How to Create and Publish an eBook

In this article we will be providing an overview into the world of self-publishing covering the basics on how to create and publish an ebook in a step by step format, so as to give those budding authors out there a good starting point with some additional links for those who wish to do further investigation. This article assumes you already have a book written, at least as a rough draft and will guide you from rough draft to having your ebook published on one or more of the popular ebook platforms.

Publishing your book in a digital format is a great way for getting your ebook out there and sharing it with a large eager audience. Producing an ebook could not be easier with multiple platforms available and no need for any complicated coding knowledge to bring your ebook together.

Getting your ebook published is both a daunting and an exciting experience. From the outset it is important that you are fully aware of your options and that you make sure your ebook is visually appealing and is compatible with all the main ebook readers out there such as, the Kindle (Amazon), iPad (Apple), Nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo Glo (Kobo), etc…

Steps To Take To Create and Publish an eBook

Step One: Decide What Platforms to Have Your eBook Available On

At present over 90% of all electronic books are read via Apple’s IOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod), Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Thus any service that you select should enable you in creating an ebook from your original text that will work on at least one of these platforms.

Since December 2011, self-publishers have been given a further choice to make when they publish and that is whether or not to go exclusive with Amazon KDP Select program.  There are both pros and cons for going exclusive with KDP Select. It’s a case of weighing up the risk and looking at the market for your ebook. You may need to do some further research into your target market to understand what the benefits would be.

The KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program is a new option for aspiring KDP authors and publishers around the world. It offers you an innovative way to earn royalties, reach a broader audience and make use of a new set of promotional tools. When you offer any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days under the KDP Select program, those with US rights will be automatically included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of the monthly fund. The Lending Library is a collection of books that permitted US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates. You will also have access to a set of promotional tools with the choice to promote your KDP Select titles for free for up to 5 days every 90 days.

On the other hand if you don’t go exclusive with the Kindle Select program, the main sites you need to publish to are Amazon’s KDP (global distribution) and Smashwords, (distributes your work to Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader, Diesel eBook Store, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Flipkart, Oyster,  Baker & Taylor’s Blio and Axis360 libraries and more on the way).

There are further sites you can publish to such as, DriveThruFiction (also offers exclusive or non-exclusive publishing options), AllRomance/OmniLit/AReCafe and Xinxii (provides global distribution and does not require an exclusive distribution deal from authors), which may be worth considering. Please note that Smashwords also offers free ISBNs and ebook conversions to 9 formats from a Word.doc and that both Amazon and Xinxii don’t require ISBNs, however without an ISBN Xinii will only distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Casa del Libro. You can request an ISBN through Xinii. An ISBN will get your book better distribution coverage.

If you have decided to go exclusive with Amazon’s Kindle Select program, then you only have one site to upload to. All you need is your cover art and your formatted ebook file.

Step 2: Have Your eBook Professionally Edited

This is probably the area where self-publishers skimp most of all. Regrettably for them, readers will pick up on the mistakes straight away and even if the more obvious things like, typos or grammatical errors have been removed, there may well be deeper nuisances. It’s about more than just finding the mistakes; it’s about implementing the appropriate tone, the correct pitch, manipulating the text with finesse to improve the flow, rhythm and the tempo. More importantly it is about how you want the reader to feel.

How to Create and Publish an eBook

It is a bad idea to edit your own work as you will be too involved in writing the book to see the errors, also people in general are bad at judging themselves about whether their own words are any good or not. The other option is to approach friends and family, this too is a bad idea as they know you, are aware of how much work you have put into the book and so may let their emotions affect their critique.

An expert editor has the skills and an impartial eye required to look critically at your work, examining each sentence to determine if it adds positively to the work or not. To this end it is most beneficial for authors to employ professional editing services. It is always prudent to have your work edited during the writing process and proofread at the end, to reduce any puzzling or off-putting mistakes.

At AnPat Media we have an experienced ebook and proofreading team who have worked with a wide scope of genres and formats in both nonfiction and fiction. Our expert proofreaders will remove all spelling errors and any grammatical, typographical or linguistic mistakes that you are no longer aware of.

We are able to accept most major word processing file types, such as PDFs. We can also offer a final proofread on already formatted ebooks, including Kindle and ePub files. The ebook editing service is geared for early drafts that have not yet been formatted to ebook publication standards. Our expert ebook editors will find weak points or structural problems, critique the body of your work and provide a short summary of the critique. We will also check for tone, style, word preference and sentence structure, while making plenty of supportive suggestions along the way and cleaning up any mistakes so you can concentrate your efforts on the creative process. It is our experience that the suggestions provided by our proofreaders will serve to improve the writers work immeasurably, by enabling the writer/author to learn from the suggestions and in due course help to improve their writing technique. You aren’t just investing in your book when you use our services, but in yourself as a writer.

