Now you’ve got your story edited and nicely polished, it’s time to get it ready for publishing.

The first thing to do is to format it. This will be mostly the same whatever bookseller you’re using, but be sure to check before you publish!

You can do the formatting yourself if you’re somewhat computer savvy (and patient!). Alternatively, you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you’re doing it yourself, a great resource to use is the FREE guide to eBook formatting from Guido Henkel. It’s absolutely invaluable. And if you’re publishing with Smashwords, make sure to check out the Smashwords Style Guide. While this is written specifically for them, it’s full of great advice for formatting, period.

The main things to remember are:

  • There should be no spaces between paragraphs
  • Indent the first line of your paragraph
  • Use an easy-to-read font. A serif font is usually easier for most people to read (eg Times New Roman)
  • Don’t forget the front matter (title page, copyright page)
  • And don’t forget back matter (things like where your readers can find you elsewhere online)

If you prefer to pay someone to do it for you, there are plenty of options out there. I’ve only ever done my own formatting so I don’t have any to recommend. As with any service like this, make sure to check out feedback.

The next step is to choose a cover. If you know what you’re doing, you can go ahead and do it yourself, BUT remember that your cover is the single most important piece of marketing for your book. If your cover looks amateur, it doesn’t matter how great your writing is, people aren’t going to pick it up.

For a low-cost, high-quality cover, may I suggest The Book Cover Store? That’s my own site, so yes, that’s a blatant bit of marketing for me 😀 There’s a wide variety of pre-made covers on there to choose from, and if you can’t find what you want, you can order a custom cover.

If you prefer to do your own cover, remember to try and make it look as professional as possible. Your cover really is so important. If you’re wanting to keep costs down, you can use free image editors like Paint.net and GIMP. Free fonts can be found at dafont and Font Squirrel. If you’re wanting an image on your cover, cheap stock photos can be found on Can Stock and Shutterstock, and you can even find free stock images on morgueFile. However, with all of these, fonts and photos, be very careful to read the licensing, to make sure that you can use them for commercial use. Some may require that you include a link to their websites; some might be free use. Just make sure you have the rights to use them in the way you’re planning, as otherwise you might find yourself in legal hot water.

And that’s it! Congratulations, now you’re ready to publish!

You can breathe a sigh of relief… Until you remember that now you have to market your book.  The work of a self-published writer is never done.

Seriously – you’ve done an awesome job, and you should be proud of yourself. Good luck!

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