Chris A. Baird | September 8, 2023
How to Self Publish an eBook - Step by Step Guide

When you're first getting started with your book and you want to get it out in an eBook format, it seems incredibly confusing. This is because you're hearing about these different types of formats and a lot of the decisions that are going to go into self-publishing your book in an eBook format. 

The Process of Writing Your E-Book

In today's article, we are going to discuss how to self-publish an eBook step by step guide. So let us get straight into, the process of writing your eBook now when you're going to do this. There's a couple of things you need to keep in mind. 

Choosing your topic or genre

Your first step is choosing your topic or genre and there are a number of ways in which you're going to go about doing this. The first thing is you're going to reflect a little bit on your interests and your passions and a lot of this also deals with things that you're actually good at.

Maybe you already have a degree in this subject or maybe this is something you've already been doing for many years like puppy training. You have a dog of your own as opposed to trying to jump into a category or topic for which you have no previous experience.

If you're writing fiction books, you may in fact choose to write in a genre that you yourself read and are familiar with. That will give you an advantage when you're getting started. The second thing is you're going to research market trends and audience demand. This is where the keywords come in.

We're looking to see, if are there even books selling like the book you're thinking about putting on the market. If there aren't, is that okay with you that you're going to put the book out there and make no sales? Don't think you're going to come up with the first idea, the first book ever, and then it's going to make a killing.

This is a common misconception among authors and it just doesn't work out that way. Also, don't underestimate yourself, thinking I don't care if I make any money at all. Once it's out there, we sort of would like to see those sales happening and this is where the planning phase comes in.

That's one of the reasons I recommend KDSpy for finding the right keywords for your specific book. You're writing those exact keywords where we see that great ratio between not so many books but the books on that topic are selling a lot. 

In addition, you're going to want to assess your unique perspective. What is it? This angle or slant that you have to bring to the table. When you're going about choosing this exact genre. 

Developing an outline or writing plan

The next thing is you're going to be developing an outline or writing plan. That means you're going to figure out first of all what is your objective. What is it that you're trying to achieve? You're going to break it down into the key points and supporting details around that exact thing.

So you know exactly how the story is going to go. Or if it's non-fiction, the exact aspects of the book that you're going to be hitting for this specific thing. Then you're going to organize it and structure it into an outline so that you can start writing.

Now, some people like to do it, I think they call them Panthers like to just write by the seat of their pants. We just write it out and see what happens. Well, this is not a particularly effective method for most people. The people that are most effective for or people already are outstanding writers.

And you know exactly what to do because of going back and then trying to fix things and organize them. If you just write it all first, it is usually a very painful process. As opposed to if you can hold it to a line or a storyboard for your fiction books that you're writing. This can be a very helpful thing to do. 

Creating a writing schedule

The next thing is we're going to be creating a writing schedule. You need to determine your optimal writing time. The reason we're doing this is because if you just say, I will write when I feel inspired the answer is you're never going to feel inspired.

So your book's never going to get done. You should set specific and achievable goals so you will not burn yourself out. But at the same time, get as much productivity as you possibly can when you're working on your book.

You're going to create a consistent writing routine. That is every day here's the routine I have, this location, and these tools. I'm going to be spending this much time and here is the outcome I'm trying to get. 

Strategies for completing your manuscript

The next thing to look at is strategies for completing your manuscript. A couple of these involve breaking it down into manageable tasks where you're going to be able to just check them off as you go through. You're going to establish a writing routine like we talked about and stick to it.

This is an important one. That's one of the reasons I recommend having a writing coach or somebody who can hold you accountable for this process. I work with my Group Coaching clients as well as my 1-On-1 Program clients in this exact area. 

Where we're going back and forth and looking at what is the routine. What progress are we making? What's the next step? Looking at a daily basis of what's going on, these are definitely programs you should check out if that is of use to you.

Check out this related article: Increase Sales by Changing Your Mindset in Self-Publishing  

Then, you're going to use productivity techniques. We should not just let it go and see what happens. You should be using things like a task management system like Todoist which is the one that I recommend. 

It is the one that I use to make sure that I'm staying on track. As we're moving through the different steps necessary to get the book complete. 

Proofreading and Editing Your Book

So, the combination of these can be very helpful when you're getting started, proofreading and editing your book. 

Importance of proofreading and editing

The first thing here is the importance of proofreading and editing. This cannot be understated because we want to ensure that you have the accuracy and clarity that your readers are going to expect.

We do not want to be getting one and two-star reviews as a result of a poor-quality manuscript that we're putting out there. Using proofreading and editing is a great great way to do this. It enhances professionalism and credibility.

