If you feel that publishing your book the traditional way through literary agents and publishing companies isn’t for you, self-publishing your work is a valid alternative. But self-publishing your book isn’t as simple as uploading your first draft to Amazon and waiting for fame and fortune to flock your way. Self-publishing is a route that will require you to put effort not just into your prose, but also into other aspects of your book in order for it to be as presentable and professional as a book published and distributed by a big name publishing company.

Editing Your Manuscript

The first thing you need to do is finish your manuscript (obvious, I know). As painstakingly long it may have taken you to finally finish your first draft, keep in mind that finishing your draft is the EASIEST part of the entire self-publishing process. Next is the arduous and arguably disheartening process of editing your manuscript—rewording whole sentences, taking out and/or adding whole passages and chapters, changing subplots, getting beta readers to critique your draft, etc.

Author editing manuscript for self-publishing

Formatting is also important when editing your manuscript; make sure to always justify (Ctrl + J) your draft as this is how all published books have their words aligned. Always keep your work single space and in a size 12 Times New Roman font, just like how your teachers made you type out your school essays. If you don’t want to be bothered with editing your manuscript, you can always hire a freelance editor to do the work for you, but keep in mind it will cost around $300-500 to hire a freelance editor of professional skill. Of course, you can always use freelance apps like Fiverr or Upwork to hire entry-level editors on the cheap (some will even work for less than $20), but be warned you will get the work worth what you pay.

Designing Your Book Cover

Once you are confident your manuscript is finished to perfection, a good place to go from there is working on your book’s cover. A key to piquing a potential reader’s interest is for your book to have eye-catching cover art. Do your best to make sure your cover art doesn’t resemble the cover art of other books or else it will come off as generic and run-of-the-mill—an impression that might turn them off to your story. A popular trend for cover art these days is minimalistic designs. You will want to communicate enough information about your book to convey what it may be about or what the tone of it is without overwhelming the reader. This should be a cinch if you have a talent for graphic design. If not, your next best move is to commission an artist to design a cover for you. You could easily hire a friend or a starving art major to make a cover for you on the cheap or you could save up some cash for a professional freelancer. Again, Fiverr and Upwork are great for finding artists that can range from $20 to $300. If you don’t trust freelancers, professional book cover design services like Editage is a reputable place to go to.

Marketing Your Self-Published Book

Next comes the part all self-publishing writers dread: marketing (dun dun DUN). There are many ways to go about advertising your book and some of them are easier than others. One great asset to marketing your book is having an online presence, such as a blog or a website, to tell people who already know you that you are publishing a book. You could post preview chapters or show concept art of your book’s characters or setting to spark interest in your potential audience. Book forums are also a great place to spread the word and create buzz for your book, especially on forums relating to your book’s genre. It’s also a good idea to get book critics to review your book, especially critics from Amazon since that will most likely be the website you will publish your work. You can also have book bloggers and newspaper editors include reviews of your book on their sites. If their reviews are positive, readers will be more inclined to give it a chance.

Author flipping through self-published book
Author flipping through self-published book
Goodreads

If you haven’t already, now would be the time to start an author’s account on Goodreads. Goodreads will allow you to network with other authors and promote pre-release giveaways for your book as a powerful way to generate interest in your book, receive valuable reviews, and engage in discussions about your book with readers.

Something that you will also need to sell your book is its premise, and that is usually with a short blurb on the back cover of your book. Think of it as if your book were a movie and the blurb is the trailer; you want to succinctly give enough information to capture readers’ attention and intrigue them without giving away so much that it spoils the plot. If you should have reviews of your book on hand, make sure to include them with your blurb.

Distributing Your Book

At this point, your book is ready for publishing. All that’s left is to look for distributors. The most popular of them is Amazon, which offers authors a 70% royalty rate and owns two self-publishing service companies: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for ebooks and CreateSpace for physical books. Publishing your book through KDP only takes five minutes and will be ready for sale and distribution in just four hours.You should also include smaller retails like Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Kobo into your distribution plan so you can cover up to 97% of the ebook market.

These are just some of the ways you can market your self-published book efficiently, and some ways are going to work better than they might for others. It may seem an overwhelming process, but just know there’s no rush in getting published (unless you are chasing literary trends and fads). When all’s said and done, you will have earned the bragging rights that come with being a published author.

Have any more tips for self-publishing a book? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.