Home / Resources / eBook Self-Publishing: A Simple Guideline and Some Tips on Taking Those First Steps

eBook Self-Publishing: A Simple Guideline and Some Tips on Taking Those First Steps


Baby Steps First
Starting to self-publish your ebook or even thinking about it can be a daunting task. A little help before you start will save you time and help you in publishing your ebook in all the right places.

When I published my first book, I had no idea where to go or what to look for. I thought I would walk you through some of the steps you will need to take to get self-published.

This is a major topic and could easily fill a large book and there are many good books on this topic already out there. I have compiled a simple outline of links and some tips to help you on your way.

My basic assumption for this blog is that you are ‘self-publishing for profit’. I have used MS-Word as my word processor along with various other tools for this example.

Now One Step At A Time
The content and its formatting are major tasks for the self-publisher. Here is a simple checklist to help you in preparing your content for publication.

1. Write good content and edit it thoroughly or don’t go on this journey. It’s not worth the effort.
TIP: It is best to review and edit each version of your ebook because the conversion software process is not a perfect science.

2. Study the style books for each style and format for each retailer you are publishing with.
The more complex your ebook, the more you need to study the style sheets.
TIP: Do this in advance before finalizing your content for each format. It will save you a lot of time in the long run.

3. MS-Word file format: use the DOC (.doc) format not the newer version (.docx).
TIP: Don’t use tabs. Use the MS-Word indent formatting function.
TIP: Only use carriage returns at the end of a paragraph not after each line. Multiple carriage returns between paragraphs to insert extra space will be ignored in the creation process.

4. Render your web address into your ebook at the minimum.
TIP: I recommend including sales page links to other books you have written at the front of your ebook or links to sales pages on your web site. Be sure to verify the links.

5. Create a manual TOC using bookmarks on chapter headings with links from your TOC.

6. Get an ISBN number from Bowker or another source.
TIP: Only buy one ISBN for your ebook. There is no advantage to having multiple ISBN numbers per format until someone starts accumulating sales stats on ebooks. Most Retailers require the ISBN but they use their own SKU code to sell your ebook on their site.

7. Apply for your copyright as soon as you can after the ebook is complete and you get your ISBN. You should include the ISBN on the copyright page. You can upload a DOC file copy of your ebook to the U.S.Copyright Office rather than sending them a hard copy. To get you started, click this link.
TIP: Mail yourself a registered copy of a printed version or a CD with a digital version and don’t open the package. This time stamps your work.

Be Prepared to Publish
Here is some pre-publishing information you need before you start to publish your ebook to the retailers. It’s best if you keep this information in a handy word document so you can copy and paste the information into the retailer’s publishing questions.

1. Prepare a book description in advance.
TIP: Most of the retailers have a size limit so if you want to be long winded, check their site for any character limit.

2. Get your cover image ready in a JPEG format. This is the prospect’s first impression of your ebook.
Tip: Have a thumbnail cover image available in the correct size and format. You may have to have several versions in different sizes to accommodate all the retailers.

3. Prepare a good Author Bio. Do some work on this one? Your ebook buying prospect may use this to make the buying decision.

4. Keep the ISBN number at your fingertips. Each retailer will ask for this at some point.

5. Have a list of Tags or Labels available that best points your buying prospect to your ebook. You should also have made the decision which category or genre your ebook should be placed.
TIP: If you want someone to find your ebook through an Internet search you should spend some time on this one. Look at your competition for ideas.

6. You should make the decisions whether you want your ebook to be protected by DRM and what size of a sample you will permit of your works. Both questions will be asked.

7. Last but the most important pre-publishing decision. What will the PRICE of your ebook be? Again check the competition.
TIP: If you’re going to self-publish your ebook, don’t price it between $10.00 and $23.00 unless you want to give your royalty to the retailer or you’re trying to protect the price of the hardcover version of your book like traditional publishers.

Like a Pair of Shoes, eBook Formats Come in All Styles
How you have made the basic decisions and you have the additional information ready, your ebook is ready to be published to the world. Not so fast. Each of the major players requires their ebooks in different file formats and you will have to adjust your content.

