A self help guide for aspiring authors to self publish.
Why self publish?
Publication means two things: 1. Communication/delivery of content; 2. Marketing. Most authors presume that the publisher would do the both. No. He will at best do the first and would expect you to market your product.
However the publication contract would have a subtle clause that if publisher chooses he can publish/adapt/rewrite the content to make it suitable for any medium e.g movie or ebook without payment of any additional royalty.
Publisher don’t want your work; they want some famous personality to write for them. Somebody who would not require marketing. Worst is when a publisher asks money from author to meet the expences and yet does nothing to help in marketing. In a previous post about notionpress, I had mentioned that they offer to publish themselves and promised to market on amazon. But in my experience, my book is available from notionpress website and still not available on amazon.
Another problem with authors is lack of transparency in accounts. Smaller publishers are outright dishonest.
Why prefer Amazon Kindle:
Don’t prefer. Try others and let me know. But problem is others don’t want individuals. They prefer dealing with publishers. Try Kobo or Google books. But I prefer Amazon. Surprisingly its kindle has made huge penetration in India as well and it is rising.
Second reason is transparency. The moment a book is sold, it is logged in. One can check the sale any time from the dash board. Payment is made every month but first payment will start after two months or so. For citizens of India selling books in USA is now taxed at 15% which is called withholding (like TDS in India). Earlier it was 30%.
Third is that Amazon kindle now offers the publication of ebook as well as paperback from the same kindle dashboard. Off course for publishing ebook, less word processing skill is required.
How to start?
First prepare the manuscript. Type title, author and copyright details on first page. (Those who know how to do may insert a live index of chapters on next page) Thereafter title heading of each chapter followed by its contents. Do enter page break after each chapter. Save in .doc file format for best results. PDF is often a trouble for ebook. Alternatively you may supply the content in text format as well. Upload and follow instructions.
For paper back you need more formatting. Create a pdf with same settings as you would like it to appear in print. Upload it when prompted to publish paperback or could do it later.
This is kindle welcome screen.
If you are already a user of amazon site and have an account, use this page to start publishing.
How to learn more?
Trying is learning. Upload manuscript. Download ebook in mobi format and check for formatting errors. Correct the errors and upload again. My first book had to be uploaded 25 times. But amazon is more forgiving now and corrects many thing itself now.
If you have no word-processing skills, please find someone who does. They can be somebody in local cyber-cafe or a professional called “laser type setter” in publication industry in India. Have a pdf book of the size 6″X9″ (i.e. six inches by nine inches) prepared. Going rate for this work does not exceed Rs. 35/- per page at maximum. Upload and download. get errors corrected. However the amazon also has certain formatting guidelines for publishing paperback which can be downloaded from here.
Some more tools:
I use Linux but I think mac/window versions of first two tools are available.
ebook reader: I use Calibre. It also serves handy for conversion into different formats.
Word Processor: LibreOffice or Open office (Available for Mac/windows)
ebook editor: Sigil is my choice for ebook editor. But you may not need in the beginning. But it is handy to correct errors. Further it can be used to create files in epub an open source format of ebook which can also be uploaded on kindle, directly.
That all. So simple.
Go and self publish. Stop being a lazy bone.
P.S.: Caution about royalty:
Amazon pays 70% royalty to authors of ebooks, who sell in India. However paperback is only in USD. Therefore it is impractically expensive. More so delivery charge equals the cost of book. On paperback the royalty is rather frugal. It says that royalty is 60% but that is misleading because the way it is calculated. Amazon takes first cut of 40% of the total price. The author gets 60% minus the cost of printing of book. In real terms it end up very less. So do consider if it is worth it.