How to Publish Your Own Book

After sharing that I self-published my most recent book a number of questions came in from people considering doing the same.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. You need to write the book. I get some of my best writing done at night with a TV show or movie on in the background. Others prefer to write in the morning or listen to music.

Whatever your writing process looks like, my only piece of advice is to make it a routine. Carve out some time every single day to write, even if what you write is subpar. You have to work out that writing muscle on a regular basis.

Step 2. You need to edit the book. I wrote my book using Google Docs. That way I could share my outline and the actual draft of the book with numerous people who could read it, edit it and provide comments all done electronically.

Some people gave thoughts as I was writing my outline and draft. Others made comments when the draft was finished. It helped to get feedback along the way so I didn’t get too attached to anything I wrote.

If you don’t have any trusted readers in your life you can (and probably should) outsource this to a paid professional.1 I can read something I write 100 times and completely miss an error whereas someone with fresh eyes can come in and notice it immediately.

Step 3. You need to sign up for an account with Kindle Direct PublishingAmazon’s self-publishing platform is impressive and relatively easy to use. They have tutorials on everything you need to know about publishing an ebook or paperback (or both) through their service.

Barnes & Noble Press offers a similar service but it’s clear the vast majority of book readers buy through Amazon these days.

Step 4. You need to format the book. Amazon has templates available for creating the right format for a paperback book if you want to do it on your own. This is something you can outsource but I actually did this myself just to have some control over how things looked.

Just know that you may have to play around with the formatting after uploading your final draft because it doesn’t always translate perfectly to Amazon’s system.

Step 5. You need to hire someone to put it in ebook format. Formatting for the ebook version is much harder because there are links and such involved. I wouldn’t know where to begin with this one so I outsourced it to Upwork.

I think I paid somewhere in the range of $100-$150 for this and it was money well spent. My past books have been roughly 85/15 in terms of paperback to ebook purchases but it appears this one is closer to 70/30 so more people are switching to the digital version.

I didn’t figure out an Audible version but may do so in the future.

Step 6. You need a cover design. Amazon does give you a tool where you could design your own cover but this is another step in the process I outsourced. You have to know the correct dimensions for the paperback copy for this.

This cost me around $100.

Step 7. You need to upload everything and set a price. Once you have your finished draft all edited and formatted just the way you want and your book cover ready to go, you can upload everything into the KDP system.

It’s a fairly simple process. First you upload the cover and fill in some information about the book, including a short description for Amazon’s listing.

Then you upload the manuscript (I did this using a Word doc). It is important that you go through their previewer page by page to make sure your formatting lines up because sometimes it can be off slightly, requiring you to go back into your original draft and make some spacing changes.

After you hit ‘approve’ on the preview it’s time to set pricing. There is a minimum price Amazon forces you to set because they have production costs they have to recoup. After those costs are taken care of, you split whatever is leftover with Mr. Bezos (60/40 for a paperback and 70/30 for an ebook).

And once you hit publish you’ll be amazed at how quickly that book is ready to go. Amazon typically takes 24-48 hours to approve and then it’s up for sale.

I ordered a few copies of the paperback to inspect before telling anyone the book was live just in case there were any further errors (and there almost always are).

Step 8. You need to market the book. You’re on your own when it comes to drumming up sales for your book. You can actually pay Amazon to run promotions for the book but I’ve never tried this before.

Step 9. You need to set the right expectations. I’ve seen stats in the past that say the average self-published author sells an average of 250 books. So don’t expect to get rich on this type of thing.

In fact, when you add it all up in terms of the hours you put into it, most books pay out far less than minimum wage.

Writing a book is not a glamorous process so make sure this is something you really want to do.

It could be because it’s a topic or story you absolutely have to write about. Or it could be a point of personal pride that you have a book out in the world for all to see.

Many in the finance business see a book as something of a business card or a way to get a foot in the door for some speaking gigs as a way to prove your expertise.

Whatever your reasoning, just go into it with low expectations. If you surpass them, that’s icing on the cake.

Further Reading:
The Beauty of Outsourcing

1I personally use Upwork to find freelancers.