How to Self-Publish an Ebook

  1. Fine-tune your content
    Consider whether this story could be published as a series of ebooks, or with a promotional launch of a single chapter.
  2. Choose a cover that stands out
    Go for a unique, eye-catching design that fits your genre.
  3. Pick the right ebook format
    Explore the features of reflowable ebooks, fixed-layout ebooks, and PDFs to find the best format for your project.
  4. Use metadata to boost visibility
    Include relevant keywords in your book’s metadata so more customers can find it with an internet search.
  5. Set the price of your ebook
    Compare the prices of similar ebooks, and consider the royalties, page length, and genre to help you calculate a price.
  6. Promote your ebook
    Make an author website, build a mailing list, and use social media to create buzz and prepare for your book launch.
  7. Create a KDP account
    Use an online store like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to manage the sales and marketing of your ebook.
  8. Assemble a marketing squad
    Ask a select group of friends, fans, family, and colleagues to help you get the word out.
  9. Publish your ebook
    Host special launch activities to celebrate your book release.

How to Self-Publish an eBook in 9 Steps

Step 1: Fine-Tune Your Content

First, consider whether all the content you’ve got needs to go into this ebook. Are there natural breaks in the narrative that lend themselves to serialization? This a great way to maximize the money-making potential of your content and opens up new promotional opportunities. Giving away a first installment free is a great way to build an audience willing to pay to find out what happens next.

Second, it sounds obvious but it’s always worth re-emphasizing the need to carefully proofread and edit your ebook. Check, double-check, then check your pages again. The benefit of self-publishing books in most ebook formats is the ability to re-open the file at a later date and make edits if you spot a typo, but the ideal scenario is to get it right first time. If a reader is encountering your work for the first time and finding multiple errors, it can be a huge turn off and easily discourage them from reading further. Enlist the help of a professional editor, fellow writers, friends, family, or colleagues to help you review consistency and flow, as well as the usual spelling and grammar checks.

Step 2: Choose a Cover that Stands Out

Getting the cover of your self-published ebook right is vital. Consider that potential readers may be scrolling through several rows of ebooks on their screen, so your cover has to be eye-catching and in keeping with your chosen genre. The additional challenge is that it must stand out even as a thumbnail image. If budget allows, it’s definitely worth considering working with a professional designer to get this element of your ebook just right. Reedsy offers access to a network of vetted, experienced designers who could help.

Fine Tune Your Content

Step 3: Pick the Right Format

There are 3 formats you could consider for your ebook. Your final choice will largely depend on the type of content you are using and where you want to sell your book when it’s finished.

Reflowable ebooks: perfect for novels and other text-based books. It allows your text to be resized and scaled for legibility purposes and flow from one page to another. Reflowable ebooks can be set up for sale in the Amazon Kindle Store and Apple iBooks Store through Blurb.

Fixed-layout ebooks: perfect for enhanced ebooks (containing multimedia content) or for highly illustrated content. With a fixed-layout, your content is locked into its page layout, preserving your deliberate design decisions. In this format, your ebook can be set up for sale in the Blurb Bookstore, on Amazon, and in the Apple iBooks Store.

PDF: perfect for sharing and sending, PDF files are viewable on any device and can be set up for sale in the Blurb Bookstore. The downside of this format is that it doesn’t have multimedia capabilities. They also tend to be quite large files and aren’t optimized for mobile or tablet devices.

Choose the Right Format for Your Content

Step 4: Use Metadata to Boost Visibility

The term ‘book metadata’ refers to the words and phrases that you use to describe your book, including the title, the author’s name and bio, and your book description or blurb. It is this information that will help potential readers find your book.

Internet search engines and online retailers like Amazon, use keywords to connect customers to relevant products or content. So, your book’s metadata should contain these relevant keywords.

Start by doing a basic brainstorm. What words would you search for to find your self-published ebook? Once you’ve done this, narrow your list down to between 10 and 20 specific words or phrases. Test the relevance of each by conducting a search on Amazon. Does the search provide links to books that are similar to yours?

Once you have your list of keywords you can weave them into your author bio and book description, and possibly even into your title or sub-title.

Find more tips on how to write an effective blurb for your novel or non-fiction book.

Step 5: Set Your Pricing

One of the key benefits of self-publishing an ebook is that the reduced production and distribution costs allow for a higher profit margin. However, keep in mind that the low overhead costs are also reflected in the price a customer will expect to pay for an ebook versus a printed book.

The best place to start when deciding on the price of your book is looking at what similar books are being sold at with the retailers you wish to use. This will give you a good idea of where you should be aiming, but there are a few other things to consider.

First, where you are selling your ebook. For example, the royalties you receive from selling your book on Amazon vary depending on the price of your book. Between $2.99 and $9.99 you’ll keep 70%. Above or below this bracket your royalties are reduced to 35%. That gives you a rough starting point. But what if you’re selling through Blurb, where you keep 100% of your royalties? Then how do you decide?

Your ebook’s length is the first thing to consider. For short stories, say between 1,000-5,000 words, readers won’t expect to pay much above $0.99. Longer novellas tend to sell at between $2.99 and $5.99. And for a novel, between $2.99 and $7.99 would be about right.

The genre of your ebook also has an impact on price point. Generally, romance, sci-fi, and fantasy books tend to sell for less than literary fiction or non-fiction books.

Remember nothing is set in stone and your pricing strategy is flexible. You can adjust your price point at any time in response to the level of demand for your book or changes in the wider market.

How to Make an eBook

Step 6: Promote Your eBook

Just as with a printed book, if you want to sell your self-published ebook, you need to spend some time and effort on marketing. Creating an author website is invaluable. Your website can serve as the hub of your marketing strategy. It enables you to build a mailing list of fans and followers, develop an author brand, and most importantly provide direct links to the retailers selling your book.

You’ll also want to leverage your social media presence to generate a buzz about your ebook, even before its release. Starting your promotional activities beforehand will help your launch day go off with a bang. Write a series of blog posts related to your book topic, or share teasers with excerpts or images from your book to build excitement and curiosity. Plan your special launch day activities and market them early so fans and followers can save the date.

There are hundreds of blog posts on marketing your book alone. Here’s one to get you started.

Step 7: Create a KDP Account

To increase distribution and visibility of your self-published ebook, use an online store like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s free to list your ebook, and the platform makes it easy to manage sales and market your book worldwide—potentially reaching millions of readers on Amazon. You get to keep control of your rights and make changes to your ebook listing any time.

Step 8: Assemble a Marketing Squad

Pulling off a successful ebook launch takes advance planning and people power—so don’t think you have to do it all on your own. Enlist a group of supporters and use word of mouth to spread the news.

Think about people in your personal and professional network who could be valuable team members: they are dedicated fans, they want to support you, they have a large online following, or they have specific skills. When you ask each person for help with a specific task—make the request personal (no mass emails, please!) and let them know how important this ebook launch is to you. Even if you get an enthusiastic “yes!” right away, check in with them closer to launch day to make sure everyone remembers what they signed up for.

Step 9: Publish Your eBook

When the big day arrives, you can feel confident that you’ve done all the prep work for a successful ebook launch. Time to upload your formatted ebook to the Blurb Bookstore and your KDP account—hooray! Then send out a special email announcement to your mailing list with the exciting news, host a reading or webinar, or do a Q&A on social media. Have fun celebrating your ebook’s arrival in the world!

Let’s Get To It

So there you have it. A step by step guide to self-publishing your ebook. Whether you’re making one to complement a printed version or as a first foray into the world of self-publishing, follow these tips to ensure your plan goes off without a hitch.

Good luck!

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