28 Resources, Tools and Tips for Self-Publishing Your Next Book

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Self-publishing is hot right now.

Yet with hundreds of books published each day, it’s more important than ever to make sure your self-published book stands out from the crowd.

You don’t just want to self-publish. You want to self-publish well.   

The websites, apps and tools on this list will help you do just that. From getting your manuscript down on paper, to formatting for publication, to distribution and marketing, these resources will help you every step of the way.

We’ve sorted the resources into seven categories: Websites and blogs, general self-publishing courses and toolkits, writing, format and design, cover design, marketing, and distribution.

Let’s get to it!

Websites and blogs

1. Alliance for Independent Authors

ALLi is a membership community for authors who self-publish. With multiple membership levels starting at $75 per year, ALLi offers an international network of authors and professional advisors, forums, online workshops, guides, a self-publishing services directory and more.

This organization puts a strong emphasis on ethics and excellence, so you’re sure to get quality support.

2. Authority Self-Publishing

Steve Scott, Barrie Davenport and Ron Clendenin are bestselling self-published authors and marketing experts. In the Authority Self-Publishing podcast, they cover how to grow your author platform, market your books, and build a business around your self-publishing.

Be on the lookout for the next registration round for their course, Authority Pub Academy.

3. The Book Designer

With tons of self-publishing guides, advice, templates, and toolkits, The Book Designer is the go-to place for navigating the publishing world. Joel Friedlander believes every author can make an impact — they just need to get their book out there! With his experience in book design and advertising, he’ll show you how.

Not sure where to start? Check out Friedlander’s book A Self-Publisher’s Companion for words of wisdom.

4. The Independent Publishing Magazine

As an author, editor and investigative journalist, Mick Rooney is serious about bringing you the latest from the independent publishing world. Here you’ll find an expert’s perspective on the future of self-publishing and the reform needed in the industry.

Don’t miss Rooney’s monthly Publishing Service Index, a comprehensive ranking of self-publishing companies.

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Self-publishing courses and toolkits

5. Authority by Nathan Barry

Who says you can’t make money off your technical writing? Odds are, you’re an expert in something, and Nathan Barry wants to help you self-publish a book around your expertise.

Starting at $179, Authority packages include a 160-page guide, video tutorials, video interviews, and other materials to help you write your book and build a following around it.

6. Self-Publishing Success Summit

When it comes to self-publishing, best-selling author and entrepreneur Chandler Bolt believes anyone can do it — even if you don’t have a lot of time or writing experience. For $297, The Self-Publishing Success Summit includes access to more than 35 expert interviews and insider secrets on book writing, marketing and monetizing.

You might also like the free Self-Publishing School, where Bolt shows you how to go from idea to completed book.

7. Unconventional Guide to Publishing

Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Publishing is a great primer to the publishing world and can help you decide between traditional and self-publishing methods. This package features guides on book marketing, writing a proposal, and community building, and also includes interviews with top editors.

Prices range from $58-$129, depending on the package.

Writing tools

8. Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool that helps you organize research and easily structure long documents. It’s the word processor specifically made for writers — though it does have a steep learning curve. When you’re done writing, you can export your work in ready-to-go formats for ePub, Kindle, iBooks and more.

Scrivener is available for both Windows and Mac users, with licenses starting at $35.

9. Learn Scrivener Fast

Scrivener is the secret to success for so many authors. But the software can be hard to learn and get used to  — and because it has so many features, most authors are definitely not taking full advantage of the software. With Joseph Michael’s course, you’ll be a Scrivener pro in no time.

Pricing starts at $127.

10. Author 2.0 Blueprint and Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn

In these free ebooks, Joanna Penn gets in depth on the writing and self-publishing process from start to finish. She walks through how to accomplish your  first draft, explore publishing options, and  build your platform as an author-entrepreneur.

You’ll also learn how to go about formatting, distributing and marketing your book so that it’s a complete success.

Formatting and design

11. Calibre

This e-book library management application lets you convert your content to and from an extensive list of formats. The conversion feature automatically detects book structure, and the application has a built-in editor where you can preview your changes in real time.

Calibre is free, open source and available for both Windows and OS X.

12. iBooks Author

This free app for OS X makes it easy to create a awesome-looking book. It features drag-and-drop templates and support for movies, audio and widgets, making it a great option for a multi-sensory and interactive experience. iBooks Author is also an author favorite for creating textbooks, since it elegantly supports charts, graphs, and mathematical expressions.  

13. Pressbooks

With Pressbooks, you don’t need to know anything about design to make a great-looking book. This online writing software has designs for all types of books, from novels and memoirs to white papers and textbooks.

