Did you know it is possible to publish your book without spending a penny?
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I wrote for years, regardless of whether or not I would get my book published. Even when I resolved to complete it, I didn’t know how, or even if, I would be able to get it published.
I researched hiring an editor. Expensive! I looked into publishers, submitting a book proposal, and the odds of anyone paying attention to my book. Daunting! I began looking into self-publishing, whether that was within my means. Realistic!
This is when I learned all that Amazon has to offer. First, I saw that I could publish my book as an ebook at no cost. Once on their website, I found they have a print-on-demand for paperbacks at no cost. Having few dollars, and desiring to get my book on the market, I proceeded.
While one can upload a manuscript directly to Amazon, to keep options open for other publishers, such as Barnes & Noble, I used Reedsy for formatting my book. From Reedsy (https://reedsy.com/) I was able to format it both as an ebook and for printing, and I will be able to use it anywhere I might publish it.
Uploading and formatting
I wrote my book on my word processing program. One can write online, but I like my own program. I didn’t concern myself with formatting until I got online. When I did, I used Reedsy.
Reedsy has everything.
- Setting up your book by chapters.
- Specific spots for a Preface, Introduction, Foreword, Dedication, and Author page.
- It arranges those pages and your chapters into a Table of Contents.
- A copyright form, where you get to write your own copyright.
When I copied my text to Reedsy, it did not retain text I had in italics. I had to locate each one in my word document and italicize those things on Reedsy.
When done uploading and formatting, you proceed to typesetting. Reedsy allows you to choose from a few formats, book sizes, and typefaces. It typesets ebooks and printed books separately.
Typesetting happens quickly. Within a minute or two, they send an email with your file to download. Once downloaded, you unzip the file for uploading it to your publisher.
Amazon’s publishing website is Kindle Direct Publishing, known as KDP ( https://kdp.amazon.com/). KDP covers every last item of the process.
I am blessed to have a son who is highly capable of designing, and he did a great job with my book cover. If you don’t have that option, fear not. You can create your book cover on KDP.
Ebooks require only a front cover. Formatting is easy. Printed versions require front, spine, and back. KDP provides a template, which is created by the book size you choose and the number of pages of your book. The template is created after you upload your manuscript.
If you don’t have a book cover before getting on KDP, they provide the tools for creating one.
The publishing process
KDP takes you through the steps:
- First, you register your name, address, and everything needed for them to pay your royalties.
- Next, you select your format and upload your manuscript. Then, you either upload your book cover or create it on KDP.
- Finally, you set your selling price, marketplace, royalty options, etc.
KDP is easy to use. Any time you do something that doesn’t work right, or you forget a step, they catch it and provide clear information so you can get it right and proceed. If you aren’t sure of something, their Help menus along the way (which I used a lot) provide every answer.
When uploading your manuscript, it takes several minutes for it to be processed. The same goes for the book cover. If there is a problem with your upload, you get a message. Your manuscript uploaded successfully! is a wonderful message to receive!
You also get a note whether there are any spelling errors (see bottom of pic, above). I had no errors! But, of course, no spelling errors does not mean no errors of all types, such as missing words (I had a few of those), or a wrong word (example: I had an our where I wanted an or).
The good news is that you can make your corrections and reupload your manuscript. I reuploaded to the ebook a few times, as readers found boo-boos. When I published the print edition, after I created it I bought a proof copy (authors buy their books at cost). I read it, found the our/or problem, had my son tweek the cover, and made a few other minor text changes, and reuploaded both the manuscript and cover.
When you have the publishing process completed, you price your book. It’s completely in your hands to set the price. Julie and I looked at prices of lots of books—similar types and number of pages—decided we wanted to price mine to sell while allowing for a respectable profit. $4.99 for my ebook is pretty low, as is $12.97 for the printed version, and both prices, I hope, help make the book appealing.
You’re all done! Now, your book goes to KDP’s review process. They indicate this can take a few days. I received emails within twenty-four hours that my book was approved. Amazon made it live on their website and people could begin to purchase it.
ISBN and bar code
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is not required for an ebook. I wanted it, so I purchased my own: http://www.bowker.com/products/ISBN-US.html.
When publishing a printed version, KDP will provide an ISBN.
They also provide the bar code for the back cover. Note, on the template, above, the yellow rectangle where it is placed. When you create your cover, you need to leave that space blank.
So, did publishing cost me anything?
I purchased a block of ten ISBNs, because I have my next book in the works and I might be publishing other places.
I had Staples print my manuscript twice, to be able to read it off the page and mark it up. On 8″ x 11″ paper, my approximately 94,000 words took 168 sheets and cost about $21.00 per printing.
How long does it all take?
First, you have to write! I began writing in 2013. In December 2016, I began working those pieces into chapters of the book. I wrote diligently for four months, believing I had my first draft done in April 2017.
My life changed dramatically throughout 2017 and early in 2018. When I finally had the desire to write again last summer, I had to add a few chapters and then write the two concluding chapters.
I had my first draft done in September. I then had two friends read it. I made corrections from their feedback. I then did a hard edit and took out 9,000 words, removing no content but a lot of wordy chaff.
In December, Julie took over as editor. We worked together for three weeks. We had it printed, read it, found errors, and made improvements. I typed those into the manuscript and printed it again, and checked it one more time. I had two other people read this final draft, mostly for how it read, the flow of the subject matter, did it make sense, did they enjoy it, was it helpful.
That all took most of January. I went on KDP and within a few days had it uploaded and for sale!