Writers are no longer limited by the whims of agents and big publishing houses if they want to get their work out into the world. Self-publishing used to be an expensive and complicated process, but there are now several easy and low-cost ways to do it. Many content creators are choosing self-publishing because it means they have more creative control and are able to release on their own timeline, which can be a lot faster than waiting for a traditional publisher to schedule a release for the next year. Although it's possible to just upload your manuscript and have it available on Amazon as an e-book within the next 48 hours, there are a few good rules of thumb self-publishers should take into account before launching their book.
Covers matter in the world of books. It may be true that you can't judge a book by its cover, but readers do this anyways when deciding to purchase a book. If you want to attract the kinds of readers who are going to like your book, you want to make sure you follow genre conventions when you make your book cover. You don't want to publish a self-help book that looks like a romance novel, just like you don't want your epic fantasy novel to look like a science text book. Study the covers of popular books in your genre and get to know the style and conventions. If you feel confident about your design skills, you can make your own book cover for free in Canva. Some of the most successful self-published authors hire a book cover designer before publishing. This doesn't have to break the bank, and can be done economically on websites like Fiverr, where you can search for book cover designers and look through their work before hiring them.
Traditionally, published books go through several rounds of editing to make sure the manuscripts have as few errors as possible. Many successful self-published authors also hire editors before releasing their books. Hiring an editor can be the most expensive aspect of self-publishing, but it is a good investment to ensure your book has the quality readers will expect. Editors don't just find typos and correct for grammar, they also help finesse your manuscript's style, clarity, word choice, and flow. If an editor is outside of your budget, you can always ask friends to help you proofread. Another good option is using Microsoft Word's text-to-speech feature. Hearing your words out loud will help you find more errors than you would by using your eyes.
You will have to decide if you want to release your book as an e-book, in paperback form, or both. You can reach more readers if you do both, and fortunately the two most popular self-publishing platforms allow both options when you publish. They also act as distributors for your book.
Amazon Direct Publishing: Distributes your book on Amazon.com.
IngramSpark: Distributes your book to Barnes & Noble, Walmart.com, Target.com, independent bookstores, libraries and more.
Once you've released your book, you will need to figure out how to reach your readers. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Many self-published authors start author pages on Facebook and use other social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to connect with readers.
- Start a newsletter on a site like Mailchimp to connect with other writers who write in the same genre and see if they would like to do a newsletter swap with you.
- Send press releases to the media and ask reporters to do a story about your book.
- You can also get more eyes on your book by offering review copies to book bloggers.