How to Self-Publish a Successful Book

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It takes time, hard work, and dedication to make it in the self-publishing industry, so independent authors have to learn everything they can about it, from manuscripts and queries to design and marketing. Unlike in traditional publishing, you’re responsible for everything, which can make the process daunting. 

Of course, you don’t have to do it all yourself—you can hire professionals to expertly handle certain elements of the process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, head over to our services for authors for help throughout your self-publishing journey, from developing your manuscript to marketing packages. To learn more about what makes a successful self-published book, keep reading. 

Finalize your manuscript and design

What you’ve heard is true: You have to actually write and finalize your manuscript before you can publish a book. One of the most important steps to producing a successful manuscript is editing. Don’t get cocky and skip this step just because you aced every spelling test in school— even the world’s top authors entrust their work to professional editors to take it to the next level.

Start with self-editing your manuscript, then send it off to a professional editor for developmental editing and paragraph and sentence editing, following this up with beta readers. Developmental editing addresses “big picture” issues, such as plot holes, character development, and other problems related to the plot, structure, and cohesion of the story. Once the content is all ironed out, you can move on to copy editing, which examines linguistic issues—everything from grammar and spelling mistakes to awkward phrasing and overuse of the passive voice. 

The final stage is enlisting beta readers, who, much like beta testers for software, go through your book, identify any remaining issues, and offer feedback. Allowing other people to read your manuscript is the best way to get constructive notes and criticism that will only improve your writing, so even though it can feel scary to open yourself up in that way, it’s a necessary step if you want to write the best possible version of your book. 

Despite what we’ve all been told, what’s on the outside also counts. From typesetting to cover design, the way your book looks is almost as important to readers and publishers as what’s on the inside, so don’t neglect its appearance. Part of that design includes the description—what traditionally goes on the back of the printed book—which should be optimized and leave a lasting impression since it’s the first thing a reader will check out after the title. 

When self-publishing an eBook, you also have to take the extra step of checking the technical criteria of your publishing platform before uploading the final version of your file. If you don’t format your eBook properly, eReaders may not be able to process it, so you have to follow the specifications to a T.

Publish your book

In self-publishing, choosing the release date and sticking to it are solely the author’s responsibility, so pick wisely. Setting a specific release date will create suspense and heighten expectations, but only if you stick to it, so don’t delay or change that date unless it’s absolutely inevitable. You may want to wait until your book is ready for publication to ensure there are no unexpected setbacks that can delay the release. Don’t just choose any random date: The specific date or time of year you select can make or break your release, so remember that timing is key. 

If there are any internationally recognized dates that connect to your genre or your story is related to a particular season of the year, time your release to coincide with what’s already on the global agenda. Releasing a book on the same date as a big author’s new novel comes out, in an election week, or on an unrelated holiday can be detrimental to your success, so plan accordingly. 

As an independent author, it’s usually entirely up to you to set the price of your book, and it needs to be fair to both you and the reader. Research what similar books are selling for (same genre, similar page count, same level of notoriety), and price yours within that range. Although offering discounts or freebies can boost your sales, you don’t want to sell yourself (or your book) short. If you price your work too low, it may even have an adverse effect because people may assume there’s something wrong with it.

Market your book

As if writing and publishing your book weren’t hard enough, you also have to market it. In fact, marketing is probably the most important step to ensuring your book’s success because no one is going to buy it if they don’t know it’s out there. Your amazing novel isn’t likely to be discovered all on its own, which means you have to spread the word. 

Doing thorough market research to learn more about your target audience and how to reach them is essential to a successful marketing campaign, which must include social media promotion, whether organic or paid. Book reviews can also be a marketing treasure trove, so seek out some popular book influencers in your genre and offer a free copy of your book in return for a review. Mine your personal and professional networks as much as possible to let the world know about your new book, and make it as easy as you can for people to buy it online. 

No one said self-publishing was easy, but it’s definitely possible to find success in it—you just can’t give up on yourself. It can seem daunting to go through this entire process without a big agent or publisher to back you up, but you can make it happen with a little bit of help and guidance at the right times while retaining full creative freedom. Check out our services for authors, which offer everything from cover design to eBook formatting, to make your self-publishing journey as smooth and successful as possible. 

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