Learning how to publish an ebook is simple if you understand nine key ebook publishing steps. Once you’ve thoroughly researched your ebook idea, you’ll find that writing an ebook is the toughest yet most rewarding step. Publishing your book with marketplaces and distributors, such as Amazon KDP and Smashwords, is relatively simple and straightforward.
Writing an ebook is just the start—the next step is promoting it. Authors need a website where they can showcase their ebooks. Squarespace is an affordable and easy way to build a stunning online presence. You can both promote and sell your ebooks on your Squarespace author website. Visit Squarespace today.
Here is a nine-point step-by-step guide for how to publish an ebook.
1. Select an Ebook Topic With an Audience
You probably already have a general idea for your book, but you may be torn about how to develop that idea into an actual ebook. Before writing an ebook, your first step is becoming clear about your goals and then researching your idea so you can determine if there is a sufficient audience for your ebook.
Writers publish ebooks for a handful of reasons. The first is to make money directly from ebook sales. A second reason you may want to publish an ebook is to build your professional reputation and credibility, which may indirectly enable you to make more money. In this case, your ebook is a marketing tool. A third reason people publish ebooks, particularly nonfiction ebooks, is that they feel called to teach, inform, or share their stories to help others. The goals you have for your ebook will influence how you go about conducting audience and topic research.
Your ebook goals and topic—called genre in the publishing world—will determine the type of audience you target. It’s a good idea to ensure there’s an audience interested in your subject before you put time into learning how to publish an ebook.
Use Amazon to Research Profitable Ebook Topics
Amazon is an ideal tool for conducting ebook research and, best of all, it’s free. Amazon’s Kindle marketplace represents more than 85% of the ebook market, so it provides authors with great insight into what’s selling. With a little research, you can discover hot-selling genres and subcategories, identify profitable ebook opportunities, and set your ebook up for best-selling status within niche categories.
To begin the research process, search for book topics in dozens of categories and hundreds of subcategories on Amazon. You can search for bestselling Kindle ebooks, or look at bestseller lists for all books published, even if you don’t plan on creating a physical book. When researching titles on Amazon, be sure to look at customer reviews to gain insights about what readers do and don’t like about the books they’ve read. This will help you understand your target audience better.
When performing your Kindle ebook research, make sure you don’t just look at top-level categories. You want to publish your ebook in a subcategory that still has a sufficient audience to achieve your goals, but not so much competition that it will be hard for your perfect audience to find you.
For example, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense is a top-level category on Kindle. If you select “Mystery” only within that category, you’ll see more than 50,000 ebooks listed. Carrying through with this example—as you can see in the chart below—drilling down into subcategories and themes helps you further refine where there’s a sufficient audience, but less competition.
When Researching Kindle Ebooks, Drill Down Into Subcategories
Action-packed & Humorous
How to Use Kindle Ranker for Ebook Research
Another great way to research ebook audiences and book genre sales trends is to use Kindle Ranker, a powerful tool for ebook research. This easy-to-use software helps you research the most profitable Kindle niche categories and explore book ideas. It also provides key stats, including how many best-selling titles cover the same subject, overall category sales volumes, the degree of competition there is in the category, and how many different Kindle categories might display your book.
Kindle Ranker also has “book spying” capabilities, where you can track any book on Amazon and follow its sales performance. Kindle Ranker is free to test with your first five searches, and plans range from 99 cents to $4.99 per month.
If making money is your primary reason for publishing an ebook, then performing ebook research is critical for you because you need to know what’s selling and what’s not. If you want to learn how to publish an ebook for marketing or other reasons, you’ll likely still want to research published books on Amazon, but you may not need to go as in-depth with your research.
2. Choose Helpful Tools for Writing an Ebook
There are many helpful tools for writing an ebook. Some help you reformat your Microsoft Word or Google Doc formats for publication on top marketplaces. Others help you with book research, organization, and grammar. Some tools combine many of these functions in one helpful writing app.
Popular writing tools that will help you save time include:
- Reedsy: This free, cloud-based ebook creation platform is a helpful tool for writing an ebook and converting it into the various publishing formats. You can use Reedsy to create ebooks in all three ebook formats, .mobi, .ePub, and .pdf.
