A Guide to Self-Publishing on Amazon

We all have that story to tell, and then when we’re finished, we have no idea where to go from there. Because of my naiveté, I signed a contract with my editor at the time, who was starting her own company and paid a lot of money. Waste of money and I didn’t get it back. I fired her, learned what I could about the publishing industry, and published my first book. From there, I created my publishing imprint, Baer Books Press, to assist other writers along with publishing my works.

This guide is to help you avoid scams and learn a little about self-publishing options.

1) PUBLISH YOUR BEST: Do NOT publish a book for money if you have not put in your own. If you do, it will come back to haunt you when you decide to take writing seriously. Make sure your book has gone through many revisions, it’s been read by others, read aloud, and put through the editing grinder. Think of your book as a business. It represents YOU!

I understand funds are limited for an editor, so if that’s the case, you must make sure your work is as flawless as possible. Readers do NOT give preferential treatment to self-published authors regarding editing. They don’t care if it’s traditionally or self-published—editing mistakes apply to all. Here are a few choices regarding revisions and editing:

a) Critique Group or Critique Partner or Alpha Reader: Find writers to read your manuscript by swapping with them or alpha readers willing to put in the time. This prepares you to share your story with the world, reading others’ works teaches you what-to-do and what-not-to-do, and they help mold your manuscript. The important thing to remember is finding the right readers and writers. Don’t ask anyone to read your manuscript because that won’t help you. You want people who read in your genre and maybe someone with a bit more experience as a reader or writer to flesh-out your story. To do this, join online groups and get to know them. You’ll begin to gravitate towards like-minded people.

b) Developmental Editing: If you can afford it, find a developmental editor, who will provide feedback on the big picture. They look at what you’re doing well and where you can improve, find areas of repetition, additions, and removals.

c) Proofreader: A proofreader will examine the manuscript for grammatical and punctuation errors. They also look at sentence structure, inconsistencies, and formatting, including page numbers. Utilize a proofreader shortly before publishing.

d) Software Tools: If you can’t afford a Proofreader, then make sure you’re using several software tools to correct your grammar and punctuation, such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Scribens, or others you find.

When it comes to book covers, it must look professional. Don’t try to make one yourself unless you’re a digital graphic artist. The old saying is true, people do judge a book by its cover. Think of your cover as a marketing tool. The book cover is to promote your book—it’s the first thing a reader sees—so grab their attention by having them choose to read your blurb. If you don’t know a graphics designer, find people in writing groups or check out deviantart. It’s a great place to browse art and find someone to make your cover at a low cost in exchange for exposure.

2) FORMAT: Once your manuscript is ready for publication, decide the type of format. Many self-published authors simply publish in eBook form. It’s the cheapest and easiest way. I agree but don’t forget that you are reducing your readership. There are still plenty of people reading paperbacks.

a) eBook: Make sure your book is properly formatted by either doing it yourself or hiring someone else. A great tool for formatting into different outputs is Calibre. It’s an essential part of the process. Before using Calibre, make sure you format your document according to KDP guidelines. To see a preview of my Fogged Up Fairy Tale eBook, click on this link, and then click on “Free Preview” under the cover.

b) Paperback: Paperback formatting is different from eBook, so make sure you read the KDP paperback interior guidelines. Even though it states what should be in the front or back matter, some things, such as acknowledgments, can go in either area. Make sure to follow their guidelines for the book cover, too. To see a preview of my Net Switch paperback, click on this link, and then click on the cover to “Look Inside”.

c) AUDIOBOOKS: Audiobooks are also growing in popularity, so you might want to consider this option. Although pricey, ACX helps an author decide if this is an avenue worth taking or narrate your book. Be careful though, a poor narrator will provide a poor experience for the reader.

3) U.S. COPYRIGHT: If you’re a U.S. citizen, copyright your book by going to the Copyright Office. Create a profile to open a case for copyright, which requires a $35 fee. Read their FAQs page for a better understanding. If you only plan on publishing eBooks, then set up an account under your name. If you plan on making self-publishing a career, you might want to create a publishing imprint, which is also helpful for ISBNs.

Almost done!

4) ISBN: The best place in the U.S. to purchase ISBNs is on Bowker. Set up a profile and make your purchases. If you’re planning on publishing in different formats, I suggest you create your imprint name and purchase it by bulk. One ISBN costs $125, but a bulk of 10 costs $295. All ISBNs will show under your name or imprint name, which will appear as Publisher instead of Amazon.Don’t purchase a Bar Code for $25. This site creates free bar codes.

a) eBooks do NOT need an ISBN. Amazon will provide a 10-digit ASIN to the eBook and will show as the publisher.

b) Paperbacks need an ISBN. The ISBN(s) are connected to the name given on the Bowker site and will show as the publisher. If you plan on publishing in several formats, each format needs a different ISBN. The eBook has its own ISBN, paperback its own, and audiobook its own. These assigned ISBNs remain with the formats on ALL platforms.

Writing and Publishing,

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