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How to Self-Publish an E-Book

beautiful girl sitting in the back of a car reading e-book on Kindle
The market for e-book has grown very rapidly over the past few years. E-book has opened the publishing to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. You can provide your e-book in any file format you choose and sell it directly from your own website or other online stores. Let’s go over some tips on how to self-publish an e-book.

Amazon requires self-publishing authors to upload their books in its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. E-books sold on Amazon can be read only on the Amazon Kindle or a device with the Kindle app installed. Amazon pays 70 percent royalties on e-books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 and 35 percent royalties on e-books outside this price range.

Amazon is not the only e-book store. Barnes & Noble, Apple, and many others have online stores. You can submit your e-book via Smashwords ( to save time, rather than submitting individually to every site. You can submit your file only on a Microsoft Word document and Smashwords handles the file conversion. However, you must add Smashwords edition to the copyright page. Your e-book will be available on Smashwords site for readers to buy in a number of different formats.

The Kindle is the most popular e-book reader on the market. You can search the listing of Kindle e-books and download samples to examine their tables of content and first few pages.

There are many ways to publish and promote your e-book. Here is the process to publish your e-book and get it into all of the major distribution channels:

Writing Manuscript

Write your manuscript using popular word processing program such as Microsoft Word. After your manuscript is done, be sure to check spelling and grammar. Choose unique title related to every chapter and for the cover. You need to add page number excluding the copyright page and backside of the title. Use 12 font sizes for your text.

If you plan to choose picture within the text, use small pictures about ¼ page to keep the file size small for fast downloads of the e-book. You can use your own name as an author or use a pen name. Decide on a good standard size for your e-book, such as 6 x 9. For PDF only format, a good size is 8 ½ x 11 with 1 inch margin all around the text.

Number of Pages and Price

It is a good idea to check your competitors. Nonfiction books demands higher prices than fiction. Number of pages depends on your topic and the information you plan to cover. The price of the e-books is generally lower than print books.

Your e-book can have links, but try to keep it to a minimum. Affiliate links are not allowed if you plan to distribute it through major distribution channels.

Cover Design

The cover of your e-book is very important. Make sure your image is professional and high-resolution. You can use any graphics programs that you are familiar using to design a book cover. You can also hire a freelance artist to create an e-book cover for you.

Kindle Direct Publishing has some tools to create e-book cover. The Smashwords Style Guide offers some contacts to have an e-book cover designed for you

How to Secure a Copyright

When your book is published, a notice of copyright should be placed on all publicly distributed copies. The copyright notice should contain three elements: 1. The copyright symbol ©, the word “copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.” 2. The year of first publication of the work. 3. The name of the owner of copyright. For example, © 2020 John Doe.

Place the copyright notice on the copyright page. Also, add “All right reserved.” The copyright should be in the name of owner. The owner may be the author or the publishing company.

When your work is published, a notice of copyright should be placed on all publicly distributed copies. Check for copyright notice before any of the books are distributed.

Write to the Register of Copyright, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559 or call (202) 707-9100 and request package 109 which includes a TX form and Circular 1. Form TX is used for published and unpublished non-dramatic literary works. Form SE is used for serials, works issued in successive parts and intended to be continued indefinitely (periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, etc.)

For further information, call the Copyright Office at (202) 287-8700. The website (


ISBN (International Standard Book Number) contains author, publisher, size, format, price, and other information needed by book distribution system. If you have your own publishing company and plan to distribute your book through major distribution channels, buy ISBN through Bowker. Your publishing company will be listed as the publisher. However, you’ll have to pay to get ISBN.

Most publishing operations provide you with a free ISBN if you plan to sell your book through them. However, they will be listed as the publisher. If you have your own publishing company and plan to distribute your book through others, it is worth purchasing your own ISBN and use your own company as the publisher. If you plan to sell your book exclusively on your own website, you don’t need ISBN for your e-book or print book.

a tablet on a small table displaying few e-book covers

Major E-Book Formats

The most commonly used formats for e-books are:

  • PDF. If your book contains charts, graphs, lots of illustrations and pictures, PDF would be a good format, especially if you plan to keep it on your website for downloads.
  • MOBI. This is the format for Amazon Kindle.
  • EPUB. This format for e-books works on most devices. However, you cannot directly create an EPUB file from a Word document. You will need to save your Word document as a text. (.txt) file and then convert it using special software. Conversion refers to an automated process of converting files from one format to another format.