- Scrivener: This writing app works on many platforms and has great organizational tools, including outlines, virtual whiteboards, research files, and built-in ebook formatting tools. The cost of Scrivener is $45 for Windows and $49 for Mac desktop versions. The optional mobile app for iPad and iPhone costs $19.99. Some writers say this tool has somewhat of a learning curve, but many writers consider Scrivener their favorite tool in their writing toolbox.
- Vellum: This popular ebook tool for Macs only features writing, organization, and formatting features comparable to Scrivener. At $199 for unlimited ebooks and $249 for unlimited ebooks and paperbacks, it’s pricey but delivers serious ebook creation tools for authors using Macs.
- Beacon: You can use this WordPress plugin to transform your blog posts into a PDF-format ebook. Free plans are available and are ideal for those wishing to create ebooks to use as marketing tools.
- ProWritingAid: This tool acts as a writing mentor, analyzing your writing and highlighting areas where improvements are recommended. Plans start at $70 per year.
- Evernote: This is not strictly an ebook writing tool, but rather a powerful tool many writers use to keep track of book plot lines and content ideas as they think of them, which is often not when an author is sitting down to write. With Evernote, you can create notes anywhere, at any time on any device, and organize those notes for later access.
- Grammarly: If you’re not confident in your grammar skills, add Grammarly to your browser, and it’ll provide you with grammar pointers nearly everywhere you write online. This free writing assistant offers a free version as well as a premium personal plan that offers more sophisticated grammar tools for as low as $11.66 per month.
As an author, you want to keep your focus on writing an ebook, not struggling with formatting or book organization. These tools can help you write and publish an ebook more quickly and easily than using tools not designed for ebook publication.
Handling Images in an Ebook
Images in ebooks can present formatting challenges. However, some of the ebook writing tools listed above, including Reedsy and Scrivener, can help you format ebooks with images properly. If your book is image-heavy like a children’s picture book or contains many charts and illustrations, the Amazon Kindle Kids Book Creator or Kindle EDU are excellent tools for creating illustrated books sold on Amazon as is Apple’s iBooks Author for books sold on Apple Books.
3. Write Your Ebook
Once you’ve settled on a topic based on ebook research and chosen the tools you want to use to create your ebook, it’s time to start writing an ebook. You may already be confident in your writing skills, but even if you are, not all writers understand the nuances required to write a clear and compelling ebook. Different writing strategies apply to different types of publications, such as fiction and nonfiction ebooks.
Fiction Story Generators for Ebook Novels
Many fiction writing websites offer story generators that offer writing ideas and prompts to get your creative juices flowing. If you can’t seem to get past, “It was a dark and stormy night … ,” try visiting Seventh Sanctum, Masterpiece Generator, and Writing Exercises. These are fun to tinker with, and you might uncover the beginnings of a best-selling romance, intrigue novel, or whodunit.
Nonfiction Business Expertise
If you’re writing an ebook covering your area of expertise, dig into what you know, but do this from the perspective of your reader. Nonfiction is a powerful business marketing tool because it gives you the chance to educate prospective clients while displaying your expertise. If you can reach your audience by discussing things that they want to know in words they understand, they will connect with you, find you credible, and want to work with you.
Another thing to consider as you write your nonfiction ebook is linking opportunities. Unlike a printed book, an ebook lets you include links to outside sources like your own website or even moneymaking affiliate links. When writing an ebook, think of ways to build links into your text naturally.
Transform Existing Content Into an Ebook
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when learning how to publish an ebook. Repurposing the content you already have, such as blog posts and articles you’ve written—as long as you own the rights to them—is a terrific way to fast-track your ebook.
Many coaches, consultants, speakers, and business professionals offer downloadable ebook versions of online blog articles, reports, and stories to their website visitors. Many tools can help convert online content into ebooks nearly instantaneously, including Designerr, where monthly plans start at $29.
