August 29, 2016

When it comes to the “publishing” in DIY Publishing, you’ve already done all the hard parts. Now that you’ve got all the pieces in place, the final step is basically clicking a button. Ok, a little more than clicking a button. But you’re to rock ebook publishing in no time.

Accounts

The first step to publishing your book is to set up an account with every distributor you want to use.

Whether you use each of these distributors, use only some of them or go with KDP Select is a whole other conversation. For now, here are the links you can use, or not, at your discretion.

  • Amazon KDP
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Google Books
  • iBooks
  • Kobo
  • Smashwords
    Smashwords can upload your book to several of the other vendors for you. But you may have to wait for it be approved and everything is DRM-free. Personally, I’d rather do it myself since uploading the book to the other vendors isn’t difficult. And by handling it myself I have complete control over the book details, access to my sales numbers and don’t have to worry if a vendor ends their contract with Smashwords.

I highly recommend using your company email address for all the accounts and a different password than you use for your personal accounts. You may end up with multiple accounts with Google, Amazon, etc. but it’s another layer of the division between your corporate self and personal self.

Also, part of your account creation will involve providing your name (again I recommend using your company for all this information), PO Box address and business account for direct deposit of your revenue.

ePub Format

Most digital distribution channels accept the ePub format so it’s simplest to work with, rather than creating multiple files for different distributors. Though you may not have worked with it before, ePub is actually not that scary if you know even a little bit of html and css.

I prefer calibre for my ePub conversion because it’s so simple and easy to use.

  • First, download the free software.
  • Then it’s simple to upload your Word document.
  • Review and correct the meta data calibre has stored about your book.
  • Upload your cover image.
  • Click the button to convert the file type and choose ePub.
  • Review the details on each of the tab for conversion, but personally I don’t alter much.
    Most of the technical stuff I leave alone. Any changes I make are stylistic like choosing whether the Table of Contents is in the front or back, whether it looks at the first image in the file for the cover (I choose no since that’s my title image).
  • Then click convert.

Once the conversion is complete you can edit your epub document. Clicking on a file will open a tab for it where you can see the code. You’ll see it’s basically html with some css formatting so if anything looks funny or is spaced badly, you can alter it. I generally click on each file (which equates to each chapter and each section) and quickly scan it for consistency and for anything that stands out. Especially pages with images, the chapter beginnings and ends and the different front and back matter sections.

If you want to double check yourself, this is a tool to check your epub for errors. And if you’re images don’t look quite right, this is good information about formatting images for epubs.

You can also edit the ToC if a section is missing or you want to rename it.

Once you save your document, you can open it in calibre and do a second scan through the book (instead of the code).

If you’ve taken care of all the book formatting previously, there’s nothing else you need to do before uploading your file.

Ebook Publishing

While there are basic similarities with the different distributors, each is a bit different and may change between the writing of this and when you’re trying to upload your document. So, I won’t go into exact detail.

I will say that each vendor will ask for basic information about your book including your book title, synopsis, your author bio, ISBN and keywords for your novel.

There will be a place to upload your cover and then your book file.

And you’ll need to determine the price for your book and the countries where it will be available.

Once you’ve entered and uploaded everything you need, it generally takes 24-48 hours for the material to be made live. If you’re doing all of this before your “publish” date then you can usually set a live date at some point in the future. Some distributors will also allow pre-order so you can market before your book’s release.

iBooks

iBooks requires you to have a Mac in order to upload your book. You can modify it from a PC afterward, but the initial upload (at this point in time) has to be from a Mac.

Apple also has the most convoluted upload system because you have to create yourself as a user and assign yourself a role and several other steps.

Amazon Keywords

When you’re entering the categories for your book, Amazon uses the BISAC codes but those don’t correlate with the categories and sub-categories you’ll see when browsing through the KDP store.

In order to place your book in the desired categories you need to select the correct keywords. You can reference this help topic for more information and links for the specific keyword needed for different Amazon categories. This will ensure your book is included in searches correctly.

Download and Review

This is my favorite pre-release trick. It works particularly well for your first book when no one is looking – less well if you have fans clamoring for your book or if you’re doing a pre-order.

First, price your book at $.99 even if that’s not what you want to sell it for.

Then, download the app for each distribution vendor on the smallest device you can find. I recommend an iPhone 5 or SE with a 4″ screen (or even the iPhone 4 with the even smaller 4″ screen if you can find one).

Buy your book for $.99 from each vendor and read it on that small device.

I know you’ve read it a hundred times. Your editor has read it a dozen more. You’ve reviewed every character in the formatting step.

Still, looking at it on that small of a device is like looking at your book under a microscope. It’s the best way to make sure your book looks impeccable before the world sees it.

You can even email your family or a few close friends and let them know there’s an invitation only pre-release price of $.99 if you want. Or a few blogger friends.

Then, set the price for what you really want it to be and tell the world!

Paperback

Your paperback is a whole different ballgame and I’m over my self-imposed word count for a post. So, I’ll tackle publishing the paperback in round 2.


Check out the entire DIY Publishing series.

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