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How to Self-Publish Your Book Like a Pro Your First Time Around

Covering your bases before self-publishing
Dave Chesson
April 15, 2020

It's probably been a long road for you up until this point. Congratulations, you're ready to publish your book. Now, you just need to do it the right way and before you put any money into marketing.

I'm sure you want to publish your book and look professional doing it--every published book is a reflection of your author brand, after all. The truth is, there are a lot of pro hacks self-publishers pick up as they navigate the world of indie authorship.

In this article, we'll go over six different ways you can self-publish your book like a pro.

1) Make Sure Your Book Is Edited

There are a few things that'll instantly make you look like an amateur, and a poorly edited book is one of them.

At the end of the day, no first manuscript is perfect--everyone relies on editing to some degree. So make sure you get your work checked. It can be hard to edit your own work. You probably find that you don't pick up on mistakes when you read your work back to yourself.

Instead of simply skimming over your work and hoping for the best, here are a few ways to get your book properly edited:

Hire a professional: If you want the best result for your editing, pay a professional to do it.
Read your work aloud: If I do have to self-edit, I read my work aloud. It's a whole lot easier to pick up on mistakes this way.
Have someone else read your work to you: In a similar way to the last point, if you can convince someone to read your work for you, that's perfect. Or, you can even use your computer's text-to-speech app to read your work for you.
2) Create an Amazing Cover That Fits Your Genre

Your book cover is the first impression a potential reader gets about your story. So, you'd better make sure that your cover accurately portrays your book and its genre.

When potential readers visit Amazon looking for a book, they're mostly looking for books that suit genres they already read. Your book needs to stand out, but look familiar to them. For example, here's a list of Humorous Sci-Fi books that are selling well.

The first book on the list is clearly different from the others. However, at the time of writing, that book was a new release. So, it was potentially pushed up the charts with strong initial promotion and some ad-spend. Every other book on the list follows a specific trend though. Largely, the other books have a central character that is the cover's focus, along with strong color combinations--usually a black or gray, with a contrasting bright color.

When you're publishing your book, you need to check out what book covers are selling in your genre and try to find elements that you can use. You should be looking at the cover layout, color schemes, fonts used, and the use of characters.

3) Write a Book Description That Sells

Along with an eye-catching cover, to release a professional-looking book you'll need a great book description for your sales page. Many rookie authors are so excited to hit publish on their book that they don't think about this part too much. And writing a great description is hard too.

The fact is, a good book description will greatly increase your conversion rate. It's a make-or-break factor for your advertising campaigns down the line.

As an author, I strongly recommend you read Bryan Cohen's book, How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis. Here is a basic run-down of a template you can use to write your book descriptions.

A tagline or hook: You need something to get the potential reader interested. This is like a headline to an article. A hook is more important than ever now that Amazon sales pages only show the first few lines of a book description before showing a 'read more' link.
A short synopsis: Give a super-short book summary that only covers the main characters, their emotional motivations and the stakes of the story.
A selling paragraph: Use power words and sales techniques to tell potential readers how awesome your book is.
A call-to-action or 'CTA.': A call to action to finish and get readers to click the buy button.

Here is a great example of that template in action:

You probably noticed that the image above has some simple text features like underlining and bold text. Amazon lets you use basic HTML to format your book description--you're able to change the text size, use italics, underline, bold and more. If you don't know how to use HTML, you can use my free tool to do all the coding for you.

4) Ensure Your Book Is in As Many Categories As Possible

When you first publish your book, you're allowed to select three basic categories to be ranked in. Even though there are over 16,000 categories, you're only shown a small selection to choose from.

But, did you know you can actually publish your book in up to 10 categories?

All you need to do is find the categories you want to rank in and send Amazon an email requesting to be placed in them.

When finding extra categories, look through the Kindle Store and find any categories and subcategories that suit your book. Or, to make sure you find the best possible category, you can use a tool like my Publisher Rocket to browse all the available categories with a few clicks.

When you've got your list of 10 categories, follow these steps:

Visit the help/contact page in Author Central and sign in to your KDP account.
Go to 'Select an issue' and choose 'My Books.'
Click the option to 'Update information about a book.'
Select 'Browse Categories' in the field that appears.
Click the 'I want to update my book's browse categories' option.
From there, you can either call or email in and ask to change your book's categories. In this email, you can add up to 10 categories.

Remember, you must include category strands in your email. So, rather than just saying you want to enter your book in the 'Flowers & Plants' category, you'll need to relay the complete category strand:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > Science, Nature & How It Works > Nature > Flowers & Plants

You also must include your book's ASIN in the email so Amazon knows which book you want to place in these categories.

5) Write Your Next Book!

The best way to cement yourself as a pro author is to keep writing more books.

Funny, with all the talk you'll see about AMS, Facebook ads, newsletter swaps and everything else, there's no alternative to writing the next book in the series.

Every person who clicks through from an ad and doesn't buy anything costs you money when you have just one book. On the other hand, the flow-on effect of having multiple books in the series is huge. Some people who read book one will read book two and some of those readers will funnel through your entire series.

What can start as a profit of around a dollar or two for one book can sometimes quickly turn into earning six or seven dollars. The best part is, those who go on to read book two won't click on your books from an advertisement. Instead, they'll search for your next book themselves.

Final Thoughts

Follow these six steps to make sure your books are published professionally, and keep writing. Don't stop. Don't give up! You've got this.

About the author: Dave Chesson is the creator of, a website devoted to teaching advanced book Marketing which even Amazon KDP acknowledge as one of the best by telling users to “Gain insight from Kindlepreneur on how you can optimize marketing for your books.” Having worked with such authors as Orson Scott Card, Ted Dekker and more, his tactics help both Fiction and Nonfiction authors of all levels get their books discovered by the right readers.

Photo by Rumman Amin on Unsplash