiple books, this number increases rapidly.

Ultimately, if you want to make money as a new author, your best bet is to write often, publish often, and create series or at a minimum, multiple books.

What are common author royalty earnings?

Since we covered this above for the most part, let’s give a quick overview of what author royalties look like.

Self-published authors can make between 40% – 60% royalties on a single book sale while traditionally published authors usually make between 10%-12% royalties.

First-time authors who want to traditionally publish can get an advance, which is usually $10,000 (usually not that much more for a first-timer). However, with traditional publishing, you do not start to earn royalties until you have sold $10,000 worth of books at your royalty rate.

Basically, you have to earn back that $10,000 before you actually start to earn a royalty check from your publisher. And many publishers make a deal with the author that if they sell X amount of books, their royalty rate will go up, hence the difference there.

For self-published authors, you start making money from your first sale.

Ways to Make More Money as an Author

So now that you have an understanding of how much authors make, we wanted to let you in on a few tips for making more money as an author.

Here are our best tips for becoming a full-time author.

#1 – Choose between self-publishing or traditional publishing

First and foremost, you’ve got to learn the difference between self-publishing vs traditional publishing, and then make the choice that will be best for you.

Setting yourself up for success with this is crucial if you want to make the most money you can as an author.

There are successful paths with both avenues. Just know that traditional publishing will take longer (2-3 years with the entire process it encompasses) and you might not see big returns unless you end up getting lucky with a bidding war between publishing houses.

Those bidding wars are what usually get authors massive advances, like those 6 or 7-figure deals you hear about.

We actually put together a deep, full analysis for you to decide for yourself. Just click the button in the image below!

New call-to-action

#2 – Write to market

Did you know traditional publishing houses have staff who come up with book concepts that are “trending” or hitting really well in the market, and then they also employ writers to bring those ideas to life?

Sometimes it’s the same person, but not always. They do this in order to have the biggest chance of making money by capitalizing on what’s “hot” in literature right now.

The best part? You can do this yourself as a self-published author.

But how do you write to market? And is it a less “legitimate” form of being an author?

There’s an argument between some more entitled authors and those who write to market under the guise of writing to market being a “sell-out” or some of the equivalent.

That’s just people being, well, entitled.

The truth is that if you love to write and can come up with story ideas easily, can write quickly, and are able to publish quickly, then writing to market is a legitimate (and smart) career opportunity as an author.

As a self-published author, you can write to market by looking at categories you enjoy creating stories in and seeing what types of stories are doing really well.

An example would be the Age of Vampire Novels that was initially kicked off by books like Twilight, triggering an explosion on vampire stories by many authors and publishing houses. And these sold really well.

Today, vampires aren’t quite as popular as Urban Fantasy in the Young Adult category.

If you’re someone who likes fantasy, you can benefit from writing those types of books and publishing them frequently.

Here’s a great post that goes more in-depth about how to write to market.

#3 – Write every day and publish often

The coach for our Fundamentals of Fiction and Story program here at Self-Publishing School helps more than 30% of our students write and publish more than one book.

After they get one done and published, they’re itching to do it again, and again. This is our best advice for making a living writing.

Our coach actually started the InNoWriLife within our exclusive fiction Mastermind community, which is a knock off NaNoWriMo, and it stands for: International Novel Writing Life.

[Check out our Fundamentals of Fiction & Story program if you want to be a part of InNoWriLife]

The idea is to create a lifestyle with writing your novels. Instead of dedicating an entire month to it, you dedicate your life to building habits around writing every day.

Because if you want to make money as an author, you have to make it a habit, a part of your life, and a job.

So we recommend creating writing habits you can stick to in order to always be working on a story.

#4 – Publish series

If you truly want to “make it” as an author, writing and publishing a book series is a fast way to get there, especially if you publish multiple series.

The reason you make more money with publishing a series is simple: one customer is more likely to make multiple purchases.

If you have a great first book, they’ll buy the second and then the third, etc. This means you can make more money off of a single person.

Not only that, but if one customer buys every book in your series, they’ll also usually leave reviews as well as buy other books you’ve published that aren’t in the series.

Series establish a strong fanbase, which keeps you “employed” as a full-time author.

#5 – Put together an email list or other platform

Having a singular way you can communicate with people who have said “yes!” to wanting information from you is crucial. It’s like having a sales list.

We always recommend an email list because you own your list. Whereas with social media platforms, the company owns your followers, you don’t.

So if anything were to happen to a social platform and you lose all those followers, you’d have no way of communicating with them–just imagine if a social platform went down the DAY of your launch.

Email lists are also a great resource for recruiting beta readers, launch team members, and getting people excited about your book come launch time.

Here are a few things you need to create an email list:

  • Email provider like Convertkit (we have an SPS student exclusive deal through them!), Mailchimp, or other
  • A way to capture emails: like a website, a lead magnet in your book, etc.
  • That’s it! If you can capture an email address to a service provider, you’re done.

#6 – Commit to being an author

One of the best pieces of advice we have for you is to make a commitment. You can’t expect to make a full-time income if you’re only sort of interested in writing or you only work on writing when the mood strikes.

Just like with any other job, you have to work whether you’re in the mood or not.

This is the biggest mindset shift our fiction coach Ramy instills in our students. So much so that our exclusive community decided to take InNoWriLife a step further and track their progress with each other in a massive spreadsheet.

This is their dedication, and it’s why these students are so successful in being authors.

They wanted it and they made the changes needed to make it happen, like investing in Self-Publishing School to teach them the ropes.

But it’s not just our fiction students who are crushing this. Our Become a Bestseller nonfiction students are just as dedicated and have created the same habits.

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

book publishing programs

Book Publishing Programs: Top Picks & What to Look For

When you make the decision to write and publish a book, for whatever your unique reason is, like growing your business, establishing authority, or just wanting to make an impact, having the right program to assist you makes all the difference.

You can do it all by yourself. But the level of success you have will mostly depend on the strategies you implement.

And if you’ve never done this before, you’d want to work with someone who has to get it right.

That means you’re likely searching for the best publishing course or program to get you there.

We’ll cover some of the best publishing educational programs over a few different fields and certain publishing software programs, along with what you should look for in one to make it worth your time, investment, and effort.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

Here are book publishing programs to consider:

  1. Education – Self-Publishing School
  2. Education – Balboa Press
  3. Education – LuLu
  4. Education – Book Baby
  5. Education – Outskirts Press
  6. Software – Scrivener
  7. Software – Blurb
  8. Software – KDP Wizard
  9. Software – Press Books

What’s the difference between a book publishing program and a publisher?

A book publisher will basically do everything but write the book for you…including taking the majority of your royalty earnings.

On the other hand, a book publishing program that’s education-based, meant to teach you how to do it, shows you the process and allows you to keep all of your royalties.

If you’re looking for a publishing program like a software that helps you take your book from a document to a published piece of work, that’s a whole other set of needs you can learn about below.

What’s the difference between a publishing course and a publishing program?

Some people use the term “course” and “program” interchangeably but they’re actually very different.

