Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to publish your own book as a hardcover or ebook

A couple weeks ago I published a post with the suggestion to write a story for a child for the holidays.

This year for Christmas I wrote stories for my two older kids. It was a real thrill to watch them open these presents and get excited about a book written for them.

For my daughter I wrote a book about a trip we took that included many family photographs as well as some pictures I got off the Internet. This book I created using Shutterfly, which has improved its online tool since I last made a book a couple years ago.

The other book, for my son who is older, was a longer work, about 23,000 words with no pictures. I published it on a site called, where I was able to get a nicely bound hardcover. They even gave me a coupon for $15 off the cost of the first copy, so I could have had a bound copy for about $8 plus shipping. I also published an ebook version, just to see what it takes to do that. You can download a free ebook version of the book by clicking here or by copying and pasting this link into your browser:

How to publish your own book:
I was surprised at how easy it was to publish a book, and wanted to share the steps I followed with to produce a hardcover and ebook version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

1) First, you need to write the book, of course. You can write it in any word processing program that you want. I used Word. If you are going to have images, then you need to embed images in the document itself. If you are going to just produce an ebook, there aren't limits on the size of your book, that I am aware of at least. If you are going to produce a hardcover book, then it needs to be at least 110 pages. My book was just barely long enough.

2) Sign up and create an account on

3) Decide on the size of the hardcover book you want to create. I chose the 6"x9" version - a standard size for hardcovers. Then I downloaded a Word template from that was set up for that. I could have used my own template, but the template had the margins just right, and had the page numbers in the right place.

4) Copy and paste your book's text into the template. (I wouldn't find their template very convenient to write a book in, but you could if you wanted to.)

5) Create a table of contents page. You don't need to do any fancy formatting if you are going to just produce a hardcover. If you want to produce an ebook, you need to find the Chapter titles of each chapter, and highlight those in Headline 1 format, so the ebook reader will be able to create a hyperlinked table of contents.

6) Create a copyright page. gives you an example. They also give you an ISBN, which you are supposed to include on the copyright page.

7) Upload your document to The website converts it into a pdf for you and gets it printer-ready.

8) Create a cover for your book. You can design your own cover from scratch, or use's design tool, which lets you upload photos. I used their tool.

9) Write the "publisher's description" of your book, and follow a few more simple instructions, and you are done.

If you are publishing an ebook, it becomes available on immediately. If you are publishing a hardcover book, it will take about 10 days to get your book in the mail if you chose expedited shipping. My books aren't available on yet, but says that it takes about 6-8 weeks, since updates their inventory only monthly.

Through the site, I'm not sure exactly how to get the ebook onto a Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, so I haven't been able to test it. I did successfully download the book onto an iPad, though.

Pricing: lets you set your own pricing for your hardcover book. They have a minimum cost that depends on the type of binding and the number of pages. My book, for example, with a hardcover and 110 pages and a color cover, had a minimum fixed cost of about $23. You can set your own royalty, and just adds the royalty plus some margin to that minimum fixed cost.

For the ebook, you can choose to make the price equal to zero. I was worried that I might have to pay something, but the whole process was free to me. So if all you care about is getting your work read, and you aren't trying to make money off it, you can publish an ebook for free and your readers can download the book for free. If you choose to charge something for the ebook, then takes a cut of the price.

I was very happy with as a platform for getting a hardcover book printed at a relatively modest cost. I expect there are plenty of other services that are just as good and easy to use. Given that gives you $15 off the first copy of your book, even if you produce a hardcover, it will cost less than $20 including shipping.

Now that I know how easy it is to publish an ebook, I have a few other writing projects in mind. Next time, I might see if there is another platform that can get the book listed on Amazon more quickly.

Here is a copy of the hardcover version of The Storyteller's Tollbooth:

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

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