How to Publish an Ebook Using a Ghostwriter
If you want to know how to publish an ebook but aren’t confident in your writing skills, you’re in luck. Not everyone with a good idea is a born writer, but there are plenty of ways for nonwriters to publish ebooks. Many successful authors employ ghostwriters and freelancers, like those listed on Fiverr, to complete ebooks based on roughed-out plots, storylines, or nonfiction outlines. If you’re nervous about writing an ebook yourself, hiring a ghostwriter could be a smart strategy for you.
Determine the Length of Your Ebook
Do not feel compelled to write a 100,000-word groundbreaking novel out of the gate. Different genres typically call for different word counts, but when it comes to ebooks, there are no rules. You can publish a work in whatever length you wish. However, it may be useful to have a target word count to give you a writing goal—and stopping point.
Here are the industry standards to use as a general guide:
- Literary fiction: 80,000 to 100,000 words
- Popular fiction: 40,000 to 80,000 words
- Kindle Short Reads: Up to 7,500 words
- Kindle Singles: Up to 30,000 words
- Novellas: 10,000 to 40,000 words
- Nonfiction: Whatever tells the story; 5,000-word short reads and 50,000-word plus works all are marketable
Some ebooks are also incredibly marketable in a series format. If you can break a long work into three or more shorter independent titles, you can publish them in a series, which means more sales and marketing opportunities for you.
If you don’t have much of an audience yet, you might want to publish an ebook as an Amazon Short Read. These popular bite-sized ebooks can be standalone books, or you can use them to offer sneak peeks into upcoming series releases or to help build your website audience and email marketing list.
For example, if you’re writing a mystery or romance, you might publish your ebook as a free or low-cost Amazon Short Read to start building a following. In the back of your book—or even subtly throughout it—you can place promotions for upcoming full-length books or other short ebooks in your series as well as enticements to visit your Squarespace author’s website.
4. Edit & Proofread Your Ebook
Once you have finished writing an ebook—congratulations, by the way—it’s time to edit and proofread your work. This can be handled in many different ways. Some writers self-edit by letting the draft “rest” for a week or longer, then reread it with fresh eyes. Others hand the entire editing task over to a friend with writing and editing talents while others employ the services of a professional editor.
Most successful authors conduct a few rounds of self-edits and then turn over their work to a seasoned editor. This ensures accuracy, clarity, and polished ebook content so you can end up with a professional-caliber final product. After the book is edited, it’s time for the first round of proofreading and corrections. There will be another round of proofreading required once the book is formatted into its final form.
Why Use Editing & Proofreading Pros
If you want to ensure that your ebook is polished and error-free, it’s important to hire editing and proofreading professionals. Writers are simply ill-equipped to find issues with unclear language and flat-out errors within their own works. You’ve just become too close to your ebook at this stage, so you need fresh sets of eyes to help you.
A professional ebook editor hired through Fiverr will cost you anywhere from $50 for a short ebook to $500-plus for a full-length novel that requires multiple rounds of edits. Editors with extensive expertise may charge several thousand dollars for a full-length novel. The expense of an editor yields results worth every penny, but not all ebooks require an editor with decades of professional publishing experience.
An experienced editor knows what the reading market expects from the type of book you’re writing, plus they spot pacing issues or inconsistencies in logic in your work. They also catch embarrassing typos and grammatical errors that invariably slip through.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can have your editor act as your proofreader. However, hiring a separate editor and proofreader better ensures your ebook will be error-free. If you can afford it, it’s best to have separate editors and proofreaders. You can hire a proofreader on Fiverr for as low as $5 per 1,000 words. You can also find freelance copy editors and proofreaders on Reedsy.
5. Design Your Ebook Cover
After you’ve finished writing an ebook, and it’s sent off for final editing, it’s time to work on your ebook cover design. Your ebook cover image is, in many cases, the only graphic that you have to communicate your story or message. To sell your ebook—or to convince someone to download your book, if that’s your goal—your ebook cover design must look professional. An amateurish cover tells potential readers that the content is likely amateurish as well.
Book covers do not have to be complicated to deliver a professional image. They just need to be crisp, clean, and easy to read. A little extra design polish doesn’t hurt, though. Your cover design conveys the essence of your book, so your cover must emit the right vibe. Below you can see examples of ebook covers for books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited’s bestseller list.
