Published On: Fri, Feb 19th, 2016

A Quick Guide to Self-publishing for Writers

You’ve been thinking about writing an ebook for awhile and now that it’s finally written, you’re ready to publish. You’ve more than likely perused couple of sites, and you’re still a little iffy on the logistics. “What exactly does it mean to self-publish” and “How do I sell an ebook” are both topics that will be explained in this article.

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

What Are Ebooks and How Do I Choose the Right Format?

In a digital ebook everything you know about Word documents is completely flipped on its head. Converting any document into an ebook is not as cut and dry as it seems.

When converting your document into a readable format on a Kindle or an iPad two things happen: The style and text are separated and the styling of your Word document is saved in a separate CSS file. The two most common ebook formats are Epub and Mobi.

  1. Epub

The most widely used format and the recommended one is Epub. It uses an open format and there are plenty of free tool associated with it. It may be good to note that you can also read Epub files in certain web browsers if you want to see what the final product looks like on your computer. The only drawback to using the Epub format is that it does not work with Kindles. This is not a big deal, but it’s  something to keep in mind.

  1. Mobi

Amazon has released its own version of an ebook reader that does work with Kindles and its called…you guessed it right, Mobi. In order to play it safe, as an ebook self-publisher it is best to publish your ebook in both Epub and Mobi formats to reach a larger audience.

Listed below are three ways to convert your file:

1. The Meat Grinder

If you plan on releasing your ebook to the Apple store know that Apple only lets certain third party vendors upload items to their store. Our recommendation is Smashwords. They automatically let you upload your ebook to a number of different devices and they don’t even charge for their services. However, they do take a cut out of each sold copy. One of their best features is something called, “Meat Grinder.” Ultimately, this is a website that lets your insert any text and instantly convert it to Epub. This option works best for most books, but not all.

Kindle has its own meatgrinder solution that is accessible on the Kindle Direct Publishing website and it’s completely free.

Writerperhour is another excellent service that can help you with anything between content creation to final editing and formatting. Contact them if you need help with writing papers.

Lastly, there is Pressbooks. It’s free, owned by WordPress and it lets you create ebooks from scratch. This is certainty a viable option if the other two don’t work and their software is fairly easy to use.

2. There’s a reason for DIY

Be weary, creating an ebook from scratch is not a simple point and click. If you have some technical skills and are fairly versed in HTML/CSS and can become knowledgeable in the Epub design, then this option will work for you. If not, stick with the meatgrinder options listed above.

3. Leave it to the Pros

There’s usually a reason why we pay people to do things. If you simply don’t want to worry about converting the ebook altogether then you can easily find someone to do it for you. A budget of around $100 is a good starting place for an average ebook. Also, consider paying someone around $200 out of pocket to create a custom cover for your ebook.

Guest Author: Isabele Hernandez

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. Colin Higbie says:

    Note that Calibre (available for free) has evolved into an excellent tool for converting documents to EPUB and MOBI files and it works with more diverse source content than Smashwords’ Meat Grinder. This wasn’t true a few years ago, but in 2016, any author should be able convert a Word document into an EPUB and MOBI file in a few seconds. You still want to keep your original formatting to a minimum and use Heading stylies for chapter titles, but Calibre is quite good at sorting out even poorly formatted source material.

    Smashwords is a great place for self-publishing authors, but their distribution is limited, not including Amazon except for top performing titles, for example. They also take a share of all the revenue, even for sales on third-party sites, leaving the author earning less. Clearly I have a bias, but at our site, Scribl.com, where we are focused on helping self-publishing authors, we charge nothing (except a share of sales on our site), provide distribution pretty much everywhere, and don’t reduce your share of the royalties.

    In many cases Scribl pays a *higher* share than authors can get by going direct to Amazon’s KDP, Kobo’s Writing Life, or Barnes & Noble. Where Amazon’s KDP only pays 35% for books priced below $2.99 (common for promotions), for example, Scribl is still able to still pay 70% for those sales on Amazon. B&N never pays direct self-publishing authors higher than 65%, but when distributed to B&N by Scribl, authors would get the full 70% on those same sales.

  2. […] A Quick Guide to Self-publishing for Writers – One of their best features is something called, “Meat Grinder.” Ultimately, this is a website that lets your insert any text … It’s free, owned by WordPress and it lets you create ebooks from scratch. This is certainty … […]

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