Self publishing a book - 9 lessons learned

Self publishing a book - 9 lessons learned

Self publishing a book on Amazon is an amazing experience. Sure, it’s daunting, but it’s also a brilliant personal challenge that can really give you insights into yourself, your process and your audience. I loved publishing my books and have plenty more in the pipeline.

My first adventures in self publishing was with my very first book, Remaining Relevant, It was a heck of journey. I spent every lunch time for nearly 9 months writing this book. Every. Single. Lunch. Break. Sat in a shabby and dirty part of an abandoned floor in our office block. Huddled amongst the discarded chairs, desks and old monitors, I would open my laptop and write. I wanted to be self publishing books; I still dream of making this a living now! (of course, I’d love nothing more than a real physical book in a store…but hey, I can dream smaller to start with).

It was a great sense of achievement to be self publishing my own work. I learned a lot about the self publishing industry and I learned a lot about myself. I never realised quite how hard it would be bring a book to life.

This post outlines 9 lessons I have learned self publishing a book on Amazon Kindle.

Step 1 – Have an idea

There is a saying that everyone has a book inside them. This means that we are all capable of writing a book. I would agree.

The first step for me was to generate ideas in great numbers. Generating ideas is hard work but there are some techniques that may help.

I’d recommend reading Thinker Toys by Michael Michalko (affiliate link). It’s a wonderful book packed full of great ways to come up with ideas, expand ideas and to think differently about a topic. Of course, you may already have something deep inside yearning to be written.

Once I have an idea I like to revert to my notebook to expand this out on paper.

For example, for Remaining Relevant I wrote on a sheet of paper “write a book about how hard it is to stay relevant in a fast changing world of work”. Over the next few weeks I wrote down any ideas, insights and observations that popped in to my head.

I then moved the good ideas I had generated over to a mind map – this let me see how these ideas could collide, combine or spawn even more new ideas. In the end, the topic I chose doesn’t have a vastly diverse set of extreme ideas so this process was pretty straight forward. But you get the idea.

We’re all different though so hack around with various techniques and start generating ideas.

Step 2 – Research the idea

At the moment we have no content yet for self publishing, so the next step is to spend some time researching. Find quotes, supporting article or anything else you need. However, don’t fall into the trap of using this as a way to procrastinate and avoid the hard work of writing the book.

No matter what genre of book you are writing you’ll most likely need to do some research.

The key thing though is too much time researching.

Step 3 – Outline the structure of the book

The structure of the book is important to guide people through your topics and ideas in a logical way. Sometimes the structure literaaly falls out, especially if you’re talking about a logical progression of events, as I was in Join our Company book. Sometimes you have to play around with the structure. This is where mindmaps are helpful for me. I can move things around and draw connections between ideas – and explode them even more if needed.

A logical beginning, middle and end makes a lot of sense. I find that creating an outline helps the words fall out more easily when I write the book.

Step 4 – Write the book

Self publishing is about having something to publish and this is the start of creating the very words someone else will be reading. It’s not easy. Oh my, did I want to give up several times.

But I couldn’t keep putting this thing off. The pain of not creating the book was more than the pain of sitting to write each day. What helped greatly was my routine, habits and discipline. I didn’t miss a single mon-fri lunchtime. Not a single one.

I was using my own personal laptop to write this over my lunch break. I therefore had no wifi connection, shut down all apps apart from MS Word (yes I still write in that today!) and ensured no other distractions were present. When it came time for lunch, I sat down and I wrote.

Steven Pressfield’s extraordinary good book The War of Art is where I was first introduced to the idea of the “resistance”. The resistance is an evil force manifesting in many ways and is designed to stop you doing the work you need to do. Your job everyday is to overcome the resistance. Persistance and routine helps.

I wrote the easiest chapters first. I wrote what I felt like writing that day. I didn’t write the book in the order it ended up in. I didn’t wait for inspiration to strike. I simply sat down and wrote.

And then I culled most of it in the editing process….which is a good thing. I kept cutting to the essentials. And I edited and edited. I also created relevant images and a front cover! I was ready for the next step.

Step 5 – Tweak the book ready for publishing on Amazon

After completing the book I was ready to start self publishing on Amazon. Or so I thought.

To upload a book to Amazon I had to do some tweaking.

I did three final things before uploading.

Firstly I added a dynamic table of content by following the Amazon KDP publishing guide.

I then added the Start and TOC bookmarks as per the same guide.

I then finally saved the .doc file as HTML and zipped it along with the images.

The book was now ready to go. My journey into self publishing was nearly there.

Step 6 – Get a US Tax EIN

I then went to fill in some US Tax information on Amazon. This meant getting an EIN. Hmm.

So I followed this great guide on getting an EIN.

Step 7 – Upload and Test

I then uploaded the book and tested it on the Kindle emulator re-doing anything that didn’t display properly. And then I uploaded again. And tested. And edited. Until it all displayed right and I was ready!

I chose a price point (pretty cheap) and let Amazon work it’s magic.

Step 8 – Add a self publishing author page

After uploading the book I was now ready to create an Amazon author profile. This was pretty straight forward. Some blurb, a decent headshot from my recent photoshoot and I was good. A fully fledged self publishing author.

Step 9 – Tell the world

With that done it was now time to market the book. And that is an on-going giant task in itself 🙂 I enjoyed pretty much every minute whilst self publishing this book. It was the right time for me to write the book. I was ready for it. I needed to write it. And that helped a lot.

Good luck with your own self publishing journey. Let me know how you get on.

Remaining Relevant is available on Amazon. The book contains help and advice for people who are job hunting. In it I cover interviewing, self learning, writing resumes and finding good jobs.It’s available on Amazon right now:Amazon UKAmazon US