There are many ways to publish your book these days. They range from self-publishing to hybrid to traditional publishing. All three have pluses and minus. Let’s dive in and talk about the three most popular.
Self-publishing has become very popular today because of how easy it is to create, publish, and market our books. With a few tools and websites, you can bring your book to the world. You can do everything yourself or hire freelancers for the parts you can’t do.
The main reason for the ease of self-publishing is because of Amazon.com and print-on-demand. Amazon has worldwide reach, highly trusted for selling, and is free to use. Print-on-demand is one of the great inventions of our time. Books are only printed when someone actually orders it. Think of high-quality photocopying. For us, this means no inventory or shipping and we can sell out books to the world.
Marketing has also become much easier because of Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, websites, email, and social media.
Books have become pretty easy to create with software tools like MS Word, Adobe InDesign, and Photoshop
There are many other places to publish and sell your books but for this article, I focus mostly on Amazon.
Advantages of Self-Publishing
- No one can say no. If you want to publish your book, you can publish it.
- Faster to market. I have done books in one weekend. But in reality, several months is reasonable vs. one to two years for traditional publishing.
- Control of your content, you keep the copyrights and all other rights. This is super important.
- You can re-purpose your content for marketing. Create other products such as workbooks, and journals. Make podcasts or create courses from your book
- Free to publish or close to it. You pay the costs to edit, design, and format your book. Free if you do it yourself
- You will have to market your book yourself. But even with most publishers, you are going to have to market.
- Higher royalties
Amazon is The Main Web Platform for Self-Publishers.
- It is free to use through their KDP/Amazon service. https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
- You can publish both print, paperbacks, and e-books for the Kindle platform
- For print books, Amazon uses print-on-demand, which means a book is only printed when a buyer places an order for it. What this means to the author is no inventory or shipping, this is huge. Our job is to write books and sell books.
- For e-books, Amazon delivers a digital file to the Kindle book reader or app. Again, basically free to the author
- The book is displayed and ordered on the Amazon site.
- Amazon takes its cut and sends the rest to your bank.
- And most importantly, all rights remain with the author. You don’t have to give anything up.
- Amazon has a worldwide reach, which allows you to sell in many markets
- Amazon is one of the most trusted e-commerce sites in the world.
- Amazon only has paperback and e-books. If you want a hardcover book there are other places to go like IngramSpark or Barnes & Noble
Self-Publishing with Amazon
- Paperback or Kindle e-book
- Black/White or Color
- Sells on Amazon’s platform and expanded online distribution
- You retain your copyright
- Not sold in bookstores or retail, online only
- Free to use
Self-Publishing with Bookstores and Retail
- IngramSpark.com for publishing and distribution, Amazon does not distribute to stores. You need to be with a distributor
- Ingram can handle paperback, hardcover, hardcover with wraps, e-books.
- Some costs involved.
- Amazon can be one of your outlets for distribution
- Books can be returned, which the author pays for.
- Ingram is a traditional book distributor with traditional timeframes.
- Has a book catalog to help with marketing
- If you just want hardcover versions of your book but not deal with bookstores, Barnes & Noble Press is a good alternative. https://press.barnesandnoble.com/
- The author needs to think like a publisher, you will be doing all your marketing and sales to bookstores. I don’t recommend Ingram for first-time author/self-publishers.
Hybrid publishers bridge the gap between self-publishing and full-on traditional publishers. They offer the services of a publisher but generally you retain all your rights. Think of them as a super freelancer with experience and resources. They help you finish your book, edit it, layout, and formatting. Most have a pool of freelancers on call. They also help you launch and market your book. Cost can range from $3,000 to $50,000 and more.
Hybrid Publishers have become popular for very busy people that don’t want to get into the weeds creating, publishing, and launching their books. Professional speakers, politicians, professionals like lawyers, financial, doctors, and high net worth kinds of people use hybrid publishers.
Hybrid publishers’ services and costs and be very wide and varied. There are no standards. It is kind of like the old vanity presses but now with print-on-demand and Amazon. They can do some or all of your books. Do your homework and check recommendations. Anyone can be a hybrid publisher.
When we think publishing a book we usually first think of the traditional publishers that create the books we see in bookstores. That has changed a lot now with self-publishing. Self-publishing is popular because most of us can’t attract the attention of a traditional publisher and it is now so easy. In reality, unless you have a big public presence like a sports figure, politician, or media person you will not be able to go this route. Fortunately, we have self-publishing.
- You will need an agent to approach a publisher, period, end of question.
- Lots of people can and will say no to publishing your book.
- It can take a year or two to create and release your book.
- You lose your right to control your book’s content. Generally, for the life of the contract and the life of the print. With digital books, they never go out of print.
- You will not be able to re-purpose your content. The publisher owns your material. This is important in marketing your book. You want to be able to use your content however you want. Think t-shirts, mugs, calendars, podcasts, creating a course, a follow-on workbook.
- A publisher will do the production work for your project. Don’t pay a publisher to publish your book. See hybrid publishers above.
- You will most likely still have to handle all the marketing yourself. This can be a challenge because your publisher now controls your content and may not like your ideas. Books don’t sell themselves they have to be marketed.
Where Do I Start?
Many first-time authors start with an e-book. Write your book, edit, and format it. Then upload the interior and cover files to KDP/Amazon for publishing. You can write the book with MS Word or Google Docs, and use Kindle Create for formatting. For the cover, Canva.com can be a great resource. They have fantastic cover templates that are ready to go.
Personally, I find almost all my sales come from paperback books on Amazon. Other authors I know it is e-books. If you are doing a full-on book launch then think e-books, it is easier.
I write my books in MS Word or InDesign. Adobe Indesign is the industry standard for laying out your book interior and cover. But you can also use MS Word and PowerPoint. There are many outside services for editing, design, and layout. The more complicated you’re your book layout is, the more you will need programs like Indesign.
Tech Note: If you have photos in your book they all now need to be hi-res. This means 300dpi in resolution and for Amazon, RGB format, and IngramSpark, CMYK format. Black/white images can be grayscale. JPG or PNG file formats work fine. Your book designer can help you with these specs.
I also recommend starting with Amazon and either a paperback or e-book. Ideally, you should create your book in both formats. You don’t know which format your audience will like.
Barnes & Noble Press, https://press.barnesandnoble.com/
To learn more about publishing your own book check out my Self-Publishing SECRETS, Create, Publish and Launch Your Book Available in PDF.