Self-Publishing your Novel


Book publishing will never the same again. Self-publishing turned this sector into a level playing field for aspiring authors and seasoned writers alike. And, did you know that even before self-publishing gained popularity, big literary names Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Stephen King are all self-published authors? So, if you’re an independent author who wants to self-publish, but held back by apprehensions, well, you’re in good company.

Back in 2007, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) made numerous writers’ dream come true! While they’re not the first company to offer digital book publication, they definitely revolutionized the sphere of publishing. Today, Amazon isn’t the only platform available for indie authors; there are Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, Kobo, and IngramSpark (to name a few).

For publishing platforms with a free model, this means you don’t pay upfront fees, but you’ll pay from the income of your sales through a royalty agreement; and for many new writers, this is really cost efficient.

There are limitations in self-publishing, and downsides in comparison to going the traditional route, these issues will be dealt with in another blog. For now, however, let’s get down to the step-by-step process from manuscript to published work. This is assuming you've drafted, re-drafted, had beta readers feedback then redrafted again. You now have a completed work.

Step #1. Find a good editor. Invest in an experienced, professional editor whom you have a good working chemistry with. This is crucial to ensuring that you receive useful criticism you can integrate into your work. A good editor will keep you away from typos, grammatical errors, haphazard storytelling, easy-to-forget/weak characters, and uneven plots that will only annoy your readers. While you should self-edit your work, there are mistakes and details that only a seasoned editor can spot. You could also look at developmental editor. Different to a line editor, the development edit will make your sentences shine.

Step #2. Start thinking about marketing. You’ve spent a good amount of time, effort and dedication in creating your literary work. This is also a good opportunity to research and understand your audience. Who is the market for your idea? What genre is your book: fiction, memoir, non-fiction? What’s the sub-genre: fantasy, romance, sci-fi, self-help, mystery, psycho-thriller, comedy, etc.? Look into these subgenres to avoid joining an already saturated market, OR even better, figure out already-existing books similar to yours and what would make your work stand out.

Step #4. Have a sharp & smart design for your book cover. It’s believed that it only takes less than 10 seconds for a buyer to look at a cover and decide if they want to read the book. Obviously, your cover is a very important marketing element and shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you decide to design it yourself, some resources to help you are:

You can also pay a designer; there are hundreds of good ones available. If you have the funds, get two or three drafts from different designers and pick the best.

Step #5. Get an ISBN. International Standard Book Number is a unique 13-digit number that’s assigned to identify your book. As this is recognized around the globe, many libraries and booksellers require ISBN because it allows them to catalog, find, and order your book. This number is useful for writers in Australia as you’re required to lodge your published work in the National Library of Australia. Find out more about how much an ISBN will cost you at the Thorpe website.

You’d only need ISBN if you plan to print your book (paperback or hardcover), but if you prefer eBooks only, Amazon, for instance, has its own unique numeric identifier.

Step #6. Settle on a Price. Get ideas from other similar books in your genre. Get a gauge of how much they are because you’re reaching the same audience, your price should be closer to theirs. Second, take a cue from Amazon. Being arguably the leader in online book sales, the best pricing window on the platform is between $2.99 and $9.99. This gives you the most profit as this range allows you to keep 70% of the proceeds. However, if you price outside this range, you’d only get 35%. For instance, you’ll earn $6.99 from a $9.99 book, while you’ll get $7 from a $20 book.

Step #7. Get professional reviews. Strong reviews boost your book sales. Since readers like having assurance that others have enjoyed your book, reviews serve as badge of social proof that will motivate a skeptical reader to read your work. Before you begin marketing/selling your book, get reviewed first. How?

  1. Inquire from your writers’ community. If you’re a member of one or several, you can ask for their review. Check out this list of 11 top writing communities you should join and why.

  2. Ask a book blogger. These are avid readers who accept books from indie writers and review them on their blogs.

  3. Ask family and friends. You can do a soft-launch (where you publish it on a small scale) and ask them to leave their reviews directly on Amazon and other self-publish platforms you’re using, as well as on your book’s official website. It’s highly recommended that you create a webpage for your book where you can write your own blogs as part of promotion.

  4. Look at the top reviewers on Amazon and GoodReads (for your genre) and offer to send them a free copy. Don't forget that they may also write a bad review, so be prepared. Not everyone will love your work.

Step #8. Blog and book tours. As a writer who wants to exhaust every avenue to attain success, start your own blog where you write about topics that your audience will be interested in. Once you have your blog up, you can host blog tours. These are real book tours but done online. It’s meant to expand your readership around the world –and not merely within your local area. You can do interviews, giveaways, guest posts, and invite book bloggers/members of writer communities to be your tour participants and have them post their reviews on their websites. You’re doing this because you want to create as much conversations as possible about your book around the world. Ideally, this should last 4-6 weeks before release. If are still writing, or polishing, your book, start now!

Step #9. Paid promotions & ads. It’s crucial to have this way before your book goes on sale. You do this specifically to get the word out that your book is coming out and to get in front of people who you believe will be interested in pre-ordering your book (or, at least, who’ll be interested to get their copy when it’s out). Paid promotion doesn’t have to be expensive –simply have a solid promotion plan/schedule. Facebook, Insta, Twitter and google should all be considered. Start with a small budget and see which one works best for you.

Step #10. Printing. If you want to go beyond eBook version only, you can go POD (print on demand). With this, authors can upload their book files to a printing service and they churn out individual copies as/when they’re purchased. The cost is a little higher than traditional publishers’ printing methods, but the absence of risk makes this the preferred alternative for indie authors.

It’s a LOAD of work, but don’t give up! Always go back to where you’ve started: WHY you wrote your book. The world is waiting to see your brainchild launched!

Next time we'll look at how to publish a short story. Subscribe to Author Michel Dignand's website to get insights, publishing news, updates and free stories!


Content Credits: “How to Self Publish A Novel”