A book publishing course is often pre-made or pre-recorded that you can go through in your own time without the assistance of its creators or support.

A book publishing program, on the other hand, often has the course plus other materials or assistance, like our Become a Bestseller program that has 1-on-1 coaching along with group coaching calls, a community, and more.

So the main difference is the level of content and assistance you get with each. A book publishing program will likely be more interactive with support and interaction whereas a course will likely only be online content with nothing else, unless it’s an in-person course like at a college.

Book publishing program for education or a book publishing software program?

You may be in both camps or you may just be in one. Are you looking for a computer software to help you publish? We’ll cover that here!

But we’ll also go into some book publishing programs that are actually education-based where you’ll learn the entire process, start to finish.

Click here to look over book publishing software.

Click here to learn more about book publishing programs that are educational.

What to Look for in a Book Publishing Program

Obviously you want to make sure you get what you need in order to publish a book successfully. But what we’ve learned through working with thousands of students is that most don’t exactly know what they should be looking for.

It’s one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” situations, and we want to clear up a few things.

Here’s what you should look for in a book publishing program for education:

  • Ample support
  • A community of some sort
  • Thorough, up-to-date content
  • Lifetime access to the information
  • NO royalties taken (if you self-publish, you should never sign over royalties to a company with a publishing program–those are YOURS)

Here’s what to look for in a book publishing program software:

  • Ease of use
  • Editing capabilities
  • Outlining capabilities (for the writing–a “nice to have”)
  • Formatting capabilities
  • Access-anywhere features (like Google Docs)
  • Multiple document formats (.pdf, .png, .txt, .mobi, .azw,)
  • Low cost
  • Multi-device functionality (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop)
  • Great customer support
  • Auto-save feature (probably the most important!!!)

Book Writing & Publishing Programs

Are you looking for something that encompasses both writing and publishing all in one?

Since these two are so closely related, and you should often write the book to go along with your publishing plan, having a program with both can be even more beneficial.

Here are some book publishing programs that also cover the book writing process and how to write a great book (especially for self-published authors!).

Online Book Publishing Programs

Want to work on your book without having to go anywhere? There are a ton of book publishing programs online.

These mostly allow you to log in from home, work on it in your own time, and give you the flexibility most of us need to get something like writing a book done.

#1 – Self-Publishing School

That’s us! We’re actually a self-publishing education company, dedicated to teaching you how to write, market, and self-publish your book successfully.

Here are some program details:

  • Several self-publishing paths to take: including Nonfiction, Fiction, Specific Marketing, PR & Speaking for Authors, Course Building for Authors
  • 1-on-1 coaching with each program
  • Lifetime access to materials
  • Exclusive Mastermind Community Facebook group
  • Up to 4 additional free coaching calls within the community weekly–including 1 per week with Chandler himself
  • Expert interviews by industry experts in the Mastermind Community
  • From blank page to published author, and everything in between
  • Over $1000 in exclusive Self-Publishing School author discounts for services like editing, cover design, and more!

While we may be biased since this is our program, we truly believe it’s the best, and we continuously upgrade and improve our programs in order to ensure this by keeping track of industry trends, Amazon’s updates, and listening to the needs of our authors.

Check out the image below for a sneak peek of a portion of our program (we don’t share these often!):

Self-Publishing School Program Sneak Peek

Our specialty here is 1-on-1 coaching as well as a Bestseller status guarantee on Amazon (in as little as 90 days if you follow the program!), which increases exposure, boosts your book in Amazon’s rankings, and helps you sell more!

You can check out more about our baseline Become a Bestseller publishing program here.

Check out some of our student success stories to hear it from them!

New call-to-action

#2 – Balboa Press

If you’re searching for publishing options and programs, you’ll likely come across Balboa Press at some point.

This publishing program has several options, including “done for you” services that allow you to sit back and let someone else take care of the majority of the work, aside from the actual book topic and contents.

Below is a chart for their services along with price points.

Balboa Press Services & Prices

This publishing program has services from hardcover publishing to copyright information, social media setup guides, and more depending on the package you choose to go with.

Full Balboa Press Review

More Balboa Press Frist-Hand Experiences

#3 – LuLu

LuLu Press has been around for a while now, since 2002! While it’s not exclusive to just books, it’s a good option for those looking for a book publishing program that has several features.

In the image below, you can see the different options they have available to you, including printing, distribution, selling, and more.

Book Publishing Services from LuLu

While this is less of an educational platform and certainly not a course-like program, it does offer plenty of helpful blog posts to get you going.

However, it does lack the expertise of a more robust educational publishing program that can help you rank and sell more books.

Full LuLu Publishing Review

More LuLu First-Hand Experiences

#4 – Book Baby

BookBaby has a lot of options on their site. It may even be a little confusing as to what they do and how you can benefit from it, but we’ll break it down for you.

This book publishing program does a few main things for you:

  1. Prints books
  2. eBook services, including formatting and more
  3. Book design
  4. Editing
  5. Bookselling services

As you can see, this is a wide range of different options for the self-publishers out there. They have a lot of great reviews and also some complaints, as is the case with something this big.

Among the biggest complaints, however, is that if you want to make changes to your manuscript, you do have to pay a fee.

Image Courtesy of SelfPublishing.com

Pricing for BookBaby can be hard to find. We grabbed this information from SelfPublishing.com for you:

  • Express Package: $890
  • Complete Package: $1,790
  • Deluxe Package: $2,290

Full Book Baby Review

More BookBaby First-Hand Experiences

#5 – Outskirts Press

Outskirts Press has been around for a long time, another publishing company taking advantage of the self-publishing boom since 2002.

They offer a variety of services, including publishing, marketing, and book production assistance.

I had a hard time finding any prices for Outskirts Press and their website was a little hard to navigate, making me think I’d likely have to go through channels to get prices for what they offer, and even find everything they offer.

Below you’ll see a screenshot from their “All Publishing Packages” menu item in the “Publishing” dropdown menu item.

Outskirts Press Publishing Package Options

If you do some digging, you’ll be able to find the pricing for specific packages, ranging from marketing information to genre-specific “done for you” services, as you can see in the images below.

Outskirts Press “Marketing Discounted Bundle”
Outskirts Press “Spiritual Books” Publishing & Marketing Suite Price

As you can see, it looks like pricing for their services ranges widely, from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on what you’re looking for.

First-Hand Outskirts Press Experiences

Book Publishing Software Programs

On the other side of book publishing programs that are full of educational materials and “how-tos” are the software programs you can use to write, edit, format, and even upload to Amazon.

Let’s take a look at some of the best publishing programs out there.

#1 – Scrivener

If you’re starting to write a book but haven’t heard of Scrivener, I’d be surprised! This is one of the most popular writing softwares out there right now.

If you want to keep your writing highly organized, outline it effectively, and write directly inside the software, this is a great one for you.

We’ve got a video detailing a few of their features below:

#2 – Blurb

If you’re looking for more of a book formatting software, and not necessarily a writing one, BookWright by Blurb.

