Many people are turning to self publishing rather than the traditional publishing. I am not here to fight for one side or the other (I respect everyone’s choice to do what they think best), but I am going to explain in steps, how I self published with Amazon’s Kindle and Create Space.

You, like many people, may be trying to make that choice right now, and believe me I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning over what I should do. And here’s the one and only reason I chose self-publishing over traditional. I’M IMPATIENT. Haha! There it is in a nutshell. There’s no big magical secret or right way or wrong way, it just comes down to time and patience (and of course being a good writer.) After LOTS of research, I came to the conclusion that it can, and in most cases, will take a VERY long time to even get accepted by an agent and then a publisher and it can be years before your book is available to buy. There also may be better financial benefits for self-pubs as opposed to traditional. But I will say it again, I am not here to get into the heated debate that lots of loyal indie authors and trad authors tend to get into.  I have never even submitted my manuscript to a literary agent or publisher (although I spent days upon days compiling lists of recommended ones so I could do just that.) A good site to do this at is Preditors and Editors, here

Anyway back to the point. I chose self publishing, and I chose to do that with Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon’s Create Space. For you newbies out there, Kindle is the digital e-book version that people purchase on their kindle, and CreateSpace is the paperback version people can order and hold in their hands.

Now that brings us to another point. Kindle and CreateSpace are just one in MANY options. There’s Smashwords, which is highly recommend as well, for they distribute to lots of different e-readers and distributors like Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, Sony, IPad,etc. There’s also LULU and Lightning Source which will distribute your hardback or paperback books. The list could go on and on. (Thus, many more sleepless nights trying to decide.)

BUT, alas I had decided, and I will discuss my journey thus far and the steps you need to take to get there.

STEP 1. Have a completed book. YES, it must be all the way finished and edited over and over to a squeaky clean! Do NOT try to edit it by yourself. That is just asking for a disaster. Even editors don’t edit their own books, because your mind becomes fickle, missing your own errors over and over. So make sure your book is at it’s best before you even think about submitting it to be published. Some authors go even as far as having beta readers. They will give you feedback on things that you may overlook in the whole scheme of your story, things that don’t make sense to them, things that may not flow right, missed plot opportunities, what they do and don’t like etc.

STEP 1a. If you are doing a paperback and/or hardback book, don’t forget your book blurb for the back cover, author bio, and author picture. I took a look at some of my favorite author’s blurbs (one’s in my same genre) to help me write my own. Keep it short and sweet (only a couple of paragraphs) but make it irresistible. Why would the reader want to pick up your book and read it? Make sure they really want to without giving away any secrets or the ending of your book. Create suspense. Don’t put too much into your author bio or make it too long to where the reader looses interest. I chose to go a little more fun and quirky with mine, as I’m targeting young adults and teens. You will want your editor to take a look at your blurb as well. Have a nice author pic taken professionally or by a friend that can use as camera. 😀

STEP 2. After editing is completed then you need to get your manuscript formatted into the proper files. There’s .epub for Nook, .mobi for kindle and PDF for paperback. Research where you will have your book published (nook, kindle, kobo, sony etc) and find out which formats you need to do so. For me, hiring a formatter for minimal cost was the best option. Some authors who are technically gifted -or brave, as I like to think they are- use Calibre or other formatting software to format their own. I tried to do it myself, and alas, it was more stress and not worth it for me. That’s your choice.

STEP 3. Cover design. Step 2 & 3 can be done simultaneously (sort of.) Let me explain. If you decide to hire a book cover designer, they can go ahead and start on your ebook cover. An ebook lacks the back cover and binding. Now for your paperback and/or hardback cover, you will need to have your manuscript PDF file completely formatted and finished, because the designer needs to know the exact page count before finishing your paperback cover. The page count WILL change as you change the formatting. The designer will also need to know a few other specs of your choosing, like book size, paper color, white, cream etc. I found these options through Amazon’s Create Space where I had my paperback done. Check these options thoroughly, because some are limited and will not allow you to distribute through libraries, expanded distribution, etc. Choose your options and hand them over to your designer along with the final page count of your paperback/hardback and leave the rest to them. Again, some authors choose to design their own covers and there is also an option on Createspace to design your own. Some of these are pretty general and generic but you may find something you like and may want to keep it simple.

