This post from 2012 has been updated May 3rd 2019 with some changes.
1. Self Publishing Is Easy (according to some!)
Firstly, choose a size for your print book, format your Word manuscript to fit that size, turn your Word doc into a PDF, create some cover art in Photoshop, turn that into a PDF, and upload it all to the self publisher of your choice. You will receive a book proof back within a couple of weeks if you succeeded in formatting everything correctly. You can then make changes in new PDFs.
After you publish your book, you can make extra changes to your cover and text by submitting new PDFs, although your book will go offline for a short period. If you wish to upload a new cover, you may have to pay a fee.
2. Digital, Not Print, Is Your Best Bet (according to those in the know)
The whole e-book market is rapidly evolving and a lot of self-publishing companies are offering e-book deals along with their print book publishing packages. If you want to do it yourself, you need to start with a quality product and an arresting cover. You can do this with a quality Jpeg, but it has to look good in thumbnail as well.
You have to price your book competitively, $5.99 or less, according to Smashwords. Lulu recommends even lower prices than this. Amazon’s 70% royalty for e-books only applies to Kindle e-books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
Marketing is all about author/ book discovery. Ideally you need to build a platform via social media before you publish.
3. Let’s get this straight first up:
In self-publishing you keep the rights to your book and publish it yourself. You can do this via Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony, who act as distributors of your book. You retain 70% of the price instead of 17.5% offered by legacy publishers for digital editions.
4. One of the biggest criticisms of self-publishing
Badly written, unedited books, perhaps published by vanity presses, can reach the market and possibly flood it. But I see the readers and reviewers as the new gatekeepers of quality, and the rubbish tends to sink to the bottom of the slush pile quite quickly. We still all need good editors or self-editing (or feedback from peers) for our self published books.
Authors have started employing the term “indie” author to give credence to the new self-publishing pathways, and to underscore the hard work involved. The indie authors do everything the traditional publisher does: they own their own ISBNs and are paid by the retailer/distributor directly.
5. Success Stories
Many of the big-earning indie authors are happy to be picked up by traditional publishers. Amanda Hocking is famous for her $2 million deal with St Martin’s Press.
7. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: (KDP)
If you’re ready to go, you should upload your file directly to KDP and create your own cover to maximise your profit. You can format your e-book from a Word file using an ebook creator, such as Kindle Create, in order to convert it into Amazon’s format AZW.
However, there are formatters available at a small cost if necessary. You might need to use an aggregator such as Smashwords or Lulu to get into the Apple i-Book Store.
There is a How To Site for beginners like me.
8. Other POD Solutions
They offer e-book conversion services and distribution–and sometimes hybrid print-publishing packages (these companies usually charge a few hundred dollars for converting your e-book). In some cases, this can work out OK for authors, but be aware that you may not be able to name your own price.