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  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci

Self-Publishing Steps You Might Not Know About

HelloOoOo everybody!


Self-publishing is really, really, really complicated. How complicated? I'm about to show you. Today I'm breaking down some important steps to self-publishing you may not know about. About half of the steps are necessary for self-publishing, and if you don't do ’em, you're screwed. The other half isn't mandatory per se, but if you don't do them, you're probably shooting yourself in the foot.


This topic was requested by one of my patrons over on Patreon, Danielle. I think it's such a great topic. It's really important to talk about, but I don't actually see a lot of authors talking about it. And I think if they did, it would make the self-publishing process a lot easier and more transparent for others.


Now this list might be a little overwhelming, but I'm gonna break down these steps as simply as possible. Once we go through all these self-publishing tasks you might not know about, you should definitely consider implementing them into your own personal process. A lot of these steps are easy. In fact, they're only overwhelming because people don't know how easy they really are. All right then, are you ready? Deep breaths. This is gonna be cake, I promise. Let's get to it.


A quick disclaimer: About half of these steps are possibly exclusively relevant to self-published authors within the United States. Self-publishing varies from country to country. So if you live outside of the United States, be sure to do some research and make sure that you are publishing properly based on your country.



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Number 1: The Copyright

In the US, all written work is considered copyrighted once it's written. However, it can be hard to prove exactly when you first wrote a book, so a lot of self-published authors like to cover their bases, and upon publication, they file for an official copyright. Unfortunately, many writers assume that this process is a lot more complicated than it is; literally, all you have to do is apply for a copyright online through copyright.gov. Last time I checked it costs about $65 to apply online for a copyright, and it usually takes about six months for you to receive the official paperwork. However, even if you don't receive the paperwork until after the book is published, you're probably still okay. Again, this step is particular to writers in the US, if you live outside of the US, you might not have to do anything like this at all. So do your research.


Number 2: ISBNs

An ISBN is the identification number that allows retailers and libraries to search for your book. You're going to need a different ISBN for every format of your book. That means one for paperbacks, one for hardbacks, and one for ebooks. A lot of writers assume that ISBNs are given out for free on publishing platforms, and that's not 100% true. If you publish an ebook through Amazon they will give you a free ASIN, which is a tracking number similar to an ISBN that is exclusive to Amazon. That means you can't use this ASIN for any other retailer. Amazon can also provide a free ISBN for your paperback, but again, it is only exclusive to Amazon and its distributors. That means if you wanna sell your book at other retailers you're gonna need to buy ISBNs, and be forewarned, they're fucking expensive. Many authors buy ISBNs in bulk because they're cheaper when you purchase them that way. Plus, you're probably gonna need more than one anyway. In the US the most popular website to buy ISBNs through is Bowker, which you can reach at myidentifiers.com.


Number 3: Registering With the Library of Congress

If you want your book available in libraries within the US, you are going to need to register it with the Library of Congress or loc.gov. Once you do this, you will receive a Library of Congress number, and that number needs to go on the copyright page of your book. You'll also be required to list a business address on the copyright page of your book. Why? Hell if I know, but that's the rule. After that, the Library of Congress asks that you send them a physical copy of your book. Once you do this your book is now registered, which means libraries across the country can easily order your book. It's possible to get your book into libraries without this step, however, it's a whole lot harder that way, so you might as well bite the bullet and get her done.


Number 4: A P.O. Box

I personally don't know any US-based career author who doesn't have a P.O. Box. A lot of being self-published requires you to list your address, sometimes publicly. And I have a feeling you don't want to list your home address publicly. Thus it's worth considering getting a P.O. Box, especially if you plan to publish long-term, and maybe turn it into a career. You can get a P.O. Box through the United States Postal Service or UPS. I have one and it costs about $216 a year.