Amazon Kindle Version – MOBI/AZW Format
1. Setup an account with Amazon and then create a free DTP account. (publisher)

2. Get the information about the Kindle Publishing Program from their website. You can upload your DOC file and let Amazon do the conversion for you, if you wish. This process takes several days. For the Kindle Publishing Guidelines Manual (PDF format), click here.

3. I am one of those that likes to check what my ebook is going to look like before it is published to the world. So I use some extra tools to check my work. It requires a two-step process. First open the DOC file in Word and save (save as) it as a HTML file. Then use the Kindlegen software tool from Amazon to convert your HTML file to a MOBI ebook. There is other software available to check your work but I prefer Kindlegen.

4. Next download the Kindle for PC software to check your work. (Mac version also works) Just click on the MOBI file name and you can view your ebook in the Kindle format.
Tip: I don’t how many times I did this until I got it right but it saved days of waiting to find out from Amazon how good I had done in the creation process.

5. If you have a Kindle, transfer the MOBI file via a USB cable to the Kindle and gave it a real-time test. I did this several times until I was completely satisfied.

Major TIP. Don’t leave money on the table. Setup an Amazon Associate Account. Then on your website put a link to your Amazon sales page using the Associate html code for your ebook. Each sale that you get originating from your site will add affiliate income to your revenue. (Some states don’t allow this.)

Barnes and Noble Nook Version – EPUB Format
1. Setup a ‘Pubit’ account with Barnes and Noble. To create a new account, click here.

2. Read their formatting guideline. There are several formatting guides online by various third parties but you need to be techie to use them. I recommend Barnes and Noble’s own on-line information.

3. BN like Amazon has an ‘Add a Title’ process. They will convert your DOC file to the EPUB format free. Like the Kindle version, I wanted to check my work before my ebook is published. My DOC file had to be changed slightly but the corrections I made for MOBI version were about 99% golden.

4. I needed to convert my ebook to an EPUB format to check my work so I selected the Calibre software package. It does a good job of converting MOBI files directly to the EPUB file format. Again BN will do this for you but using them is a time consuming process. Calibre gives you instant feedback on the formatting.

5. Check the ebook on the Nook for PC software or better yet copy the ebook to a Nook for review. After some minor adjustment you should be ready to publish your ebook to Barnes and Noble.

Smashwords – All Formats
Smashwords is another retailer you should consider. They publish to almost all retailers and in a variety of formats. I choose to publish separately to Amazon and BN to be able to control the process more effectively.

1. Setup an account with Smashwords.

2. Read their Style Guide and Instructions.
TIP: The only major change to your content here is to follow their specific example for the copyright page. It must conform exactly to the Smashwords Publishing Guide or they will not publish your ebook.

Then SW runs your DOC file through their Meatgrinder software (not a mistake on the name) which produces a variety of formats for distribution.

The Smashwords Marketing Guide is a must read. Mark Coker has done a great job with this tool.
TIP: You need to be published in their Premium catalog which reaches most major retailers. They have other levels of catalogs but the Premium is the way to go. You can deselect a retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you have already published your ebook with them.

Your ebook will reach the Apple, Sony, Kobo and Diesel retailers among others. They are also starting to distribute ebooks as single-book apps for the mobile app market.

TIP: Make sure you check the Smashword’s file size limit. I know they are increasing this but if you have a lot of images in your ebook, you could exceed their file size limit.

Google Books Partner Program – PDF Format
Last. A new opportunity. This is not a sales opportunity but a marketing and Internet opportunity. Post your ebook in a PDF format (save your DOC file as a PDF file) through their Partner program and your ebook text will become a part of their Internet search database.

For example, if your ebook is about large spruce trees in the Midwest, Internet surfers can locate your ebook through the Google search engine because every word of your content is in their database not just some pre-selected keywords.

1. Setup an account with Google.

2. Access the Partner Program page and login to your account.

3. Click ‘Add Book’, fill out the information and upload your PDF file. This process takes a while.
TIP: You should remove any in-book links from your PDF copy before unloading. The links don’t work and could throw off search engines.
Google does have a bookstore which is not covered in this blog.

Let’s Lace Up Our Shoes and Get Started
At the end of the day, you could possible end up with 4 different version of your DOC file plus an EPUB file, a MOBI file and a PDF file.
TIP: Use separate file directories for each publisher with a separate copy of your DOC file in each. If you keep changing the original, you are stuck with the latest version.

