Self-Publishing 101

So you want to self-publish your book?

Congratulations! Publishing your own work is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Seeing your name in print (or in e-print) after all the work you put in creating and editing your manuscript is a fitting end to the process.

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With all the different options for publishing these days, how do you know which service to use? This article will delve into the major services and provide some pros and cons for each.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

With its enormous reach, Amazon presents the best way for getting your book seen by the masses. It’s also one of the simplest platforms to use. Amazon KDP accepts manuscripts written in Word, HTML, MOBI, ePub, Rich Text Format, Plain Text and PDF. Do note that PDF documents tend to get all garbled, so if your manuscript is available in any other format, use it instead of PDF. That applies to any of the publishers who accept PDF.

Amazon has provided an easy-to-follow publishing guide called Building Your Book for Kindle. It gives instructions on how to format your manuscript so that it flows into Amazon’s publishing program easily. Among my early publishing mistakes was not reading this guide before I started – it would have saved me all kinds of publishing heartache!

The downside of Amazon KDP is it’s royalty scheme. While it is still quite generous (70 per cent in most cases – 35 per cent in some countries), it is lower than all the other providers.


The other large alternative is the Apple iBookstore. In order to be a seller on the iBookstore, you must apply for and obtain a US IRS Tax Number. You cannot set up a seller account without it. This stopped me from becoming a direct seller into the iBookstore. I discovered, however, that you can still get into the iBookstore through other platforms – Bookbaby, Smashwords and Lulu are three of them.


Bookbaby provides a publishing service that sends your e-Book out to 12 different e-Bookstores, including Amazon Kindle and Apple iBookstore. It is free to publish through Bookbaby (though you can choose a couple of paid options which provide you with more services), and there are many help files to assist you through the process.

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The downside with Bookbaby is that you have to provide your manuscript in ePub format. This means you need to convert your manuscript from whatever format you wrote it in, into ePub. In order to do this, I installed an e-Reader called Calibre, which I then had to learn how to use.

The upside is that by going through Bookbaby, you receive 85 per cent of your sale price as royalties.


Smashwords market themselves as Indie publishers. They publish to a smaller number of platforms, including Apple iBookstore, but not to Amazon. Smashwords accept manuscripts in Word format; however, check your formatting closely to make sure your book doesn’t get garbled in the conversion process.

It’s free to publish on Smashwords, and royalties are up to 85 per cent.


Lulu only publish to Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook and their own platform. Lulu has a tool that converts your Word documents into ePub files, ready for publishing on those platforms. Again, making sure your Word document is conversion-ready is a big part of the success of the conversion process.

Lulu royalties are 90 per cent. However, that is calculated after taking off a hosting cost of $0.99.


BookTango publish to a limited number of platforms. They do publish to both Amazon and Apple. Apart from that, their royalties are 100 per cent, with no hosting costs if the title is purchased directly through BookTango.

I like the look of BookTango, but haven’t used it as yet, so I can’t comment on the usability of the platform. However, David Carnoy, writing for said “BookTango has fulfilled its promise of being an easy-to-use platform with a lot of nice features.”

Whichever platform you choose, there will be a learning curve for you before you are satisfied with how your book looks online. However once you have mastered the formatting rules of whichever platform you choose, publishing an e-Book is really quite a simple matter.

Do you have any self-publishing tips? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Featured Image credit: thomashawk

Bree Vreedenburgh

Bree runs a company, BV International, which offers Franchisees and Small Business owners the opportunity to gain professional coaching that is designed especially for them. When she’s not working, Bree can often be found writing plays, and treading the boards at her local community theatre. She has also written several short business books and is currently in the processes of publishing her first full-length business book.

Bree can be contacted on 08 6365 5405 or by emailing