Whether you're an aspiring novelist or a small-business owner who wants to educate your customers on your products and services, you may have thought about self-publishing a book. E-books in particular can be relatively cost-effective to produce, getting your work into the hands of readers and customers faster than if you used traditional publishers. However, if you forgo mainstream publishing houses, you also pass up their professional services. This means you have to do all the editing, formatting, marketing and promotion of your book yourself.
Editing Your Manuscript
You won't have a professional editor at a publishing house reviewing your work, but this is no excuse to skimp on editing and proofreading. You may be able to find a friend to do this work for you, or you can hire a professional to do the work on a contract basis. Reviews from readers take high priority for self-published authors. If your book is riddled with typos, readers will point this out in negative reviews and your sales may suffer as a result.
Selecting a Distribution Service
Once you have a clean, error-free manuscript, search online to find the self-publishing company or distribution service you want to use. Which service you choose will depend on where you want your book to be available. Some online retailers have their own exclusive e-book production services, but other independent services enable you to place your e-book at a number of websites. Additionally, some self-publishing companies offer their own professional editing, formatting or cover design services. If you think you'll need those services, that's something to consider when you're looking for a distributor.
Cover Design and Formatting
You want the cover of your e-book to look good both in thumbnail images and in full-size on your readers' tablets. You can have something custom-designed, or you can license a stock image. Either way, make sure your image is professional and high-resolution so it can be optimized cleanly in different sizes and formats. Because different tablets use different formats, you also need to convert your text to match the formats and sizes used by the distributor you've chosen. You can download free or inexpensive conversion software, or hire someone if you're uncomfortable doing it yourself.
Marketing and Promotion
Traditional publishing houses take care of promoting your book and getting reviews in mass media outlets. If you're self-publishing, though, you have to do this work yourself. Promote your book through any blogs or social media accounts you have. You can also purchase online advertisements through search engines and other websites to target people you think would be interested in reading your book.
Print on Demand
Many self-publishing companies give you the option of having your book in print in addition to producing an e-book. Rather than making you buy a number of copies up front, the book is printed when a customer orders it. Print books have their own formatting requirements, and you'll have to purchase an ISBN. Many distributors offer an ISBN for free, but the distributor will be listed as the publisher of your book. Buy your own ISBN from a third party if you want to be listed as the publisher.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.