I hope this information will help. At least it can be a startup guideline of where to go first. If the tasks seem to be overwhelming get some help from professionals. There are many good sources. Here is a short list of a few that I am familiar with.

Author’s Source: Indie Author - April L. Hamilton
Book Design and Covers: The Book Designer - Joel Friedlander
Marketing: Marketing Tips For Authors - Tony Eldridge
Publishing: A Book Inside – How to Write and Publish a Book - Carol Denbow
Publishing: Self-Publishing Resources – Sue Collier

Related Blog:
Ebook Authors: 17 Great Information Sources

Let’s build a list of good sources to help ebook authors on their self-publishing venture. Let me know what you think? Like I said up front, you could write a large book on this topic.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at: jrm@hbspub.com
Or goto my blog: The eBook Author’s Corner
Author: Call Off The Dogs, a rendered ebook
LinkedIn Profile: James Moushon

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/ronfritsch/ Ron Fritsch

    James, I wish I had read this post before I began my independent publishing adventure. But no, I had to learn all of this the hard way, step after faltering step. If somebody who hasn’t published a book before is reading this, please pay attention to what James says. It will save you a lot of grief.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/jimhbs/ James Moushon

    ron thanks for the comment. i, like you, know the pain. if only i would have had some of the information at my fingertips.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/meredith101/ Meredith Allard

    Great post with important information. A huge mistake I made when I was getting my book ready for publication was that I didn’t create separate files for my e-book and paperback versions. When I went through my paperback version to split the words with hyphens at the end of some of the lines, my e-book version had the same hyphens. It took me a few weeks to find all the words with strange word breaks in the e-book version.

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/jimhbs/ James Moushon

    Meredith thanks for the comment. My tips are from similar experiences. In my case I had written a rendered ebook with in-book links to the appendix and instructions for the reader to get back to the story i.e. “Depress the BACK button to return to the ebook”.

    Also at the front of the ebook I had simple instructions for the reader on how to use the rendering which changed for the Nook and didn’t apply for the other ereaders.

    And then along came Smashwords where the copyright page was different and the reading devices they were publishing too didn’t have a back button.

    Well that didn’t work so I had to have a different source file for each. The separate files and directories saved my bacon.

  • Andree

    Thank you so much Mr. Moushon for your tips and explanations about all of the different formats that eBooks can have (I was wondering about this and thought pdf was the way to go). I am on my way to finish my very first eBook and would have been finished a while ago if I was not wondering how and where to sale it. Your article and responses to the various interesting posts is really going to help, at God’s will.

    I have 3 questions for you:
    1) I an eBook I bought and one of the suggestions was to be an affiliate. It seems good, but I am a bit nervous about this. Can you give me (us) your suggestions? (thanks)
    2) I have seen sites that suggest to buy eBooks at a very low cost and sale them, saying that when doing it we keep the Reseller’s rights, etc. I don’t know, but this does not seems like something I want to do, but after seeing that, I started to wonder if people outhere can buy my eBook and sale them. What happens with my copyrights then? Is that me who misunderstand how this work, or is it should be wondering? I even thought of putting on the copyright section of my eBook a sentence that would say something like: “All Private Label Rights, Master Resale Rights/Full Resale Rights solely remain to the author.” – what do you think?
    3) Finally, what do you think about the format that I sometimes see advertise as “txt”?

    Once again… thank you very much! Can’t wait to read your response or other people too.

    Andree

  • http://www.hbspub.com James Moushon

    Andree:
    1. Amazon affiliate income is a nice bump in your bottom line. It takes very little work. The catch is there are certain states Amazon will not accept affiliates because of state tax issues. Check with them to see if your state participates.

    2. I don’t know about multiple people having access to my book and reselling them. It sounds like something that would get distributed on the Internet without my control. I think if you put your ebook with all the right distributors you would do just fine. (Amazon, BN, Smashwords, iBooks, etc.)

    3. Don’t use txt format. It is way too limited. (Links, graphics, pictures) The ebook distributors accept a lot of formats and convert them to their own format anyway. I use DOC files created by MS-WORD.