Because your ebook cover is so important to attracting sales and attention for your ebook, if you have the budget, hire a professional designer. You can find ebook cover designers on sites like Fiverr or Reedsy. On average, expect to pay as little as $5 on Fiverr to $500 for an ebook cover design.
If you’re working with a shoestring budget, you can design your own ebook cover with graphic design software that you already use, or you can try out free graphics apps. There are several different free and low-cost design tools available.
If you want to try your hand at cover design, check out these online design tools and image sources:
- PicMonkey: This easy-to-use image editing and design tool offers a free version. Premium versions are also available, ranging from $7.99 to $33.99 per month, and include premium features such as more templates and fonts.
- Canva: This top-rated cloud-based graphics and design tool offers a terrific selection of ready-to-customize ebook templates. Canva offers a free option and a premium option for $12.95 per month that gives you access to more features, such as priority support.
- Snappa: This is another popular online graphics tool with great ebook templates. A free plan is available, or you can upgrade to the $10 plan to receive premium perks, such as unlimited downloads.
- Adobe Spark: Adobe’s image editor offers a free plan, although you might want to upgrade to the $9.99 per month plan to access premium design templates.
If you’re using graphics on your cover design, especially if you intend to sell your ebook, make sure you have full legal rights to use those images. Many royalty-free images are free to use for blogs and commercial websites but require that you purchase an extended license to use on products that you plan to sell. Intellectual property rights can be a bit difficult to understand. If you’re unclear about image usage rights, contact the image owner directly or consult with an attorney on LegalZoom.
DIY vs Hiring a Professional Book Designer
If you have natural graphic design talent, creating an ebook cover design yourself is probably a no-brainer—go for it. If book cover design doesn’t come naturally to you, then give strong consideration to hiring a professional ebook cover designer. Remember that your ebook cover design can make the difference between whether some buy your book or not, so going with a professional cover design is usually worth the investment.
“The cover is one of the important marketing tools for your book, so don’t even think of designing it yourself unless you are a graphic design expert. Get a book designer. If you spend money on nothing else, spend money on a professionally designed book cover. A good book cover draws people in and provides enough intrigue that they have to buy it. I believe that books with creative graphics, attractive covers, and eye-catching fonts and colors get more sales.”
—Amanda Brown, Owner, Consumers Base
6. Format Your Ebook
With your cover art and final edited manuscript ready to go, it’s time to format your ebook and save it in the file formats needed for Amazon Kindle, other ebook distribution platforms, or downloads from your website. Before doing that, you need to set up the information typically referred to as front and back matter.
Creating Front & Back Matter for Your Ebook
There are no set standards for what to include on the front and back matter content pages. Yet, some content pieces are often used to help readers navigate your ebook as well as market your other book titles or promote your author or business website.
An ebook’s front matter typically includes:
- Title page: Includes the ebook title and author name
- Copyright page: Lists copyright statement and edition number
- Dedication: Thank your supporters and helpers here
- Other works: A list of your other works with links to learn more and purchase
- Reviews: Includes reviews by others for your ebook
- Preface: A summary or introduction to your work and why you wrote it
- Table of contents: Detailed table of contents with links; many ebook formatting tools create this for you
An ebook’s back matter typically includes:
- Your author biography: This is your spot to shine, thank your reader and share what drives you as a writer
- Endnotes or references: Bibliographies, appendices, notes, or glossaries
- A preview of your next book: Inserting a chapter of the next book, especially if writing a series can help you presell the next title
- Links to your website and social channels: Encourage your readers to follow you and learn more about your other offerings.
How you set up the front and back matter up depends on the writing and formatting tool you use. If you write your book with Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you’ll need to create this content yourself. If you use a tool like Reedsy to write your book, creating front and back material for your ebook is easy using simple built-in forms as used in the example below.
How to Format Your Ebook
You can write your book using any word processing or writing tool you want, including Google Docs and Microsoft Word. To publish your ebook, it needs to be formatted correctly for the ebook marketplaces you intend to use.
Formats for ebooks include:
- .mobi: This is the ebook file format you’ll need to publish ebooks on Amazon for Kindle.
