Digital Self-Publishing Challenges (And How to Overcome them)
Many authors think of self-publishing as the answer to their prayers. Having full control over all the details related to their ebooks, more and more writers are starting to explore how to navigate the digital self-publishing world and escape the grip of traditional publishers.
And while that does look promising, it isn’t all roses. There are many digital self-publishing challenges that authors encounter on their way to getting their books out to the public. But there is no need to worry; through this article, we are going to explore these challenges and how to overcome each of them.
Digital Self-Publishing Challanges:
1. Finding the Right Template
Since you are aiming to publish an ebook, choosing the right template is crucial. For example, the template you are going to use for a cookbook is completely different from that of a textbook or a novel. This might be a bit confusing, especially if it is your first time to self-publish an ebook.
Choosing the right template can help boost your sales and make your book more appealing. If you are not sure which template best suits your book, you can start by looking at other ebooks similar to yours for inspiration. You can also browse websites that offer ebook templates to find the perfect one for your ebook.
2. Choosing the Right Publishing Platform
The sea of digital publishing platforms out there might leave self-published authors quite puzzled. There are so many factors they have to consider before making their choice. So let’s look at each of these factors to help you find the perfect platform that meets your needs.
Ease of Use
One thing you might want to keep in mind while choosing a publishing platform is that you can easily use it. To make your life easier and avoid any confusion, it’s best to find a platform that doesn’t require you to contact the support every step of the way.
When you attempt to sell your book, with all the hard work you have put into it, it’s only normal to look for the best deal possible. For that reason, it’s important to find the platform that offers what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, not all digital publishing platforms support interactive ebooks. And while some do support the basic interactive elements–such as pictures and audio–they might not allow for more advanced features, such as questionnaires or ebook apps. So if your ebook contains interactive content, make sure you’re choosing the right platform to publish it, such as Apple Books or Smashwords which allow for all kinds of interactive elements.
There are many ebook formats available out there, and not all publishing platforms support all formats. For example, Amazon KDP supports EPUB and fixed-layout MOBI. Other platforms may allow only PDF format. That’s why you need to either choose a platform that supports the format you’re using or convert your book to another format.
There are 2 types of layouts when it comes to ebooks: reflowable and fixed. While the fixed layout is perfect for images-filled books, reflowable layouts are better suited for text-heavy books. And just like file formats, not all publishing platforms support both types.
Another point you might want to look at while considering different platforms is whether or not they provide data about how your book is performing. For example, you might want to know how many readers have downloaded your ebook, or how far they got into it.
Finally, you want to make sure that your ebook is safe. One way to ensure that is by finding platforms that offer DRM (Digital Rights Management) to secure your data. It also gives you control over who can access your ebook.
Writing could be a hectic process on its own. And unlike traditional publishing, a self-publishing author will have to edit his book, design the book cover, write the blurb, and maybe even format it before uploading it to the publishing platform. This surely sounds like a lot of work for one person.
Luckily for you, you don’t have to do it all, especially if you don’t have enough experience in these things. You can simply hire people who can get these things done professionally. Here are some services that can help you do just that, with some suggestions that won’t break the bank.
Editing your book is one of the tasks you shouldn’t be doing yourself, no matter how proficient you are. Even after you do the first round of self-editing, it is important to hire a professional book editor.
You can either go for a freelance editor–whom you can hire through Reedsy, Fiverr, or Editorial Freelancers Associations– or you can use one of the highly reputable editing services, such as Edit911, Kirkus Editorial, or Ebook Launch.
Book Cover Design
Currently, there are many platforms that help you create great book cover designs such as Canva, Visme, Adobe, or Design Wizard. You can also use one of the professional design services, like Kotobee Design Service, MiblArt, or BookBaby.
