[GUIDE] The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing

[GUIDE] The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing

I love reading. I always have. Whenever I went anywhere in the car or on a bus I had a book to read. I read late at night, during the day, in the garden. Yet books are heavy. Any traveller who is older than 25, who likes to read, will tell you that the heaviest thing in their bag was a book.

Then eBooks came. The first Kindle was launched in 2007. I hate to use clichéd terms, but it revolutionized the marketplace. A new market emerged. PriceWaterhouseCooper estimated the value of the global eBook market at $11 billion in 2014.

Of course since the launch of the Kindle by Amazon new eBook readers have emerged. Yet the Kindle retains the dominant position in the marketplace. According to a survey conducted by Publishing Technology, 50% of readers use Kindle (followed by 31% for iBook and 9% for Kobo).

Should You Create an eBook

Amazon bookstore is a huge marketplace. According to an article on Forbes, eBooks make up 30% of all book sales and Amazon has a 65% of the marketplace. The latest stats on Amazon show that almost 90,000 eBooks were released in the last 30 days.

What that figure tells you is that there are opportunities to make money from self-publishing on Amazon. A May 2015 report by Author Earnings revealed that self published authors now generate more sales and make more money than the top five best selling authors on Amazon do combined. Not only do self-published authors generate more revenue than the top five authors, but they are also charging more for their books. In fact the cost of a self-published book rose by an average of 5% since February 2014.

All of these stats are impressive, but let’s cut the bullsh%#t for a second. I’m not going to lie to you and say that self-publishing is the way forwards. An article in The Guardian found that a third of authors earn less than $500 pa from their writing. It is hard work and your chance of becoming a successful author is slim.

Yet self-publishing is a viable option and it’s not the option of last resort that it used to be. In fact, for published authors a hybrid model of publishing (publishing with an indie publishing house and independently) is the best option. According to the same report, average earning from authors using this model is a very respectable $7,500-$9,999 pa (compared to $3,500 for authors who just use publishing houses).

Self-publishing has leveled the marketplace. If you are a good writer and can also market your products effectively you can generate sales and revenue. It is a viable option for first time authors and it does let you access a large marketplace at almost no cost.

The second things about self-publishing, which a lot of authors overlook, is that this is a method of proving your work sells. You can use this data when you write to a publishing house with a manuscript you’d like to see published. It goes back to that hybrid model I was talking about earlier which has proven to be so successful.

Graphics Tools for Online Designers - Perfect Pixel eBook covers Youzign

Cost of Creating an eBook

You can break the costs of self-publishing a book into three main parts; editing, design and promotion. I’ll cover each part of the process in more detail in the following paragraphs.


Book editing can be broken down into a couple of different stages. First there is the developmental editing and content editing. This is something that you do while you are writing your story. There are a lot of different ways to get free help with developmental and content editing.

Creating a Beta Group

One option that you should consider is t set up a group of beta readers who will give you feedback on character and plot developments as you write the novel. This beta group could be made up of friends, family and close acquaintances. I would advise you to open up beyond just close friends though as they are likely to hold back from giving you the critical feedback that you may need that would turn a good book into a great book.

There are lots of different online forums where you can get great feedback on your novel as you write it. Examples of places that you can look for feedback include sites like Online Book Club and Book and Reader. For more places to get feedback you can check out this article on the 5 Best forums for critical feedback.

Proofreading and Copyediting

Unless you have a good friend who is willing to read and edit your book for free (and even if you do) you should consider hiring a proofreader. It’s an expense. At the lower end you can get a proofreader for around $200. It might sound like a lot of money, but this is something that you just need to do. I’m not going to advise you on the best place to look as I think this is really defined by your budget and what you are writing about.

Cover Design and Text Formatting

The second part of a self-published book launch is the preparation. This is everything that you need to do to make the book look great for publication. Included within this process is book cover design and text formatting.

When it comes to text formatting, not all eBook readers use the same format. Kindle for example uses the .mobi format (you can find out about the different eBook formats here).

To make your book appear great on the Kindle you need to use the formatting standard set by Amazon. If you’re using Microsoft Word you can do this using the Styles and Formatting options.

Default Font

Arial is the default font for the Kindle. The Kindle fire uses the following font types:

• Arial
• Caecilia
• Courier
• Georgia
• Lucida
• Times New Roman
• Trebuchet
• Verdana

Paragraph and Line Spacing

For the best reading experience on Kindle your paragraph should be indented. The default indent size for a paragraph is 0.5 inches or 1.27cm. The line spacing for Kindle should be 120%.