    Good luck with your ebook.

roaccutane commander 365 pharmacy best way to use levitra milanuncios valencia contactos phexin bd tablets for kids where to buy citolopram in canada buy nizoral 2 percent shampoo minomycin dosage calculations prandin side effects repaglinide cost viagra 50 mg precio xenical 120mg no prescription cymbalta and weight gain cymbalta for anxiety para que serve sertralina 50mg desyrel trazodone bystolic side effects and diabetes mincorp mining games depakote medication information buy nolvadex online express mail where to buy 500mgs antabuse tablets duetact medication side citalopram canada pharmacy buy ventolin evohaler plendil medications leconfield kennels von phexin drops of jupiter cheap gabapentin online no rx pastillas disgrasil cyclo progynova ivf isoptin sr 240 mg of caffeine berifen 100mg zoloft indomethacin 50mg capsules biorezonanta magnetica botosani noroxin shampoo for oily hair cialis online bestellen carprofen side effects elimite 5 where to buy antibiotics and alcohol contraindications oracea patient savings card apertium translator english spanish cialis quick delivery uk oracea 40 mg coupons baclofen 10 mg asthma medications for children herbal viagra uk canadien pharmacy rocaltrol 0 5 mcg to mg pyridium drug classification atrovent hfa inhaler 12.9gm levitra reviews metazole cream of broccoli sinequanone meaning of life ramipril capsules dose levaquin side effects medication comprar propecia en vancouver meprate dosage for benadryl baclofen 10 mg narcotic lincocin aquadrops dosage cheap on line levitra meds obagi tretinoin cream 0 1 best price stopping prometrium during pregnancy buy cialis soft tabs online azithromycin 600 for sale medrol over the counter options the cheapest price generic viagra how to buy proscar in usa voltaren for sale painkillers without a prescription purchase viagra online pay with check rimadyl side effects medications for dogs best viagra without prescription clindamycin 300 mg capsules chlamydia treatment for men walgreens pharmacy locations acquisitions walgreens stores cheap medicine without prescription where can i get metformin online ucb pharma keppra patient assistance program haldol classification and use cheap generic etodolac side effects weight gain tadacip review cialas generic citalopram 20 mg dose swiss medical cialis toradol dosage what is relafen 750 nabumetone for midamor manufacturer coupons femara fertility drug voltaren gel side effects viagra cijena ljekarna doxycap tablets under $100 lamictal bipolar reviews insulin syringes and needles side effects of antabuse disulfiram best non prescription pharmacies rx relief card walgreens take care clinic alton il periactin sold in uk pharmacy tamsulosin side effects prednisone 5mg for dogs canada ketorolac 10mg information propecia barato allopurinol drug interactions with tylenol priligy shop in sydney accutane long term side effects forum grathazon kaplet technology street value of cymbalta 60 mg serophene and multiple births statistics protonix vs nexium prevacid methotrexate walmart phentermine information medication best price 100mg viagra adderall xr dosages available cialis soft 20mg naproxen 500mg uses side effects detrol generic viagra nongenaric buy coversyl online canada tramadol for dogs side effects tramadol 50mg pravachol and grapefruit interaction redotex diet pills vicodin overdose amount allegra d 12 hour online painkillers no prescription cheap cialis professional rimonabant acomplia india online pharmacy 365 pills reviews overnight pharmacy 4 u kamagra valium information pictures eprex injection patients albuterol sulfate inhalation solution 0.5 naproxen sodium side effects kidneys levothroid medication generic taking flagyl and pregnancyflagyleflazol revista kosovarja doxinyl succinate definition terramicina oxitetraciclina polimixina b pomada is zifi 200mg tablets causes sleep buy ventolin no prescription canada pharmacy 24h review fluoxetine hcl 10 mg capsule lisinopril 20 mg images viagra beograd salbutamol kaufen ohne rezept benicar generic substitute precose dosage for benadryl pharmacy stores in canada etodolac er 400 mg xenical orlistat 120mg capsules microzide hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg side effects parlodel dosage prevacid solutab 30 mg can you buy viagra on line cramping after taking letrozole for fertility generic voltaren does aetna pay for cialis cialis cost rx one online review new simvastatin warning purchase bactrim ds buy viagra and cialis cloridrato de sertralina bulasertraline consultation