Online Resources for Self-Publishing a Book
Not long ago in a discussion here about the Kindle, Shelley from Burningbird commented that she was planning on self-publishing her next book. She also wrote about it in My DRM Free Self. Her comment set me to thinking about self-publishing.
Most bloggers who publish regularly may have enough material already written on their blogs to put it together in book format. There are numerous ways to accomplish the publishing itself.
First, let's take a look at what you already have as a blogger. You have an audience. You have a following. You have a recognizable voice. Multiply that by your outreach via Facebook and Twitter and whatever other online networking you do.
A backlog of text in the form of blog posts is not the only option. If you create podcasts and videos, you can use that material in certain kinds of self-publishing. For example, a self-published ebook in PDF format can contain images as well as links to your podcasts and videos on your own site or on YouTube. Podcasts and videos may not translate into a print-on-demand bound book on paper, but that isn't the only possibility for publishing these day.
Once you have your material put together in a way that makes sense as a book, where do you go? Here are a few of the possibilites.
Smashwords describes what it does this way:
Smashwords is a self-publishing platform and online bookstore for indepedent ebook authors, publishers and readers. We offer multi-format, DRM-free ebooks, ready for immediate sampling and purchase, and readable on any e-reading device.
The list of e-reading devices that work with Smashwords includes iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and IRex Iliad. Here's the Smashwords upload page: fill in a simple form and you're in. I see this site being most useful to bloggers who have a pretty good following, because you do your own marketing.
Scribd describes itself as a social publishing company. It will publish books, magazines, brocures and other material. It's very easy to upload your own documents. The upload button is everywhere on this site, you can't miss it.
Even Tim O'Reilly from O'Reilly Publishing is selling books on Scribd, such as this $5 download of The Twitter Book.
Scribd uses an online document reader called iPaper.
This page gives you the basics of the Amazon eBook Program and includes links to a 72 page PDF document describing the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines and several other items that may help you get an ebook published and listed on Amazon.com.
Of course, the Amazon distribution system would make your book available on Kindle, smart phones, and all sorts of mobile devices. It would put your book in a marketplace that gets searched on all sorts of topics by millions of people each day.
Blurb is popular for books that will be printed and bound. It does a nice job with art work and photos in print, so it's popular for books that contain a lot of images along with the text. Consider it for cookbooks, travel books, and photography books.
Read Blurb's Tips and Tricks to learn about how to get started.
The venerable Lulu has been around a while (at least in Internet years). It offers just about everything: eBooks, hardcover books, even DVD and CD materials. Other valuable services like finding editing help, getting cover design help and getting an ISBN are also available through Lulu. For a fee, they will even help you with marketing your book.
Remember that paragraph at the beginning the this article about what you have already? Your own platform as a writer in the form of a blog or some sort of social media presence? Well, you'll need that with any of the book creation services listed here. That's because you'll be doing a lot of self-promoting to your own audience. In fact, that may be the only marketing you get—your own. You'll use ads, links, promos, posts, tweets, and every other attention getter you can come up with to promote the book yourself.
The good thing is that this endeavor to self-publish using online resources is often free or very inexpensive. So even if you only sell 50 books, you've still accomplished the feat of writing and publishing a book bearing your name.
What do you think? Are you going to give it a try? Have you already done it and do you have a resource or tip to share?