By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
How many people have told you that you ought to write a book? After all, you have a ton of travel stories to tell, you’ve led an interesting life, and you have lots of expertise in some areas. You could probably write two or three books, right? But, don’t you need a publisher first? There are several reasons you may want to publish a book:
- To keep your travels and stories for yourself and a few friends and family. For this purpose I recommend creating a blog and then using Blog2Print to make a book from it. I wrote about that a while ago: “Save your blog, print a book.”
- To establish your expertise in a niche and make your book available to the people interested in that niche. That was my purpose in publishing my book on Google Photos. I can’t imagine the effort it would take to find and convince a publisher to take this on. I just wanted to write it and get it out there.
- To make your living as a novelist: If you have lots of stories in your head, self-publishing is a way to reach a worldwide audience while keeping complete creative control and maximizing your royalties.
How to self-publish your book
I have now self-published my fourth book, Learn Google Photos. I am no expert on self-publishing but I do know how easy it is and I wanted to pass that along. I use Kindle Direct Publishing for both the printed paperback as well as the Kindle eBook. There is no charge for the publishing process and all you have to do is provide a Word document or .pdf file of your book.
The eBook on Kindle is available for your readers immediately and the printed paperbacks are printed on demand, so there is no up-front charge there either. You set the price for your book and it gets listed on Amazon for people to buy. Amazon then subtracts the cost of printing and shipping and splits the rest with the author, paying royalties of 60%. In the settings for your account, you include your bank account information and the money shows up in your account once a month.
The basic steps to self-publish your book are:
- Design a cover
When you start writing, you want to be using the right formatting for the end result. I started with the Word template provided by Kindle Direct Publishing. I was able to use the same Word document for submission for the paperback book as well as the Kindle book, but I paid close attention to all the guidelines and tutorials provided by Kindle Direct Publishing. For my book, I used a lot of images and they have special considerations over and above the text formatting. I found this YouTube video that helped a lot because it was so detailed. The same YouTube creator also has a video on formatting chapters and headers as part of her complete playlist of step-by-step tutorials.
A word about editing. You cannot proofread your own book! You simply won’t see the places that you mistakenly wrote their rather than they’re, or or repeated a word. (See?) I had two editor-friends proofread my book for errors. I also hired a professional editor, Beth Anne Carr, to help develop the book as I wrote. For a technical, how-to book like mine I found a developmental editor to be invaluable. I am so close to the material that I sometimes don’t see the forest for the trees. She helped me rearrange my topics and pay more attention to my reader’s perspective.
Your book cover: As my friend Nick Russell says: You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you’ll sure sell a lot more books with a good cover, and he recommended the artist that he uses. I recommend her as well: Elizabeth Mackey Graphics.
Marketing: “Writing and publishing your book is the easy part,” says Nick Russell, “then you have to market it. You need to market it not once a month or once a week, you need to market it every day.” As a New York Times Best-Selling author with 42 self-published books on Amazon, Nick knows what he’s talking about. You may know Nick from his years as a full-time RVer and publisher of the Gypsy Journal. He still keeps a daily blog and he markets books every day.
Then again, if you’re not trying to make your living at it and you just want to have your book available, you may be satisfied with just getting it up on Amazon and having a link to send to people. There is no minimum sales required to keep your book on Amazon.
You can do it.
The bottom line is that you can do it. If you want to write a book, do it! The publishing process is free and really quite easy. If you want to learn more, check out our YouTube show. It will stream live on Sunday, 9/27/20, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. After that, the same link takes you to the recording. We will discuss our experience with self-publishing as well as interviewing Nick Russell on his experience.
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do? They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.