This publishing program boasts features like customizable templates, really high quality, and that it’s free! You can upload the content you need, add images, and formulate a layout that works for what you want.

If you head to their “Sell & Self-Publish” menu item, it’ll show you the various things you can do with this platform.

Check out the image below for a few ideas:

From what I could conjure, this service really does look free. Blurb doesn’t charge fees for using its platform for distribution. However, if you sell through the Blurb Bookstore, they’ll obviously take a cut of your royalties there, similarly to Amazon and other retailers.

Here’s another handy comparison chart on Blurb’s website that compares its services to other book publishing programs.

Blurb Publishing Services Comparison Chart

#3 – KDP Wizard

KDP Wizard is a publishing program that keeps all your KDP data, books, and information in a single place for you to keep track of it.

It saves data ranging from descriptions to reviews to categories, and more, all in one place.

You can see the pricing and plan options below:

KDP Wizard Pricing and Plan Options

While these are monthly subscriptions, you can actually get the entire thing for a lifetime for $699. So if you’re looking to be a career author, this might be an option worth considering.

#4 – Press Books

If you’re looking for a quick publishing program that allows you to upload, “click a few buttons,” and have a great looking book, Press Books allows for just that.

Here’s an image of their prices if you want the paid options:

Press Books Self-Publisher Program Options

As you can see, they’re pretty affordable and according to them, super easy to work with.

College Book Publishing Programs

There are more and more courses being developed at colleges for learning how to publish a book successfully. While you’re probably already aware of creative writing or journalism majors, book publishing programs are newer in terms of their content.

More and more, universities are including content surrounding self-publishing and the know-how surrounding this.

If you’re going to college or you want to and publishing is your focus, know that you can get the information you need with online programs, unless you want to end up at a traditional publishing house. In which case, it helps to have a degree in publishing.

Ultimately, the publishing program that’s best for you will meet your unique needs as an author or author-to-be.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

best self publishing courses

The Best Self Publishing Courses: Top 5 Publishing Courses

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.

Why take an online publishing course?

There is a lot to know beyond writing a book. Not to say the writing part is easy, but you will have greater confidence in writing and publishing your book with connections to a support network walking you through the steps.

Now we will take an inside tour of each best self-publishing course, the benefits of each course, and the best online publishing program for you.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

Here is a list of the best self-publishing courses we will cover:

  1. Self-Publishing vs Traditional
  2. How to Choose the Best Online Course for you
  3. Criteria to Choose the Best Self-publishing Course
  4. Self Publishing School with Chandler Bolt
  5. Authority Pub with Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
  6. Self Publishing 101 with Mark Dawson
  7. Your First 10,000 Readers with Nick Stephenson
  8. Tribe Writers with Jeff Goins

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!

But, before we dive into the best self-publishing courses on the market today, let me ask you this:

Depending how you responded to the above, this should give you an idea what course to enroll in.

Every day, thousands of books are self-published through various publishing companies: Amazon KDP, Barnes and Noble Press, or Apple iBooks to name a few.

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?

Here are 7 reasons to consider self-publishing your book instead of traditional publishing:

  1. Writing a book makes you an authority in your area of expertise.
  2. Self-publishing a book, or series of books, creates an additional income stream that could lead to you making a living from writing in 6 months to a year. Publishing your book through one of the big 5 trade publishers could take years.
  3. Self-publishing lets you build your own business at your pace with the freedom to make key business decisions.
  4. Potentially you can earn more because it is easier to scale up when you have control over marketing and book launch pacing.
  5. Tax breaks by forming your own business and working from home.
  6. Publish more, publish faster. This means the potential to earn more in a shorter amount of time and scale up your email list at a faster rate: The key point here is, it’s faster all around.
  7. 0 rejection letters. That’s right, you can never be rejected as a self-published author. 

Some of the big titles available today started out as self-published books before being picked up by a major publishing house.

Recognize any of these self-published books?

  • Fifty Shades of Grey—E.L.James
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit—Beatrix Potter
  • The Martian—Andy Weir
  • The Shack by William P. Young
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  • Swann’s Song by Marcel Proust
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Switched by Amanda Hocking
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  • Hacker series by Meredith Wilder

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.

How Do I Choose the Best Online Course?

As a self-published author of 12+ books, I know firsthand what it is like to navigate through all the steps involved in writing a book. And writing the book can be the easy part!

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.

That’s what we do here, and you can check out our bestselling Become a Bestseller program right here.

The good point of joining a course is, you are not alone. And, without support, a launch team to 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Based on industry reviews and student satisfaction, the courses are praised and recommended by authors who have been through the programs.
  4. The strategies and business practices of the owners do not break any rules pertaining to Amazon’s rules and are morally sound.
  5. I have personally taken these courses and recommend each one.
  6. The material, content and overall course is professionally packaged and high quality.
  7. 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-publishing-school

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! 

Yes, the professionals at Self Publishing School are making big claims: You can go from blank page to published book in as little as 90 days. To date, close to 5000 authors have been through the course since it started in late 2014.

The online publishing course has been featured by INC 5000 as one of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America.

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
  • Writing
  • 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
A Peek Inside the Self-Publishing School Become a Bestseller Program
best-self-publishing-programs
Modules 3-5 out of 12 of Self-Publishing School’s Become a Bestseller Program

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
  • Memoir 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.

best-self-publishing-course-marketing
  • Launch Strategies
  • Email Marketing Strategies
  • Foundation 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.

Course Details

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.

Sound like something you want to do? Click here to schedule your FREE 1-hour Breakthrough Sessions with a Publishing Success Strategist.

New call-to-action

6 Reasons to Enroll with Self Publishing School

  • 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

publishing courses

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.

Steve Scott has published over 70 books and has been branded as the “Heavyweight of Self Publishing.” He runs the blog Develop Good Habits. Together with his writing partner Barrie Davenport [Live Bold and Bloom], Steve and Barrie created Authority Pub Academy.

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.

self-publishing-courses

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.

Breakdown of Course Content

Authority Pub Academy is made up of 6 modules:

  • Module 1: Setting the Author Mindset and Building a Writing Habit
  • Module 2: Niche Focus and Researching a Perennial Bestseller
  • Module 3: Outlining, Writing a First Draft and Editing
  • Module 4: Pre-Publishing and Setting Up Your Book in KDP
  • Module 5: Lead Magnets, Reviews and launch Strategies
  • 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.”

Course Details

Cost to Enroll: $597 or 2 payments of $348

Availability: Anytime

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

Self Publishing 101 with Mark Dawson

publishing courses

I became interested in Mark Dawson’s platform as a big fan of his John Milton action series books and Isabella Rose thrillers. If you’re looking for a great read this weekend, I’d highly recommend these books.

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 a while, 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 write, launch and market a quality book that sells. Although Mark Dawson is mainly a fiction author, the course can be customized for nonfiction writers. 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:

  • Build Your Platform
  • Pre-Publication
  • Amazon Exclusive or Go Wide
  • Go Wide
  • Generating Traffic
  • Advanced Teams & Launching
  • Getting Reviews

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.

