Self-Publishing means you will do all the work, but you will receive all the royalties. The work includes finding the right editor for your manuscript. You have self-edited and are ready for the next steps, choosing your editor(s). There are four types, and depending on the quality of your manuscript you may or may not need all of them:
DEVELOPMENTAL editors provide detailed analysis of the story’s setting, plot, pacing, character development, and voice. They also do fact checking.
LINE editors go through every line looking for simpler ways of saying things, sentence structuring, unnecessary or missing words, redundancies.
COPY editors make sure the text is readable for publishing. They check syntax, punctuation, grammar, spelling, hyphenation, fonts, numbering consistency.
PROOFREADERS check for errors that may have slipped through the previous editing and ultimately okay the book for publishing.
NOTE: It is advisable to give your book one final read. It is your book. Some authors read their work aloud.
Book Formatting: Your manuscript is not ready for publishing until it has been put into book format. If you are skilled enough to use a computer program to do this, you may attempt it. You can also pay a formatter to convert your manuscript to book format for both e-books, and paperbacks.
Cover design: This is a critical part of the process. Your cover matters. Covers are designed in 3 segments and professional designers know how to create the BEST cover for your book utilizing the most effective backgrounds and images for your genre. Some genres will need a add a TAG LINE (A short catchphrase or slogan to attract readers attention). It is tempting and cheaper for you to create your cover from stock images, but a good cover designer can make the difference between FEW sales and MANY sales. Get references and examples of their work. Look at covers in your genre.
ISBNs: This 13-digit identifier is known as the International Standard Book Number. Bowker is the only company legally licensed to sell these identifiers to authors in the United States. The cost is $125 each, or a block of 10 is $295. Bowker does sell ISBNs to 3rd party purchasers who re-sell them to authors, but beware. The purchaser of an ISBN is the legal owner of the book publishing rights. These identifiers are not transferable. In order to retain publishing rights to your work, you should always obtain your ISBN from Bowker.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO PAY TO SELF PUBLISH?
Editing prices vary and are often based upon the number of words or estimated hours of work. Book formatting and cover design expenses can vary as well. The ISBN cost is fixed. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for these combined services.
SELF PUBLISHING VIA AMAZON KDP Publishing via AMAZON KDP is easy
You will need to set up a KDP account and then upload 3 documents: A formatted paperback PDF file, an e-book formatted file, and a book cover PDF file. KDP will lead you through their step-by-step process. Once your books have met their requirements, you can okay your books for sale. DO NOT sign off until you have ordered an Author Proof Copy to be sent to you. Proof it and then if you have no issues, release your book. Also, beware that if you opt to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, your e-book can only be available to KINDLE users and you cannot upload it to any other ebook platform such as Nook or Apple iBooks.
There is one downside to publishing solely via Amazon (KDP). Bookstores will not order stock from Amazon because the books are not returnable. This leads you to IngramSpark. When your book is available from Ingram, you may designate it as returnable so that bookstores may order your books for their inventory and for book events. When you own your ISBN, you can easily have your book made available from Ingram Spark as well as KDP, using the same ISBN. This can be done in one of two ways. You can upload your book to Ingram in the same manner as you did for KDP. An easier method is to request Ingram to process a Title Transfer from KDP. This process normally takes 30 days to complete. The only thing you must do is make sure your book is taken out of KDP Expanded Distribution. Your Amazon sales and appearance on the internet will not be impacted. You may also order author copies from either KDP or INGRAM.
INDEPENDENT AND SMALL PUBLISHERS
If you don’t want to self-publish and don’t want to wait for an agent/big publisher, there are also small or independent publishers. Small publishers are more nimble and can move a little faster than big publishing houses. As with anything in the publishing business: always do your homework. It is advised to have a lawyer read any contracts. Research what types of books they publish before even approaching them–do they sell books in your genre, and are they selling well? Do they have well-designed covers, can you use the “look inside” feature on Amazon and see if they look well written and well edited? It is important to note that true small and indie publishers should NEVER ask you for money. Just as with a big traditional publisher, they will edit, format, and publish your book for you. (If they are asking for money they could be a hybrid publisher, or simply a vanity publisher.)
These publishers combine elements of self-publishing and traditional publishing. They allow you to submit your manuscript to them and they evaluate whether to pursue publishing your work. You will be charged fees for their services that include editing, cover design, and marketing. These fees can range from $2,000 upward to five-digit numbers. The risks and rewards of signing with a hybrid publisher can be lucrative, or they can be costly. Find out all you can about a hybrid publisher before contracting with them. A lawyer reviewing the contract is always a good idea.
Regardless of whether you self-publish, or go the traditional, indie press, or hybrid route, you are still responsible for marketing your books. For self-publishers, know that Amazon only provides an online vehicle for purchasing books. YOU do all the marketing.
Beware of advertising ploys. Statistically, 90% of Indie Authors will not sell more than 300 books in their lifetime. Your chance of making money depends upon how aggressive you are at promoting yourself. This means navigating the computer waters of Facebook, blogging, websites, any type of social media advertising. Join Author groups and find events to attend. Schedule personal appearances. Authors often appear at libraries for book signings. However, most attendees if interested in your book, will not purchase it. They are library people, and will want to borrow it from the library. Find events that are lucrative. They can range from craft fairs to home shows where set-up fees vary.
About Mark L. Dressler
A former corporate manager and successful businessman, Mark began writing in 2014. He was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. His popular mysteries feature Dan Shields (The detective who breaks all the rules) and Lex Stall (Manhattan’s tenacious female detective). Dead and Gone (2017) and Dead Right (2019) feature Dan and take place in Hartford. The 3rd book in the Dan Shields series, Dead Wrong is scheduled for a January, 2022 release. Dying for Fame (2020) features Lex Stall with a cameo appearance from Dan Shields. In 2019, Mark was named a most notable author by the Hartford Courant and he has appeared on WTNH TV (Channel 8) in New Haven with Teresa Dufour on her well-known show CT STYLE. Mark has also been on FOX 61 TV in Hartford with Stan Simpson on his show, Real People.
Mark is proud to have been honored by THE BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL for his charitable donations from his books. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. Purchase his books on Amazon in kindle or paperback, or from any bookseller.