- .ePub: This is the ebook format that all of the other ebook distributors use, including Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords.
- .pdf: This a simple ebook file format you can use to create an ebook and upload it to your website for free (or paid) user downloads. Your users can print pdfs, too, making it an excellent choice for nonfiction books used as business marketing tools
Popular word processing apps such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word don’t directly convert your text into these ebook formats. You’ll have to use ebook converters such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) ebook converters and iBooks Author to turn these documents into ebooks.
You can also convert your document into your desired ebook format using an online file converter like calibre or the Mobi Writer extension for Chrome. With these converters, you’ll be able to preview what your ebook will look like for readers, and thus, be prepared to guarantee a positive reading experience. If you write your ebook using tools like Reedsy and Scrivener, you don’t have to worry about format conversion as these tools let you save your ebook in all three ebook publishing formats.
If formatting your ebook just feels too complicated for you, be sure to check out the budget-friendly freelancers on Fiverr. Many freelancers on Fiverr offer document conversion services and ebook formatting solutions for less than $30.
7. Conduct Your Final Ebook Proof
A big mistake that many ebook authors make is believing that the formatting process worked seamlessly and resulted in a perfect, error-free ebook. This is often not the case. The formatting process can result in a few errors, typically related to spacing or incorrect format interpretations for headers, quotes, bulleted lists, and other areas within your ebook. The errors aren’t usually rampant, but it’s still wise to perform another proof to ensure your ebook looks and reads the way you intended.
There’s another reason why you’ll want to conduct one last proofread of your ebook. It’s your last chance to catch other errors that you might have missed in the previous rounds of editing and proofreading. It’s best to give your ebook one last look now. Then you’ll be confident to move on to the next step, which is publishing your ebook.
8. Publish Your Ebook
Once your ebook files are created, it’s time to upload them for sale and distribution. How you publish an ebook depends on your intended goals for your ebook.
How to Publish an Ebook for Profit
Some writers publish and sell their ebooks on their own websites, getting anywhere from $3 to $49 for a single publication, depending on the ebook’s list price. Others publish their ebooks on marketplaces that specialize in selling ebooks. These marketplaces pay you royalties per-sale, which range from 35% to 70% of the sale price, so there’s money to be made by writing an ebook that sells well.
While most ebook authors make a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each month selling ebooks, other ebook authors make thousands. Top-selling ebook authors can land juicy publishing contracts that allow them to earn well into the six figures or even seven figures every year.
To maximize your results, upload your ebook to one or more ebook marketplaces. The most popular ebook marketplaces include Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Kobo, and Nook (Barnes & Noble). Many new indie authors start with Amazon Kindle, by far the largest marketplace, and then grow from there.
You can create author accounts with each marketplace and manage the uploads yourself or use a distributor, such as Smashwords, EbookIt, or PublishDrive. Distributors take the hassle out of managing ebooks on all the various channels. A downside is they take a fee for their services, which typically ranges from 10% to 35% of the total sales price. The upside is that because your books are being published on more marketplaces, you may sell more books in the long run.
“My best advice on how to publish a book is to use the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I realize Amazon takes quite a chunk of your sales. However, you get what you pay for and that’s convenience. Uploading your manuscript to the Amazon Kindle program is easy. Its customer support is friendly, helpful, responsive, and its hours are convenient. Reading the reports lets you know your sales and how much you get paid.”
—Janice Wald, Blogger & Ebook Author, Mostly Blogging
How to Publish an Ebook as a Business Marketing Tool
Coaches, consultants, professional speakers, and business owners often use ebooks as marketing tools to create instant credibility. Writing and promoting an ebook is a common way to build your professional reputation and garner attention in your industry as being an expert in your field
You can upload a PDF file of your ebook to your Squarespace website. Once uploaded, you can feature it as a free download on your site’s sidebar and web pages. Offering your ebook as a free download in exchange for a signup to your email newsletter is a great marketing tactic for both building your email list and enhancing customer relationships. Of course, just because you’re using your ebook as a marketing tool doesn’t mean you can’t sell it too. You can also sell your ebook on your site or via Amazon or on any other ebook marketplace.
