I've just published my first novel "Daughters' Dilemma" about the choices women make between career and family through amazon.com. I've been so impressed by the process and by the tools provided by amazon that I wanted to share some general tips for others who have been considering self-publishing.
1. Perfect your manuscript
I'd originally planned to use a literary agent and established publishing house to publish Daughters' Dilemma, so after I'd completed the book I spent a further year working with an editor, seeking feedback at the La Jolla Writers' Conference, asking friends to review the draft, and proofreading before I was satisfied with the final manuscript. Self publishing options do not include editing services so it's up to the author to ensure that the book is publication-ready.
2. Create an eye-catching cover
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but in reality that is exactly what people do. I found a very useful list of cover designers and ebook formatters compiled by Mark Coker at Smashwords, and used Cal Sharp of Caligraphics to design my cover. I can't speak highly enough of Cal's work and excellent customer service.
3. Follow submission style guides
Kindle Direct Publishing provides a useful guide to its eBook formatting requirements and you can review how the book will look on different platforms - Kindle, iPad and in a browser. Smashwords has a more detailed style guide written by Mark Coker that was even more useful and helped me troubleshoot some initial problems with unrecognized symbols. For print copies of your book, Createspace, which is now a subsidiary of amazon.com also provides a step-by step guide to submission, and you can review a digital proof onlione as well as order a printed proof to ensure your book looks the way you want.
4. Consider your marketing strategy
Think about your objectives from publishing the book. Do you want to gain a wide readership and build a reputation as a writer or is financial gain from your book more important? These factors will impact your decisions on how to price your book, and on which distribution channels you would like to use. I opted to go for maximum volume since I'm establishing my name as an author, so I have taken advantage of Createspace's expanded distribution option, which includes bookstores and libraries as well as e-tailers, and have also priced my book towards the minimum of the allowed range. Kindle Select allows you to offer free eBook promotions for five days every three months and this can be a great way to get your book out there.
Social media are a critical part of any marketing strategy and you can link your blog, website, tweets and facebook postings with your amazon.com author page. Amazon.com also allows you to track your sales and royalties so you can monitor the impact of your marketing activities.
If you've always wanted to publish a book, it's never been easier!