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How to Self-Publish a Book in 5 Steps

Julia McCoy
Friday, 19th Apr 2024
how to self publish a book

Hours turned into days as you poured all your passion and hard work into making your book just right. But now that it’s finished, you’re faced with a daunting question: how do you get it out into the world?

Self-publishing has revolutionized the industry, giving authors like you the power to bring your book to life on your own terms. No more waiting for approval from traditional publishing companies or giving up creative control.

But where do you even begin?

Let me share with you the nitty-gritty details of how to self-publish a book.

Table Of Contents:

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing is a powerful avenue for writers to bring their work directly to the audience, bypassing traditional publishing houses. This method empowers authors with full control over every aspect of the book creation process, from writing and editing to book cover designing and marketing.

With advancements in technology and digital platforms, self-publishing has become more accessible than ever before, opening up new opportunities for content creators.

When you choose to self-publish your book, you’re taking on the role of both author and publisher. This means being responsible for decisions that would traditionally be handled by publishing companies such as selecting cover designs, setting prices, formatting books for different devices (eBooks), and strategizing promotional activities.

how to self-publish a book

Image Source: Venngage

In a nutshell, the self-publishing process involves:

  • Writing: The journey begins with your manuscript. Unlike traditional publishing where approval from agents or publishers is needed first, here you start right away.
  • Editing: Hiring professional editors ensures your book meets quality standards. This step cannot be overlooked if you aim for success in a competitive market.
  • Cover Design & Formatting: A compelling cover design alongside proper formatting across various platforms can significantly impact your book’s appeal.
  • Distribution: Platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) make it easy to distribute eBooks globally while print-on-demand services allow physical copies without upfront costs.
  • Promotion & Marketing: As a self-publisher, promoting your book through social media channels, content marketing strategies, and email campaigns are crucial steps towards reaching potential readers.

Can’t decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing? Here’s a quick guide from Reedsy:

how to self-publish a book

If you think traditional publishing is the right fit for you, check out our blog post on how to publish a book.

Best Platforms to Self-Publish Your Book

Self-publishing has emerged as a powerful and accessible option for authors looking to bring their work directly to readers. With technological advancements and digital platforms, it’s now easier than ever for writers to publish their books without traditional gatekeepers.

Let’s look at the most common ways how to self-publish a book.

Firstly, ebook sales dominate the self-publishing market, with Amazon being the titan in this arena. Authors can effortlessly make their ebooks and print books available on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), reaching a vast audience without any upfront costs. This democratization of publishing means that virtually anyone can become an author with just a few clicks.

Beyond Amazon, there are other platforms such as Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Lulu offering similar self-publishing services across different markets or formats. These platforms enable authors not only to distribute ebooks but also explore options like audiobooks or printed versions through Print-On-Demand (POD) technology.

  • Print-On-Demand Services: POD technology has revolutionized how physical books are produced and sold. Platforms like CreateSpace (now merged with KDP) or IngramSpark allow authors to sell physical copies of their books without maintaining inventory — books are printed only when ordered by customers.
  • Assisted Self-Publishing Firms: For those who prefer a more hands-off approach yet wish to retain control over their work, firms such as AuthorHouse or Xlibris offer full-service packages covering editorial support, design, marketing strategies — and everything in between — while ensuring 100% net sales go back to the author.

The choice between going completely independent versus utilizing assisted services depends largely on personal preference: time vs money investment balance is key here. If you’re inclined towards focusing solely on writing while leaving technicalities and promotion efforts in expert hands, you might prefer investing in these comprehensive service offerings despite higher initial costs.

How to Self-Publish a Book in 5 Steps

Whether you’re a novice writer or a seasoned author stepping into self-publishing for the first time, this step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book will help you turn your literary aspirations into reality.

Step 1: Format Your Book for Publication

You’ve poured your heart and soul into writing your book. But before you can share it with the world, you need to make sure it looks its best. That’s where book formatting comes in.

I remember when I first started self-publishing, I had no idea how important formatting was. I thought I could just upload my manuscript and be done with it. Boy, was I wrong.

Formatting your book is like putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece. It’s what makes your book look professional and polished. And trust me, readers notice.

So, how do you format your book? Well, you have a few options. You can use formatting software like Adobe InDesign or Vellum. These programs are specifically designed for book formatting and can make the process a lot easier.

But if you’re not tech-savvy or don’t want to invest in expensive software, don’t worry. There are plenty of other options out there, like hiring a professional or using book design templates.

The key is to make sure your book looks clean, easy to read, and visually appealing. That means choosing the right font, spacing, and layout.

It also means making sure your book is formatted correctly for the platform you’re publishing on, whether that’s Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or another service.

Step 2: Choose Your Self-Publishing Platform

Now that your book is formatted and ready to go, it’s time to choose your self-publishing platform. And let me tell you, there are a lot of options out there.

One of the most popular choices is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With KDP, you can easily upload your book and make it available to millions of readers around the world. Plus, you get to keep up to 70% of the royalties.

Learn more about publishing a book on Amazon.

But Amazon isn’t the only game in town. Other self-publishing services like IngramSpark, Lulu, and Smashwords offer similar benefits. It’s all about finding the platform that works best for you and your book.