9. Market & Sell Your Ebook
Pricing and marketing your ebook for optimal profitability or impact requires strategy on your part. Thankfully, the ebook publishing world offers many pricing and marketing models from which you can learn so you can achieve your ebook publishing goals.
Pricing Your Ebook
When you upload your ebook, you’ll set a sale price. Remember, if you’re uploading your ebook on a marketplace, you’ll make a percentage of this amount each time your ebook sells. If you sell your ebook on your own website, you are not charged an additional fee. To avoid manual ebook fulfillment, you can both sell and fulfill your ebook sales automatically on your website using a plugin like Easy Digital Downloads or a digital product sales tool like SendOwl.
You’ll find that ebook authors use a wide variety of pricing strategies based on genre, topic, competition, and purpose for the ebook. You can change your ebook’s price easily so that you’re never locked into a price you set.
When publishing ebooks on marketplaces, many new authors price their new ebooks at 99 cents for the initial launch period that typically runs from 15 to 30 days. You may even want to offer your book for free to your subscriber base with a suggestion that they provide a book review in return for the favor. Positive reviews are vital to getting your ebook noticed by ebook buyers
The more people that buy your ebook when it launches, the higher it will move up on Amazon and other ebook marketplaces. This gives your ebook more visibility, which then leads to more sales, especially as the number of favorable reviews grows.
After your initial launch, you may want to raise the price of your ebook. Most ebooks sell in the $2.99 to $6.99 range, although you should do your research and make sure you know the price ranges for ebooks in your genre. As you become more well known as an author and develop a following, you’ll likely be able to raise the list price on your ebooks. If you plan to publish your ebooks in a series, a smart strategy is to price the first book low and price subsequent books somewhat higher.
Sell & Distribute Your Ebook on Top Marketplaces
To sell your ebook or distribute your ebook beyond your website, you need to upload the ebook files you’ve created to various seller marketplaces. Top ebook sales and distribution outlets different somewhat in how they work and what they pay authors per ebook sale and how they differ:
Amazon Kindle Books
Amazon pays either 35% or 70% for ebook royalties, based on the list price of your book and chosen royalty option. Amazon requires that books be uploaded in the .mobi file format. All ebooks sold on Amazon fall under the Kindle family.
There are many ways for authors to publish, market, and sell ebooks on Amazon, including KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited (KU). KDP select is a limited-time exclusive Amazon sales program that helps you jump-start your book sales and gain user reviews via free reads and other promotional perks. Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s huge library that allows subscribers to check out up to 10 titles at a time. For KU lends, authors are paid per-read, not per-sale
Apple Books pays a royalty of 70% of the list price of your ebook. To publish a book on this platform, you must submit your ebook in the ePub format. Apple Books is considered the second-largest ebook marketplace behind Amazon. Apple does not charge you anything to create an account and upload ebooks to sell on Apple Books.
When you publish your ebook with Kobo, you’ll receive a royalty between 45% to 70%, based on the list price of your ebook. Your ebook will need to be in the ePub format. Rakuten Kobo is another free online ebook publishing market that pays writers royalties for every ebook sold. Rakuten Kobo serves more than 200 countries and publishes works in many languages, so it’s considered a genuinely global ebook marketplace.
Nook: B&N Press (Barnes & Noble)
B&N Press is Barnes & Noble’s in-house Nook ebook marketing and sales platform. You’ll earn a 40% to 60% royalty for books published through B&N Press. Your ebook will need to be in the ePub format. While it’s not as big as Amazon and Kobo, Barnes & Noble has a loyal following and, again, it’s free for you to join as an author and publish ebooks that can be downloaded to B&N’s Nook ebook devices.
Use a Distributor to Sell & Publish Your Ebook
If submitting your ebook to different marketplaces seems daunting, there is another option. Many authors turn to ebook distributors, also known as aggregators, to handle all of their ebook marketplace listings, including Amazon listings. There are added costs if you opt for a distributor; fees run about 15% of the royalty payout from the marketplace where the sale occurred. Still, the convenience of streamlining all of your ebook listings and sales within one simple portal is a real time-saver.
