If you’ve ever wanted to write and self publish a book, but thought you couldn’t – I’m here to tell you that you can.
I’ve written and self published six books so far. But just four years ago, I had no idea where to begin.
I always dreamed of writing a book since I was little. But like most people, that dream involved my book being published by a traditional publishing company. My dream involved waiting for someone else to say yes.
Why do we hand over our destiny to other people like that?
Lucky for me, as a freelance writer, I built up a catalogue of articles with various platforms and publications. One of those publications also published books, and asked me in 2016 if I wanted to write one.
Fuck yeah I did.
Bloom continues to sell well, and I’m incredibly proud of that first book.
But after that book was published, I chose to write and self-publish the ones after.
The benefits of self publishing vs. traditional publishing
Being traditionally published is still many writer’s dream.
Having experienced both options, I can tell you they both have different advantages.
The advantages of being traditionally published:
- The book cover design, editing & formatting are taken care of
- They usually have a large network & connections which can mean more exposure for you and your book
- They can easily get your book into physical book stores
The advantages of self publishing:
- You have 100% control over the entire process of your book
- You keep 100% of the royalties you make
- The price of the book can be set and changed by you any time
- You can choose who you work with (editors, formatters, designers)
- It’s much quicker
The problem with the traditional publishing method is they will usually only publish books by people who already have a large audience. Because they want to know they can sell lots of copies and make money.
And I get it. At the end of the day, they’re a business.
Not everyone has a guaranteed large audience of fans who will buy their book.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have an incredible book inside you that people would love to read.
I believe that every woman has a story to tell. And I’m tired of these stories not being heard.
So if you have a book you want to write and self publish – this guide was written for you.
Here’s how to write and self publish a book in 10 simple steps
1. Unleash your creativity
Many of us desire to write a book, but most of us don’t ever do it.
Because we’re creatively blocked. This is usually because of fears, doubts, and self-sabotaging habits we allow to rule us.
Creativity is an innately feminine energy. But it’s not valued by our society. And many women don’t prioritise their desire to create. They’re taught it’s a waste of time, so they believe it is.
But it’s not.
And even if you think you’re not creative, I want you to know you are. We all are.
We all have creative energy flowing through us. But sometimes this energy gets stuck. And that leaves us feeling like we can’t create a damn thing.
I’ve been there.
So what do you do to get your creative energy flowing again?
Make time to do anything. And everything.
Try something new. Paint. Sing. Dance. Do some yoga. Swim. Doodle. Collage. Play. Hang out with new people. Go to a music festival. Journal. Get outside and explore new places. Bake something.
If you find something that brings you joy, keep doing it.
Keep going until you clear out all the stuck energy.
This is how you unleash your creativity, wild woman.
2. Design a daily writing practice you love
If you really want to self publish a book, then you need to be serious when it comes to the writing part.
An average non-fiction book is around 30,000 words, while an average fiction book is around 70,000.
That might sound like a lot, but when you break it down into smaller sections, it doesn’t seem as daunting.
That’s why a daily writing practice is so important. Figure out a window of time in your day when you can sit down and write without distractions.
When you do something every day, it quickly becomes a habit – something you do without even thinking about it.
Even if you can only commit to writing 200 words each day, or for 10 minutes. That’s better than nothing.
And the act of showing up every day and writing will help motivate you and create momentum to get you to the finish line.
3. Write your book
Once you’ve established a daily writing practice, it’s time to start writing your book.
- Start by getting all your ideas out onto paper.
- Find themes within your ideas, and start grouping them together.
- Use these groups to form a rough chapter outline
- Start writing!
Take it one step at a time. Don’t let the bigger picture overwhelm you.
If writer’s block ever shows up, take some time to check in with yourself and reflect on why.
- Are you allowing fear to take over?
- Are you creatively blocked, and in need of more inspiration?
- Maybe you’re not making time for this project, and you need to remind yourself why you started?
Keep writing until you’ve completed the first draft of your book.
And remember to celebrate when you do! We don’t do this enough.
Don’t forget to give it a thorough read through and self-edit before moving on to find an Editor.
4. Hire an amazing Editor
All of my books are aimed specifically at women. So when I was searching for an editor for my first self-published book, I chose to look for a female editor.
This was because I knew she would have a great understanding of my target audience, and it was important to me that she believed in the message of my book.
First, see if you know any editors, or any friends of friends who are in the publishing business. Ask them to recommend someone.
I didn’t know anyone. So I set a budget and time frame, and put an advert up on Upwork. I received a bunch of replies, and picked the person I resonated with most from their responses.
It’s safer to pay someone a smaller amount to edit the first few pages or chapter, and see if you’re happy with their work before committing to working with them.
I didn’t do this and was lucky Caitlin was amazing – but I’d recommend getting them to complete a trial first. This helps your editor ensure they’re happy to work with you too.
I usually end up doing two to three rounds of edits before I’m happy that everything is as good as it can be.
5. Decide on a book title and subtitle
There’s no tried and tested formula to this part. And I would avoid the advice of people who tell you to stuff your book title with keywords.
