What are the steps for self-publishing?

This is a question I’ve recently been asked. I had to stop and think about all the steps. I go through when I publish one of my books or patterns.

Become an expert in editing / grammar, graphic design, and MS Word or similar program….

Write your story, tell a great story. There’s no cost associated with that. Get beta (or alpha or whatever you want to call them) readers and encourage them to be honest – don’t get offended by what they tell you.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Smashwords have no upfront costs to use their services. These are the two I use and am aware of how they work.

The process for self publishing – okay remember you asked:

  • write your book
  • edit your book (unless you are a grammarian, pay for editing)
  • create a cover (unless you are artistic or a graphic designer pay for a good quality cover)
  • research the genre to determine what is commonly used – covers, tropes, and so much more
  • Start marketing your book – do a cover reveal, talk about the book, put excerpts and the blurb on social media
  • prep your files – This list is for ebooks – I have a different list for paperbacks – I have a spreadsheet that I keep track of all the steps but it goes something like this:
    • make a backup copy (do this – do not skip this step because if you mess up than you have a copy to go back to and start over)
    • copy into Word Pad or Notepad to remove all the extra crap Word (and other programs) put into the files.
    • Copy from Word or Notepad back into a Word (I use Word so I’m going with that – you can use whatever program you want).
    • Create your front matter (title page, copyright page, navigation etc, back matter, and do your formatting like making sure the chapters are start on a new page.
    • If you’ve got pictures, make sure they’re in the right format.
    • Make sure you’ve got your blurb written and key words selected
    • Make sure you don’t have more then 4 paragraph returns in one location (smashwords criteria – KDP may be different).
    • Use a standard font – times new roman is the best
    • Build in your navigation
    • Make sure your cover fits the criteria required – right size, right number of pixels, and nothing crossing into the area the publisher won’t print
    • Since I pub in both KDP & Smashwords, I prep three files – ebook files for both companies and paperback files.
  • Start the upload process. If you’re lucky this goes smoothly – don’t count on luck.
  • Marketing – announce the arrival of the book and promote it. If you can afford ads and know what you’re doing dive in. If you don’t know what you’re doing hold back and do free marketing things like donating, book talks and so on.
  • Once uploaded wait impatiently for KDP & Smashwords to approve them. Like the watched pot – the watched book is never approved.
  • Marketing – look for interviews and other opportunities to talk about your book – tell your friends – have the 30 sec approach to selling your book practiced.
  • Once they are uploaded – MARKET.
  • Watch your accounts nervously for your first sale, scream ridiculously when you get your first sale. Text, email, and tell all your people – and their people and … well you get the idea – that you have a book out!
  • Wait for the second sale, scream again – maybe not so ridiculously
  • MARKET – are you getting the hint yet?

That’s the process roughly. There are a lot of little steps involved in these bigger ones.

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