How To Self Publish A Book in 2023—A Thorough Guide
Updated · Mar 06, 2023
Self-publishing used to be an arduous process that required significant financial investment and plenty of technical know-how. But in the digital age, anyone with an internet connection can self-publish a book - it's never been easier or cheaper to do so. Whether you want to know how to self publish an ebook, or a regular book, this article is for you.
In it, we'll walk you through each step of the self-publishing process, from writing your manuscript to marketing and selling your book.
So whether you're thinking about publishing your first book or your hundredth, read on for everything you need to know about self publishing in the 21st century!
Choose the Type of Book You Want to Write
Determining the type of book you want to create is really the beginning of the self-publishing process.
No book, nothing to publish right? What’s more, various self-publishing platforms specialize in different genres.
So, are you writing a novel, a nonfiction book, or perhaps a guide?
How will your book be formatted?
What are the specific requirements for each type of book?
Do your research and plan accordingly. You don't want to spend months writing only to find out you’ve left a lot out, missed something crucial, or need to do a lengthy rewrite before you can actually look at self publishing a book.
Note that competitor research is an essential part of this process, but especially for guidebooks and manuals. If you’re working on a book with actionable content, how will yours be different from the others out there? What unique value can you offer?
If you can't answer these questions, your book won’t succeed.
Research is the foundation.
Start by figuring out your niche, and look at the top books in it. What about them is similar, where do they differ, and most importantly, is there something they don’t cover? If so then you’ve potentially identified a gap your book can fill.
Like many things, preparation is integral to publish a book.
For a start, you can check out book sites like GoodReads. Perhaps do some keyword research using SEO tools too. Although that’s not exactly what these tools are made for, by typing in terms related to books you can see what’s generating the most interest.
Do Market Research and Determine Your Target Demographic
When you're writing your book, you have to keep your target reader in mind.
You don't want the appeal to be too broad or too narrow, instead, try to target a specific popular niche. Doing market research for your book will help you decide on the right demographic.
Your “ideal reader” is a hypothetical person your book will appeal to. They’ll be in a specific age group, have particular interests, and even be of a specific gender. You need to formulate who this person might be. Research people that fit those criteria and begin narrowing down what they might want from your self published books.
Once you've decided on your target reader, you need to figure out how you're going to reach them. There are a number of ways to do this, and the best way to reach your target audience will vary depending on your book. Strongly consider using social media, email marketing, or paid advertising.
The platform you choose should be one your ideal reader is active on. For example, if you’re writing a business-focused manual, LinkedIn is the perfect site. On the other hand, if you’re creating a graphic novel, Twitter is a better choice, due to its informal nature and short-form communication.
No matter how you decide to market before you publish your own book, make sure that you're targeting your audience's interests and “going where they go.” If you can capture your target reader's attention, they're more likely to buy your book and even help promote it.
So make sure that you do your research and create a marketing strategy that will work for you and your book.
Write the Book
This is where the biggest task begins - actually writing your book.
You’ll need to do research on the subject, even if you’re well versed in the area. Whether it’s a creative endeavor or a technical one, you’ll need to plan it out for a successful DIY publishing exercise. You’ll build “tent poles” that will give you the main points, and then flesh them out.
It's also important to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it so that you can make steady progress without burning yourself out. But don't be too hard on yourself - it's fine to take breaks from time to time. Just make sure that you get back to work as soon as possible!
Perhaps set aside an hour a day. If you have a freer schedule you can dedicate more time to it. Just try to do a bit every day. Chances are, the vast majority of what you write won’t make it into the product you self publish, but it’s essential to hone your skills and keep practicing. There are also tools available to make the process easier.
Lastly, don't forget to also allow for creativity and spontaneity in your writing. Don't be afraid to change things up if the story demands it, or in the case of a technical book, shake up the formula.
Get Feedback and Rework the Necessary Sections
A book isn't complete in one draft.
Instead, writers must get feedback on both the content of their book and its structure. After receiving feedback, they must take it into account and rework their book if need be.
This process can be lengthy but with some patience and perseverance, any writer can see their dream to (self-) publish a book come true.
Edit the Book
The next step is to edit your book. It's important to do this on your own first, and then after that hire an editor. This will help you to catch any mistakes that you may have made, and it will also help to make sure that your book is polished.
You should edit with three things in mind:
- General clarity. Unless your subject matter is unavoidably complex, you should write as simply as possible.
