Self Publishing – The Definitive Guide 2020

Self Publishing – The Definitive Guide 2020

This is the definitive guide for self-publishing in 2020, updated with all the latest tips, tools, and gadgets.

In this series, you will learn exactly how to publish your book from first-draft to bestseller, including:

  • Editing
  • Map Design
  • Manuscript formatting for ebooks and paperbacks
  • Copyrights
  • ISBNs
  • Getting a stellar book cover
  • How to publish
  • How to choose the right keywords and categories to reach best seller status!

Let’s get started.

contents:

chapter 1

You wrote a book! What’s next?

chapter 2

Editing;How to Overcome an Author’s Worst Nightmare

chapter 3

Creating a Map for your Fantasy World

chapter 4

Understanding ISBNs

chapter 5

Understanding Copyright

chapter 6

Formatting Your Book

chapter 7

How to Get a Stunning Fantasy Book Cover

chapter 8

Publishing Your Book

chapter 9

Choosing Keywords and Categories, Part One

chapter 10

Choosing Keywords and Categories, Part Two

chapter 11

Conclusion

chapter 1

You wrote a book! What’s next?

Congratulations!!!

Finishing your book is the most important step in your writing career, one which the vast majority of aspiring authors never manage to complete. The question is…what now?

Generally, there are two paths you can go down in terms of publishing your work:

  1. The “traditional” method, involving months, or even years, of querying agents and trying to land a deal which will involve you selling away your book’s rights to a publishing company.
  2. The increasingly popular “Self-publishing” method, which gives you full control over your work and its rights, but requires you to fund the entire project.

The following series of articles was written as a guide to those aspiring down the path of self-publishing, and help you reach that golden “Best-Seller” badge as soon as possible!

There are three main steps involved in self-publishing a book:

  • Writing the first
  • Editing+Publishing.
  • Establishing an author platform+Advertising.

This course series will focus on step 2, guiding the way from the moment you finish that first draft up to the actual publishing of the final manuscript. Not only will we break down the process from first-draft to bestseller as simply as possible, but we will focus on doing it as cheaply as possible. Here’s the process we’ll be following, and you can use it as a personal checklist as you work through the process:

Self-Publishing Checklist

chapter 2

Editing; How to Overcome an Author’s Worst Nightmare

Let’s Talk Numbers.

(I know, authors prefer words to numbers, but bear with me…)

In the U.S. alone, there are about 200,000,000 people who dream of writing a book. Of those 200,000,000, only 20,000,000 will actually begin the writing process. Of those 20,000,000, only about 250,000 will actually finish their manuscript.

That’s right, only 0.125% of people actually possess the passion and perseverance it takes to turn their dreams into reality, and you are one of them.

Lean back on your chair, take a deep breath, and give yourself a pat on the back…you deserve it!

Make sure to celebrate this important step, because you’re going to need the

motivation and spirit to get you through what comes next…the demon which haunts

every author in their sleep…the shredder of wordcount and the terror of adjectives…

Editing

Every published author knows that finishing the book is only half the battle. Your first draft needs to be torn apart, written and rewritten, and chiseled to perfection. For traditionally published books, this isn’t such a big deal, since the publishing house will cover the cost. However, for a self-published author, hiring an editor can be unbearably expensive. A quality editor in the fantasy genre can cost up to TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Unfortunately, if you want to succeed, an error-free book is crucial to the reader experience. Good news is, if you don’t have the spare change for a professional editor, there is an alternative, two-step method that works nearly as well.

Step One: Editing Software

The first step will include ridding your manuscript of all its spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. This can be accomplished using either Grammarly or ProWritingAid. For only $30-240, you can download these programs online and use them to clean and shine your manuscript. My advice: Read your entire story out loud to yourself while running the program. You’ll be shocked at how many small mistakes you’ll find this way that you would never have noticed while reading to yourself.

