7 Things You Need To Do Before You Self Publish On Amazon
After years and years of perfecting your particular craft, you want to share it with the world and teach others. You decide you want to write a book, or at least you think you do. Just one problem. How’s an average person like you going to do that? The answer is to self publish on Amazon.
Before you decide to self publish on Amazon you should consider the following items:
1. Do I really want to write a book?
2. Do I have an original take or point-of-view on a topic?
3. Is self-publishing on Amazon my best option?
4. Do I already have an audience?
5. Can I build a great cover?
6. Do I have the skills to piece it together?
7. How’s my grammar?
To some, these may seem like no-brainers but they are things I wish I would have known when I published my first book, Young, Dumb, and NOT Broke?!. I took on this task knowing very little to almost nothing. I learned most of it through reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos, much like you’re doing now.
While I found tutorials on most everything I needed to know, there wasn’t a great resource that warned me of what to look out for in taking on this challenge. It sounds simple; just start writing but actually there is so much more to it than that. In this article, I want to fill that void.
If you have ever had any interest in self publishing on Amazon or you’re just curious about how the process works, then keep reading.
Do You Really Want To Write A Book?
Let’s just get one thing straight first. If you’ve decided to write a book to make a lot of money quick, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Yes, you can make money from it but in reality, it isn’t going to be very much especially when going the self-publishing route.
The chances of your book getting picked up by a large publisher are slim to none. Not trying to start this article off on a negative foot but that is the reality. Besides if you are reading this, chances are you haven’t been picked up and you’re looking for another avenue. None the less, continue on because if you have even the slightest interest in self-publishing on Amazon, you can do it.
So why write a book? For me, it was all about getting a ton of ideas and thoughts on paper. Personally, I was never a fan of reading or writing. I still struggle with both but have found them to be satisfying creative outlets.
People write books for many different reasons but when it comes to self-publishing, most do it to share their ideas or teach others. If you fit either of those criteria, then I would HIGHLY recommend you do it.
We all have different stories (which I’ll talk about next) and that will allow you to showcase whatever you want to teach or inform people about in a unique way.
Have An Original Point Of View
If you are writing a book, especially one that is nonfiction, I thinks its very important for you to have an original point of view. Luckily for you, you most likely do. Obviously, we all have different stories and experiences and this is something you should leverage when self-publishing on Amazon.
When I wrote YD&NB, my main goal was to take all my experiences with finances and make it simple enough for the average person to understand. Sure I could have talked about forming single-member LLCs, the tax advantages of a rental property, and how to day trade, but I didn’t.
These topics would have pigeonholed me and turned a bunch of potential customers away. Understanding those things is part of my story and my point-of-view though. What I attempted to do was use that to my advantage and show that younger people can definitely figure out the complicated financial topics but first, you need to understand the basics of personal finance.
You also may have experience with things that are far more complicated than your actual subject matter and that’s perfectly fine. It’s actually more than fine, it’s great. Being an expert builds up a good reputation that you actually know what you are talking about. In turn, you will sell more books.
Use your point of view to your advantage because no one has experienced what you’ve experienced. Whether you believe it or not, sharing your experiences almost always can help someone. I didn’t believe that until I saw it happen myself.
Is Self Publishing On Amazon Your Best Option?
A couple of years ago, self-publishing on Amazon wasn’t something that people even considered. Nowadays it’s their first thought, but why?
I believe there are a lot of reasons behind this but people seem to have completely forgotten about the multi-billion dollar industry that publishes and markets books for authors. Obviously, it’s a hard industry to crack, there’s no hiding that. But it is still relevant and an option people should explore.
This was something I didn’t do because I didn’t believe I could even get a chance. This is where “it never hurts to ask, the worst they can say is no” should have come in play but it didn’t for me. You may be different though.
Publishers are always on the hunt for the next big thing. Think about series like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or even The Rich Dad Series. All of these started out as ideas that had to be pitched again and again to publishing companies. I could tell you how those stories end but you already know. Here’s my recap: $$$.
If you have a unique story, fill a void in the market, have great content and have already built an audience, you have all the things you need to get a deal with a publishing company. So before you try to rush onto Amazon just to get your book live, I would suggest exploring other options.
Not because there is anything wrong with self-publishing on Amazon. Rather if you have great work, I want you to get paid; really paid.
Have An Audience
This is one of the biggest *potential* mistakes I made with YD&NB. I say potential because I didn’t believe that the book would actually be a source of income for years to come. If you are planning on self-publishing to Amazon, then you MUST have an audience.
According to Amazon itself, they have almost 2,000,000,000 print books available for sale. How in the world are you going to be competitive on a site that has 2 million books to look through? The answer is by having a a pre-built, solid audience.
The math here is obvious right? If you have already built an audience, then you can sell more books. That’s a no brainer.
Here are some examples of audiences. I went ahead and ranked them from most likely to buy your book to least likely.
- Email list
- YouTube subscribers
- Facebook group members
- Instagram followers
- Podcast listeners
- Pinterest followers
- Facebook friends
- Twitter followers
If you didn’t already know, the email list reigns supreme. It’s the closest you can get to talking to someone 1-on-1 without actually seeing them.