These people will be more willing to give you better reviews and purchase your future books. In addition, it'll improve the overall effectiveness and impact of your writing and this is something that definitely needs to be considered when you're starting your book.

To understand that you've finished the first draft but then we need to make sure that we're getting this thing proofread and edited before we get it out on the market. 

Self-editing tips and tools

Next, we're going to do self-editing tips and tools. There are a couple of ways to do this, you don't have to pay a fortune to do this. You should take a break before editing so we don't want to mix our editing and our writing at the same time.]

Check out this related article: Where does the focused Writing Come From??

Such an important thing, we're going to read aloud and use spell-check tools. I recommend personally Grammarly for editing. You can also listen to it, I use a tool called Voice Stream on my iPhone which I think was like $9. 

It’s so cheap and then you can just listen to the whole thing be read which is a really great way to do it. There are also online ways that you can do this as well. You should use an editing checklist and style guides to make sure that the quality of what you're doing is top-notch. 

Hiring a professional editor: Pros and cons

Next, we're going to hire a professional editor: pros and cons. The reason you might want to do this is for quality assurance. To make sure you really have the top. The downside of course is that it's going to cost you a bit of money to do this.

But you're going to have an objective perspective outside yourself as opposed to self-editing, you'll have somebody else. If you have the budget, this is definitely a great way to go. But on the positive side, you're going to have time and energy savings. So, you're not going to have to spend all of this energy. 

Formatting Your Ebook

If you've done editing, you understand the pain and suffering that can be involved in the process of formatting your eBook. 

Popular ebook formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)

So, there are popular eBook formats that would be EPUB, MOBI, and PDF. These would be the big three. Now, above these three, EPUB is probably the most powerful because it can be used on virtually every single platform.

But the MOBI one also previously was the one that was used mostly on Amazon. It is used I believe on one other platform but they're moving away from it so EPUB is still the way to go. Then, PDF is great if you just want to sell it and you don't really want to spend too much time trying to figure this process out.

Also, when somebody gets a copy, they don't need some fancy reader. Everybody has a PDF reader built onto their own computer and on their iPhone or Android devices. So you don't have to worry about it if you put it into the PDF format, you're completely set. 

Overview of formatting tools (Calibre, Scrivener, Vellum)

Next, an overview of formatting tools. We have Calibre, Scrivener, Vellum and Jutoh. These are all great tools, Calibre is mostly good for actually looking at the eBook and seeing how it's going to look when your reader gets it.

I would not recommend for using it even though it can be used for free to convert your Word document into an EPUB format. It's just going to come out looking terrible because of all of the extra symbols and stuff. So, I would not recommend that.

Scrivener was the one that I attempted to use when I discovered you can't use Word really to do this. But it didn't do the table of contents like I wanted. It was very confusing on a lot of other things.

A lot of the style on the formatting side just quite worked out for me. Maybe it works great for you but not for me, you can let me know below in the comments if it worked great for you.

Then comes Vellum and it is really popular and a rather easier one to use. But can be a bit pricier for most of the average writer. It could possibly be the easiest and I've heard a lot of my clients say they really like Vellum. So, I'm not saying anything against that.

But the final one is Jutoh and that's the one that I definitely recommend. It's really affordably priced at like $50. In addition, I have a Formatting Made Easy Course for authors where I go through how to use Jutoh. 

In addition, I answer all questions you have as we continue through the process of how to use the tool. If you want me to go back and forth with you without even purchasing the course, we can actually do that through the Group Coaching or the 1-On-1 Program

Where we're able to take a close look to make sure that it's exactly perfectly formatted. The thing I like about Jutoh is you can just click a single button and have the eBook’s EPUB version. We can get to put out the PDF version that you're going to need for your hardcover and your paperback. 

For all the versions you're going to need, it's able to produce exactly those correct formats which is one of the reasons I really like this particular tool. Once you learn the basics of the tool, you just do it all yourself and it's a one-time fee. So these are a lot of the reasons why you should definitely consider that tool. Does that make sense? 

Detailed step-by-step process for formatting an ebook

The next is the detailed step-by-step process for formatting an eBook. So the first thing is you need to prepare the manuscript, should already have this editing and everything done. But then after that, we're going to convert it to the eBook format.

For me, it means pulling this document straight into Jutoh. Letting it strip away all of these things that are in there that Word or other tools put inside of it. To make sure it's completely clean and then putting it into that EPUB format.

Then we're going to customize the formatting. We're going to look and see to make sure that we have exactly the things necessary to get the formatting flawlessly correct before we're going to put it out. The eBook that I work with when we put them onto Amazon the first time, we never get them to say there are quality issues.