Course Details

  • 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

self publishing options

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.

Created by a bestselling fiction author, Your First 10k Readers is a different beast from the other best courses listed here for one defining reason: It isn’t about writing your first book.

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.

writing and publishing courses

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.

Course Details

  • 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

6 Reasons to Enroll with Your First 10k Readers

  • Membership includes author interviews with big industry authors Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn, Simon Whistler, Bryan Cohen, and Nick Loper
  • A powerhouse of book marketing tactics for both fiction and nonfiction authors
  • Video content is high quality, fast-paced and engaging
  • Comes with a highly-engaged private Facebook group
  • Includes a BONUS course “The 60-Day Author” for writers who haven’t published yet
  • Includes a members cheat sheet that breaks the course down into a comprehensive blueprint

Tribe Writers with Jeff Goins

publishing courses

Jeff Goins is the best-selling author of five books including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. He is the owner of Goinswriter.com where he shares his thoughts on writing, life and creativity.

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.

Are you writing one book only and need a step by step process to guide you through to published author? Self Publishing School could be a match. Keep in mind they do have additional courses for marketing and business including Sell More Books and Course Building for Authors.

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.

Your move.

Life is short.

Take action now.

It’s your time to write that next perennial bestseller!

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

write an author bio

How to Write an Author Bio Examples & Tips to SELL

Your author bio matters. As much as we wish we could write up a few words about our lives and just stick it up for the world to see, there’s a lot more to it than that.

How you write our author bio can change the way potential readers and those who’ve already purchased view you and your platform.

It can also impact whether or not they buy another of your books, if you publish multiple.

But knowing the best way to write your author bio and how to make it speak to your readers in a specific way is the key…and we’ll cover just that for you, with examples.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Here’s how to write an author bio:

  1. Author bio formatting
  2. Know your readers
  3. Include your background
  4. Stay factual in your author bio
  5. Use your personality in your author bio
  6. Include awards and such
  7. Get personal
  8. Learn from author bio examples
  9. Keep learning about author bios

Your Author Bio & YOU Do Matter

If you’re looking for a deep-dive on your author bios and the self-publishing industry as a whole, your best bet is to check out this video.

Not only will you learn a lot you didn’t know about self-publishing a book as a whole, but you’ll learn why these small details are so important.

It’s the first stepping stone to truly understanding what makes a successful author.

The other steps take quite a bit more time…unless you have a solid system to teach you the way. We help save our authors tons of time, even after some have wasted years, by showing them how to write and publish a book in as little as 90 days. Check out what we can do for you and your author career here.

What is an author bio?

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.

New call-to-action

#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.

author bio example chandler bolt

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.

author bio example joanna penn

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.

Joanna Penn author bio example

#10 – Author Bio Example – Amy Twigg

SPS alumni, Amy Twiggs, wrote her first book the Self Publishing School way and can now call herself a best selling author among her many other accomplishments (and there are many!).

Within her first book in the Flippin’ Awesome Series, Flippin’ Awesome Gymnast: 5 Tools to Crush Fear & Increase Confidence for Gymnasts (Volume 1), Amy uses the last page to tell her audience more about herself in her author bio.

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.

author bio example amy twiggs

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.

#11 – Author Bio Example – Jenna Moreci

If you haven’t heard of this full-time self-published author and Youtuber, that’s surprising!

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.

author bio jenna moreci

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?

New call-to-action
how to get an isbn

How to Get an ISBN: A Quick Step-by-Step & More

Knowing how to get an ISBN as a self-published author is crucial.

Since you can’t publish without an ISBN, we’re helping you learn how in order to publish the right way and why you even need an ISBN number in the first place.

But you don’t have to even worry about an ISBN number if you don’t have a book ready to publish, right? And it won’t even matter if you don’t publish that book the right way

False. Becoming an author is about more than just the book, it’s about the business as well, and we’ll break down a very important part of that.

If you’re ready to get to the point and get your ISBN, here is the step-by-step breakdown of how to get an ISBN.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Here’s what to know about an ISBN as an author:

  1. What does ISBN stand for?
  2. What is an ISBN number used for?
  3. How much does an ISBN cost?
  4. What is the purpose of an ISBN?
  5. How to get an ISBN
  6. How long does it take to get an ISBN number?
  7. How to register your book and ISBN
  8. How many ISBNs to get
  9. Do ISBNs expire?
  10. How to read an ISBN with examples
  11. Where is the ISBN number on books?
  12. ISBN search
  13. How to read a barcode
  14. The difference between ASIN and ISBN
  15. Do I need an ISBN?
  16. How to buy an ISBN
  17. Should you buy your own ISBN number?
  18. Libraries and ISBNs
  19. ISBN resources to make it easier

What Does ISBN Stand For?

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.

Warning: Amazon may grant you a free ISBN for your first book, but this can ONLY be used on KDP for distribution to Amazon and can’t be used for self-publishing services elsewhere.

Due to this, we always recommend purchasing a new one despite Amazon’s free ISBN.

Here are a few tips for buying an ISBN:

  • If you publish physical copies through IngramSpark, you get your ISBN for only $85
  • Buying your ISBNs in bulk can save you money if you intend to publish more than one book
  • Amazon issues you an ISBN for “free,” but you have to list Amazon as a publisher along with other limitations
  • If you’re in Canada or South African, it’s possible to get an ISBN issued through your government
  • Australians pay about $40 for an ISBN
  • UK residents will pay somewhere around 89 pounds for an ISBN

Here’s a table of the ISBN prices and what you can expect to pay:

Number of ISBNsCost
1$125
10$295
100$575

What Is the Purpose of an ISBN Number?

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.

Today, to get your book into a bookstore, a library, or almost any book distribution channel on the planet, you need an ISBN number.

But the process can be really confusing for new authors. There are a number of questions you might be asking yourself about ISBN numbers:

  • How does this long string of numbers on the back of books work?
  • How do you get it?
  • If you’re a self-published author, do you need an ISBN?
  • Why would you need one?

These are all questions answered in this article.

Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.

how to get an isbn number

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 Long Does It Take to Get an ISBN Number?

You will receive your ISBN number five business days after Bowker receives your non-priority application. Choosing priority processing reduces the time to two business days, or you can get your ISBN within 24 business hours if you choose express processing.

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.

I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.

How Many ISBN Numbers to Get

So how many ISBNs should you get?

First off let’s clarify a few common mistakes:

  • 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 ISBNsCost
1$125
10$295
100$575

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.

Do ISBNs Expire?

No, ISBN numbers never expire or go bad. In fact, if you have one from a long time ago, you can simply reconstruct it for use.

But what if my old ISBN is really old and only has 10 digits?

That’s not a problem, either. With this handy tool from Bowker, you can convert the ISBN easily and immediately.

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.

How to Read an ISBN Number with an 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.

isbn number example

Here is the ISBN for a particular book:

978-3-16-148410-0

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:

3-16-148410-0

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 standard barcode is known as the EAN (European Article Number) barcode, and your barcode must be in this format to sell your book in bookstores.

