Looking to join the ranks of self-published authors? Overwhelmed by all the steps from here to there? I’ll tell you how to make it happen in 10 (mostly) simple steps! How long those 10 steps takes will depend entirely on your motivation level (and your willingness to ask for help when you find yourself in over your head. Notice I said when, not if).
1. Decide what software you want to use to write in. Scrivener is the program I use to write in and would recommend to anyone, however there are some others that work well also. In the end, you will have to decide what features are most important to you. When deciding on a software program to use, you will want to consider what options it has for exporting files. The ideal program will export into the type of file that you will need to import into your e-formatting software (see step 3 below). Note: Scrivener’s has a free trial download if you want to try before you buy, like I did.
2. Write the story (book, short story, whatever). Obviously, you can’t publish what you haven’t written. It’s good to have a plan, but don’t spend so much time thinking/planning/dreaming that you neglect to get the story written. Don’t forget to edit your work and allow others to read it as well. They will see things you missed, no matter times you look at it.
3. Purchase e-formatting software. I use Jutoh. It was user-friendly and came recommended by others I know who e-format their own books. One of the best things about Jutoh…I was able to go through the entire process using the free trial download and then I bought the software once I completed the process. (I wasn’t convinced I would actually be able to do this so I didn’t want to pay for it until I knew it wouldn’t be too complicated for little ole’ me.)
4. Export out of word processing software and into e-formatting software. In Scrivener, this is quite easy. I compiled my story and saved in a .odt file, which is one of Jutoh’s preferred file types for importing. Make sure that whatever software you choose has GOOD instructions, you will need them.
5. Format your book using whatever e-formatting software you decide on. Look for an article discussing the specific steps involved in e-formatting using Jutoh. The basics for Jutoh, though, are this: Import, Compile, Check, Launch, Export. Their instruction guide is very detailed and available for free. Keep it handy while you are formatting you will need it.
6. Decide what platforms you want to publish on. Amazon, Draft 2 Digital, Smashwords, etc. Different options and possibilities exist for each. Look for more info on the pro’s and con’s of these different options in a future article. Whichever one(s) you decide on, they will have different requirements for the type of document it will accept for uploading.
7. Compile your book and export (in Jutoh, if that’s what you used) into .mobi file for Amazon KDP and .epub for virtually every other platform. There will be some technical steps here that will allow you to design your own cover and also look for errors in your formatting.
8. Set up accounts on the various platforms that you plan on using. You will need your banking info as well as your tax info like your social security number.
9. Upload the appropriate file to the individual platforms, set price and other distribution options. Most take a couple of days for your book to actually go live, but Smashwords was available right away.
10. Pat yourself on the back and tell all your friends that you have self-published your story. Most of them will be happy to support your endeavor. Enjoy the moment because you have accomplished something quite extraordinary. Then go write some more. Don’t, I repeat don’t, obsessively watch the number of downloads from each of the sites…you will drive yourself insane. Do feel free to check them once a day. It is really fun watching the number grow.
Now you are published, how do you market yourself? That’s a whole different story for a whole different day! A great blog for more details on self-publishing is A Newbie’s Guide to Self-Publishing. You’ll also find many options for marketing and other self-publishing tips at learnselfpublishingfast.com.
Final Tip: Don’t be intimidated by the technical stuff.
Now, Go Forth and Publish!