Check out this related article: Success Stories: The Power of Self-Publishing

It's just completely solved especially if you follow my tips regarding using Grammarly. The free tool to go through to make sure it's not going to find anything. Then, I can guarantee you you're also not going to have any problems whatsoever.

When moving through the process here when it comes to getting your book on the market. They're not going to reject it or anything. So, that's definitely worth considering. 

Designing Your Ebook Cover

Next would be designing your eBook cover. 

Importance of a compelling cover design

The first thing here is the importance of a compelling cover design you want one that really is going to be grabbing the attention and creating interest in the purpose of your cover. It is not to tell them about the story, it's simply to get them to click.

When it comes to Amazon or any of these other platforms, your biggest challenge is not the idea of whether the contents of the book are great. It's whether or not they'll even click in the first place if they see the cover. We need to make sure that's looking professional and it's going to build the credibility that you need.

You should differentiate your book cover from other ones to increase discoverability. But at the same time, your ideal readers have already told us on Amazon which books they're purchasing. Based upon that, we can figure out the best sellers assuming they don't have more than a thousand reviews like some celebrity putting a book out.

We can see what your readers expect. So, if it's a romance cover, you know exactly the type of people who are going to be on that cover. If it's a science fiction battle story, you should make sure it matches that exact genre in the best sellers.

That's why whenever anyone asks me the question, should I use this cover? My first question will always be back What are the best sellers in this exact genre or niche? What do their covers look like? Because the ones that are selling the most copies, that's a great idea and a great starting point to figure it out. 

DIY cover design: Tips and tools like Canva

Next, you have do-it-yourself cover design tips and tools like Canva. Now, using Canva is an amazing thing, that's actually where I started when I was trying to save money in the early days of self-publishing. Canva gives you the ability to use pre-built designs already there.

Now, they're charging a lot more these days to do the same things. But you can still use their free designs and build really nice excellent-looking covers and it’s absolutely free. 

Hiring a professional cover designer: Pros and cons

But if you have as little as and this comes the next point which is hiring a professional cover designer: pros and cons. If you have a budget of as little as $25, you can actually order on Fiverr amazing covers. 

You should definitely check that link out. She does amazing work for many of my clients, everybody's very happy. She gives unlimited revision, she'll go back and forth with you until you're completely satisfied.

The problem with this is that it can be expensive if you don't have that budget. It involves a lot of creativity but takes it away so you don't actually have to be all that creative. Let them do it, they're the experts at this and you get this professional quality and the appeal of a professionally done thing.

It's going to save you a lot of time and effort and increase your sales. The downside of course is that you may have to go back and forth with them and if you don't have a budget for it, well you're sort of out of luck on that one. 

Writing a Compelling Book Description

Now are you okay writing? The next thing is writing a compelling book description. Now this one is one of my favorite ones.

The role of a book description in selling your ebook

The first thing you need to remember is the role of a book description in selling your eBook. The role of the book is to hook potential readers, it's not about telling them about the story. So, you need to hook them into this by conveying the value proposition.

What do they get from buying this book? Is it really exciting entertainment or is it going to solve a problem? You're going to set expectations and build interest. We do not want to deplete and deplete that tension they have with wondering whether this book will help them.

We want to pull them in so they're actually willing to look around the page. Look at the author’s bio and click and buy the book. 

Key elements of a compelling book description

The next thing is the key elements of a compelling book description. It's going to be an engaging hook, it's going to have a clear synopsis of whatever the story is. Without really giving the details bring them right on in if it's fiction.

And if it's non-fiction, we want compelling language and tone. We want to let them know we understand their problem, this is the solution, and here are the benefits of that particular problem. 

Examples of effective book descriptions

Now examples of effective book descriptions. You can even use chatGPT to help you formulate this or Kindlepreneur also has stuff that helps with this exact thing.

So I'll just give you an example: A Riveting Tale Of Love Betrayal and Redemption Set Against the Backdrop of a War: Torn Europe Follow the Intertwined Lives of Two Stars Cross Lovers as They Navigate the Treacherous Landscape of Espionage and Sacrifice. Now, you see how that would really pull someone in?

But at the same time, I don't know what the story is about, it builds curiosity. What about this, One Step Into a World of Magic and Mystery in This Enchanting Urban Fantasy: Join a Group of Unlikely Heroes as They Uncover Ancient Secrets, Battle Supernatural Creatures, and Unravel the Truth About Their Own Hidden Powers.

Can you see just by hearing that these descriptions really are going to pull you in and make you want to read more? 

Choosing a Self-Publishing Platform

So choosing a self-publishing platform is when we haven't hit, yet you have an overview of the popular self-publishing platforms. 