(Breakdown of the typical EAN barcode on the back of a book by Publisher Services)

If you want to look up the ISBN of any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website ISBNSearch.org.

where to get isbn

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.

isbn example

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.
New call-to-action

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.

Do I 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.

If you want your readers to get a hold of a print version of your book, then you’re going to need an ISBN.

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 You 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.

You can also get an ISBN when dealing with a whole host of On-Demand or self-publishing companies, like Draft2Digital, Smashwords or IngramSpark, and even Lulu.

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.

Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Number?

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?

On top of this, each of those free ISBNs identifies the self-publishing company as a publisher. It’s the equivalent of using your business email address as [email protected] or [email protected] instead of [email protected] (assuming you’re named Matt).

Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but there are some stores that will refuse to stock your book on this basis. If you have a CreateSpace ISBN, there are a number of bookstores that will refuse to carry your book.

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 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.

For more information, you can find out anything you want to know by visiting the official Bowker page or at myidentifiers.com

Here’s a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.

To buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you should do:

  1. Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
  2. Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
  3. Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
  4. At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
  5. 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.
  6. Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.

ISBN Links & Resources

These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.

International ISBN Agency

https://www.isbn-international.org

ISBN.org by Bowker

https://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions

Bowkerlink Publisher Access System

https://commerce.bowker.com/corrections/common/home.asp

Bowker Identifier Services

https://www.myidentifiers.com

U.S. Copyright Office

https://www.copyright.gov

ISBN Set Up Guide

ISBN Guides: Basic Information

New call-to-action
how to publish a novel

How to Publish a Novel: A Start to Finish Guide

So you wrote your novel. You put in the time, got your story structure down, and are likely finishing up revisions or self-editing while working on the next phase in your author journey: publishing.

But how do you take your novel to the next level? What do you need to prepare for and set up.

The fact is that you know you want to publish this piece of work and I’m here to steer you in the right direction, being a published author myself.

If you’re actually ready to learn how to successfully market and publish your book today, this training is by far the best place to start.

Here’s what you’ll learn about how to publish a novel:

  1. What to do after you’ve written a novel
  2. Pros and cons of self-publishing a novel
  3. How to self-publish your novel
  4. Pros and cons of traditionally publishing a novel
  5. How to traditionally publish a novel

What do you do after you’ve written the book?

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 vs traditional publishing is a hot debate among authors-to-be everywhere. Let’s cover self-publishing first, as this is a new ever-growing industry.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You don’t have to do it alone! You can have hands-on help from Self-Publishing School to guide you through the self-publishing process, from planning your book, to writing, to editing, to publishing, to promoting! 

Cons of self-publishing a novel:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Want to retain creative and business control
  2. 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.

New call-to-action

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.

Cover design

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!

Interior format

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.

Book launch

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. 

Advertisements

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. You don’t mind giving up creative and business control
  2. You don’t have the money to invest up front
  3. You’re okay with receiving smaller royalties in exchange for the publisher covering production costs
  4. 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!

1. Write the book.

Gotta do this either way! A drag, right?

2. Gather application materials

This includes:

  1. A clean manuscript of your book
  2. A strong query letter
  3. A high-quality book synopsis

3. Apply for a literary agent

Here’s Meg Latorre, writer and former literary agent, teaching us how to get a literary agent and how NOT to get a literary agent.

4. Wait

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! 

5. Edit!

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!

6. Market

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.

Here’s how to get started on your self-publishing journey if you’re ready to become an author and publish your novel.

self publishing versus traditional publishing

Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing: 2020 Deep Dive

You might be about to make the wrong decision…

And before you waste a ton of time (like many of our students), we want to give you the information you need to avoid the pitfalls aspiring authors make.

Writing and successfully publishing a book is already scary without all the confusion over which avenue to choose.

We get it.

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis data-lazy-src=
sps author success journal

How to Use The Author Success Journal to Write & Publish Your Book

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.

author success journal

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.

Grab your journal now, before they’re out of stock!

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals For Success

I’d wager that a lot of the issues you’re having right now when it comes to writing and publishing your book, is that you haven’t set clear goals for success.

Sure, you’ve set goals. But have you set S.M.A.R.T goals?  

If you’re not familiar with this concept, here’s a brief rundown on this process.

S.M.A.R.T stands for: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

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:

author success 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:

author success journal

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.

Why?

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.

author success journal

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

We can even help you achieve this with the help of the Author Success Journal. Grab your copy today.

What are some of the best goal setting strategies you’ve seen or heard? Drop them down below so we can all benefit from them!

story inside

“I Didn’t Want to Die With a Story Inside” – How He Did it

It’s never too late to write and publish a book successfully, no matter what anyone tells you.

Not at 40, not at 50, and not even at 80. The idea that there’s a timestamp on your ability to publish a book is a false narrative we’ve been feeding ourselves to avoid confronting something scary.

And we all know what’s scariest to us is the most important to us.

Bill Soroka knew as much. He decided to write a book when he was only 4-years-old.

A few decades later, he followed through on that commitment. Better late than never, right?

How many times have you thought, “I should write a book this year,”? How many people have even told you that you should write a book?

It’s actually a common aspiration, with about 80% of people expressing the desire to write a book.

So why, then, do only 2% of people follow through?

Usually, and what we hear most often from students, is that they just don’t know where to start or they don’t think it’s a possibility for them.

But with Self-Publishing School, Bill Soroka was able to keep the promise he made to his 4-year-old self and publish his book because ultimately, he didn’t want to die with a story still inside.

Everyone Has a Story Inside of Them

We’re big believers here at Self-Publishing School that everyone has a story inside of them.

No matter what you’ve done or have gone through, your perspective and events in your life makes that story unique—and worth telling. At only 4-years-old, Bill knew just as much.

But, as with what happens as we grow older, his own perceptions and likely that of those around him made him think he couldn’t do it, that it was impossible.

Misconceptions in the Publishing Industry Almost Led Him to QUIT

We know how much information out there about the publishing industry is false. Particularly when it comes to the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

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.”

If you want to check out some of our students’ published books, head over to the Self-Publishing School Library!

The Community Made All The Difference

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.

New call-to-action

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!

good audiobook

What Makes a Good Audiobook and Why You Should Create One!

Are you listening? Your future readers are.

Is this a familiar scenario:

“The only person in your way is you.”

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, a plan!

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):

  1. WHY make an audiobook?
  2. HOW do I make an audiobook?
  3. WHAT makes a good audiobook?
  4. WHO should narrate the audiobook?
  5. WHEN should I start on this? (+ Actionable steps)

#1 – Why make an audiobook?

Audiobooks are POWERFUL lead magnets.

Benefits include:

The obvious: More Book Sales! 

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.


Audiobook sales.

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. 

Find out how I “read” 50 books in 2018 and see which ones they were, but only after you finish reading this post! I use Audible; they have a great referral program where they’ll give you a free book to start, sometimes TWO!

Go ahead, right click and “Open Link in New Tab,” and click back over here. This post isn’t going anywhere.

Need some more social proof? How about actual statistics? Here are some highlights from the 2018 global audiobook trends article:

  • 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.

