Self- publishing an eBook offers an alternative path to success for writers whose work does not fit into the traditional mould of the publishing industry. Increasingly, authors are bypassing the notoriously lengthy and difficult route of finding an agent, or persuading a publishing house to distribute and market their work.
Successfully publishing an eBook can be a rewarding achievement in its own right, and it can also be very lucrative for some. It does require some research into the market, and if you view yourself as purely a creative person, who would rather not get involved in promotion, layout, pricing, and so on, then it may not be the best option for you.
However, for those willing to take on the task, there is plenty of advice out there. For example, Emma Shacklock, the Books and Fiction Editor of Woman & Home, explains that there are sites which offer help with the practicalities of publishing, such as assigning an ISBN number, graphic design, and proofing and editing.
Another option is to use direct publishing services offered by major companies such as Amazon and Apple. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the Amazon platform, which offers access to potentially millions of customers worldwide. They are relatively simple to use, and a great option if you are fitting publishing around a day job.
To get started, besides of course your complete and edited manuscript, you need to have some sort of cover designed. How much time and effort you put into this will depend on whether you plan to offer a printed version of your book. If so, you will need an eye-catching design, that tells the reader something about the book’s content.
You will also need to write a ‘blurb’, which is important, because it is your chance to persuade the reader to part with their money and order your book. It should be between 150 and 200 words, so there is no room for a full plot summary! If it is a novel, the blurb should introduce the main character, and present the central dramatic tension of the plot.
This will usually be some kind of conflict, quest, or problem. You don’t need to try and draw in everybody; it can help to have an idea who your target audience are, and look at some of the blurbs from publications within your genre. Remember that many readers will only see the first line or two, so make sure they pack a punch.
Bear in mind that big platforms like Amazon use metadata to show readers browsing suggestions, so think about what keywords customers would use when searching for your topic or genre. Try and focus on a subcategory, as there will be fewer competitors, and this will give your work the best chance of being picked up by an algorithm.
Finally, you will need to do some self-promotion for your book. This could be in the form of engaging with writers and readers on social media, and signing up for a reviews site such as Goodreads, where members can post their reaction to the book.
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