Once you have a final draft and are ready to publish, you can also opt for our ebook proofreading service.

Step 3: Get a Professional Looking Cover Designed

You want your ebook cover to have a smart professional design, as this can make all the difference, especially as it is the first thing a potential reader will see. First impressions last, so make it a good one. Like it or not, consumers tend to judge a book by its cover, so if you want your book to stand out from the crowd, give the reader a clear signal, that you have taken as much care with the inside of the book, by making the outside look great. At AnPat Media you can get your ebook cover professionally designed by making use of our document design services.

Step 4: Have Your eBook Formatted

After your manuscript has been edited and your ebook cover is prepared, you will want to convert that into a carefully formatted ebook that will wrap, flow and resize and have clever features such as, a clickable table of contents. If you don’t have an ereader and you have never read an ebook, it is a good idea to download the free Kindle software so you can play around with it. It can be downloaded to any computer, tablet or smartphone. While you are at it, grab some free ebooks and take a note of the formatting. Look at how the text reflows when you make the font bigger and smaller.

A Shortcut to Avoid

As a self-publisher you should never save your Word document as an HTML document and upload it directly to Amazon as a way of saving time. The reason being your ebook will most probably contain serious formatting mistakes from the hidden code generated by Word and display incorrectly and even if it looks fine in the Kindle, it may not display correctly on some of the other ebook formats, such as the iPad or ePub.

In order to properly format your manuscript or Word document into an acceptable ebook format it is best left to the experts.

At AnPat Media we have the expertise to get your manuscript correctly formatted to an ebook recognised standard, ensuring that you have consistent fonts and copy sizes for chapter titles, pagination, etc… Writing an ebook is difficult enough without having to be concerned with formatting and converting your ebook so that it meets the requirements of Amazon or Smashwords. Let the professionals handle your ebook formatting!

At AnPat Media your ebook will be given a dedicated formatter, who will review your content methodically, making sure that you have consistent, font sizes, spacing and headers. Just submit your Word document as is and our professional human ebook formatters will do the rest. We will change your Word document into a stunning, professionally crafted ebook while sparing you the frustration.

Some common ebook formats:

  • ePub – The open standard format for ebooks created by the International Digital Publishing Forum.
  • Mobibook – Based on the open ebook standard using XHTML.
  • Kindle – Amazon’s proprietary format.

Step 5: Submit Your eBook to the Platforms of Your Choice

There are numerous options for publishing your ebook:

  • With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, you can self-publish your ebook.
  • You can go via BookBaby to publish your ebook for the Barnes and Noble Nook who adopted the open ePub standard for ebooks in 2013.
  • Self-publishing is also available via sites such as Lulu. Lulu makes your book available in Kindle and Nook compatible formats.

Step 6: Marketing Your eBook

Smart marketing combines the old and the new. This involves a strong social media presence with some good old fashioned campaigning and diligence.

To build a following after you publish your ebook you need to:

  • Communicate to everybody you know about your work.
  • Talk about your ebook on Facebook, Twitter, etc…
  • Invite people to review your book on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Speak to local bookstores to set up readings to promote your book.
  • You may want to go to an Open Mic event and read excerpts from your book there.
  • Check the libraries in your area, as they may be interested in assisting you, as part of their cultural events.

Writers are more than ever now expected to take more responsibility in engaging with their readers, whether they are going down the route of self-publishing or not. Even publishers now expect authors to be more active on the social media front. If this is a pet hate for you, don’t despair, you will be happy to learn that the most important marketing you can do is to ensure you have a professionally created product on the market, i.e. a fiction/nonfiction book, an eye-catching cover, a well edited book and clean formatting.

If that wasn’t enough it is always prudent not to spend too much time promoting a single book, as the time spent may be counterproductive, rather wait until you have several books out there. The reason being if readers love your work, they are more likely to purchase everything that you write, however if you only have one book then there is nothing else to buy.

This does not mean that you should not do any promoting; on the contrary a little push never hurt anyone, but then get back to your writing, as the best promotional tool you have as a writer is your next book.

