Resources for Self-Publishing a Book or Booklet – How I Did It

I’ve self-published several books and booklets so I get a lot of questions about how I did it. Here is my list of resources. It covers traditional book publishing and adding items to Amazon’s Kindle.

Understand Self-Publishing
For details on getting your book done, do what I did. Get the book by Marilyn Ross, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing. She goes into so much detail about becoming a publisher.

Watch out for scams. Self-publish means you are the publisher and your company name is on the back of the book as the owner. You make the profit. Subscribe to the Writer’s Beware Blog to keep up with the latest book publishing scams, http://accrispin.blogspot.com. You should read every post in this blog.

Writing
If you’ve been procrastinating about writing your book or booklet because it seems too overwhelming, pick your topic, be clear about who your audience is, then write articles…one at a time at least once a week. After you think you’ve written enough, decide on the book’s flow (the chapters need to follow each other in a logical flow…what do you need to talk about first, then what, then what, and so on).

Book Layout
Look at books from big publishing houses and see how they lay them out…where is the Preface, Introduction, Table of Contents, etc. Your book needs to be done like theirs as much as possible so it looks professional. All of my self-published books and booklets are created using Microsoft Word’s powerful desktop publishing capabilities. This link is to a blog post in which I wrote about this. One day I’ll turn this into a workshop.

ISBN Number
You’ll need an ISBN number if your book will sell in bookstores. Don’t have to have for Amazon. I prefer to go all the way because you never know where your book could end up…libraries, etc. Get your ISBN number now at http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/isbn/us/application.asp I don’t remember how long this took (a day), and it’s probably quicker now. You can pay extra to get it quicker. When I did this, I received 10 numbers for around $200 bucks.

I don’t need an ISBN number for my booklets. They don’t have a spine so bookstores (and probably libraries) won’t carry so no need for this.

Barcode Graphic
You’ll need a high quality, scannable barcode for the back book cover if you’re planning on selling your book in stores: www.CreateBarcodes.com to order. This site is very self-explanatory except that I didn’t know what Supplemental Data means. In the box, you’ll see 50995. The 5 stands for US currency. For example, my book costs $24.95 so my supplemental data # is 52495.

Library of Congress Number (LCN)
If you get an ISBN number, you can get a Library of Congress number. Once you have an ISBN number and know the finished size (dimensions of your pub when it’s closed) and page count of your publication, then get your Library of Congress Number: http://pcn.loc.gov/. You should receive it within hours.

CIP Data
The gibberish in the front of books is cataloging info for librarians. One-book publishers can’t get this info the same way the major players do. A company does it for about $165.00, but I discovered that you can take your book to a library, and a librarian will help you do this for free.

Cover Design and Typesetter
Do not settle for anything less than a professional cover. I didn’t do this for my second book, and I ended up on TV with my little tired cover. Bid your work: www.elance.com or turn to your favorite search engine. Look at different portfolios of people who understand designing covers.

Editing and Proofreading
You don’t want to publish a book with bad grammar, misspelled words, illogical flow, etc.

Dr. Marcia Riley: WritingForResults.com
Bobbie Christmas: ZebraEditor.com
Or bid it out on www.elance.com

For proofreading, take a look at your material first so she can clean up a lot of the grammar and spellings…that’ll be less expensive than having an editor do it. Once the book is edited, run it past your proofreader one last time before you go to press. If you flat-out can’t write, you’ll need a professional writer to polish the words, an editor to create the flow, and a proofreader to fine-tune the details. With my technical books, I also have a review team test all the steps.

Pricing
Keep in mind that if you sell your books in local bookstores, Amazon, etc., they’ll buy wholesale which could be 40-60% off. Add to that the cost of printing and shipping to determine your sale price. Also check other similar books to see what they sell for.

Printing Books
When it’s all said and done, you’ll need to get your book printed. I use print on demand and can print one, three, 100, etc., as I need them. The company to use is LightningSource.com. Their print quality is excellent. The cost per book will vary based on size (stick to traditional publication sizes), paper choice, number of pages, whether it’s color throughout or just on cover, and how many you print at a time. Ingram Books owns them so bookstores can order directly from them. They’ll send you a check every month for any books they sell.

Printing Booklets
I’m totally satisified with Smartpress.com for printing my booklets. Their Website is well organized, and I can order whatever I need without having to call. Prices are excellent and quality is the way I like it.

Printing: How Many
No matter how good you think your book is, no matter how much you’ll save by printing more, don’t print more than 500…250 is even better…until it’s a solid seller

Amazon (Hardcopy and Kindle)
Visit Seller Central on Amazon to find out what you need to do to sell your book/booklet there.

You might want to put your book in Kindle format on Amazon. Be sure to read formatting rules. I usually upload my Kindle format as a Word 2003 document (don’t do 2007 or 2010). I remove my table of contents because it’s not done manually but with fields that Kindle doesn’t recognize. I make this version as plain as possible. There are vendors who will do this for you, but I haven’t found this to be necessary. If you’re computer savvy, check out Kitaboo to convert your book (I’ve not used this software).

Book Reviews
The big boys probably won’t review your book, but Amazon reviewers might. I don’t concern myself with this anymore since most media outlets have discontinued book reviews. Bloggers are a better choice so spend time finding bloggers who write about your topic.

The Midwest Book Review will review your book also (at this writing, their site is not attractive, but they do review your book. When they reviewed mine, they used a lot of what I wrote when describing the book).

Marketing
Here comes the hard part. For help on ways to promote your book, check out John Kremer’s, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books (at this writing, this book hasn’t been updated since 2006, but flipping through my copy, a ton of this information is still valid. For more current ways to promote anything, consider my booklet, Shameless Self-Promotion: DIY SEO (search engine optimization).

Finally, you’ll learn more in Marilyn’s book that I referenced above, but this will get you going. Time to start writing.

If you have anything to add to this list, please leave a comment.

PEACE.