When it comes to the “publishing” in DIY Publishing, you’ve already done most of the hard parts. Now that you’ve got all the pieces in place, there’s only two steps to publishing your ebook.
Create Ebook Files
The easiest way to create ebook files is to leverage software that will do it for you. Download Kindle Create to create files for Amazon. Download Calibre for epub files.
The best practice is to work on the Kindle file first since Kindle Create really does make formatting easy. Simply open your document in Kindle Create. It’ll detect your headings for chapters and set the formatting for those accordingly. You can designate different sections of your book (such as Acknowledgments, Dedications, Copyright) with a few clicks on the right (Amazon keeps changing exactly where those buttons are so they may not be for you now where they once were for me). You can select the theme of your book and the font and heading styles will automatically change.
Best of all, you can see these changes in the main window. You can see if you want an additional hard return in a section of your front or back matter. Or if you have too many and it’s creating a white screen somewhere. You can play around with the formatting of your text and decide what you like best.
Go back and make any tweaks to the original document then upload it to Kindle Create again until you get everything right. This can get a bit tedious but it’s so much better to have that document exactly the way you want it rather than trying to remember the tweaks and make them again and again.
Finally, preview it on the phone option. If it looks good on the smallest device possible it’ll look good on the larger devices.
When you click the publish option you’ll have a file you can upload to Kindle.
Calibre and ePubs
Add your document to Calibre. Then right click on it and select Edit metadata. Set the Title, Author, and other information accordingly. You can also upload your cover.
Next, use the big Convert Book button at the top of the screen to convert your doc to epub. You don’t have to worry about all the settings for the conversion. If you’ve stripped everything down in your formatting it should end up looking pretty much exactly the way you want.
Right click again and select Edit book. This will open your epub file in a window you can edit. It’s basically html (which is used for building websites) so don’t freak out if it looks super technical. Click through each of the sections in the TOC on the left. It’ll open a new tab for each section. Scroll through it and make sure:
- Each of the sections start where you want them to start.
- That everything is in the TOC that needs to be (click the icon with the lines at the top if you need to make adjustments).
- And that each section looks the way you want (especially your front and back matter sections and any section with an image)
Click Save and you’ve got an epub file!
Publish your ebook
Next it’s the business side of publishing your book by setting up accounts 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
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.
The process is basically the same for the different distributors–each will ask for basic information including your book title, synopsis, your author bio, ISBN and keywords for your novel.
You’ll need to provide your name, email address, bank account for direct deposit payments and physical address for tax purposes (again I recommend using your company information). It’s also best to use a different password than you use for personal accounts. You may end up with multiple accounts with Google and Amazon but it’s another layer of the division between your corporate self and personal self.
You’ll need to determine the price for your book and the countries where it will be available.
There will be a place to upload your cover and then your book file. This is where there’s a bit of a difference with each vendor.
Upload your Kindle Create file and fill in the blanks for each screen.
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 enter the correct keywords. You can reference this help topic on Amazon for more information and links for the specific keyword needed for different Amazon categories. This will ensure your book is included in searches correctly.
Upload either your epub file or your original document.
Nook may handle the cover better with your original document than the epub (sometimes it squishes epub covers oddly). If you get the styles right, the only thing you’ll be missing is a table of contents. Nook will autogenerate one for you but it might not be as clean and nice as the epub file.
Upload your epub file and fill in the blanks.
There’s also an option to put your book on Overdrive through Kobo so that it’s available to libraries.
Upload epub file (they’ll also accept a pdf).
The advantage of an epub is that you can manipulate little things if you need to make adjustments between the original document and the epub. The epub table of contents is also easier to edit than in word.
iBooks is a pain in the a**
It’s a bit better now that you can publish an epub from a PC (finally, in 2020!).
Still, though Apple has the most convoluted system because you have to create yourself as a user and assign yourself a role and worst of all you can’t edit anything yourself. Okay, not anything but addresses, roles and legal entities and all the ludicrous hoops they make you jump through you have to ask them to edit for you.
Once you’ve entered and uploaded everything to each distributor, 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.
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 SE with a 4″ screen.
Buy your book for $.99 from each vendor and read it on that small device on one of the apps.
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!
Publishing a paperback is a whole different ballgame. Don’t worry. We’ve got everything you need to know.