If you have a story you want to share, you can easily publish your work in popular electronic bookstores — and maybe even make a little money.
Have you ever dreamed of publishing your own e-book and making it big — like the best-selling authors Colleen Hoover and Andy Weir? Not everyone has such success, but plenty of writers have found an audience online with platforms, like Amazon Kindle Publishing and Barnes & Noble Press, that allow authors to freely upload their books and sell them. While you may not get as much exposure by skipping traditional publishing methods and releasing your book yourself, you do retain more control over your work and royalties, which can be up to 70 percent of the sale price. If you’re inspired, here’s a basic overview of the process.
Prepare Your Manuscript
You don’t need special software to write a book — pretty much any modern word-processing program will do — although some people find apps for organizing plots and characters useful. However, your text should be as mistake-free as possible, so take full advantage of any and all proofing tools you have. Apple’s Pages, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Zoho Writer and several other programs include spelling and grammar aids in their desktop editions; options may be more limited on mobile devices.
Google Docs is just one of the many word-processing apps you can use for writing your book. The Android version, shown here, and the browser-based Google Docs software include tools for proofreading and exporting your text into different file formats.Credit…Google
Some programs have add-ons that use artificial intelligence to analyze and suggest improvements to your writing; Zoho’s free Zia assistant and Microsoft’s new $30-a-month Copilot tool for its Office suite are two examples. Third-party A.I.-powered apps like Grammarly and ProWritingAid have free basic editions with the option to level up for additional help for $10 to $12 a month.
Grammarly is among the programs that use artificial intelligence to analyze and make suggestions for improving your writing.Credit…Grammarly
If you’d rather have a human advising you (and you have the budget for it), hiring a professional editor can also help improve your book. The American Copy Editors Society has a freelancer directory, and you can find editors available for hire on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
Design Your Book Cover
Even with a snappy title, a book cover with plain text on a plain background will probably get lost in a busy e-bookstore. Get readers to notice your work among the rows of competing books before they can even judge it.
If you are not a graphic designer and can’t afford to hire one, check your word-processing program for templates that you can to modify and use for your book. Apple’s Pages app, show here, offers several sample styles for book covers.Credit…Apple
If you go the D.I.Y. route, keep a few things in mind. First, do not use someone else’s copyrighted photos, illustrations or graphics without permission. If you use your own images, remember that e-book covers are tiny in online stores — so make the cover legible. The file size requirements will vary based on the e-book publisher(s) you choose to distribute your book, so keep the design flexible enough that you can adjust it as needed.
Pick a Publisher
When you have your text and art finished, choose an e-book publishing platform. Unless you agree to an exclusive deal with one publisher, you can upload your book to multiple e-bookstores, but programs like Amazon’s KDP Select require 90 days of Kindle-only distribution in exchange for special promotions.
Like the other e-bookstores, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site guides you through the process of uploading your files so you can start selling your work online. Amazon is among the companies that offer fee-based services for self-publishing physical books as well.Credit…Amazon
To get started, sign up for a free publishing account and then follow the instructions for formatting and uploading your manuscript and cover image. You also need to set a price and distribution area for your book, as well as account details for royalties earned.
Most publishers accept files in the .doc, .docx and .epub formats; the .epub format is a common standard for digital books. Apple’s Pages app for Mac, iOS or browser can also create books in the .epub format and publish directly to the Apple Books store via iCloud. And each platform gives you its specifications for the cover file size.
In addition to a cover that lures readers, you will need to write a book description of about 150 words. Briefly explain what your book is about, but do not give away too much. The description is like a speed-dating introduction between your book and a reader, so edit it carefully.
You need to add a description of your book so readers can get an idea of what it’s about — and hopefully be excited enough to click the Buy button.Credit…Amazon
Once you complete the registration and upload process, your e-book should appear for sale — usually within a day or two — in the store.
Self-publishing a book can be exciting, but it’s not for everyone. If you want help navigating the path to a finished book for sale, fee-based services from companies like Reedsy or BookBaby are yet another avenue.
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