Unfortunately, email lists get a bad rap for being spammy and annoying. If someone running a list is doing this, then they don’t know what they’re doing. Email lists should be all about getting valuable information to the people that trust you with their email address.
Speaking of email lists, if you want the introduction to Young, Dumb, and NOT Broke?! for free to your inbox as well as discounts in the future then you should join my email list below. I send out a message roughly one time a week, hence the not being spammy part.
(Seriously you should join.)
Besides an email list, YouTube would be my second favorite (and something I’m going to hit big during the second half of this year). For the simple reason that a person watching your videos is getting value for an extended period of time. This differs from social media which is usually a quick read and scroll onto the next post.
Don’t count out social media audiences though. They still have a huge return on investment and 60% of the traffic to this website comes from people who I am friends with and follow me.
The best way to build up an audience is to find a place you enjoy interacting with people and posting content. Then do it over and over again. If your content is good and provides some sort of value, then the audience will come.
Have A Great Cover
The old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is exactly what people don’t do. They are going to 100% judge your book by it’s cover so it’s important to have a great one.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not a graphic designer. In fact, a 3rd grader could probably match clothes better than I can so should I trust myself to design a cover? Hell no.
This is why I looked elsewhere. At first, I started local and had no luck. To be honest, I think the people that I asked didn’t take me seriously or didn’t think I would pay. Well, they were wrong on both parts so I looked online for a freelancer.
I ended up finding a guy (that I can’t recommend enough) on Fiverr.com. He did an awesome job and charged me $90 for a cover, ebook cover, and unlimited renditions.
For you math nerds, I estimated I could have built the cover he made for me in 10 hours. Yes, I’m really that terrible with photoshop and design. If I paid myself $20 an hour then it would have cost me $200 (theoretically) to do it myself. To me, $90 was a steal.
As you can see from this first draft below I needed those renditions. The red glasses and lipstick were just a little much I think.
I believe we went through about 5 drafts until we came to a final product. I changed around words, fonts, colors, pictures, and placement until we finally came to what is today the Young, Dumb and NOT Broke?! cover.
Take your time and build a great cover because it is the first thing people are going to see when they scroll on Amazon. Moreover, don’t be afraid to outsource it. Mine was only $90 which made it well worth the investment.
Putting Together A Book
You have great content, a great cover, and it’s time to put the book together. But you’re self-publishing on Amazon so you don’t have to do any of that right? Well kind of.
When you are self-publishing to Amazon, you still need to put your book together and have everything formatted correctly. Yes, once it’s completed, this is as simple as uploading a PDF but before then you have some work to do.
Amazon, of course, wants to make this process as simple as possible so they came out with Kindle Create.
Kindle Create is a download that works directly with Microsoft Word. It allows you to enter your content and use the tools included to make sure your formatting is up to par with Amazon’s expectations.
You can add a table of contents, chapter pages, dedication pages, blank pages, etc, etc. You get the picture right?
Obviously, you can go the old fashioned route and do all of this in Microsoft Word manually but if this tool, which is FREE, is helping you go through it step-by-step why not take advantage?
Check Your Grammar… Again
If you are a returning visitor to this site then you’ll know that my grammar is far from perfect. If you had one of the first copies of YD&NB then you’ll think it is terrible. This is something I rushed way too much when trying to self publish on Amazon.
I’m not going to hide the fact that my grammar isn’t perfect. Heck, if most of you heard how I talk you would think I’m a hillbilly but that’s beside the point.
Grammar doesn’t come naturally to me and probably doesn’t to many of you as well. Because of this, you must find someone who is well above average to edit for you. Trust me, you NEED to do this unless you like getting sent pictures of mistakes in your book five times a day.
Seriously, for the first week YD&NB was live, half of the messages I received were pictures of an error I had left in the final copy. I’m really trying to help you out here because we all know a grammar snob or two that is going to put you on blast for missing one oxford comma.
What I would suggest doing here is again going to the internet to find a freelancer who specializes in editing. Yes you can use someone local and I’m sure your Aunt Sally could help you but you want this to be close to perfect, if not better.
Don’t rush, don’t be cheap, and make sure you have great grammar.
The Bottom Line
Writing a book is an extremely rewarding experience. I didn’t understand at the time what I was stumbling into, but I’m forever grateful that I did. Also, I’m glad I went the route of self-publishing on Amazon.
I’ve said it dozens of times; the things you can do and learn on the internet are limitless and I want to take advantage of that. Self-publishing on Amazon is a learning experience and in 30 minutes, you too could have your book published, for sale, and feel the same things I do.
Before you do that though, please take the time to make sure you have everything accounted for that I discussed above (especially the grammar part). While it isn’t all about the money, if I would have done these things just 10% better, I think I could have doubled, if not tripled, my book sales.
At the end of the day, express yourself however you feel most comfortable and if you think that self-publishing on Amazon is the way to do it then go for it. You won’t regret it.
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