Self publishing a book has never been easier than it is now.

You do not need a publishing house anymore.

In fact you don’t even need to leave your house to publish a book.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re self publishing an eBook or a paperback or a hardcover book.

This complete guide will give you the best, proven self publishing tips and tricks, stats and research scoured from all over the world.

Plus, we’ve gathered data by annoying friends, colleagues and clients who have self published their books with endless questions on this topic.

Furthermore, a Q&A podcast with a self published author will be added to this guide on a future date.

Watch this space.

First off, let’s get into the basics.

What is Self Publishing?

It simply means publishing your book yourself instead of going through an agent or a traditional publishing house.

Nowadays, most authors self publish on a platform like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

That’s because Amazon has been the “world’s largest bookstore” for the past 2 decades.

And that probably won’t change for the foreseeable future.

Benefits of Self Publishing

As we’ve mentioned previously, many of our clients, friends and colleagues have successfully self published books on Amazon, sold thousands of copies, and made lots of money as a result.

Their best-selling books along with the help of some marketing, TED talks etc. have directly resulted in the success of their businesses, personal brands and research studies.

Below are some advantages of Self-Publishing:

1. Complete Creative Freedom & Control:

You no longer need to sit and wait with your fingers crossed while your agent takes your manuscript to one of the very few dark overlords of the publishing world i.e. large publishing houses.

You have full creative control in terms of content and even design and formatting if you want.

While it’s good to get feedback on your content, it’s sad to see many great books rejected because of the opinion of a snobby editor at a big publishing house.

When you’re self publishing, you also have complete control over the advertising and marketing aspects.

Which means you can implement and deploy creative, unique ideas if you want without resistance or any kind of approval process.

There are no gatekeepers.

2. Bigger Cut of the Profit:

Since you’re not paying the middleman (i.e. an agent or a publishing house), you get to keep the lion’s share of your profits.

For ex. you’ll get 70% of the royalties for self publishing, versus a meagre 10% to 25% via the traditional route.

3. You Own Everything

Since you’re self publishing, you are not required to sign lengthy, dubious contracts with large publishing houses where you hand over exclusive rights to film or video game adaptations, merchandising and rights to reprint etc.

Your book’s success along with marketing efforts can also dovetail into an alternate career for you if done right.

4. Same Quality as Everyone Else

You are no longer limited to just eBooks or shoddy paperback quality.

As a self published author your books can look just as good as your competition who’ve gone the traditional route.

That’s the beauty of technology and the digital age we live in now.

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

Self publishing is independent with very few or almost no restrictions, especially today.

Traditional publishing involves searching for and finding an agent who will help you get approved by a major publishing house.

Guess which route is faster and also easier on your bank account.

The table below illustrates the differences:

Traditional Publishing Self Publishing
Choose a topic, compile ideas and write your book. Choose a topic, compile ideas and write your book.
Contact an agent. Start the publishing process yourself.
Agent will submit your book to a publisher. Edit, format and design your book either DIY or by a professional.
Cross your fingers and hope it gets accepted. Choose where you want to self-publish.
Publisher finally accepts and starts working on your book. Upload your manuscript and click submit. Done.
You may have to pay upfront. No upfront payment. You set the price.
Easier to get feedback and get the book edited. You will have to seek feedback and hire a book editor yourself.
Help from an established, professional team. DIY (Do-it-Yourself).
Slow process, no creative control. Much faster, complete creative control & freedom.
Low Royalty Rates between 7% and 25%. High Royalty Rates of 70% to 80%.

History of Self Publishing

history of self publishing

The older, more traditional publishing industry was where:

  1. An agent would submit your manuscript to a publishing house.
  2. Any advances toward the book will depend on if the publishing house accepts to publish your book.
  3. They would then work with you to edit, design, and distribute the book.

Today, if you have an internet connection and a computer or any device where you can type into a document, you can write and self publish your eBook, a paperback or a hardcover book in a matter of days or weeks.

Furthermore, you can make your book available, instantly, to millions of readers without investing any money or signing any contracts.

However, self publishing isn’t without its pitfalls either.

What’s challenging is to make your book a bestseller without the expertise and experience of a large publisher, for ex. like Penguin Random House.