When I first started self-publishing, I went with KDP because it was the most well-known and had the biggest audience. But as I’ve grown as an author, I’ve experimented with other platforms too. It’s all about diversifying your options and reaching as many readers as possible.

The great thing about self-publishing is that you have complete control over the process. You get to choose where your book is sold, how much it costs to publish a book, and how it’s marketed. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

how to self-publish a book

Popular self-publishing platforms

Step 3: Set Your Book Price and Royalties

One of the most exciting (and sometimes stressful) parts of self-publishing is setting your book price and royalties. It’s a delicate balance between making a profit and attracting readers.

When it comes to pricing your book, there are a few things to consider.

First, look at the prices of similar books in your genre. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but you also don’t want to undervalue your work.

It’s also important to think about your royalties. Most self-publishing platforms offer a percentage of the retail price for each book sold.

For example, Amazon KDP offers up to 70% royalties for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to stick with the standard royalty rates. You can experiment with different prices and see what works best for your book. Maybe a lower price will attract more readers, or maybe a higher price will signal the value of your work.

The key is to be strategic and think long-term. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices and royalties over time based on how your book is performing. And remember, every book sold is a win, no matter the price.

Step 4: Develop a Marketing Plan for Your Book Launch

Congratulations, your book has been published. But now comes the hard part: getting people to actually read it. That’s where book marketing comes in.

I know, I know. Marketing can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a natural salesperson. But the truth is, no one will know about your book if you don’t tell them about it.

The first step is to create a marketing plan for your book launch. This should include things like social media promotions, email newsletters, and maybe even a virtual book tour. The key is to get creative and think outside the box.

One of the easiest ways to market your book is through your personal network. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues and ask them to spread the word. You never know who might be interested in your book.

Another great strategy is to partner with other authors or influencers in your niche. You can do joint promotions, guest blog posts, or even co-author a book together. It’s all about building relationships and leveraging each other’s audiences.

But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that book marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and consistency to build buzz and generate sales. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Keep putting yourself out there and eventually, your hard work will pay off.

Step 5: Distribute Your Book to Online Retailers and Bookstores

With self-publishing, you have the power to distribute your book exactly how you want.

I always recommend starting with Amazon. Why? Because they’re the biggest player in the game. Plus, getting your book listed on Amazon is a breeze with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

But don’t stop there. You can also distribute your book to other major online retailers like Apple Books and Kobo. And if you want to see your book on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, you can use a service like Barnes & Noble to make that happen.

The key is to make your book available in as many places as possible. The more visible your book is, the more likely it is to get discovered by new readers.

And who knows? You might just end up with a bestseller on your hands.

Step 5: Continue Promoting and Marketing Your Book Post-Launch

Congrats, you’ve launched your book. But the work doesn’t stop there. If you want to be a successful author, you need to keep the momentum going long after your book hits the virtual shelves.

One of the best ways to do this is by engaging with your readers. Respond to reviews, host Q&A sessions on social media, and send out newsletters with behind-the-scenes content. Building a loyal fan base is key to long-term success.

You can also keep the buzz going by running promotions and ads. Discount your book for a limited time, run a Goodreads giveaway, or invest in some targeted Facebook ads. The more creative you get with your marketing, the more likely you are to attract new readers.

And don’t forget about the power of word-of-mouth. Encourage your fans to leave reviews, share your book with their friends, and shout about it from the rooftops. The more people talking about your book, the better.

Consider Offering Your Book in Multiple Formats

When it comes to self-publishing, one size doesn’t fit all. Different readers prefer different formats, so why not give them options?

Offering your book as an ebook is a no-brainer. It’s cheap to produce, easy to distribute, and can be read on a variety of devices. But don’t overlook the power of print. Many readers still prefer the feel of a physical book in their hands, so consider offering paperback and hardcover versions as well.

And if you really want to get fancy, you can create a special edition version of your book with bonus content, exclusive artwork, or even a signed copy. These make great gifts for your superfans and can help you stand out in a crowded market.

Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing gives you the freedom to experiment with different formats and see what works best for your audience. So don’t be afraid to mix it up and try something new.

FAQs – How to Self-Publish a Book

How much does it cost to publish a book on your own?

The cost varies widely, from $0 to thousands. It depends on what services you pay for, like editing or cover design.

Can I self-publish my book for free?

Absolutely. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing let authors publish eBooks and paperbacks at no upfront cost.

Is it OK to self-publish a book?

Totally. Self-publishing gives you full control over your work and can lead to success without the gatekeeper of traditional publishing.

How do you self-publish a book and get paid?

Publish with platforms like Amazon KDP or Smashwords, set your price, market well, and watch the royalties roll in.


You did it. You’ve written, edited, designed, and published your very own book. Take a moment to bask in the glory of your achievement.

Being a published author is no small feat. It takes courage, dedication, and a whole lot of hard work. So don’t be afraid to share your success on social media, throw a launch party, and do a little happy dance every time you see your book on a shelf.

But most importantly, remember that this is just the beginning. You’ve proven to yourself that you have what it takes to be an author. So keep writing, keep creating, and keep putting your work out there. The world needs your stories, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Written by Julia McCoy

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