Number 5: Choosing To Be a Sole Proprietor or an LLC

If you make money off your books, you're gonna have to report that to the IRS when filing your taxes. And when filing your taxes, you're gonna have to report whether you are a sole proprietor or an LLC. A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by themselves. An LLC or a Limited Liability Company, is a business structure that varies from state to state. Basically, each state has different rules and regulations. I'm not a tax specialist, so I am not gonna tell you which option is better. It honestly depends entirely on the state you live in. But what I will say is there's a misconception that as a self-published author, you have to have an LLC in order to publish your book. That is false. I encourage you to research how sole proprietorships and LLCs work in your state so you can make the decision that's best for you. This is another tip that is exclusive to US writers if you couldn't tell. I don't know how taxes work in your country, so I can't help you there.


Number 6: Your Publishing Company

This kinda overlaps with the last point, because often if writers decide to open an LLC, it's often in the name of their publishing company. There is a common misconception that writers must have a publishing company in order to self-publish their books. This is a lie, and I know this because I do not have a publishing company, and yet I've published four books with a fifth on its way. If you want to create a publishing company, you totally can, just understand that it's not mandatory. You can easily publish your book under your name instead.


Number 7: Cover Templates

A lot of writers jump into the cover art process before their book is finished and formatted, which is technically fine, so long as you understand that you're gonna have to get that cover resized. When you publish a physical book, the size of the cover is going to directly depend on the size and length of your book. Why? Because of the spine. The longer the book, the more pages, and the more pages the fatter the spine. When you publish a physical book through Amazon or IngramSpark, the platform is going to request information like the exact measurements of your book, the type of paper you wanna use, the binding, and the number of pages. Based on these details they will generate a cover template for you. You need to give these templates to your cover artist, and they need to make sure the cover fits these templates perfectly. Otherwise, your book is gonna be all kinds of fucked up.


Number 8: Keywords

When you publish your book on pretty much any platform. The platform is going to ask for keywords. This is not the same as the genre, they'll ask for that too. Keywords are special words that help identify the content of your novel and thus target your correct audience. A lot of writers begin the publishing process, get to the keywords section and think “Fuck, how do I choose my keywords?” A great resource that I utilize is K-lytics. It's a platform that generates detailed reports based on specific genres. And those reports will include an entire section on appropriate keywords for that genre. I have an affiliate link for K-lytics listed here. It has saved my ass on multiple occasions when publishing my books.


Number 9: Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub Author Accounts

You're gonna want to create author accounts on all of these platforms. None of this is mandatory per se, but you're shootin’ yourself in the foot if you don't. An Amazon author account will help direct readers to your author page as well as your books, which could generate more sales for you. A Goodreads author account will allow readers to review your book on Goodreads, which creates a lot of exposure. An often overlooked resource is BookBub. It's definitely smart to create an author page there because if you do, BookBub will automatically email all of your followers every time you release a new book. That's instant free marketing, I see no downside.


Number 10: The Wholesale Discount

Get ready to be pissed. A wholesale discount determines how much a wholesaler will pay for your book. Basically, if you're publishing physical books, a retailer is going to buy that book, and then sell it to others. They need some type of discount when purchasing your book, otherwise they're not gonna make a profit. Now it varies from country to country, but typically if you want your book available on an online platform, the usual wholesale discount is 30% to 35%. But if you want your book on physical shelves in brick-and-mortar stores, typically the expected wholesale discount is 55%. And yes, this discount is going to affect how much money you make on every book sold. That means at some point you're gonna have to choose a wholesale discount based on what's more important to you, making more money with each book sold, or having your books available in physical stores. This pisses a lot of writers off because it's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, but that's capitalism.


So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

I hope these self-publishing tips help simplify the process for you and remind you it’s not as overwhelming as you might think. A huge thank you to Danielle for requesting today's topic. If you'd like the chance to have a video dedicated to you, or if you want access to all of my rewards, check me out on Patreon. I recently updated the rewards, so if you wanna take a look and see what they are now, some of them are super exciting. I've got it linked right here.



 

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