STEP 4. Research pricing. If you price your book at $0.99 or $1.99 (these prices are pretty good for shorter stories) you will only get 35% profit from your sales. If you price your book at $2.99 and above you will get %70. I suggest perusing through Amazon and check out books that are similar to yours. Look at how they are pricing their books. There are many different theories on pricing. Some say that you will sell more at $0.99 but then you have look at what you will be getting. Pennies, really. BUT if you sell A LOT, that can add up rather quickly. Some say it is better to price your book a bit higher between 2.99  and 4.99 because it makes the reader actually think about their purchase. If they have to think about their purchase, your book is probably something they really want to read, therefore the chances of them liking it and leaving a good review or suggesting it to others is higher. If it’s $0.99 they may just buy it because its cheap, and therefore it may not be what they usually read and could end up causing a bad review from the buyer that reflects back onto your book. Some people say you should price higher because you want the quality of your book to be reflected in the price, if it is cheap will the buyer think your book is cheaply written as well?

STEP 5. Almost done! After you get back your formatted files and book cover files, you will submit these to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Createspace, or Smashwords and any other publisher you wish to go through. I can only speak for KDP and Createspace, as that is as far as I’ve gone thus far. You will have a nice long set-up process, to where you are asked to add your book title, files, contributors (editor, illustrator, etc.), your book description(blurb) and other details. Make sure there are NO errors here, as this will be the info that the consumers will see on Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. After you upload your book files there will be an option for an online preview for kindle. Check this thoroughly to make sure the formatting is correct and everything is in place. There will also be a proof process for Createspace. I highly suggest ordering a proof of your paperback to be sent to your house that way you can make sure everything is how it should be.  You will then need to set up your distribution details, prices, etc. Don’t hit the publish button on the day you you’ve announced your release. Set your release date (for marketing purposes) a few weeks from publishing to make sure everything is ready. Even though I hit the publish button, I did not announce the release for a couple more weeks, as to make sure the paperback and ebook were both available. The paperback takes longer than the ebook. Once you hit the publish button, KDP will tell you it will be about 12-24 hours before your book is available. This is pretty accurate. You will then receive an email saying “Congratulations for publishing with KDP! Your book is now available here!” Yay for you! But wait! What about your paperback? After you hit the dreaded publish button on Createspace, they will tell you it will be about 5-7 days before it goes live. This, again, is pretty accurate. Mine was live in 5 days. But they won’t send you an e-mail. You just need to go to Amazon and search your book title and author name to see when it pops up. And because this is not an exact science and things change, errors are found, and goodness knows what else, that is why I suggest giving yourself an ample amount of time in between hitting the publish button and actually having your release date/book release party.

STEP 6. Write you next book! Yes that is the best piece of advice I can give you. You can market until you’re blue in the face and shout from the top of the walls “BUY MY BOOK!” but this will only give a temporary rise in sales. To keep the longevity of sales and to keep your name in people’s faces you need to keep writing.

Good luck to you in your self-publishing journey! I am still learning myself, and do not know everything, but please feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions or leave a suggestion of something I may have not covered. We, as humans, are continuously learning, and if there’s one thing I’ve gotten from self-publishing, it’s pay it forward. I’ve had many people answering my questions and helping me along the way and I’d love to pass on that knowledge to others.

Categories: Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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  1. Gabe

    Awesome guide. Thanks for putting it together like this in layman’s terms.

    Hiring a formatter (spell check doesn’t even like the word) – for an unsigned, undiscovered author, is it worth the price?

    One thing I noticed that, as an author, thought you’d like to fix. “… market until your blue in the face…”

    • Thanks Gabe! I know, us authors are always coming up with unique new words, aren’t we? Lol! Yes I believe it was worth hiring a formatter. It is fairly inexpensive. I think one of my files was like $25 or $30? The time I was spending on working out the formatting kinks heavily outweighed the bit of money I paid to get it done correctly and fast. But that’s just a matter of skill and opinion. Go to Jason Anderson’s site at and you can check out his options and prices. As for the “your blue in the face,” good catch! It’s all fixed up! Thanks for the comment, and good luck to you! 😀

  2. Allen Watson

    Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome Allen. It might seem small, but I love to pass on everything I come across in this unsure and scary business of indie pubbing. 😀