Grammarly

Pricing

$ 29 Monthly / $132 Yearly
  • Life Time Plan: Unavailable
  • Free Plan: Available

Editing Tools

  • Desktop App: Free
  • Mobile App: Free
  • Browser Extention: Free

Editing Quality

  • Grammar and Spelling: Strong
  • Writing and Content Quality: Moderate
  • User Friendliness: Strong

Pricing

$ 20 Monthly / $80 Yearly
  • Life Time Plan: $240
  • Free Plan: Available

Editing Tools

  • Desktop App: Free
  • Mobile App: Free
  • Browser Extention: Free

Editing Quality

  • Grammar and Spelling: Strong
  • Writing and Content Quality: Strong
  • User Friendliness: strong

In short: Both of these tools are great options for cleaning up your first draft. If you think your book is in need of more content editing, and you’re on a tighter budget, then ProWritingAid will probably work best for you.

Step Two: Beta-Readers

Once you’ve finished cleaning up your manuscript, it’s important to have someone read it over with a fresh eye. This is where your launch team comes in. A launch team is basically your support group, friends and family who are motivated to see you succeed and wouldn’t mind reading over your work. Give your book to as many people as you can, and tell them to show no mercy. The more feedback you get now, the better your editorial reviews will be in the future!

Can’t find a launch team? Try searching Facebook for fantasy writers’ support groups. There are tons of them out there, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find a couple of friendly folks who’d gladly give your project a read.

While hiring a quality, professional editor is probably still the ideal, this two-step solution is a great replacement for those who can’t afford one. Whether you’re planning to self-publish or to query literary agents, this plan will whip your manuscript into shape and put your book one step ahead of the rest. If you do have the funds and prefer to hire an editor, be sure to check out ebooklaunch. They are very professional, and their prices are among the best you’ll find.

chapter 3

Creating a Map for your Fantasy World

Should I make a map for my book?

Fantasy maps have been an integral part of literature since the days of Tolkien. One in every three fantasy books contains a map, and for good reason. Maps grant your fans an enhanced reading experience and a greater understanding of your world as a whole. They also give your book an impression of beauty and professionalism.

Not only can a map help attract readers, but it can help you organize your story as well. Even if you haven’t yet finished your writing and editing, consider making yourself a map to help organize your world and motivate yourself to finish.

How Do I Make My Fantasy Map?

There are two options for getting a map for your book. Like most things in the publishing industry, you can either hire a freelancer or do it yourself. However, unlike most things, when it comes to maps, hiring a freelancer may actually be just as cheap as doing it yourself. Here are a few recommendations:

Option One: Hiring a Freelancer

Fiverr
Price: 5-50$

Fiverr has a plethora of talented artists capable of designing top-quality fantasy maps for delightfully cheap prices. Just search “Fantasy Map” into their search bar, scroll through various artists until finding the one you like most, then send them an offer. Click to check it out!​

99Designs
Price: 20-100$

99Designs has the best artists the industry has to offer, but they can get a pricy. If you have the money to invest, it’s definitely easier to find a top-quality artist here, and the process is more professional as well. On 99Design, you can work with the artists hand in hand to create your map exactly as you imagined it, and you don’t have to pay until it’s absolutely perfect. In addition, you can run a contest, in which multiple artists will compete to provide you with the best map. Click to check it out!​

Option Two: Do It Yourself

Inkarnate
Price: 5-25$

There are many software programs available for building your own fantasy map, but the best one is probably Inkarnate. For only $5 a month, you can use their pre-made design tools to make fantastic, pro-quality maps. They also offer a free version which you can use to build yourself a template or organize your world while writing. However, the free version does not allow you to use the map for commercial use! Use it as a model for your world, or to show to your designer as a reference, but do not place it in your book unless you upgrade to the paid plan.

Tips for Making an Awesome Map

Whether you’re hiring a designer or going about it yourself, here are some small tips

which can make a big difference in the quality of your map:

1)     A Compass

An old-fashion compass is a good mood-setter, adding a feeling of mystery and antiquity. A well-designed compass will catch the eyes of your readers, being the first thing they see when they glance at the map, and will intrigue them to continue.

2)     Location Names

Come up with enthralling names for your forests, mountain ranges, and cities.

Add an element of foreshadowing to the names, as well as a reflection of what makes that location unique. For example, a mountain range mined by the Dwarves for gold can be called “The Goldstone Peaks.”