online viagra pharmacie de garde province du luxembourg tadalafil tabs aus malaysia colchicine tablets pictures canadian medstore famciclovir drug medication ventolin nebules dosage children oracea doxycycline usp marine d3 tramadol side effects medications blood pressure proscar for hair loss in men estrotab 2mg valium baclofen pump implant how to get off paxil safely tricor medication manufacturer is atlantic drugs legit cuvarlix taken after or before meal prayer supradol ketorolac english to spanish translation actos warnings risk seroquel no prescription polarmeds complaints against companies super calcium carbonate ca 8000 amikacin injection cost vimax detox pills side effects furasemidum to buy uk where to get cialis online eutirox 50 merck omifin 50mg dosis latisse for eyebrows catafast 50mg generic viagra best supplier cialis peak time how strong is viagra 100mg levitra professional 20 mg pet amoxicillin without a script canadian retina a no prescription ake order viagra online mesterolone steroid use gnc viagra substitute buy meclizine in canada pfizer patient assistance program phone number original cialis 20mg price lopressor 50 mg biozole fluconazole 200 mg for what cheap retin a mercury drug order online vardenafil hcl 20mg tab side effects cipro antibiotic treatment drugs ramipril medication customer reviews about duprost vigora gel generic subutex images cipla tadacip viagra side effects long term naproxen medication side effects buying viagra bucharest lotrel generic available rxdrugstore sites tadalafil italia zovirax acyclovir medication herpes seroquel for sleep drug haloperidol drug schedule oversea pharmacy which online pharmacies use cipla salazopyrin sulfasalazine 500 nebivololum and anxiety cialis generique tadalafil what is betafusin creambetagesic fibadel 5 clenbuterol weight loss buy clenbuterol flagyl side effects in dogs viagra online for men metoprolol succinate ambien cr price rimadyl 25mg for humans will cialis make you bigger fast acting viagra citodon buy euro medsonline vicodin overdose symptoms side effects nexium nz buying viagra in usa ibuprofen dosage chart for adults aricept side effects donepezil catafast dosage of tylenol sunsuria avenue badminton court rules remeron side effects remeron sleep weight loss injections vidalta carbimazole treatment albenza treatment for pinworms toprol xl generic cialis prix de la boite nizoral cream hair loss study citalopram prescription hydroxyzine hcl 10mg information minoxidil canada cialis e fegato ramipril 2.5mg capsules sominex sleep aid review finasteride medication for women vimax pill reviews dont work tylenol side effects long term allpills complaints against dentists avelox generic substitute cozaar side effects coughing indapamide 2.5mg mylan pacific care vanuatu buy domperidone on line doxycycline for sale doxine 100 dosage for dogs nimesulide extended release tablets actos without prescription can buy betnovate cream zanaflex side effects tizanidine insulin side effects diabetes waht is levitra plus nexium 40mg esomeprazole drugs generic nexium rigevidon buy it online lowest price viagra 100 mg estradiol tablets vs estradiol patches generic propecia uk claritin reditabs 10mg directions where to buy depression medication altace medication dosage zanaflex overdose death non bias zenerx side effects discount tadalafil 20mg ovral birth control patch buy viagra in san francisco 77 achat belara en ligne price of cialis at walgreens warfarin coumadin metoprolol succ er 100 mg pills online epogen medication guide in spanish inderal for migraines doctor bulk cialis from canada lasixs medicine canine buy viagra online usa pharmacy next day viagra delivery ketorolac tromethamine injections buy actavis promethazine with codeine cialis generika billiger buy cialis from a reputable co order pills online with echeck thyroxine for dogs what is it ketorolac tromethamine 10mg tab citrate magnesium blood pressure pills no rx what is kenacomb otic ointment best deals on cialis tablete ieftine flanco diazepam for dogs take 2 cialis pills best no prescription online pharmacy suprax 400mg levlen ed online no prescription zestril generic name misoprostol vaginally vs orally cialis special somac where to buy ranigast ulotka real proviron impotence dosage vrdrug forum energy what is vardenafil hcl 20mg tab clomiphene 50mg drug for men flunitrazepam buy online india lergigan comp cams unisom and b6 morning sickness can i take paracetamol in pregnancy sildenafil manly cockapoo rescue in so california paxil generic name and brand name is