Mailing List

One of the most effect, yet under used marketing tools is the mailing list. Mailing lists if used effectively can generate a sizable portion of your sales, as it gives you a direct line to your readers who are interested in what you have to offer (captive audience), by virtue of them signing up to your newsletter via a previous book release or free ebook/sample, etc… By placing a link that is easily accessible from your ebook to a signup page/website you can very quickly build up your list and buy encouraging visitors on your site to signup by offering them a free ebook/sample as an incentive. To get started you will need a mail service to handle you’re email marketing campaigns like MailChimp, which enables you to create attractive emails without having to know any code. The service is free for up to 12000 emails a month and up to 2000 subscribers. The service also enables you to track who opens your emails or clicks on your links. If you make use of WordPress you can install a free newsletter plugin on your site giving you complete control over your newsletter without having to rely on third party sites. Newsletters are a great way for you to keep your readers up to date with any new published books you are launching. It is also a good idea to include links to any free Amazon apps, as many people are not aware that you can read ebooks via the Kindle on your pc, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Social Media

These days there are many social media sites to choose from. Some of the more common ones include: Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and Pinterest, as well as video sharing sites like YouTube.

Using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and blogging should be seen as a means for building rapport with your readers as opposed to a way of marketing directly to them. By building a rapport with your readers you create a bond, a level of trust, which may lead to future sales, however if you approach it with that objective in mind it won’t work.

To make it easy for your followers to find you we recommend a basic social media setup, comprising of a Facebook Fan page, a Twitter page, a blog/website and the creation of an Amazon Author Central page. You may have to create the latter for both the UK and the US depending on your target market and perhaps further Amazon country sites. You will then want to link it all up to your blog/site and Twitter account for efficiency purposes.

Extra marketing and promotional strategies you may want to employ:

  • Competitions
  • Giveaways
  • Book reviews – Blog, Amazon, Goodreads or HubPages
  • Guest posting
  • Blog tours

Networking

As the publishing landscape is continually evolving it is imperative to keep in touch with developments in the industry, by doing so you are better able to position yourself to exploit the opportunities as they happen. The Kindle Boards Writer’s Café is such a resource and a great site for self-publishers to visit. It is a genuine blend of starters and accomplished authors. It’s also a great spot to locate editors, cover designers, formatters, artists and for advice on all aspects of self-publishing. There are also further resources included at the end of this article.

Giving Away Freebies as a Sales Tool

People love freebies. Your freebie can be in the form of a summary of your ebook, the first of a series, first 5 chapters or 5%, however you want to work it. This can be given in exchange for an email to build your list or as part of a competition. At the back of the ebook place clickable links to your site/blog and your contact details, including any social media sites and an email to keep in touch with your readers, as well as clickable links to all your other published books. Some authors include this information within their biography at the back of the book, which provides some personal background information for the reader and helps with forming connections (something to consider). The freebie ideally would be in the form of a PDF document and would give your readers a taster of what to expect from the full book. On the last page you could place an ad or link to the site or page where they can purchase the full version of your book or get the hard copy. By doing this you should find that your sales go up, traffic to your social media sites and blog/website increase as it will aid in creating more connections with your readers, making you ever more visible and accessible.

Print Versions

Numerous self-publishers make the mistake of not bothering with print versions as it’s almost impracticable to get their work into bookstores. That said the vast majority of readers still prefer print books. It’s tricky for the self-publisher to reach them and to compete with publishers on price, however you can still make some print sales on Amazon via the expand your reach program, using CreatSpace to gain access to millions of readers in print, as well as in audio via ACX (Audio Book Creation Exchange). By doing this your single ebook in effect becomes three products; a printed book, ebook and an audio book, giving you more products to sell to your readers. You can also sell them individually or as packages. Remember that even those readers who have switched to electronic books may still like a physical copy of their favourite read.

Step 7: Keep on writing

Writing is by far the best way for an author to build and maintain an audience. The more you write, the more your gift will evolve and the more work your fans will have to talk about, read and support. You should just focus on the basics: a well-written story, a smart cover, a professional edit, clean formatting and an inviting blurb. Publishing ebooks and building a following is a way for authors to build up a large audience. We would recommend holding off on most promotions until you have a few titles under your belt, but in the mean time you could do stuff like blogging in your spare time. While managing your social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) can be time consuming, your main focus should always be on writing. Don’t be overly concerned with sales; they take time and one thing that will certainly help is getting more titles out there. Make writing your number one objective ever day and the rest will fall into place. Remember to check out AnPat Media’s ebook publishing services. Maybe the next big success story will be yours!

Further Reading

Amazon Self-Publishing

Joe Konrath

Lindsay Buroker’s blog

Kindle Boards Writer’s Cafe

 

Originally posted 2013-12-09 16:48:40.

About Andrew Paton

Director and founder of AnPat Media, which has been fashioned out by his love of design. Andrew's skills are in WordPress design & development, blogging, teaching WordPress, photography, information architecture and graphic design.

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