New call-to-action

#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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

[Pssst! If you want to see some of our Students’ books, check out the SPS Library!]

#3 – What makes a good audiobook?

  1. Start with a solid foundation: Before producing an audiobook, be sure that you have invested in proper and sound editing, cover design, formatting, and a strong launch plan.
  2. Cast the right voice (even if its yours): coming up in #4: WHO…patience, young grasshopper…
  3. 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.
  4. 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?” 

My non-fiction book is a weekly devotional for people wanting to grow in worship, 

“I’ve got you on this one: cookbooks!” 

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. 

good audiobook

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: 

  1. Use a phone app or voice recorder and try reading a chapter into it. 
  2. Listen back with objective ears, imagining your ideal reader. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

what makes an audiobook good
  • 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.
  • More tips: ACX | AME | Stacked

#5 – When to start making an audiobook?

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.

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Read the SPS post about making an audiobook, and revisit the myriad links in this post.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

imposter syndrome

Imposter Syndrome for Writers: How to Overcome it For Good

Imposter syndrome for writers is normal. It happens.

Writing isn’t without its challenges. Like any creative endeavor, there are roadblocks that sometimes obscure the path from your original idea to its final creation.

But I’m not talking about writer’s block.

I’m talking about its sneaky sibling: imposter syndrome.

Here’s how to overcome imposter syndrome for writers:

  1. Analyze your imposter syndrome
  2. Learn what it really is deep down
  3. Uncover if you even have imposter syndrome
  4. Learn how it impacts your work
  5. Force yourself to keep writing
  6. Create balance to get over imposter syndrome
  7. Create balance in your feedback
  8. Interview other writers
  9. Realize everyone is different
  10. Realize that everyone starts somewhere
  11. Final tips to get over imposter syndrome

Analyzing Imposter Syndrome

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.

New call-to-action

#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 TipExecution
Minimize Distractions
- 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
Get Comfortable- 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.

Feedback like this is not worth your time:

“You just don’t know how to write a book. I hated reading this!”

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 togetheror 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.

I’ve learned my biggest lessons from myself. I’ve kept going through successes and failures— just like that time I tried to write a novel at age 13. 

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.

Book Title Ideas: How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Book

I get how frustrating it can be.

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 to craft a perfect name.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

Here’s how to come up with book title ideas:

  1. Use a book title generator tool
  2. Write down the problem you’re solving
  3. Create a subtitle to clarify
  4. Make it memorable
  5. Make sure it’s genre-appropriate
  6. Create it to stir intrigue
  7. Include your character in the title
  8. Get feedback from your target audience

To help spur your creative process, we’ve created a few essential guidelines for you to follow as you craft the perfect book title ideas for your masterpiece.

Since there are different title considerations for fiction and non-fiction, we broke these two topics down separately into:

Let’s create your selling title!


How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction

As you begin crafting your book title ideas for your non-fiction book, the key is knowing that non-fiction readers are looking for solutions. 

Whether it’s losing weight, becoming a master in sales, or becoming better at fostering relationships, they’re simply looking for a book that will solve their problem.

To leverage this idea, here are a set of rules to consider:

#1 – Use a Book Title Generator Tool

There are a ton of book title generators out there. And if you’re someone who lacks even the inspiration for a title, these can help you big time.

Book title generators are great tools because they can give you a wide range of different names to choose from.

One thing many authors face when choosing a title is sticking too close to the name they previously thought of. This can blind you to potential other titles in various formats.

However, some of these tools can fall very flat, resulting in names that don’t make sense and should not be used as actual titles.

Therefore, we didn’t just round up a list of every book title generator we could find. Instead, we tested a huge list and decided that these are truly the only ones worth your time.

Here’s a list of the best book title generators:

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.

New call-to-action

#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

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!”

Create fictional titles intriguing enough to capture the imaginations of your readers, and get to them to read your story.

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.

book title ideas

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 that use 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.

For example, our Facebook Mastermind Community has a very large number of experienced authors who respond to polls just like these on a near-daily basis.

Locate a group you like, join, and start polling about your title!

New call-to-action
self publishing companies to avoid

Vanity Press Scams and Self Publishing Companies to Avoid

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.

But, how do you know if the company isn’t just another vanity press scam?

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.

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

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:

  1. Why authors fall for vanity press scams
  2. Early warning signs of self-publishing scams
  3. Your self-publishing options
  4. Taking down the scammers
  5. Red flag list: Self-publishing companies to avoid
  6. Writers beware and watchdog groups
  7. Educate yourself in self-publishing
  8. Are you ready to self-publish your book?

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.

whats a vanity press

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 do Sell 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.

New call-to-action

#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:

  • Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
  • 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!
vanity press

#3 — Print On Demand

If you are a new author reading this, with the print on demand services offered by Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingramspark, you can order your own author copies and pay print costs plus shipping to your location. Buy your own ISBN, copyright your book, and own what you create.

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 selfpublishing in that the author assumes all the risk and pays the publisher for everything.

vanity press

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 years 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.

Recently, several companies have been shut down in class action lawsuits, and this is still continuing today, with authors taking a stand and fighting back against the book publishing thieves.

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:

  • Author Solutions
  • AuthorHouse UK
  • Archway Publishing [Simon and Schuster]
  • LifeRich Publishing [Reader’s Digest]
  • iUniverse
  • Palibrio [for the Spanish-speaking community]
  • Dorrance publishing
  • Christian faith publishing
  • Westbow press
  • Balboa press [a Division of Hay House]
  • Newman Springs Publishing
  • Partridge Publishing
  • Tate Publishing 
  • Trafford Publishing
  • Xlibris [UK, AU, and NZ]
  • Outskirts Press
  • 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.

Writer Beware

“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.”

Preditors and Editors

Providing up-to-date action against possible publishing scammers.

ALLi [Alliance of Independent Authors] / Watchdog Posts

“Each month on the ALLi blog, the excellent Watchdog John Doppler explores key issues regarding the provision of self-publishing services around the world.”

The Independent Publishing Magazine / Publishing Service Index

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.

Our advice at Self Publishing School is this: Educate yourself on how to publish a book. You’d be surprised the things you actually don’t have to pay for.

Take control of your self-publishing career today.

Are you ready to self-publish your book?

Enroll in an online self-publishing course

You can check out this list of best self-publishing courses. I highly recommend joining an online self-publishing course for achieving all your publishing goals.

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:

#1-Published by Chandler Bolt

#2-The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income by Hal Elrod and Steve Scott

#3-Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant 

#4-Why Authors Fail: 17 Mistakes Self Publishing Authors Make That Sabotage Their Success (And How To Fix Them) by Derek Doepker

#5-The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey by Joanna Penn

#6-You Must Write a Book: Boost Your Brand, Get More Business, and Become the Go-To Expert by Honoree Corder

#7-Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should by David Gaughran

#8-You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

#9-On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

#10-Six Figure Author: Using Data to Sell Books: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox

Now that you are totally aware of what to watch out for, it’s time to take control of your own author career

More Resources

Which publishing option is the best for YOU & your unique author goals?  Get a full, deep-dive self-publishing vs traditional publishing analysis! Make  an informed decision and set yourself up for success with your book.   Get Your Analysis Here!  <https://self-publishingschool.com/lm-self-vs-traditional-publishing-analysis>

amazon self publishing

How to Publish a Book on Amazon [Step-by-Step Guide]

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.