3)     Landscape

Have your designer sketch in trees, mountains, and lakes for a stunning, detailed display of your world.

4)     Reference Scale

Draw a small, one-inch line on the map and label it as a reference to give an understanding of relative distance. For instance, you can say “1 inch=1,000 miles.”

Where Should I Put the Map?

Once your map is complete, there are multiple options of how to format it into your book. Some authors prefer to make a giant map which spans two open pages, while other prefer a smaller one. Some authors prefer to place the map immediately after the book’s title page to grab readers’ attention, while other prefer it after the table of contents. Any of these options will work fine, just make sure you know what you want to do, and how large your page sizes will be, before having your map made.

chapter 4

Understanding ISBNs

Every good fantasy book needs a secret code, right?

In this section, we'll cover two important questions:
  • What is an ISBN, and why do I need one?
  • Where can I get one?

What is an ISBN, and why do I need one?

A 13-digit ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is essentially your book’s identification code. It helps libraries, bookstores, and retailers sort, organize, and track your product, similar to the barcode you’d find on ordinary products in any kind of store. If you’re looking to have your book stocked in libraries and bookstores, an ISBN is an absolute must. However, if you’re looking only to publish an ebook without a paperback and sell it online, it may not be completely necessary.

Where can I get one?

  • Free option:

If you are publishing through Amazon KDP, they will offer you the option of providing a free ISBN. If you are planning to remain exclusive to Amazon, this option could work well for you. However, the catch is, the ISBN provided by Amazon can only be used in their store. If you want to publish to other retailers as well, such as Barnes and Noble, Nook, Apple, or anywhere else, you’ll need to obtain an additional ISBN, which can get a bit messy.

Another catch that comes with Amazon’s free ISBN is that on your book’s information page, your publisher details will be listed as “Independently published,” which means that everyone checking out your book, whether customer or bookstore, will know that it was self-published. While ordinary readers may or may not care who published a book, most bookstores will certainly think twice before stocking an “independently published” book.

Draft to Digital (D2D) also provides a free, in-house ISBN to those who choose to publish their ebook through them.

  • Paid Option:

If you are considering “going wide,” meaning publishing across all bookstores and online retailers, buying a single ISBN for your book might be the better option. You’d be able to list yourself or your company name as the publisher, instead of the book listing “Independently published,” which could give your book a more professional appearance.

The big downside here is the price. There is only one place to by U.S. ISBNs, Bowker, and they are terribly overpriced! Bowker charges $125 for a single ISBN,

$295 for ten, or $575 for 100.

If you are planning on publishing a series of more than one book, then the medium option could work for you, averaging $30 per book. If you just want to publish a single book, the price is pretty outrageous, but unfortunately, that’s the only option out there. You can purchase ISBNs through Bowker at this link: https://www.myidentifiers.com/identify-protect-your-book/isbn/buy-isbn

Paid Option

Pros

  • Can use across multiple platforms
  • Label your own publisher

Cons

  • Very High Prices!

Free Option

Pros

  • Free!

Cons

  • Limited to single platform
  • "Independetly published" label

chapter 5

Understanding Copyrights

What is a copyright page, and why do I need one?

If you’ve spent hundreds of hours imagining, writing, editing, and publishing a book, you definitely don’t want someone stealing it from you. That’s where your book’s copyright page comes into play.

A copyright page is placed inside your book to protect against piracy, theft, and illegal reproduction of your work. It is typically placed in the book’s front matter, on the opposite side of the Title Page (The page with your book title and author name, usually the first or second page of the book).

How To Format A Copyright Page

To make it simple, let’s look at an example of a copyright page for a fantasy book.

Feel free to copy and paste these paragraphs to use in your own projects:

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2020 Author Name. All rights reserved.

Cover design by Cover Designer Name ISBN-13: 123456789123

Published by Awesome Press 123 Awesome St.

Awesomeville, CA 12345

www.authorwebsite.com

Here’s a quick analysis of the content:

1)  “No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.”

This paragraph protects against illegal reproduction and distribution of your work, with the exception of reviewers, who are allowed to quote your book in their reviews.

