A bit of shameless self promotion here. I have just self published my second novel, Lulu Love Teenage Ghost, on Amazon as an ebook.
However, so you can get some value from reading this article, I will summarise the steps I took to write and publish the book. I'll include some links that might inspire you to self publish. First the cover of my new book;
I drew and designed the cover myself, more about that shortly.
Writing the novelI wrote the first 60,000 words in nanowrimo in 2010 which is a crazy american idea where you sign up and write 50,000+ words during November. It is fantastic fun and forcing yourself to write at least 50,000 words in just 30 days is manic. If you are one of those writers who agonizes for an hour over one sentence then the next day you change that sentence you must try nanowrimo. No matter how brilliant you think each of your sentences are whilst labouring at a snail's pace, the chances are they will need editing and that's the beauty of nanowrimo, it gives you 50,000+ words to edit. A writer once said; "There is no such thing as great writing, only great editing".
I digress. I edited my 60,000 words starting in mid 2011 and I ended up with 90,000 words a year later. I did the editing myself which is quite difficult because every time I read a bit I thought I could write it better, but Tolkein famously never stopped editing the Lord of the Rings; every time his publishers wanted to publish a new edition they had to tear it out of his hands. Also I did the spelling punctuation and grammar checks myself. What next?
Designing and drawing the coverI designed and drew the cover myself. Why did I do this when I could have paid for somebody else to do it for me? Ego probably and I like drawing and painting and although I am sure lots of designers could do a much better job I don't care. I intend to keep producing my own covers and as I improve I will replace my early covers. Lulu Love is intended to be a series so when I have completed the series, between 7 and 10 books, I will design a new set of covers for the whole series just like real publishers do...
I drew the character in pencil then went over her in pen and scanned her into the computer. I bought some software called Manga Studio Ex from Amazon and learnt how to use it (similar to Photoshop etc.). I used the software and a graphic pad and graphic pen to draw and colour the background and church using layers (a bit like drawing bits of a picture on acetate paper then laying them on top of each other to make a finished picture). I put the image together and saved it as a jpeg.
I'm not suggesting any of you go through all of this when you can buy a cover for £100 - £1,000 I am just saying this is what I did and I enjoyed doing it.
Loading the book up to Amazon.To load your book up to Amazon you need to go through their Kindle Direct Publishing page. click on the 'get started' link on that page to access the help notes. There are free guides to help you prepare your novel for publishing on the Kindle. All books are loaded to Amazon.com then they are automatically distributed to the other Amazon sites around the world; .co.uk, .de, .fr, .es and .it. India currently comes under the .com pages of Amazon.
I didn't need to do much formatting as novels are straightforward to format because they are text and don't have images or tables in them. My novel was in Word.
You need to have a blurb ready. This appears on the Amazon page as description and should entice the reader to buy your book. It's not quite the same as the pitch to a publisher because in the blurb you don't reveal the ending - you want the reader to buy your book.
Also you need a cover ready. It needs to be a specific size and format. Again the Kindle Direct Publishing page will tell you that and any half decent drawing package should be able to produce the desired results. If you buy a cover tell the artist you want it for an Amazon ebook cover because there are differences between that and say a printed book cover.
You also need to set the price. There is a lot of stuff on pricing in blogs. My research suggests that the optimum price for an ebook is $3.99 but please ignore this if you want ($3.99 is the most common price of bestselling ebooks - I know, "most common" is a loaded phrase, I used to teach statistics).
Obviously you need to set up an account with Amazon and give them your bank details so they can pay you. I set up a separate bank account from my household account so it is easier to calculate tax etc.
On Amazon you decide on the price your book sells at. At USA prices their terms are $0.99 - $2.99 you get 35% of cover price. At >$2.99 you get 70% of cover price. A traditional publisher may offer you 7% of cover price. This is why many self published writers are earning a living from writing.
Your book will take up to 48 hours to appear on Amazon; mine took 12 hours. (2 years for a traditional publisher to get your book in the shops...) OK I'll get off my high horse.
What next?Next I will load my book up to Createspace. Createspace are a print-on-demand publisher, that means they only print a book when it is ordered so no boxes of unsold books in your garage, and the best bit - it costs you nothing. They make your book - you can buy a proof copy - well worth it if you do it all yourself - so you can check it before you agree to it going out for sale. The reason I chose Createspace is that they sell through Amazon. So when I have completed that process my book on Amazon will be available as an ebook and as a paperback printed by Createspace.
Almost finally, but not least, I will load my book up to Smashwords. Smashwords are another ebook distributor. They distribute ebooks to Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple & Diesel and some other booksellers online. I will need to reformat my book because their ebook cruncher is slightly different to Amazon's but again they have great help on their website in the form of free downloadable pdf guides.
FinallyMarketing. All the usual suspects FaceBook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest etc. There doesn't seem to be any concensus on how to market ebooks. There are lots of opinions and lots of arguments but I think at the moment the best marketing is write a fantastic book with a brilliant cover and hope that you get lots of good reviews on Amazon.
If anyone has any opinions or questions please post them and I will try to answer them with my limited knowledge. Or why not check out some of my links on the right to my favourite blogs; there is some great free information out there.
You could even buy my book....