How to self-publish a book on Amazon
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to self-publish a book on amazon, then this blog post is for you!
If you prefer to consume information in video form, then click on the image below:
I’ve self-published 2 books so far: Journey to Data Scientist (November 2017) and The Disruptors: Data Science Leaders (November 2018).
If you’re thinking about self-publishing, I assume you’ve already had some ideas about the potential topics you want to write about. It’s usually best to write about topics you either know about really well, or something that you have great interest in (so you don’t lose interest during the book writing process).
Pick 2-3 topics that you want to write about… now do some research to see if there are already similar books out in the marketplace. If not, consider the fact that maybe there just isn’t a need for this type of book. Or maybe someone hasn’t thought of writing it yet. If there are books on the topic out there already, think about how your book will stand out; what will you do differently?
Write the Outline & First Draft
Here is where the fun begins! Now that you’ve selected the topic that you want to write about – let’s assume it’s non-fiction. The next step is to write an outline of the sections you’d like to cover (these can turn into chapters in your book). One thing that’s helped me is after you’ve got the skeleton outline done, start adding sub-bullets, or meat to the bones. Take a week or so for this part, get all your thoughts out on paper, research the topic, get more ideas, and just fill out your detailed outline as far as you can.
The next step is to get a few people to actually listen to your thoughts, or read over your outline to see if they have suggestions (maybe you missed something and they can highlight that for you early on).
You are now ready to start writing! The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it is just the starting place, so I’d say just be consistent and write a set number of pages or words every day (and set a target date for when you want the draft completed).
There are two questions I’ll answer today that came from the comments on the original post:
I think style and vocabulary for a technical book is very important. If you write the material in a dry and boring tone, you’ll lose the reader. However, if you can get creative in how you share your technical knowledge with the audience, you can really stand apart from others and be successful!
Create KDP Account & Appeal of Self-Publishing
In this video we’ll talk about creating a Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP account. This account will be used for both the eBook or kindle version of the book, as well as the paperback version of the book.
Before I get into the actual creation of the account, I’ll just spend a few minutes talking about why I chose to go with self-publishing. I don’t like deadlines (unless they are self-imposed) and working with a publisher usually ends up in having to hit deadlines. Self-publishing has been great for me because once the book goes live, I don’t have to worry about printing, shipping, returns, etc. Amazon takes care of it for me. The main thing I need to focus on is marketing the book – which is my favorite part 😊 – because who best to talk about the book, then the person that wrote it?
Create an account on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Type in the information about your book (title, subtitle, author name, co-author, description, etc.).
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique numeric commercial book identifier. Publishers purchase an ISBN from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.
You will need an ISBN for the book. Amazon can provide you with a “free” ISBN if you sell the book only with them. If you want to sell in other markets, then you will have to get outside of Amazon. I’ve used Amazon’s ISBN for both books because I knew I wanted to sell on Amazon.
Select Book Size
Select the size of the book (both of mine are 6in by 9in – which is the standard book sizing for non-fiction books).
I ended up hiring an editor for the book – to make sure that everything flowed well and to catch any last-minute mistakes (like typos, etc.). It also helped to review the book myself and ask a friend or two to give it a read-through and note any typos. When you’ve been looking at the same book for too long, you tend to miss silly mistakes.
Once it’s designed, simply upload the PDF version to KDP.
Select Paper Color
You have a choice of cream or white interior paper; some people say that cream is easier on the eyes while reading but I prefer white as it just looks crisper.
You can design the cover yourself or outsource this part; depending on your preference and abilities. Once it’s designed, simply upload the PDF version to KDP. They will review it and let you know if it looks “OKAY” for publishing.
Testimonials & Foreword
Asking for testimonials/ reviews from 10-20 people helps you get a pulse check to see if the book is good to go. It also provides some sense of credibility to the readers that see that others have liked the book. Asking for someone else to write your foreword (preferably someone respected and well-known in the domain), helps your book gain credibility. These are things I ended up doing for my second book (The Disruptors: Data Science Leaders).
Submit for KDP Review
Once your manuscript & cover is saved in a PDF and uploaded to KDP’s platform; they conduct a quality check to make sure that words aren’t running off the pages, the cover isn’t blurry, pictures inside the book have adequate resolution, etc. It takes 1-2 days for the quality check to be completed.
Order Author Copy
Once KDP reviews and approves your book, you can order an author’s copy to review the book prior to publishing. You can also preview each page right on your screen to see how it would look printed (or how it would look on various devices if you’re publishing an eBook / Kindle version as well.
Set the Price for Paperback & Kindle
You can play with the pricing calculator to see how much royalty you’ll make on each book depending on the price you set. One thing I’ll note – if you choose to use color in your book interior – you can expect to see a large increase in the overall cost of printing the book. I’ve opted for black and white interior to save on cost; which leads to a lower cost of book to the consumer.
You can opt into expanded distribution options with Amazon (I decided to do so to broaden my market place).
Amazon will tell you that your book will be live within 24-48 hours – YAY! The hard work paid off, you’re ready to publish.
Marketing & Sales
My advice is that you should start marketing your book the day you decide to write it. Get your audience/ community involved in the process; you’ll get several ideas on how to improve the book to fit their needs. Adding a link to your book in your email signature is a great way to let people know about it.
Good luck with your book!