2)  “This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”

 

This paragraph states that all your characters are imaginary, even if you are basing them off of real people. You do not intend to teach true information about any living person, place, or event. Although not all authors include this paragraph, it’s recommended for fiction authors.

3)  “Copyright © 2020 Author Name. All rights reserved.”

This is your copyright notice, the most important line on the page.

4)  “Cover design by Cover Designer Name”

While this is optional, it you’d like to give credit to your designer, editor, photographer, or anyone else involved in the actual content of the book, here’s the place to do it. This is not a dedication or thank-you page. Don’t list every friend and family member who helped you along the way. If you’d like, you can make a separate Thank-You page for that. Only list the people directly involved in the book’s content.

5) “ISBN-13: 123456789123

Published by Awesome Press 123 Awesome St.

Awesomeville, CA 12345 www.authorwebsite.com

Here you can fill in your book’s ISBN information if relevant, along with your

publisher information and author website.

How To Obtain a Copyright

Technically, you own the rights to your book as soon as you put in onto paper.

However, for maximum protection, it’s important to actually file an official copyright with the U.S. Library of Congress. Create an account on their website, then file a standard application. Follow this link to get started: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

chapter 6

Formatting Your Book

How Is a Paperback Book Organized?

Once you have your edited manuscript, copyright, ISBN, map, and any other content relevant to your book’s interior, it’s time to organize and design the content into a beautiful book. Not sure exactly how that works? Well then, grab your surgical knife, and let’s go take a look at the anatomy of books.

Paperback books are generally split into three sections:

  • The Front Matter
  • Body Matter
  • The Back Matter

Front Matter

This section includes everything starting from the first page until the beginning of chapter one. The order of front matter content varies between authors and genres, but here is a general template. (Note: Following the Copyright Page, each new section should begin on the next-available right-facing page!)

1) Half Title

While this section is optional, it is recommended and follows the professional example of traditionally published books. A Half-Title page is generally the first page of the book, and contains only the Book Title, and if relevant, Series Title.

2) Title

The Title Page belongs on the right side of the second page, and should be identical to the Half-Title page, just this time including the author name and Publisher as well.

3) Copyright

The Copyright Page belongs on the opposite side of the Title Page (the left side of the second page). It contains all your legal details, content credit, and publisher details.

4) Reviews/Recommendations

An optional page where you can quote any positive reviews and accolades your book has received, or list any prizes it has won.

5) Dedication

If you’d like to dedicate your work to a family member, friend, or anyone else, this is the place to do it.

6) Map/Illustrations

If you had a map made of your fictional world, a timeline, a family tree, or any other illustration, you can place it here.

7) Table of Contents

A summary of the book’s contents and on which page they occur.

8) Thanks/Acknowledgments

This is not your dedication page, but rather, a place you can thank anyone and everyone involved in the process of making your book or inspiring you along the way.

9) Prologue/Introduction

A teasing, gripping introduction or prologue is a good way to drive more readers to your book.

The Body Matter

The body makes up the bulk of the book. Each new chapter should begin on a new page, and should abide by the following rules:

  • Each chapter begins on a new page containing the chapter’s number, title, and (if relevant)
  • The first Chapter Title Page of your book should be labeled as page 1 of the book, and all the following pages should be paginated
  • Left-sided page headers should list the author-name, while right-sided page headers should list the book title.

The Back Matter

The Back Matter is the simplest section of the book. It is comprised of the Author Bio Page (generally a picture of the author, along with a short, cute biography) and, if relevant, a bibliography or an index.

Interior Book Design

In addition to organizing your book’s material, there’s also the issue of styling your book to make it beautiful, engaging, and reader-friendly. A small design on your Chapter Title Pages and first-paragraph dropped caps can go a long way. While you can learn to design a book on your own on Scrivener or Microsoft word, there are hundreds of freelance artists who’d be willing to do it for a more than reasonable price. Fiverr is a great place to search for an interior book designer.

Formatting an Ebook

Ebooks are much simpler than paperbacks in terms of organization. The content of ebooks can be arranged in the same order as paperbacks, but since there are no right or left sided pages, each new section should simply be placed on the next available page. There are many tools and resources available for formatting and designing ebooks to look smooth, professional, and reader-friendly:

Fiverr

Hire a freelancer to design and format your book.

