If you have a desire to publish a book, you aren’t alone. There are thousands of people with a dream of seeing their name printed on the cover of their very own book, though it often seems like a dream and not a reality. However, thanks to self-publishing, it is now something completely in your grasp. When you self-publish, you no longer have to write to literary agents, deal with rejections, and just hope one person at a publisher’s house likes your book and will agree to publish it for you.
Self-publishing puts everything in your hands, from choosing what to write about, to writing, editing, formatting, and even designing the book cover. While you can hire out many of these services, the last word is always yours. There are many benefits to self-publishing, including controlling what goes in your book, getting it out in the market quickly, and having full control over your commissions.
To get started, consider one of these popular self-publishing platforms. While similar, each one of them has some unique qualities you might want to think about.
One of the most popular and well-known self-publishing platforms is Lulu. It is no surprise that you most likely have heard of it before. They are often known as the pioneer of self-publishing, being one of the very first to provide this option to authors. Unlike some of the other publishing platforms, Lulu provides their services worldwide, instead of nationally. They also have their own online marketplace of books, so if you self-publish, you can distribute it elsewhere, but also have it on their website. This extends the reach to help more people find your book.
Lulu offers both eBook and printed book publishing, so you can pick one or the other, or go with both options to reach a wider audience of readers. In addition to printing or publishing your book, they also have a staff of people to help with editing and proofreading, formatting, and graphic design for a custom-made book cover. All that is really needed at Lulu is to complete your book, upload the files, then select your options. You will pay for their services, but you also get to set the price you want to sell your book for.
Another popular platform to use for self-publishing your book is CreateSpace. This platform is also great for both printed and eBooks. In fact, it is one of the most used platforms for independent authors that want to print their books to distribute to the bookstores and gift shops of their choice. One of the benefits of CreateSpace is that it is fairly affordable. While all self-publishing companies are going to charge you for their services, and more for printing the book, CreateSpace has competitive rates. They do tend to cost a little less than Lulu, though since Lulu is more known, there aren’t quite as many people looking through the online marketplace
CreateSpace also has this excellent service where you approve of your book online before it is printed. They show a live preview of what it will look like as a printed book. This lets you see it before being printed so you can make any necessary corrections. One drawback you need to be aware of with CreateSpace is that the price for international distributions is considerably more expensive. You really need to decide if you only want to print the book locally, or if you’re interested in international printing. All of these self-publishing companies do offer eBook publishing, but not all of them have a printing option. So if you really want to have a book printed and distributed at local gift shops or bookstores, definitely consider CreateSpace. Take a look at their website and services as compared to Lulu when deciding which one will work best for you. You can also try asking around and reading reviews to get a better idea of which one to go with.
Smashwords is also very well-known, often times just as known as Lulu. One of the major advantages of Smashwords is that they don’t charge a lot of fees. They only earn their money through commissions when you sell your book. There aren’t fees to use their services or get your eBook distributed. However, that also means you are responsible for the writing, editing, and formatting of your book. One thing you should know is that they only distribute eBooks at this time. No printing services are offered.
Smashwords distributes to many of the top digital book retailers, including Amazon, iBook’s, and Barnes and Noble. Like many of the other self-publishing platforms, they also have their own marketplace where you can sell your book. They are a global distributor, so your eBook is seen by a larger audience as well. While they earn commissions, you can set how much they earn since you make all prices for your book. Everything at Smashwords is completely free, including ISBNs, conversion to different formats, updates, and metadata management.
Kobo is a unique self-publishing platform in that they don’t distribute to all the different marketplaces that sell eBooks. So what is the perk? Mainly because with Kobo, you pay less commissions, but still have the simplified publishing process. When you use Kobo, your eBook ends up in their unique marketplace, but it also works with the Kobo e-reader and the Sony e-reader. People who specifically have these e-readers might be looking at Kobo for their eBooks, and not Amazon or other marketplaces.
You will receive 70 percent of the retail price of your book, so that helps you set a good price. There is also no middleman to be concerned with. It is only a transaction between you and Kobo. While it might not be quite as popular as some of the other publishing platforms, it definitely has some unique qualities you can’t get elsewhere. However, keep in mind a drawback to using Kobo is that you need to acquire your own ISBN in order to sell the book. Other self-publishing platforms often provide this for you.