Microsoft Word file is the most common starting point for converting to e-book formats. However, Word file must be formatted correctly in order to be converted to an e-book format. You’ll have to copy your material from Word document and paste it into a notepad to keep the Word document free of any formatting that may cause problem in the conversion process. Copy from notepad file and paste clean text into Word template. Through this process, eliminate extra line breaks and spaces.

All major services offer step-by step instructions for formatting your Word document before you upload it for conversion. Calibre is a free program to produce an epub version of your e-book for distribution through many major distribution channels, such as Barnes and Noble, Google Play, and Google’s book distribution channels. You can use Kindle Direct Publishing to make the Kindle version of your e-book from your Word document if you plan to sell it through Amazon.

Smashwords style guide calls for a specific formatting. You can download a Word template from Smashwords that has the styles included for the correct formatting before the conversion process. Once your book is formatted, you can upload your Word file and your cover image.

If your book is mostly straight text such as novel, you should be able to handle the formatting and conversion yourself. If your book is a complex nonfiction book, then you may want to use an independent company to help you.

an open book on a small desk next to a coffee cup and spoon

Channel of Distribution For Your E-book

You have many options to distribute and sell your e-book. The following considered the best distribution channels exposing your e-book to millions of people.

Your Own Website

You could put your e-book on your own website by setting up e-commerce software to let visitors purchase your book. You will be able to keep 100% of selling price.

You could also plan to sell your book through hundreds or thousands of affiliates to sell your book for a commission. However, you’ll need to optimize your site or have a technical person to do your search engine optimization. In addition, you must educate yourself about online marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and even retargeting.


Smashwords is an e-book publishing and distribution platform for authors and publishers. Smashwords not only let you sell your books on their site, but they also submit it to a number of booksellers, such as Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, and many others. The site gives 85% net of sales. Smashwords has not been able to work out a deal with Kindle (Amazon) as of this writing.

You can use Smashwords Style Guide and Word template to prepare your manuscript for an e-book publication. You can use Adobe Digital Editions to check your e-book format before publishing. You can get free ISBN, but Smashwords will be the listed publisher. If you own a publishing company, you can purchase your own ISBN and list your company as the publisher.

Google Play

Google play is missing from the distribution list of Smashwords. Google Play provides a lot of potential for your book to be displayed in Google search results. You can open an account on the Google Play Book Partner Center. Use Calibre to convert your Word document to epub format.


CreateSpace is an Amazon company with free publishing tools allowing you to get your book ready for sale. It lets you publish your book and it is posted on to purchase your e-book or print book.

createSpace also does printing on demand with relatively little cost. Amazon offers access to CreateSpace through Kindle Direct Publishing, which you can open an account and upload your book to get in on Amazon for Kindle. You can use their Cover Creator to create a cover, or create a cover yourself. The site offer tutorial guide for converting your manuscript into e-book format. Your e-books can be purchased and downloaded by Kindle users.

The advantage with CreateSpace, you don’t have to worry about inventory because CreateSpace handles all of that. You earn a percentage of royalties every time CreateSpace sells your book. offer print-on-demand books as well as e-books. They also offer help for a fee for your book cover. You can register for a free account and choose a store name for the URL in order to post and sell your book once published.

Once your manuscript is completed, you need to convert it to a PDF file, and then upload it to Lulu where you can view it to make sure it is in the correct size and format.

When your cover is ready for upload, it must include the spine. Lulu provides you the specific dimensions for the spine, depending on the size of your book.

When your book meets all your requirements, you’re ready to market your book. You can purchase the books from and they are shipped to your office or to your home. You can sell them for whatever price you decide. When you publish with, your book becomes available on

By Paul Ziglar – 2019 – Update 2020
Copyright © 2019-2020 Allied Publishing
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Allied Publishing

For additional articles written by Paul Ziglar, see Paul Ziglar is the author of Ultimate Guide to Successful Self-Publishing.

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