Overview of popular self-publishing platforms

Amazon KDP which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing, is my absolute favorite. Then you have Smashwords which was purchased also by Draft2Digital, that's the next one. Then, you have Apple Books, which is the final one we're going to be looking at today. 

Pros and cons of each platform

You have the pros and cons of each of these platforms. So, like Amazon KDP, it's got a massive distribution and it's the largest bookstore in the world. So, this is something you definitely should consider for your eBook. But the cons, it's exclusivity requirements if you're going to go to KDP Select.

The problem with this is that if you do enroll your book you can't sell your eBook on any other platform like Smashwords or Draft2Digital, they give you a lot of positives. Which would be massive distribution, even bigger getting the libraries and things like that.

But the cons are it's limited only to eBooks, so it's not going to help much when it comes to your paperback books. But what about Apple Books? The pro would be access to this really large global audience. The cons would be it's only limited to a single platform, the Apple platform. We're still only talking about the eBook versions of it. 

Factors to consider when choosing a platform

Now, factors to consider when choosing a platform. The first thing is your pricing and royalties. That's one of the reasons I really like Amazon, they give a lot of money back. But on the pricing options, maybe some of these other ones like Draft2Digital, give you a lot more flexibility.

Then you have platform policies and exclusivity. Some of the policies on Amazon KDP make it really difficult. They've been banning lots of accounts lately. So you have to wonder and you definitely don't want to go exclusive with them.

You should go wide to these other distributors anyway. So, don't just stick with one platform because if they do mess with your account, you want to make sure you have money coming in from the other ones.

The final is the distribution reach. Amazon by far has the biggest distribution but by putting it on the other platforms in addition, you're able to ensure you're going to even get a really wide reach there as well. 

Setting Up Your Account and Uploading Your Ebook

So, setting up your account and uploading your eBook. 

Detailed step-by-step process for setting up an account on a self-publishing platform

The first thing to remember is the detailed step by step process for setting up an account on a self-publishing platform. You should choose a self-publishing platform, one of the ones we just mentioned.

You need to sign up and provide the necessary information. You're probably going to need an email address and a phone number. And you're going to want to set up your author profile and upload your very first eBook, figuring out the exact standards they have and then uploading it. 

Process for uploading your ebook, cover design, and book description

Then you have the process for uploading your eBook cover design and book description. As we mentioned, you formatted your book where you designed your cover or you paid somebody to do it and you're running a compelling eBook description. Also, I would highly recommend using AI for that process. 

Pricing Your Ebook

Right now, we have the pricing your ebook. 

Factors to consider when setting an ebook price

Factors to consider when setting an eBook price. The first thing is market research, look at what the prices the other ones are selling for.

You have the production costs and the royalty rates that should consider what you're going to do and also the perceived value in your reader's expectations. I personally like to raise my price as I see more sales happening. 

Common pricing strategies and their effectiveness

Then, we have common pricing strategies and their effectiveness. You have things like even free and discounted promotions in order to get people to get hooked on the first book in a series for example. Or just to get them so that they read your book, they like it, they get on your email list, that's another thing.

Then you can do tiered pricing where your pricing changes based upon the different types of books that you have and you have Dynamic pricing where we're changing based upon the amount of sales that we're getting. 

Understanding royalties and how price affects them

Then we go to understanding royalties and how price affects them. Your royalty rates will definitely go up as prices increase but then at the same time if your price goes up too much, people may quit buying it and your royalties will decrease.

We're trying to find this maximal revenue optimization. So many authors underpriced their books, they assume that they have to charge a low price and that is a huge mistake. 

Marketing Your Self-Published Ebook

So marketing your self-published eBook. 

Importance of marketing for self-published authors

The first thing to remember is the importance of marketing for self-published authors. You want visibility and discoverability to make it easy for people to find the thing. You're going to be building an author brand and credibilities are going along and driving book sales.

Long-term success by going through the marketing process. So many authors think that the game is just about writing the book and that's it. You are so mistaken, marketing plays a massive role in what happens after that. 

Building an author platform and fan base

Then we're dealing with building an author platform and fan base. How do we do this? We engage with the readers on social media. We're offering valuable content to them for free.

Getting them on our email list for example and we're going to collaborate with influencers or other fellow authors to make sure to see if perhaps they will help promote our books in exchange that we promote theirs. 


So, in conclusion, you can see there are a lot of steps involved in this entire process that's one of the reasons you need to check out my free Self-Publishing Secrets Checklist that will go through those steps to getting your book self-published and selling. It is a really important thing to remember when you're going along this entire process.

My question for you is what have you found most challenging when getting your eBook published and marketing? Check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions. 

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