When you’re ready to publish, Pressbooks will deliver files optimized for all major ebook platforms along with print-ready files for publishing hard copies through services like CreateSpace and IngramSpark. You can use the software for free with Pressbooks watermarks in your book, or pay to remove watermarks starting at $19.99 per book.

14. Streetlib

Streetlib is a one-stop shop to write, publish and sell your book. With this free online software, you can draft and edit your content, choose from a set of beautiful themes, and download ready-to-go files for all major platforms.

If you wish, you can have Streetlib handle publishing of your book on any platforms of your choosing — in which case, Streetlib receives 10 percent of each book sold.

15. Vellum

Vellum helps you polish the look of your book and get it ready for publication. Simply upload your file and use the Book Styles feature to add a coordinated set of typography and flourishes. Then preview and export your book for all major ebook platforms including iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Google Play.

Vellum is only available for OS X systems, and offers  pay-per-title pricing starting at $29.99.

Cover design

16. Book Design Templates

These ready-to-use templates for Microsoft Word and InDesign are a great alternative to the high cost of professional design services. Joel Friedlander (of The Book Designer, mentioned above) takes care of the major details — like typography and industry-standard formatting — so you can add your custom text and be ready to go with a professional-looking book.

Licenses start at $37.

17. 99Designs

At 99Designs, you can pick from a selection of custom-designed covers to find the perfect one for your book. Start by filling out a questionnaire so designers can get an idea of what you’re looking for. Designers submit their ideas, and after a few rounds of feedback, you pick the winner.

Packages start at $299, with more expensive packages guaranteeing more designs to choose from and more expert designers.

18. DIY Book Covers

This resource gives you access to everything you need to design a beautiful book cover: Tutorial videos, fonts, easy-to-edit templates, promotional materials, and more.

No design skills are necessary to create a unique cover to fit your book!

19. SelfPubBookCovers.com

SelfPubBookCovers.com boasts a huge selection of pre-made book covers, that are ready for you to customize and download immediately. Once you buy a book cover it is never sold again, ensuring your book is one of a kind.

Covers start as low as $69.

Marketing

20. Author Marketing Club

Want to sell more books? Jim Krukal knows that is takes a village to get your self-published book off the ground. In this community, members get access to tools, promotional opportunities, video courses, and other resources that help with everything from formatting your Amazon description to finding more reviewers.

Joining is free, and there’s an option for premium membership at $149 per year.

21. Facebook Ads for Authors

Take a page from bestselling self-published author Mark Dawson, who leveraged Facebook advertising to grow his list and sell more books. You can do it too!

Be on the lookout for the next round of registration for Facebook Ads for Authors. In the meantime, check out Dawson’s free mini course, List Building for Authors.

22. Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie is an Amazon success story, having sold tens of thousands of copies of his self-published books and entering the ranks of Amazon’s top ten overall bestseller list. In his website and book, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle, Crosbie shares the secrets to his success.

You may also like his Author Tools & Promo Sites resource list.

23. Write. Publish. Repeat.

In this book, independent authors Sean Platt, Johnny Truant and David Wright share their “no-luck-required” secrets to selling books. They take a business approach to publishing, and believe that when you start to think of your book as a business, you’ll be a self-publishing success in no time.

Give their Self-Publishing Podcast a listen.

Distribution

24. How To Choose A Self Publishing Service 2016

It’s hard to figure out which self-publishing distribution service one is right for you — and if it’s  going to provide the best customer experience. This $5.99 book from the Alliance of Independent Authors reviews and compares all the players in self-publishing, like Kindle, Createspace, Author Solutions, Lulu, IngramSpark, Apple iBooks, and more.

25. E-junkie

E-junkie is a well-established service for authors who want to sell directly to their audiences on their own platforms. It’s easy to get started: Set up your account,  upload your product to E-junkie and embed a shopping cart wherever you want to sell your book. E-junkie handles the rest.

Authors pay a monthly subscription depending on how many products you offer. Since there aren’t any transaction fees, you can make unlimited sales without having to pay extra.

26. Gumroad

Gumroad offers a clean, customizable platform to sell your digital and physical products, and it’s a recent favorite among self-published authors who want to sell directly. Gumroad provides community-building support as well as a profile feature, so your audience can see all your works at once.

There aren’t any hosting or monthly fees—you pay five percent plus 25 cents per transaction.  

27. Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital makes distributing your book easy. Create an account, upload your book, set a price, and choose where you want to sell. Draft2Digital works with many major book vendors, including Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Scribd, and CreateSpace.

At Draft2Digital, everything about your book and distribution platforms is in one easy place. Though there aren’t any set-up or monthly costs, they keep about 10 percent of the sales price whenever you sell a copy of your book.

28. Smashwords

As the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks, Smashwords lets you bypass having to deal with multiple author platforms by letting you upload your book and immediately start selling at more than 20 ebook retailers.