- Spelling and grammar. Go over your spelling and grammar to make sure it’s correct, but don’t agonize over it. Your editor will take care of this later in the book publishing process.
- Accuracy. Your writing has to be accurate when it comes to factual information. If you’re writing fiction this tip still applies. You have to look out for contradictions in your story and avoid any plotholes.
Create an Attractive Cover
The important thing is to make your book look professional, no matter what the subject matter is. If it looks like you've put thought and care into the design, people will be more likely to give it a try.
Spend some time perusing books in your genre or category and see what kinds of titles and covers are out there. This is one of the extra steps to self publish a book.
Nonfiction books will look and be titled very differently to fiction. For example, cookbooks will feature photos of food, whereas fiction can be more abstract. Business books might have more of a serious look, and so on.
You’ll have some decisions to make about how you want the cover designed and who to hire, for example, an artist or photographer. Unless you’re one of these two things, do not create the cover on your own. You might think it looks fantastic, but there are at the very least fine details you’ll miss.
Come Up With a Good Title
Once you've got a handle on the visuals, it's time to start working on the title of your self published book. This is arguably one of the most important elements of your book, as it's what will catch people's attention and make them want to know more.
It needs to be catchy, memorable, and accurate in describing the contents of your book. If you're having trouble with ideas, try brainstorming with a friend or using looking at the titles of other books in your niche.
Once you've got both the design and title sorted out, it’s time to find your platform!
Choose a Self-Publishing Platform
So now the question—where to self publish a book? How do you make the book available? You must choose a self-publishing platform. There are quite a few different ones out there, so it's important to pick the one that will work best for you.
Some things to consider are how they will distribute your book, the percentage of royalties they'll pay you, and whether or not they offer editing services. Depending on the platform you may be able to get assistance with any of the areas mentioned above.
Once you've found the perfect platform and completed the other steps, the next is to upload your book files. This usually just involves dragging and dropping them into the correct place on the website. You’re near the end of the book self publishing process. You'll just need to provide some basic information about your book, such as the title, description, keywords and so.
Remember at this point your book is on the verge of being available to the public. Make sure you’ve done everything mentioned so far correctly.
Set the Price of Your Book
After that, you’ll have to set your price. This is one area where learning how to self publish a book can be tricky. You want to price your book low enough to be enticing, but high enough that you'll actually make a profit. It's a delicate balance, but luckily most platforms have tools to help you figure out the perfect price.
You should also consider what the going rate for the books in your niche is, and whether it’ll just be digital, or if you’ll be going to print. Print self-publishing can be quite costly, and limited runs could see you paying more per unit which would push the price up. Everything we’ve covered is applicable to books and ebooks. The only difference is getting copies printed.
Cost factoring is a constant consideration when you want to know how to self publish successfully.
Launch the Book
Now it’s time to launch the book. Whether you do it in person or at a party, you should be active in promoting it in the communities interested in it. Make sure you get the word out and get some fanfare going.
A great idea for launch day is holding promotions with free copies to give away. A good basic strategy is to allow people to enter by reposting, sharing, and tagging their friends in your posts advertising the book.
This is an often overlooked part of the “self publishing how to”. Remember to support to book post-launch with social media posts and endorsements from others in your niche.
You can look at getting “guest blogs” on websites that relate to your niche. It’s good promotion. You can also offer copies to influencers. Remember to be polite in your approach.
Extra Tip!: Commission an Audiobook
One final note about self-publishing: it can be worthwhile to commission an audiobook version of your book. This is especially true if you plan to promote your book through speaking engagements or other events. An audiobook can be a great way to reach new audiences and connect with potential readers.
Keep in mind that this is a costly and time-intensive process. Leave it for after you’ve perfected the plan by which you can publish your own book. Not only will you need a person with a good voice who can read well, but for the best results, you’ll need to hire a studio and director.
Don’t plan an audiobook for launch day. Instead, see how your book performs and then, if there’s interest, use some of the revenue to commission the audiobook later. An audiobook of a previously released book is a good way to fill up your content roadmap between major releases.
By following the tips in this guide and putting in some effort, you’ll know how to self publish a book. It's not as difficult as you might think, and you can end up with a professional-looking product that you can be proud of.
Self-publishing can be a great way to get your work out there, and it can be a fun and rewarding experience. What more is there to do than to get to it?
Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.