Kobo is more of a simplified self-publishing platform. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some of the other companies have, but for some authors, this is the preferred option. They aren’t going to try to constantly sell you upgrades and services, but instead just leave it up to you to put out a quality eBook.
For those of you that buy most of your eBooks from Amazon, you will probably prefer to use Kindle for your self-publishing needs. Kindle also doesn’t print books for you, but they allow you to create your eBook and sell it as a Kindle book. This allows anyone shopping on Amazon to find it, which is one of the largest marketplaces for books online. Within about 24 hours, Amazon claims to have your eBook ready and in the marketplace for quick sales. This is another self-publishing platform that gives you 70 percent of your sales. It also has a variety of worldwide sales, including in countries like Canada, UK, France, Japan, Mexico, Australia, and Germany.
If you are wondering whether or not Kindle works for your self-publishing platform, take a little survey with your friends and loved ones. Ask them what e-reader they have and how they find their eBooks. If a good majority of them either rave a Kindle or buy eBooks through Amazon, then you know that is the one to choose from. However, if you want a printed book with the self-publishing platform, or most of your friends don’t mind using other marketplaces, it might not be the best fit for you.
While the Nook devices aren’t quite as popular as Kindle and other e-readers, many people still use them. Some people are strict about using their Nook and only buying eBooks from Barnes and Noble. If you want to cater to this crowd, you can choose to publish your book through Nook. The press for Nook is completely free, and there aren’t any delivery or production fees since you are only using digital books and not printed books with Nook. You will be able to edit and format the book, and even write it by using their platform.
There are still millions of people that shop at Barnes and Noble for eBooks, especially online. They have a very large marketplace and when you can add the book directly to your Nook, it is even better for the success of your book. Both Nook and Amazon have a marketplace the customer can actually access directly from the e-reader itself, so they tend to buy more eBooks than someone who is using their computer or other mobile device. This is something to keep in mind when you are deciding which of the self-publishing platforms will work best for your situation.
Tips for Creating an eCover
Now that you have a better idea of the different self-publishing platforms available, you can start designing your eCover. This is actually a very important part of the process, so don’t consider it to be nothing more than an afterthought. When looking through the marketplace, most people are going to pay attention to the book cover, and not bother reading the title or book description until that cover catches their eye. Your cover needs to be visually appealing, easy to read, have vibrant imagery, but not be too busy. There is a technique to creating an eCover that will help your book do very well.
The shape of the book cover – The first thing you will do is figure out what shape and size of book cover you want to create. For the actual book cover design that goes on the various marketplaces, it will either be a 4:3 ratio or 3:2 ratio in a rectangle shape. When designing a cover for a website or blog, you can also choose a square-shaped image.
Choosing the right image – With the image, you need it to be seen on different screens and in different formats. For example, it should be just as clear in a small thumbnail when people are shopping through online marketplaces as when it is ion a product page or screen of their e-reader. You also need to have a good balance between the image and the text, as both need to be seen clearly.
Selecting the background – Most book covers don’t have a white background, but instead use either a solid color, combination of color blocks, or a pattern. The background you choose should be selected after you choose your image, since this determines what background color or pattern will be appropriate.
Keep the text minimal – Don’t get too fancy with the font on the book cover. If you make it too big, too small, or use too many different styles of fonts, it becomes harder to read clearly. It should be basic information only, with the book title and author name. Some book covers have room for a short description of the book, but it isn’t required.
Test out the covers – get opinions and recommendations, show them to your friends, and actually print out the covers so you can see what they will look like up close. Printing is especially important if you intend to have printed books. With eBooks, open them up in various sizes, formats, and e-readers so you get an idea of how it will look in different online marketplaces.
With these basic elements, you will be on your way to having an effective book cover. Keep in mind the importance of the book cover and hire someone else to design it for you if needed.
When you combine using the right self-publishing platform, making sure the book is edited and formatted properly, and using a killer book cover, you have everything you need for a successful release. Remember you can use multiple platforms for different books if you want to test each one of them out to see which of them is working good for the types of books you want to sell.