Authors have control over pricing, marketing and sampling of their book, and Smashwords offers free marketing and sales reporting tools to help you make the most of your launch. Smashwords is free to get started, and they only get paid when your books sell.

It depends on the retailer, but generally you get to keep 60-85 percent of each sale.

Self-publishers, what are your favorite resources from this list? What would you add?

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

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Marisol Dahl is a New York-based freelancer in communications, digital marketing, and community management. You can find her on Twitter at @marisoldahl.... .

Marisol Dahl | @marisoldahl

Traveler and blogger Chris Guillebeau

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Unconventional Guide to Publishing

Chris Guillebeau introduces the plan you need to finally share your book with the world. Make this your year of becoming an author.

Comments

  1. It’s always great to have a list of resources all in one place!

    One distinction I would make: While there is absolutely such a thing as self-publishing, there is no such thing as a self-publishing company, unless you mean the small business owned by an author to publish his or her own books. That’s what self-publication is about, being your own publisher and therefore controlling (though not necessarily personally performing) all the tasks involved in turning a manuscript into a book and getting it into the hands of readers.

    Companies that simply print and/or distribute your book (either electronically or physically) provide a vital service to self-publishers, as do freelance editors, typesetters, indexers, and marketers, but none of these services is themselves the publisher. On the other hand, companies that sell package deals including editing, typesetting, marketing, etc. are a different business model from self-publication. This business model is generally given a rather unflattering name never used by these companies themselves: vanity presses. Many authors who say they are self-published are really the customers of a good old-fashioned vanity press. There can be legitimate reasons for an author to choose such a service, possibly having nothing to do with personal vanity, so the term “author-funded press” may be a more respectful term. But it is not self-publication in the purest sense, and it involves a different set of tradeoffs from self-publication. I always encourage authors to go into any publication model with their eyes wide open, to be sure that the model they have chosen is the right one for them and their book.

    Authors who are unsure which model is right for them may wish to view my YouTube video, “Business Models in Publication”: https://youtu.be/fg2WUga0sS0 If you will be self-publishing, you may also find my video on the editorial process useful as you decide what freelancers to hire to help you create your book, “From Idea to Book: Authors, Editorial Professionals, and the Publication Process”: https://youtu.be/RiO_OvujGkY

    Whatever publication model you choose, I wish you success with your book!

    Trish O’Connor
    Epiclesis Consulting LLC
    Editorial Services and Writers’ Resources
    http://www.epiclesisconsulting.com
    http://www.epiclesisconsulting.etsy.com

  2. Hey Marisol,

    Thanks for sharing such a great list of resources.

    Personally I think the Book Designer and Joanna Penn are fantastic resources for independent authors. Their sites cover so much, and always offer free additional resources as well.

    I think it’s also worth noting that although there are a great number of authentic platforms and services out there, there are also numerous sites that seek to exploit new indie authors who may not quite know what they’re doing just yet. I’m speaking of the vanity publishers who demand thousands of dollars from the author in order to ‘publish’ their book.

    Definitely important for new authors to do their research and be wary of scams!

    Thanks again for sharing!

  3. I’ve just moved into hybrid author territory, so I appreciate this resource. Thanks so much.

  4. Ojo A. Oyedeji says:

    This is just so dope!
    I’ve been stuck on options to marketing my first book and getting it out there. Lately, I’ve even been thinking of giving up my dreams about it. But this has not just spiced up my morning, it has also reignited my inner warrior.

    Thank you Marisol. I’ll sure be using this as a resource material to guide me as I go. Have a blessed week.

  5. Thank you for your work, Marisol. You gathered in one post so many necessary resources for self-publishing!

    I heard a lot about The Book Designer and The Independent Publishing Magazine before! So I’m sure this month Rooney’s Publishing Service Index is worth to be checked.

    Besides, I’d love to add two more resources to the list – Unplag (https://unplag.com/) and All Indie Writers (http://allindiewriters.com/). The first is a powerful plagiarism checker, which is handy to use before sending your submission to publishers. Unplag scans all popular types of documents for potential plagiarism in a few seconds! The second is an extremely useful resource for independent writers, as it has a blog, forums and podcasts with useful information for all writers. Also, it provides tips on improving writing career for beginning writers and even helps them to find a freelance job!

  6. Thanks a ton!

  7. As a former web/graphic designer, please do not use 99 designs, because it asks artists to essentially work for free with the chance that their design gets picked (the site also doesn’t pay them very well). I’ve always had an issue with that. NO ONE should get asked to do creative work for free. If your car mechanic wouldn’t work for free, why should an artist or writer? Don’t devalue anyone’s hard work.

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