Your Guide to Self-Publishing

* The video version of this blog post is available here.

So, You have finished writing your book and you’re not sure what to do next? No worries, you’re in the right place. The information I’m about to share with you is from my own experiences and it took me some time to collect them all.

For those who don’t know, I have self-published both my poetry books and I researched a lot before making my decision on how to publish. I’m advising you to do the same and then choose what is the best option for you.

Before writing my book, I didn’t know anything about book publishing. I didn’t even know there were different ways to publish a book. By nature, I’m a very curious person, I once read in a writer’s Instagram bio “self-published”, after that I started researching it and  then I realized there are two common ways to publish a book,  which are traditional and self-publishing. Then, I started more in-depth research and after gathering enough information on both methods, I decided that self-publishing was for me.

Traditional publishing is when your book gets published by a publishing house. You either get that through an agent or directly send query letters to the publishing houses. As I haven’t published my books this way, I don’t have enough information except for what I’ve read and heard. But from what I read, with traditional publishing you don’t have 100% control over your book. The publishing house will have something to say on the cover design, on the content, and the editing. But the good part about that is your book will be at the bookstores, you’ll get better marketing, and you don’t get to spend any money. You’ll even get paid! How much you get paid is based on your contract with the publishing house. If you have an agent, you will pay your agent from the money you make from the sales and this also depends on your contract with your agent. If you have the patience and don’t mind someone having some control over your work, you can go with traditional publishing.

Self-publishing is when you are finished writing your book, you want to go through the publishing process yourself. There are many platforms for self-publishing, the one I’ve published my books with is (KDP) Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon is their parent company. Once everything is done with editing and cover design, you can create an account with KDP. When you’re done with creating your account, you can start the publishing process. For that, you will go through three stages, the first one is the book details like the title of the book, the genre, and the author’s name with some other information. The second is uploading your manuscript and cover files, select the book size, cover type, and the color of the paper. And the last step is pricing. If your book has no technical issues, you will save the changes and once the book passes their review, which takes about a couple of days, you are good to go and can approve your book. It may take some days for the book to be available on Amazon’s site and congratulations you’re officially a published author!

Little by little your book will be available on different Amazon websites and your readers can purchase them. A little thing to keep in mind here is the marketing part. If you have a lot of readers who are waiting for your book, then amazing, but you still need to do marketing to reach more readers, and if you don’t have as many readers, I suggest you read more about book marketing before and after your book is out. Because book publishing isn’t just having your book out there, you put it there for people to read it. So marketing is essential!

If you’re in a region where you have Amazon services, you can order author copies of your book which costs you less money, and check if local bookstores are willing to have your book at their bookstores and sell it for you or find companies that distribute books. You can pay them a percentage of the book sales. This way, you’ll have your books on display at the bookstores and your book will get more exposure, and likely more people will buy it. And if you don’t have Amazon services in your region, you can print it at your own expense and contact those companies that distribute books.

There are a few things to take into account if you consider self-publishing. The first thing is make sure to have your book edited. When I first published my first book, 5 a.m. Thoughts, a friend of mine offered to edit the book for free and I was like no, thank you. I know, it wasn’t a wise thing, but it was my first book and I didn’t mind it being published like this. Then a few months later, I started translating it to Kurdish, my first language. Some family and friends suggested that I add both versions in one book, English on one side and Kurdish on the opposite, so that people who want to learn English can benefit from it. I talked about it to my friend who had offered to edit the book and his advice was, “If you do that and people may learn from it, at least have it edited.” That’s when I asked him if the editing offer was still available, to my luck it was. 

The second thing to take into consideration is having a catchy cover design. I know people always say “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but let me break it to you, a good cover gets more attention and there are people who buy books just for the cover. So, make sure that your book has an attractive cover design.

My last advice would be, you can ask for feedback from people around you, but that doesn’t mean you should make changes based on everyone’s feedback. And if you loved something, something touched your heart, don’t change it for the world! When my friend designed the cover for my second book, I fell in love with it right away and no matter what anyone said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. If you haven’t seen the book and want to judge yourself, you can check it out on my website and social media pages.

If you have more questions about the whole process, don’t hesitate to write a comment here or reach out directly on Instagram @dlvanzirak.

Good luck with your book and I hope it is exactly how you want it to be.

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