In my previous life at CWNP, we published five technical study guides. We authored several versions of the first 2, then acted as technical editor and editor on the others. It was a long and grueling process that seemed never to end. That was before Jeff Bezos was the wealthiest man in history and before Amazon did to publishing what it did to ecommerce. Today, if you can create the content to fill a book, the rest is fairly straightforward. Below is the step by step process I went through to self publish the book, “Practice Your Pitch“, which was made available on Amazon.com over the weekend.
Write the Book
There’s no question this step is by far the hardest, as it should be. Putting packaging around written content takes some creativity, but not nearly the time consuming effort of planning, outlining, reorganizing, writing, editing, and finalizing thousands of words. There’s no getting around it: writing a book is a marathon. I will never run an actual 26.1 mile marathon, but if you have the time and content, I highly encourage you to write and publish your own book. For anyone to self publish a book, the process has never been easier.
Edit the Book
I asked around, looked around, and learned a lot about hiring an editor for a book. I ended up hiring an editor from 99designs.com. That was the first of three different job tasks I outsourced through 99designs.com and Fiverr.com. What I learned is that hiring from those sites is very similar to getting plugins for WordPress. Look for the top providers with the most experience and the most positive recommendations. I made a mistake in this area, and had to make up for it. More on that further down.
Format the Interior
Also known as the manuscript, the “interior” is all the words you wrote. Those thousands of words have to be properly formatted to fit and look right on the specific size book you’re going to use. I chose 5×8″, which is a standard on Createspace, which is the printing arm of Amazon.com’s self publishing service.
This point is where I made the mistake. I chose a provider that did not have the most positive reviews, but who offered to do the cover and the interior for a discounted rate. The cover ended up fine. The interior, not so much. After four iterations, I changed providers to someone who had the most positive reviews of anyone who offered that service, and yet one of the lowest prices. Even better, that provider turned the project around in less than 24 hours. The result was far, far better than the first provider.
For the design of the interior, it’s just words, so there are only so many options for design. Little things like page number on the top or bottom; book title on every page; a simple line above or below the page number; font and size, etc. My only hard request was that I wanted each chapter to start on the right side page of the book. Everything else was standard.
Design a Cover
I had a general idea of what I wanted the cover to look like, so I mocked that up on Canva.com, and sent that idea to the designer that I had previously chosen for the cover and interior. The designer turned around a cover that I really liked after a few iterations. Both the cover and the interior were iterative processes because, ultimately, they have to work within the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing format.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
We used KDP back in the day when we published The CWNP Dictionary of Wireless Terms and Acronyms. KDP has much improved since then, in both form and process. It took me about 30 minutes to set everything up as far as choosing format, pricing, payment, distribution, etc. After that’s done, you upload the manuscript (RTF) and your cover (PDF).
Then you preview the book. It’s in this piece of the process that you see all the errors, either spelling or formatting. That’s where I learned that Amazon’s internal dictionaries don’t recognize “startup” as a word. At this stage, it starts to seem tedious, because you must go through and look at every single page to make sure it’s correct. You’re almost there, and you’re excited and you want to get it done, and this part of the process drags like molasses.
My experience also required some intervention from the KDP team. For reasons they did not disclose, the interior of the book had a formatting error on every page. It showed me that the page number on every single page was outside the printable area, even though it clearly was not. Turns out, there was some sort of internal error with my publication. They fixed it in a few days, and we were all set.
Self-Publishing Has Never Been Easier
And that’s it. A few days later, the book was available on Kindle and in paperback. After the marathon of writing the text of the book, the other pieces of formatting the interior, designing the cover, and setting everything up on KDP took less than 3 weeks. And that included a total do-over with the interior and a half dozen iterations on the cover.
Have you ever thought of writing a book? What’s stopping you?