BOOK REVIEW – SUCCESSFUL SELF PUBLISHING BY JOANNA PENN

Successful self-publishingIf you are looking to self-publish your own book or become an authorprenuer then Successful Self-Publishing subtitled, How To Self-Publish and Market Your Book, will give you a broad overview about how to go about doing that and a good start. Joanna Penn, the author has written a number of other books which go into some of the topics discussed in this book in more depth but here she presents a great starting point and insights into what you will need to do to self-publish your own book.

The book is split into two parts. Part 1 titled – How to self-publish, discusses how to self publish a book while part 2 titled – How to market a book, is about marketing your self-published book. This is not a large book, it’s just over 100 pages, so you can go through it in less than Han 3 hours.

Below are the titles of what is contained in each part of the book.

PART 1 – HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH

There are 14 chapters in this part of the book with the following titles:

  1. Before you self-publish
  2. Why self-publish an ebook
  3. How to format an ebook
  4. Exclusivity and going direct
  5. How to self-publish an ebook
  6. Why self-publish a print book
  7. Print on demand will change your life
  8. Before you print
  9. How to self-publish a print book
  10. What if you need help to self-publish
  11. How to self-publish an audiobook
  12. After self-publishing
  13. How much does it cost to self-publish
  14. How do you get paid when you self-publish

PART II – HOW TO MARKET A BOOK

This part of the book has three chapters which are:

  1. Marketing principles
  2. How to market fiction
  3. How to market non-fiction.

As you can see from the chapter titles this book does try to cover a lot of ground and it does gives us a good taste of what self-publishing is about. Joanna does point to a lot of references to learn more about some of the topics. Some of the references are to her products and some to other authors. What I will say is that if you are planning to go into self-publishing, this is a good book to start with.

15 PERSONAL INSIGHTS

Following some key insights I took away from the book.

  1. Some of the reasons why you should become a self-published author are, you will have control over your book, you can publish books faster, you can make more money from the sale of your book when compared to traditional book deals and you can clearly see where your book is selling and why. But remember, self-publishing has its own challenges and is a lot of hard work since you may have to do everything yourself.
  2. Steps you must take to publish your own book include, write a good book, decide on your definition of success, for example, to successfully publish a book or sell a certain amount of copies. Next, get a great book cover design, write your sales description for the book and decide on your categories and key words.
  3. There are two ways to format an ebook. You can either do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you.The advantage of doing it yourself is to maintain control over it. For instance, if at anytime you want to change or update the cover then you can do it yourself quickly and when you want to. If you hire someone to do it then each update will require you to pay them. But if you don’t have the skills or time to do it then you will have to pay someone to so it for you.
  4. When considering selling your ebooks you have to decide if you want to sell it exclusive on Amazon or on multiple platforms. While Amazon has a broad reach and is the biggest ebook retailer, there are so some many opportunities to reach a wider audience by selling your books on multiple platforms. This is something you should do your reseach on to be clear about the advantages of both approaches. If you are starting out it may be a good idea to start exclusively with Amazon because it’s less complicated. As you become more experienced and have more resources then you may decide to expand beyond Amazon.
  5. If you want to publish to a variety of platforms then you can use ebook aggregators who will publish your ebook to a wide variety of platforms for a small percentage of sales. Some of these aggregators are:
    1. Draft2Digital for Nook
    2. PublishDrive for Google Play
  6. There are a number of sites for direct self-publishing your ebook. Some of them are:
    1. Amazon KDP
    2. Kobo Writing Life
    3. Barnes and Noble Press
    4. iTunes Connect for Apple Books
  7. Setting up an account and using self-publishing platforms is neither difficult nor technical. You can learn how to use them by setting up account on the various ones (such as those listed above). If you are going to be a successful authorpreneur be ready to experiment and try out different platforms till you find one that works for you.
  8. When setting up an account on the self-publishing platform, the information you will need to register your ebook is:
    1. Book title
    2. Sub-title (if you have one)
    3. Series titled and volume (if your book is part of a series)
    4. Edition number
    5. Publisher
    6. Description
    7. Book contributors
    8. Language
    9. ISBN (optional)
    10. Verify your publishing rights (if you intend to republish a book in the public domain)
    11. Categories (what category your book falls into)
    12. Age range
    13. Key words
    14. Book release option (do you want to publish now or have the book up for pre-order?)
    15. Book cover (which you should upload)
    16. Book file (which you should upload)
    17. DRM (Digital Rights Management, a way of locking a book to a specific format)
    18. Book previews
    19. Publishing territories (you can make your book available worldwide)
    20. Pricing
  9. You may think printing a print book is difficult but you can use print-on-demand (POD). Joanna defines POD services as follows, ‘you load a cover file and an interior book file to a POD service and when a customer orders one of your books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or another bookstore, one copy is printed and sent directly to the customer’.
  10. POD has some great benefits which include:
    1. No upfront printing costs
    2. No warehousing or inventory management or accounting for stock
    3. No piles of books in your garage
    4. No shipping costs or packaging or running down to the post office every day to manage delivery
    5. No pulping of leftover books and no remainders going to the landfill.
  11. It is also free to self-publish on many of the POD platforms, they just take a cut of the sales.
  12. How much does it cost to self-publish? Good question. Let’s look at the various  costs. Here they are according to Joanna:
    1. Editing: $300 – $2000
    2. Book cover design: $50 – $300
    3. Formatting: $50 – $300
    4. Self-publishing on the platforms: no cost
  13. You’ve also got to think about how you get paid for your self-published books. Various platforms will give you different levels of royalties which for the most part are still high.
    1. Amazon: Royalties of 70% for books priced between $2.99 – $9.99 (it goes down to 35% for books outside that price range).
    2. Kobo Books: 70% royalties
    3. Apple Books: 70% royalties
    4. Nook: 60% royalties
    5. Aggregators such as Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, StreetLib and Smashwords: Around 60-85%
  14. Other things you will need to consider when it comes to payment are when you get paid (most pay 60 days after the end of the month of sales) and tax information.
  15. It is not enough to publish your book, you have to market it. The term ‘if you build it (or write it in this case) they will come’ does not work. You have to market your book. Joanna helps us understand that we have to have a particular mindset about marketing our book. Some of the advice she offers are:
    1. Change your attitude towards marketing – stop seeing it as negative. See it as a way to share what you love with people so they can enjoy it too.
    2. Think about the reader. According to Joanna, ‘Writing is about you. Publishing is about the book. Marketing is about the reader.’ Marketing is about considering the person who consumes the product and what they want out of the experience.
    3. Own your website and have your own email list. This allows you to engage people and have somewhere you can direct people to find out about you and what you write.
    4. Learn how to use metadata well. Metadata, which is information about your book such as the title, sub-title, series title, sales description, keywords and categories can help your book stand out as people are more clear about what your book is about and who it caters for.
    5. Find different ways to get noticed. This may involve doing things like, blogging, posting on social media, paid advertising, podcasting and giving free webinars.
    6. Be generous, promote other authors that you like and who also may be in the category you are writing in. Do it consistently enough and it will come back to you. People will promote your work too.
    7. Be authentic. About this, Joanna writes that, ‘The more you share on a personal level, the more people will get to know and trust you, then they are far more likely to want to buy your books
    8. Get your books reviewed on platforms like Goodreads.
    9. Measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

For a book that is just over 100 pages, it does cover a lot of ground and gives us a good glimpse of the world of self-publishing. What are you waiting for? Start writing that book.

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