Make Money By Self-Publishing

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Getting Your Book Published In Electronic Format
Making The Transition To Paperback Format

Nowadays literally anybody can be a published author, both in e-book and paperback formats, without paying a penny. Yet until about five years ago the idea of writing and publishing a book was, for most, unthinkable, and something that relatively few could ever hope to achieve.

For a start, you would have needed to be able to motivate yourself to write an entire book with no guarantee you would be able to find a company willing to accept it. Then you would have to spend extensive time and effort trying to seek out a publisher, usually at best receiving lots of letters of rejection, and at worst not hearing back at all. Not to mention the fact that you would need to have good enough literary skills in the first place to be in the elite class of people that publishers would even consider.

There was of course always the 'vanity publishing' route, where you could spend thousands getting a book published, which you would then have to market yourself, only to find almost invariably that remortgaging your house probably wasn't the best idea after all.

Then came the e-book reader, which changed everything. Suddenly e-books were no longer confined to the computer screen and became a more convenient and arguably more enjoyable way to read a book. Even better is that there were no overheads involved in publishing a book in this format due to the fact that everything was electronic.

As the e-book's popularity has grown in recent years, an increasing number of major platforms have arisen which allow you to publish your content for free - Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) being the most popular and best known of these. And the process is a lot easier than you might think.

But I'm Not An Author!

Before you dismiss the idea of self-publishing because you don't think of yourself as an author, it's worth realising that the entire definition of the word has changed somewhat. Well, maybe not the actual definition of the word, but at least people's perception of it.

Anybody who regularly buys e-books knows that a great deal of them are self-published and do not necessarily expect a book to be a work of literary genius. You do not need to be an excellent writer, you simply need to have an idea you want to communicate and then do this in your own way.

Getting Your Book Published In Electronic Format

If you're new to the scene then Amazon's KDP Platform is probably the best place to start as it's not only the biggest, but its publishing guidelines are also the easiest to follow.

KDP charges nothing to register, nor to publish books. Once your book is published (which typically takes less than 24 hours once you have uploaded your book) it is made available worldwide on Amazon, at whatever price you choose. Every time anybody purchases your book you get 70%, while Amazon take the other 30%.

Amazon does have some formatting guidelines that you need to adhere to when publishing e-books, but they're fairly easy to follow and there are plenty of good guides out there to help. Self Publishing Made Easy by Ben Craddock is a useful place to get started as it takes you step-by-step through the entire process, and you can also get Amazon's formatting guidelines for free here.

When uploading your book Amazon also gives you the opportunity you to opt in to their KDP Select programme (also free). This makes your e-book available for people who are subscribed to KDP Select to borrow your book, and each time they do you will receive commission for it. It's worth bearing in mind that if you do opt in for this you can't publish your book in electronic format anywhere else while it's listed in the programme, as part of their terms.

Assuming you're not enrolled in KDP Select, in order to gain maximum exposure you may want to publish your e-book on other platforms as well. The easiest way to do this is to publish with Smashwords. As well as listing your book on their website, they also act as distributors to make your e-book available to a number of major stores including Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Sony.

The annoying thing is that not all e-book stores have the same formatting guidelines as Amazon, so you will need to reformat everything first. There are of course guides to doing this on Smashwords' website. There is also a very useful e-book by David Robinson available here for those who need more detailed instructions.

Making The Transition To Paperback Format

Not only is publishing your book in electronic format a free process, you can now have your book in print too, without having to fork out any cash and with little additional effort. Amazon's Createspace offers the ideal facility for you to do this.

Much the same as KDP, Createspace makes your book available across the world through Amazon, at whichever price you set. They provide you with a document template for you to insert your book content into and the whole process is fairly straightforward.

Commission rates are naturally lower due to Amazon's expenses of having to print and send the book, particularly if it contains colour pictures, however as is normal with paperbacks you can just set the price higher to account for this.

For those who have already written an e-book Createspace is an absolute no brainer. Selling your book in paperback can massively increase sales and make your title available to a much wider audience, particularly if you sign up for Expanded Distribution.

If you choose to opt for Expanded Distribution (for a one-off payment of $25) Amazon will make your book available to major distributors, most notably Ingram, the upshot of which is that any retailers will be able to get hold of your book. This is good news for anybody hoping to market their book away from the internet to have it stocked in book shops, who will be able to purchase it at a discounted rate from Ingram.

There are downsides to this. Firstly, most publishers offer books on a 'sale or return' basis to retailers, so they can buy with the confidence that if they don't sell a book they can return it to the publisher. Createspace don't currently offer this and some retailers won't stock books that don't offer sale or return.

Secondly, making your book available in this way means that online book sellers can obtain your book at a discounted rate, typically around 40% lower than its regular price. This means they can afford to undercut you through Amazon's marketplace, which means some are likely to buy it from them instead, resulting in a lower commission rate for you.

Had any experience of self-publishing? Share your comments below.

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