Very good pricing.

Kindle Create

Made by Amazon for simple creating of kindle books, but cannot be used to make mobi or epub files.

Limited design and styling options. 

Draft2Digital (D2D)

Vellum

Macbook-only

For a more detailed explanation and further example and tips, you can check out Amazon KDP’s guide to book interior design: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GDDYZG2C7RVF5N9J

chapter 7

How to Get a Stunning Fantasy Book Cover

If you’ve typed that last word onto your book’s manuscript, you can relate with I say that there is no feeling more satisfying. You’ve created something new, brought your dreams to life. I’m going to shock you and say that there is something more satisfying— that being, finding the perfect, stunning cover for your story.

As a self-published author, I struggled in the beginning to find the perfect cover given my tight budget. I wanted something attention grabbing, colorful, action-packed, and original. Everyone judges books by their covers. It’s your work’s first impression, and its most crucial sales tool.

Finally, after weeks of searching, I found artists who could make my dreams come true without emptying my bank account. If you’d like to save yourself loads of time and money, here are my recommendations:

99 Designs was the website I used for all of my books designs. You can find samples of my covers below. I was extremely pleased with the results (for obvious reasons!)

What’s unique about 99Designs is that they offer two options: A private project, and a contest. For my first project, since I wasn’t familiar with any individual artists, I ran a contest. In a contest, you choose a cash prize and invite as many artists as you’d like to participate. Every artist sends you drafts of different covers, and you give them ratings, advice on how they’re doing, and tell them what they should change. What’s awesome about this is that you can end up with ten different styles and covers to choose from, each of which you helped design. By the end of my contest, I was left with so many unbelievable options, I almost ended up buying more than one!

The downside to a contest is the price, which starts off at $400 for both an ebook and paperback cover. The bigger the prize offered, the more likely you are to grab the attention of professional, talented artists. I put down the minimum prize amount, sent personal invitations to the website’s most popular artists, and the result was fantastic.

If you don’t have the budget for a contest, or you lack the patience and want to cut to the chase, you can also open a private project with an individual artist. While some of the website’s top artists can charge up to $850, others can design the cover of your dreams for only $50-200. Most artists will change the cover as many times and you’d like until it is absolutely perfect, and will make a few 3-D mockups for you as well to help with advertising. I went with this option for my fourth book, and this is what I got for only $200 (ebook+paperback):

If you don’t want to waste any time choosing a designer, this website may be for you. When you sign up for their program, you tell them a bit about your book, and they match you with the artist they think is best suited for the job. If you’re looking to get your cover done quick and well, this is probably the fastest option. Click to check it out!

Fiverr is definitely the cheapest option out there. If you are on an extremely tight budget, this could work for you, although I’d urge slight caution. While there are many professional artists available on Fiverr,

there are also some who simply take pictures from the internet and stitch them together, which could run into legal rights issues. Read the project description carefully before you purchase, reach out to the artist beforehand for a little chat, and you should be fine. Click to check it out!

chapter 8

Publishing Your Book

Take a deep breath, and give yourself a nice pat on the back! Your book is now edited, formatted, illustrated with a beautiful cover, and ready to go on the market! The only question remaining is…which market? Here’s a list of the top publishing platforms to consider. Each of them is relatively user-friendly and simple to set up.

Amazon KDP

  • Largest bookstore on Earth.
  • Option for KDP Select
  • Publishing exclusively on Amazon in exchange for wide paperback distribution
  • Book available on Kindle Unlimited
  • Easy sales tracking
  • Free ISBN

Draft to Digital (D2D)

  • Publishes immediately wide to all the major platforms
  • platforms include Amazon, Apple, Kobo, B&N, Scribd, and more…
  • Fantastic book formatting and interior design included for free
  • Ebook only
  • Free ISBN

Ingram Spark

  • Publishes immediately wide to all the major platforms
  • platforms include Amazon, Apple, Kobo, B&N, Scribd, and more…
  • Offers both Ebook and Paperback distribution

When choosing which Publisher to go with, you should ask yourself two important questions:

  • Do you want to publish exclusively on Amazon, or go wide to all bookstores?
  • Do you want to publish just an ebook, or also a paperback?

