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How to Self‑Publish a Book

Self‑publishing a book has made it so that almost anyone can publish their writing. Read this to learn how to self‑publish in just a few steps.

In the past, publishing a book on your own typically required an agent and a publisher who were willing to share your work with the world. Today, however, it is now easier than ever to write, design, edit, and publish your own book right from the comfort of your own home. Learning how to self-publish a book can help you through the process, so you can begin sharing your work without a hassle.

In this article, we'll walk you through the process of self-publishing a book.

Why self-publish a book?

Choosing to self-publish a book provides a unique opportunity to maintain total creative control and direction over the type of material you publish. When you choose to go the route to self-publish book material and ideas on your own, you will not find yourself limited or restricted as you might find if you are under a strict contract with an international publishing agency.

Pros and cons of self-publishing

If you've never written and/or published your own book, you may be wondering where to begin and how to know if self-publishing books is the right course for you. As with anything, it's important to keep in that mind that there are benefits and drawbacks to self-publishing; the option that's best for some folks might not work for others.

Let's start by taking a look at the some benefits self-publishing has to offer.

  • Share your work easier: The rise of self-publishing platforms have been beneficial for both well-known professional authors and independent writers. Self-publishing platforms provide an opportunity to significantly increase your reach both online and offline when showcasing new books, depending on the market and niche you target.
  • Maintain control: Self-publishing allows you to maintain complete creative control, timeline control, as well as any other directional control that is important to you. You can also keep gatekeepers at bay much easier when you maintain complete control over the process of writing, publishing, marketing, and selling your book(s).
  • Profits: One of the biggest benefits of choosing to self-publish a book of your own is the ability to generate more profits. When working with a big-name publisher or a well-known agency, you will be liable for sharing a cut of the profits you generate from all of your written and published works. Opting out of working with an agency and publisher in exchange for publishing your own book provides you with the ability to keep all of the earned profits for yourself.

As with any new venture and solo business endeavor, there will also be drawbacks. Some of the cons of self-publishing may include:

  • Less hands-on support: Unfortunately, while publishing your own book opens up an entirely new world of creative and directional control, it also results in less hands-on support from other professionals who are well-versed in the publishing industry. You may find yourself lacking editors, designers, and marketers who have experience with the type of book you have written when you’re in a time of need. When you choose to publish and market a book on your own, it is essential to truly know your audience and how to go about reaching them, which you can do with the use of social media marketing as well as with offline and local marketing strategies.
  • Lowered chance for publicity: Choosing to go the route of self-publishing books is admirable and allows you to maintain independence and control. However, there is no guarantee that your published works will ever receive enough attention for them to truly thrive in the market. If you are publishing your own books without a literary agent or a well-known publisher, you will most likely need to work a bit harder to generate the buzz and interest surrounding the books(s) you have written.
  • Requires self-reliance: When you are publishing a book for the first time and you are unknown to agencies or publishers, you may find it is an uphill battle to generate interest, clicks, and sales without the assistance of a marketing team or a reputable publishing agency. All costs will also fall on you, which is why it is important to prepare for potential writing, editing, designing, publishing, and marketing costs ahead of time, even before you begin crafting and sharing the book itself.

Understanding that there are both pros and cons to self-publishing a book can come in handy when determining which route is right for you and the type of material you intend to publish and share with the world.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

Self-publishing can be done with very little expenses, but only for those who are well-versed in editing, writing, designing, and marketing and don’t require the assistance of a third party in order to generate sales. The cost of self-publishing a book on your own will vary based on the length and complexity of the book, whether you are printing the book or offering it as an eBook, and the type of publishing format you choose.

If you do need to enlist the help of a third party to publish your book, you should keep in mind that editors, designers, and marketers must typically be hired independently and individually, which can quickly add up in cost. While the prospect of writing and publishing a book on your own is completely free of charge to get started, it’s likely that you may find yourself paying upwards of thousands of dollars once the entire planning and editing process is finalized.

How to self-publish a book in 8 steps

Once you make the decision to begin publishing your own book, you can do so by taking the time to cover all of your ground before you attempt to market and sell the book to any target audience.

Write a book

This may seem obvious, but it is not always easy to simply get started and write your book. If you're unsure of the type of book you should write, you may need to take time to drum up inspiration and research the current market(s) you are interested in targeting.

Edit your book

Editing your book is one of the most important aspects that must be considered when you choose the self-publish book route. Editing your book should be taken seriously and should be delegated to a professional editor, even if you choose to hire a freelance editing contractor. An improperly edited book can appear unprofessional and it can interfere with the overall perception of your book.

Design your book

Before you can begin selling your book, you will need to design the cover and overall look of the book itself. This goes for both digital and physical books. Do you have cover art in mind for your book? What style, theme, and color scheme are you thinking of using for your book's cover and design? Will you be designing the book yourself, or enlisting the help of a professional graphic designer? These are all important questions to ask yourself and to keep in mind while you are in the writing and planning stages of your new book. You will need to consider the typesetting, font, spine design, cover design, and overall format of the book you intend to publish before moving forward.

Conduct market research

Before you can begin selling your new book, you will need to conduct market research to find your audience. While you should know which demographics you would like to target before you even begin writing your book, conducting further market research can provide valuable insight into the type of individuals who may be most interested in your book and the information it offers.

Choose a publishing format

You will need to select a publishing format before you begin the process of publishing and marketing any material. Some of the most popular publishing formats can include hardcopies. However, newer publishing formats, such as print-on-demand solutions, eBooks, and audiobooks, have become increasingly popular among readers of all ages.

Select a publishing platform

After you settle on a publishing format that is right for your book, you will then need to select a publishing platform that is right for you. Today, one of the most well-known self-publishing platforms for books of all kinds is Amazon. Amazon allows individuals the ability to write, edit, produce, and market their own books right from the comfort of the Amazon publishing platform.

Other popular platforms that allow users the ability to self-publish books include:

  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Rakuten Kobo
  • Apple Books
  • Draft2Digital
  • Smashwords

Before choosing a self-publishing platform for your next book, consider what is required from each publisher and what the process of each publishing platform entails. Conduct adequate research to determine which self-publisher is right for you and most beneficial for the type of book(s) you are writing and the audience you intend to reach.

Publish your book

Once you have completed the writing, editing, and designing process, you can then publish your book using the self-publishing platform of your choice.

Market your book

Whether you choose to share your self-published book on your own online store or a publishing platform like Amazon, marketing is key to achieving success with sales in any market or industry. Without marketing, sharing your book with the world can seem nearly impossible, especially with highly competitive markets and industries both online and off.

Choosing the right marketing strategy can make a world of difference whether you are publishing your 10th book or your very first solo publication.

When marketing a book, you can choose to create a website, build a social media presence, or even reach out and connect to other writers online who are in the same field or niche as you are for link-swapping opportunities. Launching an online store, running digital ad campaigns, and even building out your own newsletter can help with generating interest and buzz surrounding your self-published books.

Final notes

Learning how to self-publish a book does not require years of college or a Master's degree in creative writing. Today, just about anyone has the ability to self-publish a book with the right idea and access to the right publishing platform.

For an all-in-one marketing platform that can help you keep up with your audience while promoting your new publications and books, turn to Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that is ideal for individuals who are publishing their own books, as well as large corporations that are being scaled up and expanded internationally. To better manage your next publishing marketing campaign, Mailchimp has everything you need.

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