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Forum Talk: How Do You Publish An Ebook?

The book industry is changing, and many authors are choosing to self publish instead of going the traditional route with a publisher. If you have a knack for telling stories, or are an expert in a certain topic, publishing an ebook can be a good business opportunity. But how exactly do you go about publishing an ebook? WAHM reader Stephanie Lintz asked that exact question on our forums--here are some answers.

One of the most popular options is to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) through Amazon. KDP walks authors through the process of publishing an ebook for the Kindle and it's free, unless you choose to use their paid, optional editing or design services. KDP is popular both because of Kindle's popularity, as well as the amount of the royalties. If you enroll in the Kindle select program, which means your book isn't available as an ebook anywhere else (paperbacks are okay), you can earn 70 percent of the list price. If you choose not to use Kindle select, you receive 35 percent of the list price.

KDP is also popular because it is easy to use. You can upload a Word document for the interior, and there's a cover generator if you don't have a suitable graphics program to make one yourself. The help team often responds to emails quickly too, if you have any questions.

Nook Press, the platform for publishing an ebook to Barnes and Noble's Nook eReader, is also free and simple to use as well. Royalties there range from 40 to 65 percent, depending on the list price of your book. Many writers choose to make their ebook available through both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to make it more widely available, though that means you can't take advantage of Amazon Select's 70 percent royalty.

Ebooks can also be published through a free third party option, like Smashwords. Smashwords is free and easy to use, and will make your title available in several online stores (including Amazon and Barnes and Noble) and for several different eReader devices. Royalties are up to 60 percent at other retailers and 85% on books purchased directly at Smashwords.

Of course, there are plenty of paid options out there as well. These options are good if you have no design skills and need help designing a cover and interior, for example. These services are available from a wide range of companies; some require upfront costs, while others take a percentage of your book sales. If you haven't published before, using a company who takes a percentage is a good idea, since many authors don't make a significant income on their very first book.

Before you get started, it's important to understand a few things. Self-publishing is a misnomer--the most successful self-published authors didn't do it on their own. You'll at least need an editor, because it's tough for any writer to edit their own books. If you aren't skilled in graphic design, you'll want help with the cover too. You'll also need to market your book to help it sell. Publishing an ebook through programs like Kindle Direct is easy, but to be successful, there's a lot more to it than uploading a book and hitting "publish."

For more details, check out our Self-Publishing For Profit series, or join in on the conversation in the forums.

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