  3. Susan Catalano

    This was such a timely post for me to read as I’m querying agents, but thinking going the kindle route. And, for the same reason as you – impatience! There, I can say it now that I know I’m not the only one. I just purchased Mer this afternoon for a vacation read and am very much looking forward to it – both the vacation and reading your story 🙂

    • It’s such a difficult decision right? The one thing I can say about self publishing that I didn’t touch on before is that you won’t be alone. The indie author community is the most supportive, selfless, and non-judgemental group of people I have ever met. Susan, if you are seriously considering self pubbing, you should check out the ‘Indie Writer’s Unite!’ group on facebook. There’s soooo much info covered on a daily basis it will blow your mind and any and every question you have will be answered because at least one of them have been through it.
      And thanks for picking up MER! I hope you enjoy!
      Good luck on publishing your work and have a fantastic vacation! 😀
      Best Wishes,

  4. Susan Catalano

    Thank you for the tip on the Indie Writer’s Unite! I am reading as much as I can about this process before taking the plunge. And, I’m enjoying MER! Best, Susan

  5. Hi Jade,

    This was a great post. I’m so overwhelmed right now, because I’m almost done with my book, its a fitness self help book, for busy moms, and to be honest, I’m clueless about what company to trust. I’ve seen reviews on different publishers, and which company rates the best. However, when I called Arthur House the representative seemed to become irritated that I was asking valid questions regarding publishing. So I’m at a stand still. I’m a newbie, I want to get my message out there so I went to createspace, I have a question to ask, so I can decide if this is the company for me.

    1.Do you feel that they represented you completely? Did they help, and answer all you concerns.

    I know editing is needed for my book, however it seems everything is priced separately, not as a package deal. So I’m trying to get some clarity.

    So thanks Jade.

    • Hello Gina! I apologize for not replying sooner. I don’t know if you’ve already made your decision yet or not but definitely make sure you have done a ton of research before signing up with what they call a ‘vanity press,’ like Arthur House, Author House, etc. Here is the link to a very informative article for newbies on what to watch out for and why. Create Space is different and I have been very happy with them. Also, just a tip. Don’t only look at print book, make sure to look at digital as well as that is where you will make most of your money through being an indie author. I’m sure you’ve heard of Kindle Direct Publishing, that is Amazon’s other arm for ebook publishing, and Create Space is their paperback arm. I also suggest hooking up with the ‘Indie Writer’s Unite Group!’ on Facebook. You should join the group and post the same question you posted here, You will be overwhelmed (in a good way) by the response you get. It is a wealth of information by experienced authors and their experiences. Personally I would stay away from any of those ‘vanity’ publishing companies, for they take a cut on top of Amazon’s cut. If you go through Create Space and KDP, you will be getting the least amount taken out that you can, therefore you will make more money. I wish you the best of luck in your publishing venture and please stop back by and let me know how it goes!

      • I thank you so much for your words of wisdom. The link you gave me opened my eyes. I will also join the FB group of Indies. I will keep you posted.   Gina Daggett  

        GCoreFitness 253 266-7095    

      • Hi Jade,

        I wanted to ask you if I went with a Kindle e book, and having a book that each chapter has a self evaluation to complete. Should I go with a paperback instead? I’ve been tossing and turning about writing this book its crazy. Also, I was told about Outskirts Press and self publishing company where you have 100% ownership. Have you or anyone heard of them. I would love some feedback.

      • Gina,

        Gee I wish I could say. I write in the fiction genre so I really wouldn’t be sure. I would think both paperback and ebook would work fine. Just the e-book reader would have to use their own pen and notebook to do their self evaluations. At least that is what I would do. You could always jet on over to the ‘Indie Writer’s Unite!’ facebook page and call on some of the non-fiction writers and ask them. They will be totally helpful in that area. And I looked a little into Outskirts Press (never heard of them) and they seem to be another vanity press. Maybe not as bad because you supposedly get 100% ownership. But what does that really mean anyway? You own your own stuff when you put yourself through the kindle and createspace process and it’s virtually free. (As free as free can get when you have to pick up the publishing costs on your own: book cover designer, editor, etc.) But I don’t know if you saw Outskirts Press’s prices. $199 for JUST a kindle version. That is without all of the other versions you will want. Paperback, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. And then it went upward into packages that run thousands of dollars. Any publisher that makes YOU pay to publish with them–in my opinion–can eat grass.