The top ebook distributors include:
- Smashwords: On average, you’ll pay a 10% to 20% distribution fee for publishing your ebook through Smashwords, which will list your ebooks on Apple Books, Kobo, Nook, and many other smaller marketplace and independent ebook retailer sites for you.
- Draft2Digital: This solution for ebook writers helps with book formatting, publishing, and promotion. You’ll pay a 10.5% fee to distribute your ebook through Draft2Digital, which will post to top marketplaces including Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and Biblioteca.
- BookBaby: This all-in-one ebook development, publishing, and sales platform can help you sell your ebook to the world’s biggest bookstores, including Amazon, Kobo, and Apple books. BookBaby does not charge a distribution fee. Instead, it charges a flat $249 fee for ebook format conversion and distribution.
- PublishDrive: When you distribute your ebook through PublishDrive, you can reach major ebook retailers, including Amazon, Nook, Apple, Google Play Books, and Scribd. You can try out the service with one title for free, which will get you limited distribution. Subscription plans for multiple titles with full distribution start at $19.99 per month.
How to Market & Promote Your Ebook
Listing your ebook on the marketplaces is just the first step. If you want your ebook to be successful, you need to market it. Most authors use a website as their primary marketing and branding tool.
Promote & Market Your Ebook on Your Website
You can create a visually stunning author website on Squarespace for as low as $12 per month. If you’d also like to sell your ebook on your Squarespace site, you’ll need to purchase the Basic Commerce plan, which costs $26 per month.
Promote & Market Your Ebook on Social Media
Another way to promote and market your ebook is through social media. Most top authors are active on popular social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’re a business author, establishing a presence on LinkedIn is a good idea too.
You can promote your ebook through the social media channels where you already have a following. If you’re starting from scratch, most social media outlets offer paid advertising options where you can target a specific audience, including genre-specific book readers. You can experiment with ads for a few dollars a day as a jump-start to building your following.
Whether you choose to experiment with paid ads or just focus on building your current following through organic posts, try offering a gift, such as a free chapter of your ebook or a mini ebook, to get more engagement on social media and to entice people to sign up for your email list. Building an email list of interested followers allows you to contact your readers directly any time you’d like, which gives you a significant advantage when launching new ebooks.
If you want to hone your skills at promoting your ebooks, begin by learning from top authors. Start following authors you admire on their various social media channels and watch how they interact with their audiences, how they vary the content in their posts, and how they build excitement for upcoming book launches.
More Ways to Promote & Market Your Ebook
Promoting and marketing your ebook on your own website and through social media channels are the most popular way to get positive exposure for your work. There are many other promotional methods you should consider to build an audience and sales for your ebook.
Popular ways to market and promote your ebook include:
- Email marketing: Email is a proven way for authors to reach their readers. Fans love to be the first to know about sneak peeks and new releases. You can connect an email marketing service to gather addresses for email marketing to your growing fan base.
- Podcasting: Readers love to hear what you have to say. You can be a guest on writer podcasts that cover your topic or create your own podcast and promote it on your website.
- SEO for organic search: Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website rank well in the search engines. You can use good SEO on your website to attract readers looking for the topics or genres your ebooks cover.
- Paid ads: You can use Facebook ads and sponsored posts, Instagram ads, and Google Ads to get the word out about your latest ebook titles with links to purchase them.
- Book clubs and reader collectives: Local book clubs and online reading collectives like GoodReads, Reedsy Discovery, and LibraryThing let you participate in genre-specific reader communities, get the word out about your ebook, and receive reader feedback. Limited-time giveaways, free reads, and chapter previews of new works help you gain attention and new readers using these outlets.
- Press releases: Media outlets are always looking for positive news to report, so if your ebook lends itself to a wide audience, you might want to consider issuing a press release regarding your ebook.
- Appear on radio and television talk shows: Find media outlets that align with your ebook subject and contact them directly, offering to appear for an interview. This works exceptionally well for authors with deep expertise in a subject that appeals to a general audience.
When it comes to generating an audience and sales for your ebook, it pays to be creative. Use the techniques mentioned above, connect with other authors and support each other, and take every opportunity you can to spread the word about your ebook.
