Are you considering self-publishing?  Begin with the end in mind, by asking questions  ~

Why? How? Will you offer your book for sale?  Electronically?  Printed?  All of the above?  Are you ready to build up a readership by developing your author platform as you write your book?

As the publishing industry evolves, hundreds of thousands of authors are publishing profitable work now instead of waiting for the green light from agents and publishers.  Easy-to-access tools, popular ebook distribution, and improved marketing strategies have mushroomed your opportunities to share your writing, whether for profit or feedback. Be aware, some traditional publishers are showing signs of declining or ending their relationships with self-published authors.

The currently lucrative e-book market has attracted many self-publishers.  Modern electronic advances constantly improve electronic reading devices, and the number of readers who enjoy instant download has grown.  In addition, almost every book app is a free download for mobile ‘smart’ devices, including the iPad2 where I review other authors’ books on Nook, Kindle, iBook, and ePub platforms.

Some issues where a traditional publisher can be helpful:

  • The need for translation into 22 languages and distribution to a global market! Bingo!  If your topic is of interest to a broad market, you may need to find a publisher who will pick up your need to sell global rights
  • Traditional royalties:   The author earns 15% of a book’s retail price. The publisher gets 85%. Say the book sells for $20, and the author’s take is $3 with the publisher receiving $17. However, a mid-list or below author pays these expenses from their share:  marketing, book release parties, and incidentals such as posters, postage, etc. Of the author’s $3, the agent who matched the author to the publisher receives 15%, or $.45.  The final bottom line on the average type of ‘traditionally published royalty split author contract’ is $2.55, paid every six months, seven months after publishing. The first check for a book published in January is received in July, with the second check in January.
  • In comparison, the author earns about $7 from Amazon for the same $20 book, paid monthly. The traditionally published author gets a check every six months – seven months after publishing. TradPub in January, first check in July, second check in January.

To begin with, you may want to download the style guides of popular electronic publishers:  Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, to name only a few.

With publishing options rapidly changing, few would profess expertise in self-publishing.  Least of all me, although I have researched the subject extensively.  And other authors have approached me for answers.  As my background in professional development skills, and coaching Disney workers, shows – I do enjoy helping others fulfill their dreams. In this case, authoring dreams.

We have self-published.  Friends have self-published.  My daughter has a high profile as a self-published author and web guru.  I have a relative on the board of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers of America).   And I’ve attended the international BEA (Book Expo America) event several years in a row, talking with traditional and Indie publishers at booths and in book signing queues.

The good news: self-publishing should cost you nothing.  Unless, of course, you are paying editors, artists, and other professionals or buying a supply of print books.  Following are several currently free publishing sites:

Electronic Books:

BookRix:  I’ve used this free service to practice book assembly, enter contests, garner advice to improve my delivery, and sharpen my skills in their forums.  It provides a newsletter, an attractive home page that you can design yourself, social writing friends, anonymity if preferred, and plenty of challenge so you never run out of content.  In addition, they will soon offer members an opportunity to sell their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major e-book markets.

Smashwords: This service is highly recommended.  Submitting a book using their Premium Catalog guidelines allows your eBook entry into several major distribution channels: Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Scrollmotion, and they are negotiating with Amazon.  Smashwords to publish two poetry collections, and they’ve both made it to the Premium Catalog.  Set your own price with a minimum of $0.99, and you currently receive more than half of the selling price for each book.  It isn’t necessary to hire a formatter; they provide a free formatting guide to help you with the process.  Here is an upload and a quick checklist:

  1. Upload your book only after implementing the recommendations in The Smashwords Style Guide. (Smashwords reserves the right to remove poorly formatted books.)
  2. To publish an updated version of a previously uploaded book, use a different site: go to your Dashboard and click “Upload a new version.”
  3. You may upload a book only if you are the original author or exclusive publisher. (No public domain or Private Label Rights books will be allowed.)
  4. You have formatted accordingly, ensured it is a new book of which you have exclusively authored or have the right to publish.  Run, don’t walk, to this site and upload your book:

(Smashwords — Upload)  (

Barnes & Noble: Smashwords will publish to B&N if your book passes their style guide criteria and makes it into the Premium Catalog.  I have yet to use this, because of Smashwords. If you’re in a foreign country that requires financially complicated hoops, this might not be your publishing vehicle.  Many Indies have self-published through both B&N and Smashwords. B&N provides proprietary Formatting Guides and software allowing a preview of your eBook’s Nook appearance.  To publish, go to:

(Pub It! — Barnes & Noble)  (

Kindle Direct: This is one of the most popular formats. ‘Mobipocket’ is an eBook format supported on the Kindle, as well as Windows PCs and many other handheld devices, and is the most popular with customers.  Sign in using your Amazon account.   It is wonderful if you are reading with a Kindle, and because the Kindles is a very popular e-reading device, there will be many Kindle users in the Amazon Kindle Store searching for eBooks. Additionally, it is in the same family as CreateSpace.  Sites where your book will be offered for sale: • •, and • If you are familiar with HTML codes, formatting on this site will be easier. It is a bit more complicated than others, due to the need for HTML coding.  I have never found that a difficult step, even without formal training, because there is usually an example to follow, along with easy to read, non-technical, step by step processing information. You will currenty receive a 70% royalty payment.  To publish, go to:

(Kindle Direct — Sign In) (

All four are recommended ~ Smashwords first, then Kindle direct, then the others.   You will need these ready to upload:

A Catchy Title

Book Cover – your eye-catching first impression

Short Description of book – an important marketing and retail organizing tool – include the category, genre, keywords, language, licensing, and edition number, as well as an engaging description.  Keep details consistent with cover info and information provided online or in the book.

Longer description of book, for Smashwords

Your manuscript – generally in the PDF or .Docx MS Word format – be sure to check publisher’s style guide

An idea of where you want to sell and

Your selling price – priced competitively to others in genre

Short author bio

Paperback Books

When you offer printed paperbacks online, you are publishing-on-demand. In this manner you don’t need to buy the books first.  They will also publish any number you order. When selecting a printer, keep an eye peeled for vanity publishers who publish your book only if you buy a mandatory number of copies – often 500 to 1,000 copies, and sell them back to you. Here are few print-on-demand publishers:

CreateSpace: This service is free. I’ve never heard of buying pressure other than their PRO pack, which is worth the one time fee.  Your royalties increase and fees decrease when you order books. It’s a usefult ool to use if you expect to self-publish more than one book with the company. They will also sell your books through the Amazon market. To publish, go to:

(CreateSpace) ( There seem to be a lot of packages to buy at this site.  I’ve played around with this. Every package looks great, but don’t be fooled into buying one, when you could probably piece together cover art and edit your own work. One plus for foreign patrons is that they charge and pay in any currency, including £.  Formatting appears to be easy.  To publish, go to:

(Book Publishing — Lulu) (

Lightning Source: Research this carefully.  The website has a professional appearance, resolving a certain amount of scam concern, but other than an independent publishing house I’ve talked to with independent distribution channels, there is no one I know with experience at this site.  They provide information on international market strategy and global distribution with the benefits for small, medium, and large publishers. To publish, go to:

(Lightning Source) (

I can only recommend CreateSpace, as I no one I know of has published through Lulu, or heard of an indie author who self-published through Lightning Source. Enjoy your publishing experience!