Note: Even if you do decide to publish wide, you can still publish your book separately on Amazon as well. This is highly recommended, and will give you more control over your sales page in the world’s largest bookstore. Just exclude Amazon from the list of retailers you’d like to publish to on D2D or IngramSpark, then publish again on Amazon KDP.

Going Wide V.S. Amazon Exclusive

Let’s explore the pros and cons of selling exclusively through Amazon vs all major retailers:

Amazon Exclusive

Pros

  1. Your book is eligible for Kindle Unlimited: This is an extremely popular program filled with enthusiastic bookworms looking to eat up as many books as they can, as fast as possible. In this program, you get paid per page, usually around $.004-.005 a page. For longer books, those pages definitely add up.
  2. Amazon allows you to offer your book for a discounted price, or even for free, for up to 5 days every three months. This can be an invaluable marketing tool to gain publicity and increase sales.

Cons

  1. You book can be distributed only through Amazon. Your entire income will be dependent on a single source. For many self- published authors, Amazon has proved a sufficient income, especially with Kindle Unlimited, capable of bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month, but it is still something to consider.

Wide Distribution

Pros

  1. Larger discoverability with your book listed on dozens of major
  2. You are free to distribute free copies of your book from your website or anywhere
  3. Not dependent on a single income source

Cons

  1. More complicated to set up and track, can be hard for a first-time author
  2. Cannot offer discounts or free deals on Amazon, and cannot feature on Kindle Unlimited.

In the end, there are hundreds of authors who have succeeded on both paths, so there is no single correct answer. Decide what you feel would work best for you, upload your manuscript, and go hit that publish button!

chapter 9

Choosing Keywords and Categories, Part One

Keyword Marketing

In the industry of self-publishing, you’re signing up to be more than just an author. You’re running a business, and just like any other business, marketing is key. Whether you’re publishing in the wide market or exclusively with Amazon, choosing the right keywords could make all the difference in helping your book fall into the hands of your book-hungry target audience.

Getting Amazon, the world’s largest bookstore, to show your book to the right fans, seems like a good place to start. How can you make this happen? The answer: Keywords and Categories. Let’s go ahead and tackle each of these concepts step by step.

Amazon Keywords

What are Keywords?

Amazon, just like many search engines, uses keywords to refer its costumers to products that might interest them. When someone types a phrase into Amazon’s search bar, Amazon will search its database for products related to that phrase. In short,

Keywords are what you’d like your target audience to type in their search bar in order

to find your book.

At first glance, this might seem like an easy thing to figure out. If your book is about space aliens, then just use the words “Sci-fi,” and “Space Aliens.” However, in reality, it’s much more complicated than that, for two main reasons.

  • Keywords cannot simply describe your book. They need to match the terms that costumers actually type into Amazon.

 

  • Keywords have competition. For example, if you choose the phrase “Fantasy adventure,” and those keywords are shared by five-thousand other best-selling authors, the chances are that Amazon will show their products before
So how can you find the right keywords?

There are a number of publishing tools that can help with this, but my favorite one is Publisher Rocket. This lifesaving software will do all the work for you, providing a lengthy list of keyword candidates, as well as their competitive scores.

Let take our previous example about sci-fi space aliens and see what the system comes up with. First, we start off by typing a relevant phrase into the search bar:

Within seconds, you’ll be provided with dozens of keyword options related to your book:

Here’s the rundown of what you see:
  • Each phrase is labeled with a competitive score from 0-100 (100 being the most competitive) and the number of competitors who share it, which will give you an idea of hard it will be to compete for that
  • The Average Monthly Earnings of the top authors who use each Keyword shows you whether or not the Keyword Is profitable
  • The EST. Amazon searches per month gives you an idea of how many people actually search that phrase

Together, these analyses answer both of our previous questions of “What do readers search for?” and “How competitive is each phrase?” Publisher Rocket has done all the work for us, and with just a simple click. While Publisher Rocket might seem a bit pricy at first ($97), it’s worth it for three reasons:

  • You are investing in a crucial tool which will help you not only with this book, but with all future books
  • It saves you countless hours of pointless Amazon searching and research…and I literally mean countless!
  • If you really want to succeed as an author, as was mentioned earlier, you’re going to have to treat this as a business. You need to believe in your work strongly enough to invest in

chapter 10

Choosing Keywords and Categories, Part two

In Last article, we covered the importance of choosing the right Keywords. This time, we’re going to discuss the concepts of Categories and finding your niche.

