Last year I made a blog post about how to publish your paperback book on Createspace (https://lizziedunlap.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/creating-a-book-on-createspace-a-guide/) and now I’m going to guide you through self-publishing your book!
First off, I’m going to assume you’ve finished the novel, you have sent it for a healthy round of edits with beta readers (or paid for professional editing), and you have a cover made! If not, let’s get that done!! (I will be publishing another post on how to format your novel!)
The first choice to make: ebooks and paperback, or just ebooks! For me, I’ve never had much paperback sales online, but they sell like hotcakes at events! Having paperback options makes your work look more legitimate to readers, so even if you don’t have paperback sales, I recommend having the option just in case.
The second choice is: Will I put my books in Kindle Unlimited? Kindle Unlimited, or KDP Select as it’s called, is a program made by Amazon that puts your book into their KU subscription program. Readers pay Amazon money every month to read as many books as they want for free, as long as they’re in KU. Sounds awesome? Well, the downside is you can’t make your books available ANYWHERE else while your book is in KU. It demands Amazon exclusivity, so if you had your heart set on seeing your book on Barnes and Noble, KU will nip that in the bud. I had my books available in KU for a year and saw diminishing returns, but I’ve seen other authors make a bang for their buck with it, so that is your decision.
To start, you will need an account at the following sites.
That’s it? Yep, that’s it.
The first site is where you post your ebooks to Amazon. KDP is also where you manage KU, if you decide to put your books in that program. You can do one promotion for each book every three months, where you can make it free or do a falling price deal for up to seven days. Note: You cannot make your book perma-free from KDP. “But what if I want to make my book perma-free?” We’ll get to that later!
The second site listed is how you will create and manage your author page on Amazon. If you do not have an author page, there is no landing page for your readers to find you at. When they click on your pen name, it will direct them to an Amazon search of your books, but they can’t see your face, your bio, and more importantly they can’t follow your releases. That is crucial, because if someone likes your work and follows your releases, Amazon will send them an email when you release a new book. You can also check your ranking here. Once the account is created, go to the books tab, and add your books to your profile. Note: You will have to have at least one book published or in pre-order to make this account.
The third site is where you publish paperbacks. “But KDP offers paperback options now!” Yes, they do. However, KDP Print doesn’t offer discounted author copies, and that is crucial if you do events like I do. It doesn’t make sense to pay a higher price for a copy I’m trying to sell. If that doesn’t matter to you, then by all means, publish your paperbacks with KDP Print, and manage your ebooks and paperbacks on one site. That’s perfectly okay!
Note: Createspace doesn’t offer paperback pre-orders. I don’t know why, I wish they would. It’s ridiculous. I always release my paperbacks a few days before the ebook so people can get their copies in time.
Now that you have the accounts made, it’s time to upload your work!
You’ll need the following:
Ermagherd, how do I do this? – Me last year. Writing descriptions is hard, trust me. It has to describe the book without giving away too much in a way that makes the reader want to actually read your book. One thing I’ve learned, there are some people who HATE first person with a vivid passion (I have no idea why, I really don’t) so make sure your description is in the person tense that the book is. You don’t want an angry reader yelling at you for having the audacity of making them think the book was third person when it’s first person. (Why does that even matter, for serious?) Regardless, get a killer description written, and don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you can always tweak it later!
Two categories is next. When I first published my vampire series, I put it in Paranormal – Romance. I realized later that that is not the same thing as Romance – Paranormal. Then I realized that my books were New Adult, and not Young Adult, and that changed everything too. Finding the right category will take some trial and error. Amazon will place the book into a sub category after you’ve chosen where to put the book, like my vampire series is in Romance – Paranormal – Vampires, and Romance – Paranormal – Werewolves & Shifters. So, Amazon placed them in the right sub-category. Make sure they are in the right place, because sometimes the category is changed without telling you. If my books were suddenly in Romance – Medical, I’d be a little upset!
Seven keywords. Now, you might think that a keyword is simply a way to describe your book. Vampire, werewolf, romance. Nope. It’s what people are typing into the search bar to find books like yours. So while you might think they’ll type in vampire romance, they’re really typing in vampire werewolf romance. I use KDP Rocket to help me get better keywords, and it has worked really well for me. Find those seven keywords, and make sure they’re specific to your book and what people actually type into the search bar.
Pricing! This is the most important part. You might see an increase in ebook price for well-known authors. They price their ebooks at $10+ and I’m always rechecking to make sure I’m not on the paperback page because of the high price. I’ll be honest when I say that we as self-publishers cannot price our books so high, but don’t under price your books either. For a full length novel, between $4-5 is a good price. That is utterly up to you, and you can price it whichever price you think is fair, it can always be changed later.
There’s one last thing to discuss. Should I release my books wide? What does wide even mean? Releasing wide means having your books available on different platforms (Amazon, Itunes, B&N, etc.). Staying on Amazon is perfectly fine, and you can make a career without ever leaving the Zon’s shores. But if you’re adventurous, and you want to make sure that any reader can get your books, no matter where they shop at, consider releasing wide! You can do it on the individual sites (Ibooks, Nook, Google play) or you can use a site like draft2digital to help manage it all for you, and release to many platforms instantly. I had the privilege of using a site called Pronoun before it shut down, and it was similar to draft2digital (I miss it, please come back Pronoun 😦 ). There’s one other advantage to releasing wide, and it’s one I mentioned earlier: Making your book perma-free. As I said, KDP does not allow you to list a book as free, but you can make books free with draft2digital and KDP will price-match it. And even if you do release wide, I recommend managing your Amazon books from KDP, because they have a 60+ day hold on sale money and it’s garbage, so you’ll be waiting forever to get the money if you’re using draft2digital. (Just my 2 cents!)
I know we discussed a lot of things in this post, and you’re probably more confused than when you started reading it. Don’t worry! Everything about self-publishing is a learning process, and now at least you’ve got the building blocks to start out.
The beauty of self-publishing is being in absolute control of your work. You can fiddle and tweak anything at any time, so don’t ever think that you’re stuck with something. Don’t like the cover? Get a new one. Description bad? Re-write it. You are the matriarch of your work, and that means it, and you, can only improve.
The road of self-publishing is a long one, and once you master these basics, it will be so super easy, you’ll forget ever doubting yourself. Believe in your work, believe in your skills. You got this!!