New call-to-action

Here is your full guide to self-publishing a book on Amazon:

  1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
  2. Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
  3. Writing Your Book Description
  4. Choosing the Right Keywords
  5. Selecting the Right Categories
  6. Uploading Your Manuscript
  7. Creating a Book Cover
  8. Pricing Your Book

Let’s get started!

Amazon Self-Publishing & Why it’s the Best Option

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 King – 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.

And you should too.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

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 Kindle eBook.

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 get started 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:

  1. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
  2. 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!
  3. Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
  4. Your profile is complete!

With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book, as seen in the areas below.

amazon self-publishing

#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.

Here are a couple tips to crafting a great book title:

  • 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.

New call-to-action

#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:

  1. Title
  2. Cover
  3. Book Description

A 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:

amazon self publishing book description

You can find more amazing description examples with these books:

Spend some time crafting your eye-catching book description. It will make your book stand out to your readers and motivate them to purchase your book.

For the best results, we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description generator at kindlepreneur.com

#4 – Choose Your Amazon Keywords

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 keywords per 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
  • perseverance examples
  • persevering
  • 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.

amazon publishing keywords

You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:

  • Publisher 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 Publisher 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.

publishing a book on amazon categories

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.

Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out our blog post that details how to get approved for more categories on Amazon.

#6 – Upload Your Manuscript to Amazon

To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format.

Here’s how to upload your book to Amazon:

  1. In your Kindle Direct Publishing account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
  2. Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of your book.
  3. Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
  4. Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
  5. Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
  6. Upload complete!

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.

If the formatting is off here, it can deter readers from picking up your book. Take this extra step to make sure your formatting looks good here too or consider hiring a professional ebook formatter to ensure it looks good.

#7 – Create Your Book Cover

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:

Prices will depend on the level of service, but these sites will give you plenty of amazing graphic designers to choose from! It’s a great investment that will make your book stand out perfectly.

If you’re a Self-Publishing School student, we will actually provide a list of qualified, trusted book cover designers you can work with in order to get a worthy cover.

amazon publishing tips

Make sure to do your research regarding what type of book cover does best in your genre. Fantasy books, for example, will be a lot different than a memoir or even a historical fiction.

#8 – Price Your Book

A question often asked is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”

This is up to the author, but generally, the best range to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $9.99.

The royalty payments vary depending on the country, but you can learn more on KDP Select pricing page.

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 more reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).

You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:

Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.

New call-to-action

How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step [With Video]

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 steps for how to make an audiobook:

  1. Prep your book for audiobook recording
  2. Decide who will record it
  3. Hire an audiobook narrator
  4. Record the audiobook yourself
  5. Work with an audiobook producer
  6. Create the audiobook at home
  7. Upload your audiobook to ACX
New call-to-action

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:

  • Delete hyperlinks
  • Delete captions
  • Delete visuals
  • 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:

  1. Hire someone to record it for you
  2. Record the book yourself in a studio
  3. Work with an audiobook producer
  4. Do it yourself at home
  5. Hire an ACX narrator

You now get to pick which option to take.

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:

  1. It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
  2. 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.

For example, when Joanna Penn did the recording for her own book Business for Authors, she hired a professional producer, Andy Marlow.

A producer for your audiobook can ensure the quality of the audio tracks as well as mastering the file for the final production load.

You can find audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] on freelancing sites such as Fiverr or, again, Upwork.

Simply log in to Fiverr or Upwork and type “audiobooks” in the search bar, as seen in the example below.

hire audiobook narrator

If you go on Fiverr, select the “mixing and mastering” option on the left side. This will give you plenty of choices for finding audio engineers, editors and producers.

#6 – Create an audiobook at home

Many authors feel very close their work and would rather the content be told in their own voice. This is particularly true if the book is focused on personal stories or a family memoir.

making an audiobook

There are many books that do sound better when told from the voice of the author.

Do you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home? If yes, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.

Equipment for Making an Audiobook:

If you are a podcaster or music recording talent, you may already have access to the necessary equipment for recording your audiobook.

Here’s what you need to make an audiobook:

  1. A good USB mic. The Blue Snowball condenser mic or the Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone are recommended.
  2. A pop filter. The Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter is recommended.
  3. 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:

  1. Turn off all fans and machines.
  2. Read in a small, carpeted area
  3. Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.
  4. Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.
  5. Read the chapter through from start to end.
  6. Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.
  7. Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.
  8. Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.
  9. 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:

  1. Go to the ACX website.
  2. Log in to your account at amazon.com.
  3. Click “Add Your Title.” [Note: You must have a Kindle ebook published]
  4. Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
  5. Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
  6. Choose your territory and distribution.
  7. (Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
  8. Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
  9. Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
  10. Complete the “About My Book” section.
  11. (Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
  12. Complete the proper copyright information.
  13. Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
  14. Click the “add audio file” prompt.
  15. Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
  16. Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
  17. Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
  18. 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%.

It all depends on how you decide to share it, and you can read more details on the ACX site or check out this directly from their site:

audiobook royalties

Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook.

Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.”

That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.

For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.

Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine.

A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers.

Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not!

With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!

How to Make an Audiobook: Resources for Help

How To Record Your Own Audiobooks For ACX by Joanna Penn How To Record And Create Your Own Audio Book For ACX Audible

 by Kevin Kruse

The Audiobook Book: An Audiobook Production Guide for Indie Authors & Narrators by Renea Mason How to Create an Audiobook for Audible: Advice for Authors, Recording and Formatting Info, and More for ACX, Audible, and iTunes

 by Buck Flogging

Narration: A Beginner’s Guide to Recording Audiobooks in Audacity: Work From Home Recording Audiobooks for ACX, Audible & iTunes

by Krystal Wascher

cost to publish a book

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? A Detail of Full Expenses

You already know. There is a cost to successfully self-publishing a book for sustained sales.

Much like with any worthwhile endeavor, you may have to sacrifice some cash in order to make more down the road.

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.” – Joanna Penn

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

But this comes with…difficulties and expenses that can be a bit much if you’re not prepared for them, and that’s what we’re here to do: prepare you.

But before we get into the meat of this piece, remember that, much like our student Brianna Ruelas, you have to think of your book like an investment into your future.

Learn How 100 People Have Published in the Last 60 Days!  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!   Start Here!  <https://selfpublishingschool.lpages.co/organic-eg-bab-how-100-people-have-finished-their-books-in-the-last-60-days/>

She invested in Self-Publishing School and is now bringing home $4,000 per month in client work from her book, and that’s not to mention the royalties!

So while she did pay for book production costs (which we cover below), she made her money back, and then some, because she decided to publish her book the right way.

So, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still some involved.

