How I Wrote, Published, and Sell A Book
It’s easier than ever to become a “published author” thanks to the digital world (eBooks) and self-publishing opportunities. However, there does not appear a single “best’ way to do so, and multiple avenues exist to reach the final destination. This post simply outlines the route I took to write, publish, and sell my low back pain book. I hope it helps others looking to write and publish their own literary masterpieces.
I chose to utilize Amazon’s self-publishing service (Kindle Direct Publishing) to serve as the foundation for creating and publishing my book, both digitally and hardcopy. I said it served as the “foundation” because I used the parameters needed and selected (page sizes, margins, color scheme, etc.) when creating my actual manuscript. Overall, the process of setting up the book for publishing and listing it on Amazon was fairly easy and straight forward. The most challenging (and frustrating) part was final formatting of my document to meet Amazon’s criteria for hardcopy printing (this is completed when uploading the document in the Manuscript and Book Cover sections). Amazon will kickback the submission for many issues. My most common problem with my manuscript was too narrow margins. As for the cover, it was creating the correct size (specifically the spine) for the desired page sizes and number of pages of the manuscript. These were corrected through trial and error then resubmitting. Below are screenshots from the website guiding the user through the self-publishing process.
This images shows the first of three steps to create a book. This is the details section.
The next three images are screenshots showing the content sections of the Amazon self publishing website. This includes publication details, pages sizes, cover type, manuscript upload, and cover design.
This screenshot shows the bulk of the third section of Amazon's self-publishing process which is generally pricing and royalties.
I only used Amazon to publish and sell the hardcopy of my book. I opted to not format my document to meet the criteria needed for Kindle digital publishing. I initiated the process but considered the effort was not worth it. Instead, I added the front and back cover to the PDF manuscript and created a new document that served as my digital eBook. The creation process was much easier and, by selling through my website directly, I improved my profit margins per sale instead of selling through Amazon’s Kindle store.
Kindle Direct Publishing: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
Manuscript and Cover Creation:
Though many self-publishers use word processing software like Microsoft Word to create their manuscripts, I opted to use PowerPoint instead. I did so because I knew my book was going to contain a lot of pictures, and I felt using PowerPoint allowed me to visually view each page better and manipulate the content easier. Once I selected the page size I wanted for my hardcopy on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing website, I simply resized my PowerPoint slides to be that size. From here, I simply went page-by-page to create my content, adding text boxes for the narrative sections and captions. PowerPoint allowed me to easily edit, crop, and resize the photos as needed. The biggest downside to this process was that the text did not simply flow from one page to the next when typing. I would have to stop typing (or copy and paste extra text) and create a new text box on the next page (slide).
The diagrams and illustrations used in the book are originals I created using PowerPoint. After grouping all the design elements, I simply saved each illustration as a picture. The pictures of me performing exercises and stretches are obviously original, as well. I actually videoed every exercise and stretch so I can later upload onto YouTube and link in the book. I used my iPhone to take the videos and used the Splice video editing app to edit and trim each video. I took screenshots on my iPhone of certain paused moments of each exercise and stretch that I then used for the book. I edited these screenshots using the simple picture editing features in PowerPoint. The other photos I used were free stock photos from Canva (using my basic free account, www.canva.com) and stock photo websites like Unsplash (www.unsplash.com).
I created the front cover using the Canva website. They actually had an option for eBook cover creation. I simply selected an appropriate image and modified a template to fit my needs. I saved the final version then uploaded that into a separate PowerPoint file to adjust the size to fit my selected book size. For hardcopy publishing, I had to create one file/imagine that included the front and back covers along with the spine. Once completed, that documented was converted into a PDF file and submitted for publishing. See below for a screenshot of my cover file.
For the hardcopy, since I created the book through Amazon’s self-publishing website, I listed the book for sale on Amazon once it met their publishing criteria. Based on the page sizes, number of pages, color scheme, and finish, Amazon determines a printing cost (for my book, it is about $9). To make a profit, Amazon collects a royalty based on percentage of sale price. For my book, their royalty is an additional 24%. Basically, for every book I sell for $24.99, Amazon takes 60% (about $15) for printing costs and royalty fees.
On Amazon, a hardcopy of my book is listed here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089TWN611
Amazon does allow the author to purchase “author copies” at the cost of printing plus taxes and shipping. This allows the author to sell the hardcopies and retain all the profits. For example, Vertex PT Specialists purchases the author copies at about $11 per book. We then sell them in the clinic for $20 each. The $9 difference is all pocketed as profit. There is no minimal or maximum number of books that can be ordered. Unfortunately, with author copy orders, there is generally a three-week waiting period before books are actually delivered (when books are bought by customers on Amazon, the delivery is within one week).
As for the eBook version, I listed that solely on my own personal brand website (www.drpatcasey.com). I use Wix (www.wix.com) for my website management (I design and modify the website personally), and their platform includes a marketplace addon which allows me to 1) link the Amazon marketplace for the hardcopy version, and 2) sell my eBook version through a downloadable link once the purchase is completed. I list the eBook version for $19.99. Wix takes a minor cut for transaction fees, but over 90% of the sale is my profit. Below is an screenshot of my website selling both the digital and hardcopies. Clicking on the hardcopy link takes the customer to the Amazon page.
Alright, I think that is about it. I believe I covered all the major aspects of how I wrote, published, and sell my low back pain hardcopy and eBook. I know there are a plethora of other options out there to get the author to the same final destination; however, available information is vague, and I wanted to outline my journey. I hope this helps anyone considering doing the same. Writing a book and holding a hardcopy of it is truly an amazing feeling, and it’s certainly worth the time and effort!
Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions about my publishing experience.