Front Cover

The ideal height to width ratio for the Kindle is 8:5. The minimum size is 625×1,000 pixels and the resolution should be 72 dots per inch. To make it easy to design your Kindle cover, you can select the default Kindle cover size from within Youzign. We’ve also got 100 pre-made templates you can select, edit and customize for your own book cover.

Uploading to Amazon

Once you’re eBook is prepared and properly formatted you will need to upload it onto the Amazon servers. You can do this through the Amazon KDP webpage. For more information about the default style and formatting guide for the Kindle please visit this page.


The third and last part of any product launch is the promotion. This process will include reaching out to forums, blogs, promoting through email lists as well as direct paid advertising.

This article on The Write Life has four case studies by self-publishers about their first book release. It covers all of the points I discussed above. I really suggest reading the article. It’s full of useful tips on everything from finding your first beta group through to successful strategies you can use to promote your book launch.

Amazon Commission

There are of course additional costs associated with self-publishing. Amazon takes a 30% commission for all eBooks sold through the site. You can find out more about the terms and conditions of selling your eBook through Amazon on this page.

Designing Your Front Cover

A great book cover should be an extension of your book. It needs to be eye catching and easy to read. In this in depth guide I’ve already covered the key parts of creating a great looking eBook cover.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Award Winning eBook Cover is an analysis of the front covers of the best selling books on Amazon. It statistically breaks down what makes a great front cover. This article includes things like, the size and placement of the font and color combinations to if you should use a photo as the background.

I’d highly recommend you read the article and then apply these lessons to your own designs. In the meantime…

10 Inspiring eBook Covers

I’d like to give you some design inspiration to help you come up with a great eBook cover for your book. Let’s get started with some great looking designs you can create with Youzign.

The Martian

Andy White created this great front cover for The Martian. It’s a striking, but very simple image that looks like it was created in Photoshop. The white headline text contrasts with the red dust. Easy to read, very eye catching and a simple design, everything you want from a front cover.

No Country

Christopher Lin designed the front cover for No Country. This patchwork, collage affect is eye catching. It looks attractive and would make the book stand out from the competition. While the design is good, the title is difficult to read.

Dept of Speculation

Jenny Offill created the design for Dept of Speculation. Like most good front covers, it’s the strength of the concept that makes this eBook cover so striking. The image in itself is simple and would be very easy to create in Youzign. Again, it’s easy to read the headline of the book at a glance.

Leaving the Sea Stories

You will need a bit of creativity (but not much money) to create the front cover for Leaving the Sea Stories. The image is different and will leave an impression with anyone browsing through the Amazon marketplace or even looking at the shelves of a bookstore.

book cover 2

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

A simple bit of image cropping is all it would take to create this striking front cover used for The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. The effect is engaging and very simply to copy. In fact, this kind of image cropping is exactly what Youzign was created for.


A different perspective is all that you need to appreciate the front cover of California by Edan Lepucki. Choose a simple font for the headline and flip the image from vertical to horizontal and you are done. It’s literally two minutes work, but it’s a front cover that’s got a lot of attention across the Internet.

The Arsonist

If you want a front cover that will look different every time, you could do no worse than use a photo of some clouds. Whether it’s at sunset or in the middle of the day the sky always looks beautiful and will contrast easily with the color of the headline if you choose the right color scheme. Very simple, but effective!

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Chip Kidd created the front cover for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. The design gives the impression that parts of the front cover are inset. It creates an appealing 3D effect. Again, it’s those small differences that make the design stand out from the competition.

book cover 3

The End or Something Like That

The book cover design for The End or Something Like That is a fun cartoon design that looks attractive and will get the attention of any customer. It would be possible to replicate with a good camera, a pair of scissors and some paper. To have a go at making one for yourself you will need to tap into your creative juices.

Into the War

I like this design. It’s hand drawn, but very simple. The title of the book and the authors name are also written down. It might be a small thing, but the use of handwriting makes the front cover appear more personal. As if it was written for you instead of for the market. Well, at least that’s what I think ☺


I hope that this article has given a clear overview of the opportunities available for anyone who wants to become a self-published author. As this article should have proved it’s a hard job, but there are lots of opportunities and potential benefits to becoming a self-published author.

If you are planning to become a self-published author you can and should produce content for the Amazon marketplace. It’s the biggest marketplace in the world and you won’t find many authors who aren’t selling here.

Remember if you are creating an eBook for Amazon to go through all of those stages of development before you submit your book. Get some beta readers who will give you feedback. Find a qualified proofreader to check your manuscript and design a beautiful cover to attract readers (that’s where Youzign comes in).