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Self-Publishing Starter Kit

Self-Publishing Starter Kit

We get a lot of questions here from writers just beginning to self-publish who have little to no idea about the process. They’re all asking about the most basic nuts and bolts: how do I self-publish? We’ve gathered together the best services currently running (and have been running for a while) to publish a book quickly and professionally.

There’s still a fair bit of DIY involved with the services listed below, but you’ll have a more professional book and keep a larger share of the royalties.

So here’s a basic starter pack for the novice self-publisher who wants more of a hands-off approach to the publishing process. It’s by no means an easy process, but we’ve narrowed down your publishing choices to make it a little bit easier.

Writing Advice

Before you write, you need to know your tools: grammar, imagination, plot, arc, structure, spelling… the list goes on. Here are some useful – and trusted – resources before you start.

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Digital Book Editing by Cate Baum
The Kick-Ass Writer  by Chuck Wendig
Write Good Or Die by Scott Nicholson
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

- The only grammar, style, and spelling guide you’ll need  – US English)
OEDThe only grammar and spelling guide you’ll need  – UK English)
Snowflake Method
How To Write A Book In 30 Days – The Guardian
25 Things You Should Know About Writing A Novel - Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds


Self-Publishing Review (of course). We offer an Editorial Review (basic manuscript assessment), Line Editing (advanced critique of plot development), and Proofreading services (grammar, typos, etc.).

Book Butchers offer a selection of curated editors, starting at 0.02 cents a word here:

Reedsy offers curated editing services once you sign up here – varying rates

Blurb’s Dream Team offers curated editors here – varying rates

Editors should be affiliated with the EFA or SFEP, and have a portfolio for you to browse. You should be able to ask for a sample of 1000 words for free, which should be the first 1000 words of your book only. A page is considered 250 words in any format.

It is advisable to choose an editor who edits professionally full time, or as part of their offering as a book professional.

eBook Conversion

Amazon Creatspace offers a conversion service for $79 here.

Amazon mentions these providers also:

52NovelsAlso specializes in the creation of Kindle Format 8 (KF8) content.

AptaraAlso specializes in the creation of Kindle Format 8 (KF8) content.

Booknook.biz: Producing high-quality ebooks since 2008. Specialist in producing KF8-optimized ebooks, fixed-format books (kids’ books, comics, cookbooks, workout books), and beautiful novels for self-publishers and imprints. We also provide white label services for print layout houses via InDesign file intake. All of our conversion and formatting work is guaranteed.

Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL): As the eBook market continues to grow and create new opportunities in technology, DCL continues to grow & adapt to these changes to develop & produce the best eBook conversions possible. Also specializes in the creation of Kindle Format 8 (KF8) content.

Digital Media Initiatives: Where complete automation is not possible, Digital Media Initiatives undertakes manual conversion of print books to ePub format and other popular formats.

eAthena: eAthena is a technology-driven BPO Company committed to facilitate the transition of anything paper to anything electronic.

ePubConversions.com: Top quality eBook conversions – fast and affordable, all eBook layout and conversions are created by hand in the USA and all work is guaranteed. Provides authors and publishers with ready-to-publish files for both Kindle and CreateSpace within 14 days. Every conversion includes step-by-step video tutorials to assist the author in publishing directly to KDP and CreateSpace.

Formax: Formax converts hundreds of thousands of pages per month for some of the largest e-content providers in the industry, delivering full-text capture or image header capture. Also specializes in the creation of Kindle Format 8 (KF8) content.

Innodata: As the largest producer of eBooks, Innodata distributes 1500+ eBooks in 25 languages daily. Innodata can provide fixed format and interactive titles for topics including Travel, Cooking, Comics and Children.

Kreutzfeldt Electronic Publishing: Offers conversion services for German and English reference content. (Website is in German)

Leer-e S.L.: Leer-e offers conversion of digital formats, scanning, translation and a complete range of publishing services including Mobipocket and POD. (Website is in Spanish)

LiberWriter: LiberWriter is promoted as a friendly, easy system for creating well-formatted Kindle books. Their software helps you get the details right, and offers publisher support if you have questions.

SilverChair: SilverChair specializes in medical content and develops high-value, information-critical products for the health care community.

Interior Book Design

Book Design Templates – includes both ebook and print templates for around $37. Templates can be used for both print on demand and ebook distribution. You can check them out here on Pinterest.

DIY Book Formats – free ZIP file

Book Cover Design

There are many, many places to get a cover designer. Here are some of our favorites:

eBook Distribution

BookBaby makes it very easy. Yes, it’s $299, but you keep 100% of the proceeds, unlike Smashwords or Draft2Digital, which is free to upload, but takes a cut. Smashwords and Draft2Digital each have their selling points.

Draft2Digital pays monthly, instead of quarterly. However, Smashwords has more distribution partners and seems to be reaching out to new partners on a regular basis, but: conversion with Smashwords is a pain.

Hence, Bookbaby. Again, not free, but worth the expense if you’re unsure about the process and want to be hands-off. Their list of distribution partners is impressive and growing.

Certainly, you can go to Nook, Kobo, Amazon, or other retailers and upload directly. But keeping track of all that can be a hassle. In this way, a distributor becomes something of an accountant in addition to a distribution service.

Print Distribution

Confusing footnote: it has been argued that you should use Createspace to distribute to Amazon and Ingram Spark to distribute everywhere else. The reason? Apparently bookstores hate Amazon and won’t want to deal with a Createspace-distributed title. You can’t just use Ingram Spark to distribute to Amazon as well because bad old Amazon has a habit of listing competitors as “out of print” occasionally.

Easiest route: Createspace’s Expanded Distribution and be done with it.

Social Networking

Start a blog. Recommended service: WordPress, and only WordPress. WordPress.com accounts are free but less professional looking (authorname.wordpress.com instead of authorname.com). WordPress.org is more feature rich and requires web hosting. We use Bluehost.

See here for some good blog templates for writers.


Here’s a comprehensive list of book promo sites: Cost $5-$2000

SPR has a series of book launch packages to get a book to #1 on Amazon in your category, plus get reviews and sales: Starting at $899.

Ballpark Cost of all of the above:

  1. Editing (ballpark): $900
  2. Ebook Distribution: $299.
  3. Print Design: $40
  4. Book Cover: $600, more or less
  5. Blog Template: $50
  6. Blog Hosting: $100
  7. Domain name: $10

Cheap Version

  1. Editing (can’t cut corners here): $900
  2. Ebook Conversion: Free with PublishXPress or PressBooks
  3. Ebook Distribution: Free with Smashwords
  4. Book Cover Design: Free with DIY Book Covers
  5. Blog Template/Hosting: Free with WordPress.com
  6. Domain name: $10

Are there ways around these costs? Certainly, do it all yourself. This is not completely hands-off, but these are the services that make the self-publishing process a whole lot easier and more professional.

Disclaimer: Some of the above are affiliate links.