The best approach I’ve found is to jot down all my ideas on paper, and play around with them. Keep going until you have a few you like, or a stand out winner. Ask a couple of people to give you their thoughts.
Do they understand what the book is about from the title?
This is key. If they don’t, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Don’t worry if there are already books published with the same title as yours. This is actually a good sign, because it means more people might accidentally find your book while searching for someone else’s.
6. Find a great book cover Designer
I would start with your immediate network again when trying to find a book cover designer.
The next option is to reach out to an artist or designer you like, and see if they have the time available to work creating a custom design for you. Instagram is great for finding amazing designers and illustrators.
You’ll also need to know what your budget is. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you might want to look for a designer on Fiver – but ensure whoever you hire is able to produce a high quality design.
You don’t want your book cover to look cheap or poor quality. It’s true what they say, people do judge a book by its cover.
If you have a larger budget, a better option is 99 designs. You can set a budget upwards from around £150, and pick from a host of design entries from various designers.
The best book covers are ones that are unique and stand out from the crowd. But it’s also important that the title is clear and visible – especially when you’re looking at a tiny image on Amazon.
7. Get your book formatted
a. Formatting your ebook
Once you’ve completed your book and it has been fully edited, it’s time to get your book formatted into an epub or mobi file. This is necessary for publishing your ebook on Amazon, and other e-book stores.
If you really want to learn how to do this yourself, you can download a free software called Calibre. You upload your word document, and it will convert it to a coded e-book version. But it does take a bit of time to understand how it works, and you will need to use code if you want to make any changes to your format.
I personally save myself the time, and hire someone to format it for me. Someone who knows what they’re doing can do this fairly quickly for you, and it doesn’t cost much. Fiverr & Upwork are great places to hire someone to do this for you.
b. Formatting your paperback book
Formatting your paperback book takes a bit more time, which means it will be more expensive.
First, you’ll need to figure out what size you want your finished book to be. This is called the trim size. Once you’ve decided this, you can then instruct your formatter on the trim size required. You can find templates for all trim sizes on KDP.
Someone who knows what they’re doing won’t have any trouble formatting your paperback book for you. So take some time to make sure you’re hiring someone who has proven experience, and understands what you want.
I formatted my first two self published books myself, and I can tell you it was challenging to say the least! It took a lot of time figuring out how to set up the margins and gutter accordingly, how to insert custom fonts correctly, and properly format the headers and page footers.
My advice would be to invest the money, save yourself the headache, and hire someone who does this all the time.
You’ll need to upload your formatted paperback book to KDP, and order a test copy to check you’re happy with everything before approving it.
There’s nothing quite like holding a copy of your very own book in your hands for the first time! Do a happy dance and enjoy this moment – you deserve it.
8. Create a KDP account
The next step to self publish a book is to create a KDP account. This allows you to self-publish your ebook and paperback book, and sell it on Amazon.
It’s totally free to sign up and create your own account. Once you do, you can then upload your book to KDP, and fill out all the required information (title, author, description, pricing etc.)
You can upload your book, and save it as a draft until you’re ready to hit publish.
Upload your ebook to Draft2Digital
If you want your ebook to be sold on other platforms including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo & Scribd; then you can use a handy platform called Draft2Digital to do this.
Simply sign up for a free account, upload your book, fill out all the details, and save for later when you’re ready to hit publish.
9. Decide on a launch strategy
Create a team of soul sisters to help you
The best way to launch a book is to create a team of people who believe in your book, and are ready and willing to help you sell it.
Usually, a book team will get a digital (or print) copy of your book to read before your launch date, in exchange for leaving an honest review on Amazon.
Reviews really help to boost your book up the rankings in Amazon, get more views, and ultimately sell more books. The more you can get, the better.
Will you pre-sell your book?
You might decide you want to launch your book on Amazon ahead of the actual release date, and entice people to pre-order it.
This can work well if you have an audience already who you know are interested in buying your book. If you don’t, then this option probably won’t be suitable for you.
Decide if you want to do a free promo
KDP also allows you to create a free promo for your book, where it becomes free to download for up to 5 days.
Some people use this as a tactic to encourage lots of downloads when they first publish, which can boost your book’s rankings when the book switches over to being in the paid store.
The downside is, you are allowing the world to download your book for free, which can lose you sales and also make your book seem “cheap.”
10. Hit publish
So you’ve poured your heart and soul into writing a book. You’ve gotten it edited, formatted, and created an amazing cover for it. You’re all set on a launch strategy.
All that’s left now is to pick a day to publish, head to your KDP account and hit publish!
Tell the world that you’ve just published a book. This will help create a buzz, and hopefully lead to more downloads and sales. Plus, you’re awesome. The world should know about it.
Celebrate: you’re published!
Congratulations – you are now a published author!
You’ve done what so many people dream of doing, but never achieve.
Take some time to reflect on this process, and all that you’ve accomplished.
And now you have all the steps, you can continue writing and self publishing your second and third books, and beyond.