Pros & Cons of Publishing an Ebook
You’re reading this post because you wanted to know how to publish an ebook as opposed to publishing a physical book. There are many positives to ebooks vs physical books, especially physical books published through a traditional publishing house. However, but there are some negatives as well. You must be familiar with both the pros and cons.
Pros of Publishing Ebooks vs Physical Books
Here are the main positives of publishing an ebook vs a physical book:
- Publish faster: You can publish an ebook in a fraction of the time it takes to publish a physical book, especially if that physical book is published by a traditional publishing company.
- You’re in control: With an ebook, you’re in full control of your book’s content. No one can stop you from publishing your ebook, either.
- No printing required: The printing process for physical books can be costly and time-consuming.
- No literary agent required: When publishing a physical book through a reputable publishing house, you’ll need first to acquire a literary agent as most top publishing companies will not work directly with new authors. This isn’t necessary with an ebook.
- No book proposal required: With a traditional book publisher, you have to create an extensive book proposal that is then submitted to dozens of publishing companies. You can skip this step with an ebook.
- Most ebooks offer a price advantage: Most ebooks are priced lower than physical books, which is one reason more and more readers are opting to buy ebooks.
Without a doubt, the top pro of publishing an ebook vs a physical book is that no one can stop you from getting your ebook out into the world. If you try to publish a physical book through a publishing house, there’s no guarantee your book will get published; J.K. Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before finally getting her first Harry Potter book published.
Cons of Publishing Ebooks vs Physical Books
The main negatives to publishing an ebook rather than a physical book include:
- You won’t be a New York Times bestselling author: There isn’t a single book on the New York Times bestseller list that only comes in ebook form.
- You must do your own marketing: Physical books published through top publishing houses enjoy the expert marketing and promotional services their publishers provide.
- You miss out on book signings: When you publish a physical book, you can appear at book signings. You cannot sign an ebook.
- Some readers won’t read ebooks: Many readers still haven’t embraced ebook-reader technology, and you’ll miss out on these sales if you only publish an ebook.
While an ebook is an ideal solution in many situations, a physical book also has its advantages. That’s why many authors choose to publish their books in both ebook and physical book forms, and some publish an audio version of their book as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) About Writing an Ebook
Below you’ll find answers to the most-asked questions about how to publish an ebook. If you have additional questions, be sure to visit the Fit Small Business forum where experts are ready to answer all your questions.
How do you self-publish an ebook?
To self-publish an ebook, you begin by writing an ebook and then by formatting it in either .mobi, .ePub, or .pdf. Amazon, Apple, and B&N Press all offer tools for publishing ebooks on their platforms. Some ebook authors self-publish through distributors like Smashwords. You can also self-publish an ebook on your website.
How much does it cost to publish an ebook?
If you publish an ebook directly on popular platforms like Amazon and Apple, you’ll receive a royalty of 35% or 70% of the total sales price when your ebook sells, depending on the plan you join. If you are publishing through a distributor, you’ll pay an additional distribution fee of 10% to 25%.
How long should an ebook be to sell?
The lengths of ebooks vary greatly by genre and type of ebook. A Kindle Short Read is less than 7,500 words while a literary fiction ebook ranges from 80,000 to 100,000 words. Kindle Singles are up to 30,000 words while novellas usually range from 10,000 to 40,000 words.
How much can you make selling an ebook?
You can earn a few dollars a month selling ebooks or thousands. Bestselling ebook authors generate six-figure incomes. To make $50,000 a year with an ebook that lists for $4.99 on Amazon, where you earn a 70% royalty, you’ll need to sell about 14,300 ebooks.
Bottom Line: How to Publish an Ebook
Learning how to publish an ebook can serve many purposes. It can be a way to make money or a tool to market your professional expertise. Whatever your reason for writing an ebook, you need to research your audience, write, edit, and proofread your book, design a cover, and then publish and market it effectively.
The most important platform for marketing your ebook is your author’s website. You can create a stunning website with Squarespace using one of its award-winning templates. Get started with this intuitive, all-in-one website builder for as low as $12 per month. Visit Squarespace and take advantage of its 14-day free trial now.