        I understand this can be a VERY stressful and confusing point that you’re at. I was there and it wasn’t pretty. If you are looking for the ease of someone else doing all of the dirty work for you–and believe me, this was very tempting for me–then I suggest going with a traditional big-time publisher. Get yourself a literary agent first by going to (predators and editors) where they will tell you who’s recommended and who’s not and then be patient as the gears work their way into the big clock of the traditional publishing world. But I highly deter you from going with these other small presses where you have to pay! A friend of mine just posted this in our writing group. Check it out. It talks about these “vanity” publishers who are scamming unsuspecting authors.

        Here’s the sum of it. Either go Indie (and get help from fellow formatters, designers, and writers for a minimal cost) along the way and eventually learn to do it all yourself OR go traditional publishing, complete with a literary agent and contract, but possibly waiting a very long time. * BUT I have heard that you are more likely to be accepted into traditional publishing if you are a non-fiction writer, writing self -help stuff (like you) than if you are a fiction writer (like me.) I hope this helps and again, it is only my opinion. Go where your heart tells you and just have faith that your book WILL eventually get out there and people WILL read it. Good luck Gina and don’t hesitate to swing by anytime! 😀

        On Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM, jademphillips

      • G Morning Jade.

        No, I agree with what you are saying. I want to get my book out there for women to read. However, I do not want anyone but myself to have complete ownership. I went on Facebook, and I did join a writer’s group’ I’m not sure if I selected the right one. I will check today. I thank you so much for your advice, I’m so excited, and scared at the same time, being a newbie at this. So I will keep you posted.


  6. Debra Timmons

    When I read that someone’s first book became a bestseller but was rejected by almost 30 publishers before a publisher finally accepted . . . that is what makes me interested in Kindle and CreateSpace. It’s not even a matter of impatience any longer. The publishers are just not accepting new authors’ manuscripts. I’m really glad you clarified for me that Kindle handles ebooks, while CreateSpace covers paperback. I was a little uncertain about that one. Now I know. Thanks so much.

  7. Debra Timmons

    Thank you, Jade. You provided better information than I have found thus far. Very detailed — which is very helpful to find in one place.

  8. Hi Jade, I’m curious about the correct way to proceed…

    When you publish in Createspace, it gives you the possibility to also publish the same book for Kindle.

    Do you recommend to do it this way, or it is preferable to publish the book in both platforms separately?

    • Hey Daniel, that’s a good question. I don’t think it matters one bit. I do not believe there is a right or wrong way to proceed and there should be no cost difference. But I will tell you this…before I published I was so worried about having the kindle e-version of my book AND the Createspace paperback version of my book being published at the same time. That way I could do this big awesome amazing book release, complete with fireworks (virtual of course) and the whole she-bang, and no one would get left out, regardless of their reading preference. I have to be honest, it didn’t matter one bit. I’d say initially I sold a good amount of paperback copies, but that was only my excited, and very supportive, friends and family. Since then, I’d say 99% of my books being sold are e-book.

      And from what I’ve seen of many other indie authors, (I cannot speak for all) is they tend to focus on getting their kindle e-book out there first (as that is going to be your money maker) and worry about the paperback after. I do believe some authors don’t even worry about doing a paperback version, but I personally feel that you should have one, if not the select few that want it, to maybe just say, “Hey look at what I did!.”

      To sum it up. Nope doesn’t matter. 🙂 I hope this helped. And good luck with your writing ventures Daniel!

  9. Great post! I’ve read a lot of stuff on self-publishing, and you summed it up clearly {unlike a lot}, so thank you!!

  10. melodyauthoress

    Thanks for taking the time to write this out for the rest of us! It’s very clear, unlike a lot of the stuff I’ve waded through, haha.

  11. I agree, thank you for a very informative article (and comments too!)

  12. Thanks so much for posting! I’m a first time author and need all the help I can get. I realize this post was from a year ago, but I have a burning question if you maybe know the answer…

    So, just to be clear, If you publish to Createspace, it publishes to Amazon… and since it publishes to Amazon, you can sign up the KDP select or have the full usability of the features on either site? I’m a bit confused on how it all crosses over from one site to the other and how much the usability is for everything on either site if I decide to publish on one or the other or both. I hope my question alone wasn’t confusing. lol

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