Ebooks are a quick and easy way for anyone with ambitions of becoming a self-published author to get their work out into the world. Here we’ll show you how to self-publish an ebook successfully, step by step.
- Fine tune your content
- Pick the right ebook format
- Make your ebook visible
- Set the price of your ebook
- Promote your ebook
First things first, why should you self-publish an ebook?
Ebooks are forecast to make up nearly 26% of total book sales worldwide in 2018*. So, while there has been a resurgence in the purchasing of printed books in recent years, ebooks still make up a significant portion of the market. And for good reason. Ebooks have a much lower barrier to purchase than printed books, both in terms of price point and the time lapse between conception and consumption. In other words, ebooks are popular amongst readers because they’re cheap and can be read immediately after purchase. And they’re popular amongst authors due to their low production and distribution costs and the fact that they can be made and set up for sale relatively quickly.
How to Self-Publish an eBook in 5 Steps
Step 1: Fine Tune Your Content
First, consider whether all the content you’ve got needs to go into this ebook. Are there natural breaks in the narrative that lend themselves to serialization? This a great way to maximize the money-making potential of your content and opens up new promotional opportunities. Giving away a first installment free is a great way to build an audience willing to pay to find out what happens next.
Secondly, obvious but always worth re-emphasizing is the need to proofread your content. Check, double check, then check again. The benefit of self-publishing most ebook formats is the ability to re-open the file at a later date and make edits if you spot a typo, but the ideal scenario is to get it right first time. Enlist the help of friends, family, and colleagues to help you review consistency and flow, as well as the usual spelling and grammar checks.
Last but not least, getting the cover of your ebook right is vital. Consider that potential readers may be scrolling through several rows of ebooks on their screen, so your cover has to be eye-catching and in keeping with your chosen genre. The additional challenge is that it must stand out even as a thumbnail image. If budget allows, it’s definitely worth considering working with a professional designer to get this element of your ebook just right. Reedsy offers access to a network of vetted, experienced designers who could help.
Step 2: Pick the Right Format
There are 3 formats you could consider for your ebook. Your final choice will largely depend on the type of content you are using and where you want to sell your book when it’s finished.
Reflowable ebooks: perfect for novels and other text-based books. It allows your text to be resized and scaled for legibility purposes and flow from one page to another. Reflowable ebooks can be set up for sale in the Amazon Kindle Store and Apple iBooks Store through Blurb.
Fixed-layout ebooks: perfect for enhanced ebooks (containing multimedia content) or for highly illustrated content. With a fixed-layout, your content is locked into its page layout, preserving your deliberate design decisions. In this format, your ebook can be set up for sale in the Blurb Bookstore, on Amazon, and in the Apple iBooks Store.
PDF: perfect for sharing and sending, PDF files are viewable on any device and can be set up for sale in the Blurb Bookstore. The downside of this format is that it doesn’t have multimedia capabilities. They also tend to be quite large files and aren’t optimized for mobile or tablet devices.
Step 3: Describe Your eBook
The term ‘book metadata’ refers to the words and phrases that you use to describe your book, including the title, the author’s name and bio, and your book description or blurb. It is this information that will help potential readers find your book.
Internet search engines and online retailers like Amazon, use keywords to connect customers to relevant products or content. So, your book’s metadata should contain these relevant keywords.
Start by doing a basic brainstorm. What words would you search for to find your self-published ebook? Once you’ve done this, narrow your list down to between 10 and 20 specific words or phrases. Test the relevance of each by conducting a search on Amazon. Does the search provide links to books that are similar to yours?
Once you have your list of keywords you can weave them into your author bio and book description, and possibly even into your title or sub-title.
Step 4: Set Your Pricing
One of the key benefits of self-publishing an ebook is that the reduced production and distribution costs allow for a higher profit margin. However, keep in mind that the low overhead costs are also reflected in the price a customer will expect to pay for an ebook versus a printed book.
The best place to start when deciding on the price of your book is looking at what similar books are being sold at with the retailers you wish to use. This will give you a good idea of where you should be aiming, but there are a few other things to consider.
First, where you are selling your ebook. For example, the royalties you receive from selling your book on Amazon vary depending on the price of your book. Between $2.99 and $9.99 you’ll keep 70%. Above or below this bracket your royalties are reduced to 35%. That gives you a rough starting point. But what if you’re selling through Blurb, where you keep 100% of your royalties? Then how do you decide?
Your ebook’s length is the first thing to consider. For short stories, say between 1,000-5,000 words, readers won’t expect to pay much above $0.99. Longer novellas tend to sell at between $2.99 and $5.99. And for a novel, between $2.99 and $7.99 would be about right.
The genre of your ebook also has an impact on price point. Generally, romance, sci-fi and fantasy books tend to sell for less than literary fiction or non-fiction books.
Remember nothing is set in stone and your pricing strategy is flexible. You can adjust your price point at any time in response to the level of demand for your book or changes in the wider market.
Step 5: Promote Your eBook
Just as with a printed book, if you want to sell your self-published ebook, you need to spend some time and effort on marketing. This is where an author website is invaluable. Your website can serve as the hub of your marketing strategy. It enables you to build a mailing list of fans and followers, develop an author brand, and most importantly provide direct links to the retailers selling your book.
In addition to an author website, you’ll also want to leverage your social media presence to generate a buzz about your book, even before it’s launched. Starting your promotional activities before your book hits the shelves will help your book launch will go off with a bang.
We could write hundreds of blog posts on marketing your book alone. And we have! This is a good one to get you started.
Let’s Get To It
So there you have it. A step by step guide to self-publishing your ebook. Whether you’re making yours to complement a printed version or as a first foray into the world of self-publishing, sticking to these steps will help ensure your plan goes off without a hitch.