But that hasn’t stopped many writers from rising up to the challenge by using DIY creative marketing methods and leveraging SEO and social media.

Which is why we’ve created this complete guide to equip you with the knowledge you require to self publish your book successfully.

What defines True Success in Publishing?

If you can support yourself as a full-time writer, then you’ve made it as a successful self published author.

And while this might seem surprising, this is now actually easier without a publisher.

Famous Self Published Authors

Yes, we are living in truly exciting times, where your self published books can create a source of never-ending income for you.

Don’t take our word for it, take a look at these brilliant examples of self published authors below:

How much does Self Publishing cost?

Simply self publishing your book on a platform like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is absolutely free.

However you may have to hire professionals to proofread and edit your content, design your book cover and format your book.

Unless you can do all of the above yourself, most authors spend somewhere between $2,000 to $3,000 to self publish their books.

Approximate Costs to Self Publish a book (20,000 to 60,000 words):

  • Developmental & Copy Editing = $1,000 to $2,000
  • Proofreading = $50 to $800
  • Book Cover Design = $50 to $500
  • Book Formatting = $50 to $500
  • Advertising & Marketing = $50 to $500

A lot of this work can be done at astoundingly low prices on freelancer websites like PeoplePerHourFiverr or Upwork etc.

Yes, you will have to do a little bit of work to find the best freelancers, but it’s fairly easy and you end up saving a fortune on upfront costs and royalties later compared to assisted publishing or a publishing house.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you check their portfolio, reviews, and ask the right questions.  Also make sure to get a trial first before committing to the full book.

The freelancer websites allow you to make the freelancers sign a legal confidentiality agreement.  You can also provide your own.  There are free sample NDAs online.

While there’s minimal cost to self publishing an eBook, there may be higher printing costs involved for a paperback or a hardcover physical book, depending on:

  • Your book’s length
  • Editing of your book’s content
  • Design of your book cover
  • Marketing & advertising costs

Getting Started with Self-Publishing

If you’re new to this, please do not get overwhelmed with the abundance of information on this topic.

Much like anything else in life, it gets easier once you get started.

This complete guide will walk you through the entire process, step-by-step, from beginning to write your book all the way up to self publishing it.

Self-Publishing Checklist

Before we delve deeper into each topic, here are some of the steps in brief:

  • Choose a topic you’re interested in
  • Do the due diligence and research beforehand
  • Write your book to the best of your ability
  • Seek feedback and constructive criticism
  • Refine and finalize your book
  • Choose your self publishing platform
  • Get your book edited by a professional or DIY
  • Get the cover designed by a professional or DIY
  • Format your book
  • Upload your manuscript and accompanying assets
  • Click “Publish” when you’re ready

And that’s it, you have self published your book.

It wasn’t this easy even a few years ago.

You had to land an agent with a foot in the door of a few big, exclusive (and selective) publishing houses before even thinking about publishing your book.

Now let’s look at some of the steps in detail:

1. Do the Due Diligence and Research

If you’ve read this far, I assume you’ve already figured out why you want to write and self publish your book.

Brainstorming the WHY is crucial to ensuring that you will enjoy the process of writing and self publishing a book.

And if you’re enjoying the process, it becomes easier and faster to self publish a book.

If you haven’t figured out the ‘Why’, you should ask these questions before you begin:

  1. By self publishing a book, do you hope to grow your business?
  2. Do you aspire to become a paid speaker or coach through the success of your book?
  3. You’re a successful business owner already and want your book to be an additional income stream?
  4. Your business is a success story and you want your book to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  5. Your head is buzzing with good ideas for writing several books and you just need to get started.

Or it could be any other reason that is important to you.

Before you begin the writing process though, it is crucial to do the necessary research and leave no stone unturned.

Proper due diligence and solid research beforehand will save you loads of time and money throughout the self publishing process.

The next step will show you how to ensure you don’t lose your research or ideas.

2. Note down your Ideas or Dictate & Record them

dictate and transcribe book ideas for self publishing

Okay, so you’ve figured out why you want to write a book.

Next, you want to start working towards it.

Every great book begins with a compilation of great ideas.

Oftentimes great ideas come in the unlikeliest of places, like in the middle of the night while you’re asleep, or in a shower, or while driving in busy traffic etc.