Formatting Your ebook
Before getting your ebook published, it has to be formatted correctly. Many authors dread this process and all the technicalities it involves. But there are many different ways to format an ebook, such as:
- Creating a PDF ebook: This is the easiest way to ebook formatting. If your book is a novel or a plain text, just make sure to use the right heading and subheadings, then use Microsoft word or Apple’s pages to save your file as PDF.
- Using an Ebook Creator: There are many softwares out there that can help you get this job done. For example, you can use Kotobee Author to format and extract your book to any file format you like.
- Using Kindle Create: If you are planning on publishing on Amazon, then you can use their free formatting tool to get your book ready.
- Hiring a Formating Service or a Freelancer: You can skip all this hussle by hiring a professional to do it for you. You can either hire a freelancer, or use an online formating service to transform the book into the vision you have.
Marketing Your Ebook
Now that your book is published, you need to get people to buy and read it. You can’t rely on the word of mouth alone; you need to use some ebook marketing tactics that will get people interested in your book. Here are some ideas:
- Promote on Social Media: Harness the power of social media to get the world to know about your book. If you have a lot of followers, you can just rely on writing some promotional posts. Otherwise, you might want to invest in some targeted ads that will get the right audience to your book.
- Use Your Blog and Mailing List: As a writer, it’s advised to have a blog and a mailing list to connect with your readers. If you do have them, then you can use them to inform your followers about your book. You might even do some pre-order offers.
- Amazon Promotions: If you are publishing on Amazon using KDP Select, then you have the opportunity to offer price promotions that will attract more readers. In order to do this, your book must be exclusive on Amazon for 90 days.
- Contact Book Reviewers: Another way to spread the word about your book is through book reviewers and influencers. Find people with a huge audience base that review books like yours, and ask them to write or record short videos about your book.
With all the talk about the pre-publishing process, authors have to go through, you might be thinking: this is going to cost a lot! And to be honest, it might. But there are some ways to cut down and manage your expenses.
- Set a Budget: This may sound obvious, but many authors forget to do it. Setting a budget before starting the publishing process will help you choose what’s good for you. Do some research to see how much each of the services costs, then take a look at your bank account before taking any steps.
- Use Free Software: You probably think that free software won’t give you the premium quality you’re after, but you might be surprised at how good the results could be. So if you are using Amazon to publish your book, for example, you might like to check their Cover Creator tool. Or you can use a free license of Kotobee Author, which will give you many great options without having to pay anything.
- Check Freelancing Services: Hiring experienced freelancers might cost a bit more than beginners, but that doesn’t mean that beginners are not qualified for the job. Many freelancing platforms allow you to check the freelancer’s work and rate before hiring them. This way, you can find the quality you want within your budget.
- Crowdfunding: Many dreams come true through crowdfunding, and publishing your book is no exception. There are many websites that can help you achieve this goal, such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter.
5. Getting Reviews
Having reviews can make or break the success of your ebook. Readers may be attracted by the title or book cover, but it is usually the book reviews that seal the deal. That’s why it is very important to get editorial reviews, and there is more than one way to do this.
- Contact Professional Book Reviewers: There are many services that offer connecting you with book reviewers. For example, you can use Reedsy Discovery, The Indie View, or Booktasters. You can also try contacting one of Amazon’s reviewers to give you an honest review, or find book bloggers who are interested in reviewing book of the same genre as yours.
- Ask Your Followers for Reviews: If you have a fan base, you can offer free copies of your book in exchange for honest reviews. This can be done through mailing lists, social media, or your blog.
- Join Writers’ Communities: Another way for getting reviews is by joining writers’ communities and asking other authors for reviews. You can also join Facebook writing groups or use Twitters’ #Writingcommunity hashtag.
- Add a Call to Action: A little reminder never hurts anyone, and putting a call to action at the end of your book can encourage readers to leave reviews on your book page.
Getting your book published is certainly not a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be a tedious process that makes you go bankrupt. By applying the above tips, you can overcome the challenges of digital self-publishing, and have pride in getting your book out to the public.