Whether you’re writing to teach or entertain, encourage laughter or tears, spook or inspire, the hardest part often comes when it’s time to publish. But there’s no way around it; the whole point is to get your words out there! Publishing is just one of life’s inevitable inconveniences for writers, much like an empty coffee cup on a cold Monday morning. Or at least it used to be…
In recent years, self-publishing has evolved into a crazy convenient, inexpensive, and effective method for getting eBooks out into the world. Getting published used to be a long, grueling process that involved a lot of groveling and kicks to your self-esteem.
After all, even the greatest writers can fall prey to budget cuts and bottom lines in traditional publishing. Just ask J.K. Rowling, whose original Harry Potter synopsis was rejected by 12 different publishers before one took a chance on it.
But fret not, digital wordsmith, times have changed! Read on to find out how:
Why it’s better to self-publish
Before we get into the actual process of publishing your eBook, let’s take a minute to look at a few of the many benefits of self-publishing:
- Your eBook will get to your target audience faster
- You’ll keep more of the profits
- You’ll save money on printing and shipping costs
Self-publishing your finished eBook will typically take less than five minutes. In traditional publishing, you may have to spend several months just contacting agents and publishers before you get to the point of an acceptance, a contract, rounds of outside edits, and the time it takes to print and ship. You’ll save yourself tons of time, frustration, and money doing it on your own.
When you choose not to go through a publisher, you’ll have fewer people to pay. Since you’re doing most of the work on your own and using a digital method of delivery, you’ll typically see a much higher percentage of the royalties from sales, too.
You can eliminate an entire category of additional spending (printing and shipping) when you take a non-traditional route. These are two expensive tasks that can be avoided entirely, and you’re already on your way!
The easiest way to publish an eBook
Of the different methods of self-publishing, there is one that is the clear winner. It’s preferred by many self-publishing authors, sought out by digital copy lovers, and it has very favorable terms for writers. And this winner is… Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Self-publishing through KDP is free, which takes a lot of pressure off of the process. Once you have your eBook ready to show to the world, all you have to do is follow these steps:
- Create an Amazon KDP account
- Format your eBook so it’s ready for publishing
- Upload the eBook to KDP
- Get everyone excited
Publishing an eBook With Amazon
If you’re like most people, you’re probably already familiar with Amazon. When you log into your account, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find “Self-Publish with Us,” under the “Make Money with Us,” column.
From there, Amazon will guide you through the steps you need to complete, including adding in your tax information. It’s quick and easy!
Using Amazon’s KDP, you can self-publish your eBook for free and you’ll keep up to 70 percent of the royalties earned on sales to customers in the U.S. This percentage also spans across Canada, Australia, UK, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, France, Spain, and Italy.
Before you can start raking in the dough, you have to make sure that your eBook is formatted for publishing. Certain things won’t transfer well from your Word or PDF document into the eBook. For example, avoid using the tab key to create indents because they’ll appear much larger in your eBook when you upload it. Try using block paragraphs instead or take a look at a printed book to see how much space you should have.
Many first-time publishers will choose to hire a formatter or proof-reader to help them get the book ready. If you have it in your budget, this could be really helpful. You can find freelancers to assist you with editing, formatting, and designing book covers on websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and eBooklaunch.com.
But there are ways around that expense, too. You can save yourself the money by enlisting the help of a loved one – grammar nerds are preferable. You can offer to pay them in pizza and beer, but make sure they’re not drinking on the job!
After it’s read, edited, and formatted, it’s time to upload. This step comes down to the click of a few buttons on your KDP account. Uploading is instant and then you’ll just need to add in some information: title, subtitle, and description. Try to make the description as intriguing as possible. This is your chance to draw in readers and make sales.
Now you’re uploaded and ready to roll! But before you hit that publish button, there’s one more step you should take: build some hype. If you have a blog or a website, mention the book there. Talk about it on social media, share it with your friends and family, and ask them to spread the word, too. One of the best things about the internet is how far you can extend your reach with a few clicks of a button. Take advantage of this. If you can, set your publish date out a bit so you have some time to get people excited about it.
Okay, now… Are you ready for it? The last step. The ultimate step. The step. Give Amazon permission to send your words out into the world, and you’re done! Pop the champagne, grab a snack, take a walk, or stare at your screen until you see your work pop up for sale. However you choose to celebrate, you did it! You are now a published author. Congratulations!
Alternatives to KDP
Amazon’s KDP is a fantastic option for self-publishing, but it’s not the only one. If you have a solid website and client base already, you can sell your eBook right through your own website and cut out the middle man.
To start, you’ll follow a lot of the same steps: create, proofread and format, and create your cover. But then, instead of uploading the finished project to KDP, you’ll post it to your website instead. Promote it in other areas of your website, on your blog, and through your e-mail list. You may have to do a little more work this way but you won’t have to pay 30% in royalties to Amazon.
You can also use one of the many available digital goods marketplaces like Clickbank. If you’ve never heard of it, ClickBank is an affiliate marketing network for digital products. You can list your eBook for sale here and affiliates can choose to promote it (for a set commission of your choosing). It’s easier than it sounds. ClickBank is one of the top 100 online retailers with 200 million customers across nearly 200 countries and 100,000 affiliates with active accounts.
If you’re going to choose to stray away from Amazon’s KDP, publishing through your own website or a marketplace like Clickbank are great alternatives. You’ll retain full control of your product and keep more or all of the money from the sales, depending on which path you choose to take.
eBooks vs. Print Books
If you’re still deciding between turning your story into an eBook or a printed book, you’re not alone. This is a battle that many writers go through at some point in their careers. Let’s see if we can help you decide.
Here are some important points about eBooks to consider:
- They’ll get to your audience faster
- They’re easier to read in dark lighting or with one hand
- They’re lighter than printed books
- They’re cheaper than printed books
- Readers can highlight and bookmark with one finger and erase it just as easily
- They come with built-in dictionaries
- The sample you give can attract tons of new readers
- Some readers prefer the feel of paper over another device
- Printed books are easier to share
- Printed books are easier to skim
- You don’t have to charge a printed book
The biggest difference comes in what physically happens to your creation when you’re done with it. Do you want to leave the door open to the opportunity of walking into a local bookstore or a friend’s home and seeing your physical book sitting on a shelf or are you happy knowing that all of your readers have instant access to your digital copy all over the world? Why not try both and see which one you like better?
The bottom line
Amazon’s KDP makes it easy for you to publish your book within minutes and see it posted for sale within two days after that. Sometimes it’s as little as a few hours. This means that you can post your finished eBook during breakfast and see your book earning you money during lunch. The speed is one of the things that makes this method so hard to beat.
With KDP, you get to set your own prices and make changes to your eBooks, too. That’s right, books plural. You just got through publishing your first one and I’m already moving on to the next one! That’s how confident I am in you and this process.
How cool is it that you can collect all of the thoughts in your brain, self-publish them in a mere five minutes, and watch the royalties roll in while curious readers open their laptops to take in your words on the other side of the world? What a time to be alive!Whether you’re looking to pay down debt, save for a trip, or add to your retirement fund, self-publishing an eBook is a great way to give yourself a financial boost. You’re choosing a method that costs less, earns more, and gets where it needs to be instantly. What’s better than that?