What You Need Before You Publish
There is more to self-publishing than just writing a book. There are many decisions to make before you’re ready to upload your book. Here, I have compiled a list of everything you’ll need to have ready in order to self-publish your novel.
- An Edited Manuscript – Only put your best work out there. Make sure your book is polished and error free!
- Title – Being in control also means getting to choose your own title. While it is possible to change your title later, it’s important to put a lot of thought into your book’s title before you publish. Also, if your book is part of a series, you will have a space on the form to list your series title.
- Copyright Notice – Your novel needs a copyright notice at the beginning of the manuscript. You can choose your own wording for this notice, so look at other books and decide what you want to use. I use the following copyright notice and disclaimer in my ebooks:
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published by Dead River Books
Copyright © 2011 by Sarra Cannon
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions therof in any form whatsoever.
(Note: Smashwords requires you to use their own specific copyright notice.)
- Table of Contents – List your chapters at the beginning of the ebook. Smashwords requires you to hyperlink the table of contents to each chapter inside the ebook, so read their style guide for instructions.
- Acknowledgments* – This is optional but is a great way for you to thank the people who have helped you along the way. Also, you can mention those who helped you with any research or editing.
- Letter to Readers* – Another optional page. I like to include this page in my ebooks as a way to connect with readers and let them know how to contact me or where to look for updates on my books or contests or upcoming works. It’s also a way to thank them for their support.
- Links* – Let readers know where they can find you online! Add links to your website, twitter, facebook page, goodreads author profile, blog, and any other place where you want your readers to connect with you on the web. I put these links at both the beginning and end of my manuscript.
- Dedication* – If you want to dedicate your novel to someone important to you, feel free to add your own dedication page at the beginning of the novel.
- List of Works* – A list of your other books, short stories or other writings that you want your readers to be aware of.
- Proper Formatting– You need different formats for each vendor. Amazon requires a .MOBI, Barnes & Noble uses either a .DOC or an EPUB file, and Smashwords uses a .DOC in a very specific format.
- Description (or Back Cover Blurb) – You didn’t think you could get out of pitching that easily did you? Instead of pitching agents and editors, an Indie author pitches readers. It’s important to put a lot of thought into your book’s description. Make sure your blurb has a good hook that will entice readers to buy your ebook. Your ebook may not physically have a back cover, but this is basically the same type of pitch you find on the back cover of most novels.
When you upload your book to the various vendor websites, there will be a box for you to enter your book’s description. Consider adding a short excerpt after your pitch as well as reviews or quotes from author friends or book bloggers or contest entries. You can even include a personal message to readers. Remember, you’re in control! In the Kindle store, you have a limit of 4,000 characters, while B&N gives you up to 5,000 characters to describe your book.
- Categories – When you upload your ebook to each vendor’s site, you will be given the option to choose categories for your books. Amazon now allows you to choose only two categories, while B&N gives you up to five category choices. An example might be Fiction>Romance>Historical or Juvenile Fiction>Love & Romance. A good way to decide which categories are best for your books is to search the stores for books similar to yours and see which categories they are currently listed under. Keep in mind you can make changes to these categories later if you feel you made a mistake.
- Search Keywords – Search keywords are search terms that cause your book to appear in search results. For Kindle, you can enter up to seven descriptive keywords, separated by commas, to help readers find your book when they search the Kindle store. For B&N, you have a limit of 100 characters for your search terms.
- Author Biography – Write a short biography of yourself that can be used in blogs, articles, on your Kindle author page, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and many other places. I also include my author biography in the back of my book. Say something interesting about yourself that will help your readers connect with you. Give them information about your publishing experience. Read the biographies of your own favorite authors to get ideas.
- Eye-Catching Book Cover – Whether you decide to make one yourself or hire a cover artist, your book cover needs to be eye-catching. Your book cover is one of the most important tools you have to draw readers to your book. Remember that most people will be seeing your book for the first time as a small icon on their computer screen, so make sure it looks great and has the effect you want even when it is a small.
- ISBN* – An ISBN is only required for the Apple and Sony stores. If you plan to publish to these stores, you will have to either purchase an ISBN on your own or through Smashwords. (There is also an option for a free ISBN if you list Smashwords as your publisher.) If you choose to, you can purchase an ISBN for each ebook format. However, this is not a requirement for most stores such as the Amazon Kindle store or the Barnes & Noble store.
*Optional pages – you’re in control of your own novel, so give some thought to which pages you would like to include to best represent you and your career.