Would you like to become an Amazon Bestelling Author?

Of course you do. Fortunately, there’s a small secret which makes achieving that title much easier than you’d think. That’s where the Categories come in.

What are Categories?

All of Amazon’s books, just like at any bookstore, are sorted into categories depending on their content. For instance, a young adult fantasy book would typically be placed into the categories “Teen&Young Adult” and “Fantasy.” Readers often use these categories to browse for the books they’re interested in, so making sure that your book is in the correct category is crucial.

When you publish through Amazon, you can choose two categories you believe to be the most relevant to your book, and Amazon will place your book into them. However, what most people don’t know, is that you can actually email Amazon requesting that your book be added to up to seven extra categories!

Let’s use one of my books as an example. The first week I released The Legend of Solis, the book almost immediately achieved the title of #1 New Release, as well as a Bestseller in multiple categories.

These titles are not only fun to share with your friends and fans on social media, but they are also an important marketing tool. When Amazon sees that a product is selling, they give it an extra push to keep up its sales.

The answer, once again, is in the categories. If you scroll down on a book’s Amazon page, you can find its categories listed under “Product Details.”

The moment my book was published, I immediately emailed Amazon requesting that my book be moved into seven specific “niche” categories. The more specific, or “niche,” your category is, the more likely you are to attract your target audience, and the easier it is to reach bestseller status. If you go onto Amazon and browse through their categories, let’s say “Teen&Young Adult,” you’ll notice that you can continue to narrow down until you reach very specific topics, like “Dark Fantasy”. These are the “niche” categories you’ll want to go for. In order to get that shiny bestseller badge, you don’t need to sell more book than everyone else on Amazon. You only need to sell the most books in your category! Therefore, the smaller the category, the higher your chances!

Now that we understand the importance of Categories, how do we go about finding the best ones?

One option is to search through Amazon’s categories and choose a niche you think is relevant to your book. Afterward, check out the bestselling book in that category, and see how high its “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” is.

The lower the rank, the more competitive the category will be. For example, if the top book in your category has a rank of #144, you’ll need to sell over seven-hundred and fifty books in order to pass them up! On the other hand, if the top book in a category has a rank of #25,000, you’ll only need to sell eleven!

Searching through categories can be a tedious process. Luckily, Publisher Rocket offers a feature to make the process both easier and faster. Using their program, you can simply type in a few words which describe your book, and they’ll show you dozens of relevant niche categories. Not only that, but they will also tell you how many books you need to sell in order to become a #1 bestseller, and how many to reach the top ten.

How do I email Amazon requesting extra categories?

The process is simple.

  • Click this link to go to the “Contact Us” section of your KDP account, and sign
  • Select the Option “Amazon Product Page and Expanded ”
  • In the drop-down menu, select “Update Amazon ”
  • Enter a message including your book’s ASIN and your desired Category string, such as:

Hello, can you please add my book (Title), ASIN: (ASIN) to the following category? (Category String)

 In case you don’t know what it is, here’s an example of a category string: Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Dragons & Mythical Creatures

Hit the send button and walla! You’re on your way to becoming a bestseller!

Ready to be a bestseller?

Chapter 11

Conclusion

As all good stories do, our book has come to a close. However, your story is only just beginning. The moment you click publish on your screen, you have accomplished the unimaginable. You’ve brought a new book into the world, a piece of your imagination, a legacy, which will never fade.

As you move onto the third phase of your publishing adventure, the marketing phase, there will be many ups and downs. Keep to it, believe in yourself, and you can achieve your literary dreams.

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4 thoughts on “Self Publishing – The Definitive Guide 2020”

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