Self-publishing a book is pretty straightforward these days. There are certain hoops you must jump through (such as very specific document formatting) but there is help. In addition to being able to publish your book quite easily and fast, it is amazing that it costs virtually nothing out of pocket. As you sell books, the publisher will take a cut and give you a royalty. Since with ebooks there is no printing, inventory, storage, or shipping and handling, your royalty will be quite respectable. Even with print-on-demand hard copy books there is no inventory or storage so your royalty is still pretty substantial.
What a lot of people find difficult is getting started. How do you even begin to self-publish a book? I’ve found some resources that will get you “out there” real fast and relatively simply. I’ve personally used these so I know they work, especially with no prior self-publishing experience.
Your eBook Everywhere. If you want to publish an ebook version of your work, downloadable from mainstream ebook stores in nearly any ebook format, then I would recommend Smashwords.com. Smashwords is an excellent publishing resource. They will publish your book on Smashwords, Amazon/Kindle, iTunes/iPad/iBooks, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Diesel, and more. In order to get your ebook in all these formats they have strict formatting requirements for your master file. But their free Smashwords Style Guide is one of the best guides I’ve ever seen for formatting using Microsoft Word. Perhaps the hardest part will be getting your master file in the correct format (or this may be easy for you if you’re a Word pro). The rest of the publishing process is pretty painless. If you get into trouble formatting your book, you can pay to have someone help you (they have recommendations for this). In addition to all the online listings of your ebook, you will also have your own listing and author page on Smashwords where the world can view a sample of your book. Smashwords will allow you to use electronic discount coupons for your book to help promote it. There are lots of other cool publishing features too.
Your eBook on Kindle. If you only want to publish your ebook on Amazon/Kindle you may find it pretty trouble-free to meet their formatting requirements. And they have a free book to help you, Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing. See this example of the finished Kindle ebook.
Your Book Printed. If you want to publish and make hard copies (paperback) of your book available for sale on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, then I would recommend Createspace.com. Their formatting requirements are doable without much pain and if you have the creativity to design your own book cover, you can do your entire book yourself. You can also pay to have various degrees of help with your book and/or the cover. In addition to your listing with Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, you will have your own listing on Createspace. You can buy your own copies from Createspace at a discount too, or have copies drop shipped to anyone you like. This is a great way to get your book into the hands of book reviewers and bloggers.
If you don’t want to pay for professional help with formatting, editing, or cover artwork, just make sure you get advice on how to do these things properly. The guides above will pretty much lay it all out. Your book will be competing with books that are done by other professionals so you’ll want to make sure your book measures up. For more tips check out A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.
Once you publish your book, you’ll want to next figure out how to “get it known.” That is the tricky part. Most books that are published do not sell well. I don’t say this to discourage you. Some of the ones that do sell big have big publishing companies behind them. But there is also a growing number of self-published authors that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Some of it is luck, being at the right place at the right time – striking a nerve. It could be you. Go for it!