How to self publish a book
Words and ideas can change the world
In a recent blog post, somewhat rashly, I said I would write a book in 2023. My younger brother picked up on this and asked how he could pre-order it. I know very little about publishing books, but as Jeremy Clarkson might say, How hard can it be? What follows is the self publishing guide I will refer back to later this year. One of best ways to test if you understand something is to write it down.
Self publishing process
There are many ways to self-publish books. The process outlined is based on the approach James Altucher took.
Write the book
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. - Douglas Adams
Mine will be a non-fiction book and, to a large degree, based on the themes I have covered in my blog. It will either be about mental models or how to develop mobile apps. My inclination is to write a relatively short book, 50 - 100 pages, given that some of my favourite books are that concise. For the title and book structure I will revisit Rob Fitzpatrick’s book Write Useful Books. I will take some A Bit Gamey blog posts, rewrite to some degree, supplement with original material, add illustrative graphics and create an overall storyline.
Direct Publishing platform
The self-publishing industry's business model is based on selling you your own book. You're giving them money so that you can feel like a writer. - Oliver Malloy
I will sell my book on Amazon and use their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform to do so. Formatted templates need to be downloaded, completed then uploaded. I plan to create the book design, edit based on reviewer feedback and undertake all the necessary publishing steps myself. The KDP publishing process is free to use. Amazon pay authors 35% of eBook revenues and 60% of print book revenues net of printing costs. Paperbacks are based on print-on-demand.
The KDP publication steps detailed in Self Publishing on Amazon are:
Create a KDP account. Go to Kindle Direct Publishing, register with an email and provide tax details.
Provide a book title and sub-title. Good titles/sub-titles make it clear what topic is covered, who it is for and what benefits are provided. Here are The 3 Questions Great Headlines Address.
Create a book cover. Potential readers will judge the book by its cover so it’s worth spending time on it. Apply the 4 Visual Design Principles: Proximity, Alignment, Repetition and Contrast. Freelance design services include: 99 Designs and 100 Covers.
Choose keywords. Select seven keywords. If someone were searching for a book on the topic covered then they may type one or more of these keywords.
Select categories. Choose from Amazon’s categories and sub-categories. Use relevant categories that are trending with limited competition. Use the Improve Your Amazon Book Categories guide.
Upload script. In KDP, navigate to Your Bookshelf, Kindle eBook Actions, Edit eBook Content then Upload eBook manuscript. Amazon supported formats are: PDF, HTML, MOBI (fixed layout eBooks only), RTF (Rich Text Format) and TXT (plain text).
Set price for eBook and print versions. eBooks are typically priced between £2.99 and £9.99. Use competitor analysis.
Press publish and launch. Amazon picks an ISBN number.
I will reach out cross my entire network, including Substack, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Hacker News and Indie Hackers. I will apply User Growth techniques, including: creating a Press Release on my website PhilMartin.net, writing a blog post about the book, seeking to be featured in other people’s blog posts and podcasts, and appearing on radio. I will also hand out free copies of my book, when I think it makes sense. More generally, I will apply gorilla marketing techniques, possibly using AI.
Choose Yourself book by James Altucher
Building Our Digital Assets post by Phil Martin
Pick Ourselves post by Phil Martin
I have one pre-order for my book - Yes, Bro, that’s you. Please let me know if you may be interested too.