Here’s what you’ll learn about the cost to publish a book:

  1. The rise of self-publishing
  2. How much it costs to publish a book
  3. Cover design cost
  4. Editor cost
  5. Formatting cost
  6. Book promotion cost
  7. Cost of publishing an audiobook
  8. Additional publishing tools

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.

Book Profit Calculator

Check out our Book Profit Calculator right here to figure out how many books you need to sell to hit your author goals!

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.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books.

Are you ready to make yours fly?

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?

cost to publish
Some editing costs courtesy of Reedsy

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 NeedDetailsAverage Cost
Professional Cover DesignEach book NEEDS a professional cover. People judge books by covers and without investing in one, your book will fail.$100 - $600
Professional EditingEven if you're the best writer out there, your book will still need a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes on it.$300 - $1,500
FormattingA 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
PromotionIf 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
Author ToolsThis includes courses, building your site, automated email services, writing software, and more.$175 +

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.

While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a professional cover designer who is going to deliver a good book cover that sells your book.

Cover designers aren’t just talented creators. Many who do it as a living have inside market knowledge and tailor your book cover for your specific genre.

If you do decide to go through Fiverr, check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

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.

cost to publish a book

Where to hire a book editor:

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.

cost of publishing editor
NY Book Editors Cost Calculator

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:

cost of publishing a book

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.

cost to publish a 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:

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return.

Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

 Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.

Here are some places you can hire audio book narrators:

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself.

Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

New call-to-action

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.

#1 – Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind Community, for everything you need to get started.

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:

author platform
  • 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.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. 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.

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

#1 – Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs.

If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener Webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt. Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of book design templates for both fiction and nonfiction.

These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books.

It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

#2 – Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release.

Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your book launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

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.

Well, almost.

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.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world.

Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.

New call-to-action

10 Surprising Realities of Self-Publishing Your Books

I know it seems easy.

You’re probably thinking that self-publishing a book successfully is nothing more than uploading a document to the web and hitting an all-powerful “PUBLISH” button.

You’re far from the truth…

In all honesty, self-publishing is certainly a process. There’s a reason big-name publishing houses have been around for so long; they take care of a lot of the work.

You do all the creative thinking while they do the other heavy lifting.

But that also means they get a (very) big cut of your earning. Your hard-earned income. But all of that’s already been discussed with self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

Instead, we’ll talk about what you can actually expect when you decide to put yourself first and commit to self-publishing.

And believe me, I know it’s a hard choice to make.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

Here’s what you’ll learn about the realities of self-publishing:

  1. You’ll become tech-savvy
  2. You’ll bring in more income
  3. You’ll learn about yourself
  4. You’ll make connections
  5. You build instant credibility
  6. You’ll have more opportunities
  7. Your business with grow
  8. You’ll want to write another book
  9. You’ll generate new ideas
  10. You’ll develop a writing routine

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

A lot of technical coordination needs to happen in order to self-publish your book.

You’ll have to:

  • Write the book
  • Get it formatted
  • Get a cover designed
  • Combine into one product
  • Create online self-publishing accounts
  • Upload materials to the accounts
  • Coordinate your launch team in a single place

There is more but I think you get the idea.

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.

New call-to-action

#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.

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Here's What You'd Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you'll make:

In 6 months, you'll make:

In 1 year, you'll make:

That fact is, self-publishing gets a really bad reputation for bankrupting those who pursue its path. And sure, some people may have spent a lot of time and money on their book only for it to tank.

But those people often decide to go it completely alone instead of using a program or guideline of sorts to ensure they succeed.

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.

But when you have to market and ask others for advice or even if you become a member of a powerful self-publishing group, you meet all kinds of people.

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.

what to expect self publishing

#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.

By this I mean that you might be contacted for speaking gigs, bring in more high-value clients, get requests for interviews, and more.

Because publishing a book places you as an authority figure and heightens your credibility, more people will want to hear what you have to say on the subject.

This could lead you down new roads, offer new business ventures (like this entire company!), and change your entire life – just because you decided to take action and self-publish a book.

self publishing chandler bolt

#7 – Your business will flourish

This is the amazing thing about self-publishing a book. When your credibility sky-rockets, so will your business.

In fact, most aspects of your life will flourish but a book will directly aid your business (and even your side-hustle!).

Take our alumnus Ashley Emma, for example. After the launch of her book, her business generated $24,000 specifically from her book Fearless Author.

So if your business is struggling and you need a new way to bring in sales, writing and self-publishing a book is a fantastic method to do so.

#8 – You’ll want to write another book ASAP

The process of self-publishing can be a long and arduous one – and you’ll still want to publish another book as soon as you can.

Why? Because of everything you gain from it.

Many of our students love what having a self-published book offers so much that they dive into the program again in order to write another one.

In fact, one of our alumni (and now one of our Coaches!), Lise Cartwright, has self-published 26 books simply because of the opportunities she’s gained through doing so.

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.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!

what is a good book cover

What Makes a Good Book Cover: How to Increase Book Sales With Your Book Cover

Do you know what makes a good book cover?

You should…if you ever want to maintain consistent sales of your book.

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 reality of publishing is…

Everyone does anyways.

Here’s what makes for a good book cover:

  1. Focusing on the big picture
  2. Strong composition
  3. An intriguing focal point
  4. Clear title and subtitles
  5. Simplistic book cover design

Why does a good book cover matter?

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 good book 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.

The book cover is there to promote your book, and ultimately sell it.

Now, the next big question is, what makes for a good book cover that achieves this goal?

#1 – Focus On the Big Picture

The book cover needs to draw the viewer into the story. Even if you are writing non-fiction. You are a writer, so you know there is always a story. 

The cover needs to show what the book is about, without giving all of it away, much like the book title but with visuals.

This example from Self-Publishing School’s coach Marcy Pusey shows just how this technique works in her book, Weirdo and Willy.

good book cover design

The idea is to get your reader to open the book. Once they open the book, your magic as a writer will not let them put it down before reading it to the end.

But to catch in your spiderweb of literary magic, you need to use a bait. And that is what your cover needs to do for you. It needs to play on the human emotions of intrigue and curiosity. 

So think about the big picture of what your book cover should represent.

Ask yourself these questions when figuring out your book cover:

  • Does your idea represent your story or message?
  • Does it illicit intrigue?
  • Does it stand out from other books in your category?

New call-to-action

#2 – Create a Strong Composition

This is where is start to get into the wizardry that is graphic design and illustration.

Composition is one of the most fundamental skills required of anyone working with visuals. And as with all fundamentals, the composition takes a lifetime to master, at least!

This is why it’s advised to hire a book cover designer instead of creating the cover yourself in programs like Canva or Photoshop.

But if you have some experience and want to go for it, here are some guidelines on composition:

  • Use the rule of thirds
  • Symmetry is your friend
  • 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.

how to make a good book cover

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.

How? The book title!

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”

good book cover title

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.

good book cover

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:

hire book cover designer

Just keep these guidelines in mind, whether you are designing the cover yourself, or paying someone to do it for you.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing,  marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more  by clicking here!