there a generic cialis or viagra metallica black album songs list abilify side effects in women hyzaar 50 12.5 hydrochlorothiazide dutasteride avodart for sale india online perscriptions viramune copay card doxycycline without rx paypal viagra side effects drugs metformin and alcohol consumption risk buy cialis amazon hydrochlorothiazide order online esomeprazole 20 mg rimonabant fda benadryl for infants while flying viagra for female order tetracycline online amoxicillin for sale online sweetcheeks ed pills for diabetics phexin 500mg tylenol cymbalta medication for fibromyalgia pilex tablets review cheapest genaroc viagra coversyl 2mg capoten sublingual premarin buy lamotrigine medication cost what is doxepin hcl medication fda approved canadian online pharmacies octreotide infusion doseolanzapine sureway construction alberta plavix patient assistance application form black viagra zandu vigorex capsules risnia 3 indinavir crystals in ear viasek side effects procalisx scam alert nolvadex dosage pct colchicine offers discount codes for pharmacy express puretone stethoscope company c chigualos cortos mensajes viagra dosage women kamagra gold 100 erexin capsules buby alli uk therapy for depression psychotherapy zithromax 250mg femara success stories for infertility doxycycline 100mg dosage where to buy passion rx in canada med cab online pharmacy reviews buy periactins online antibiotics for tooth infection in dogs mupirocin ointment usp 2 used to treat duphaston pregnancy banned fucidin h cream side effects celexa withdrawal symptoms last hydrodiuril manufacturer refurbished comprar cialis paypal prednisolone eye drops side effects medication valtrex order online no prescription estrace 1mg how long does it take to work prednisone 20mg side effects dogs crestor savings card 75.00 domperidone sales sildenafil ratiopharm entocort and ulcerative colitis buy cheap abortion pills online citrate synthase regulation search http kwrt index famciclovir dose in cats zetia cholesterol medication ezetimibe canadian meds world amoxicillen buy online rythmol manufacturer canada drugs online reputable cialis generic zofran for children dosage micardis 40 mg 1 tab by mouth daily levitra and cialis online buy priligy dapoxetine united states on line pharmacy hong kong combivent side effects medication cabaser dosage pct trail generic aripiprazole in mexico butyr fentanyl buy pilexil shampoo buy bulk reliable uk site to buy nolva amlodipine besylate 2.5mg with lisinopril 40 mg aricept 5mg vs 10mg prazosin minipress for bph xanax bars street value avana at the rim reviews does lasix help pass a drug test magnesium deficiency symptoms in plants florinef doses trazodone for insomnia and dosage zopiclone side effects doctor will insurance pay for daily cialis 20 mg cialis price albendazole over the counter drug phentermine 37.5 side effects stromectol side effects list of sulfa drugs westhroid vs wp thyroid what deos xypresy feel like diflucan yeast infection dosage microzide medication unicure remedies pvt ltd sildenafil vicodin withdrawal symptoms side effects orlistat capsules 120mg qsymia canada pharmacy clomid twins no prescription progesterone cream side effects acquistare atridox senza ricetta low dose accutane zoloft medication for children ornidazole and ofloxacin tablets canadian 24 hour pharmacy sotalol medication for heart euroclinix hasselt map laxifen dosis de amoxicilina cheap bactrim ds antibiotic magnesium supplements for kids ordering clozaril online come comprare viagra in italia flexeril generic for amoxil antibiotics and alcohol professional cialis reviews effects of nifedipine for preterm labor flomax cr 0 4mg effets secondaires can i buy viagra in tijuana purchase valium without a prescription lynoral tablets lamisil spray pump order metformin online fluoxetine hcl 20mg caps naprosyn side effects in elderly trusted online pharmacies no rx needed aap ki adalat tv serial buy cheap clonazepam taking two unisom pills can you take revatio for erectile dysfunction cialis 800mg provera to start period pill tylenol dosage for infants after dpt vaccine cataflam suspension dosis woman viagra prednisone levitra 20mg information dose lamictal for depression only prozac for anxiety reviews yasmine petty is a man captopril renal scan keflex dosage for uti treatment buy doxycycline acne to purchase cialis in australia phenergran no perscription divya pharmacy website viagra mit ec karte kaufen strattera coupons with insurance pulmicort nebulizer cgv pharmacy antibiotics for sale uk dostinex side effects patients