How to Compile Ideas Quickly

You can either write your ideas down in a pocket notebook.

Or record them as a dictation or audio notes using a voice recording app on your smartphone.

Technology has made this so much easier and faster.

Best of all, most free voice recording apps will get the job done.  You don’t need to buy anything.

These guides may help:

Famous Authors who have Dictated their Books

  • Winston Churchill
  • Dan Brown
  • Barbara Cartland
  • Henry James.

Author of the fantasy Discworld series, Terry Pratchett, developed Alzheimer’s Disease, which meant he had to move to dictating his ideas.

Why is Dictating Better?

It’s difficult to find time in our busy world.

You can dictate ideas while doing mundane chores, which saves you time.

You can also dictate while walking, running or biking or doing any other form of exercise.

Numerous studies have shown that walking in nature makes you kinder, happier and more creative.

So while you’re on a hike or just a dog walk, let those creative juices flow and start talking to your recorder.

Any modern smartphone is more than capable, and has enough storage and battery to keep recording your dictation and ideas for days or weeks!

Convert your Dictations into Text

Once you think you’ve recorded enough ideas, transcribe your dictations.

Converting your ideas and dictations into text has one huge benefit.

You can use a lot of the transcribed text in your book.

Furthermore, if you’ve hit the dreaded writer’s block, can’t get started, or are procrastinating, some of the transcribed ideas or topics can serve as building blocks or missing piece of the puzzle to get you started.

You have a couple of options available to get this done:

  1. Transcribe them yourself:  This is the cheapest way because you’ll be doing the transcribing.  Our complete guides on and how to do transcription and how to get better at transcribing can help.  Keep in mind though that to transcribe 1 hour of recorded audio, it can take you between 8-10 hours without specialized transcription equipment.  So it’s a compromise of time vs money.
  2. Use a Speech Recognition Software:  This is the middle ground.  Costs a bit more, but saves you a TON of time.  Our guide on the best speech recognition software can help.  We don’t recommend this if your recorded audio has background noise or faint voice, or if you’re a fast speaker.  You’ll get a rough transcript which you will have to edit and format yourself.  It’s also known as automated speech to text.
  3. Use Human Transcription Services:  Premium option, but your job ends once you upload your audio for transcription.  A team of experienced transcribers take over, do the due diligence and online research for you, label speakers, annotate, add highlighted time stamps etc. all included in price.  A legal confidentiality agreement can also be signed to make sure your ideas are secure and all files are deleted once the project is complete.

3. How to Start Writing your Book

how to write and self publish a book

Believe it or not, starting to write a book is often the biggest stumbling block for many writers, old and new.

When you begin writing a book, it’s easy to start procrastinating and stare at a blank page for hours without writing a single word.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.

Writing a book is difficult and many writers fall into this trap.

Just coming up with an idea for a book is hard work, so it’s understandable that writing it may seem daunting.

Just get Started

Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done.

But oftentimes the easiest way to get something done is to, you know, do it.

self publishing, just do it

Procrastination is a habit, and it can be good or bad depending on how you take advantage of it.

If it’s a bad habit and affecting your productivity, it can be dropped just as easily as other bad habits.

One of the best ways I have found to beat procrastination is to take a 5 minute breather, and then just start writing.

Even if you start with 3-5 words, sometimes that’s all the momentum your brain needs.

Make Time to Write

Inexperienced authors can struggle to concentrate for long periods of time, or even find it difficult to find time to write.

And if you have a full time job and a family to take care of, finding time to write can seem almost impossible.

Creating a writing routine can help remedy this.

You can start with just 1 hour daily.

Even if you manage one sentence on the first day, that is okay.

Keep working at it, refining and getting a little more done every day and eventually it becomes easier.

And before you know it, you’ve written the first 10,000 words.

If you get stuck, try something completely different

If you’ve tried to start writing several times and are still struggling, there are some things you can try to nudge yourself in the “write” :D direction:

  • Record your thoughts on your smartphone
  • Interview a thought leader in your niche
  • Read some parts from another book in your niche
  • Copy a phrase or paragraph and rewrite it
  • Transcribe your dictations and use the text to start your book
  • Transcribe interviews and copy-paste useful chunks of text to get started

4. Seek Critique and Feedback