4 Things That Can Turn Students into Authors and Self-Publishers

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via: pocketmeta.com

Not so long ago, the hard part about publishing a book wasn’t writing it—it was getting it published. The process involved writing sample chapters, book proposals, contacting agents, submitting to publishing companies, and facing constant rejection. Too often, aspiring writers would just give up.

But things are a little different now, thanks to companies like Amazon. Authors, turned self-publishers, can now publish print or eBooks on their own, which helps teachers inspire student writers. The process is simple and by eliminating the book proposals, agents, and publishing companies, an author can focus their energy on creating a quality product.

Knowing the target audience can help student authors turn their words into a paycheck.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and KDP Select

Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s digital publishing service. It allows authors to publish their books in digital format and sell it on Amazon around the world. Authors can upload their files for free and follow the straightforward instructions to create their very own eBook.  Writers earn a 35% or 70% commission, depending on the list price ($2.99-$9.99 for the 70% commission). Authors can also opt for Amazon’s KDP Select option.  KDP Select offers a stronger marketing platform, higher commissions, and allows eBooks to be part of the lending library for Amazon Prime members.

Print Editions

Would-be authors interested in self-publishing print editions of their book encountered many challenges before the self-publishing revolution. First, they faced an expensive upfront charge for printing copies of their book, without knowing how well their book would sell.  There was also the problem of inventory: right after publishing, those books had to be stored somewhere, which could become a logistical nightmare and might mean an additional expense. Then there were further logistical hurdles like shipping and accounting.

Now it’s easier thanks to the advancement of self-publishing services.  Amazon’s Create Space, for example, makes the process cost-effective and very simple. They print on-demand and they handle the shipping. Amazon simply tells the author how much it costs to produce the book and, based on that, the author decides the selling price. Amazon deducts their production costs from each sale and keeps the money charged to the customer for shipping. The author simply collects royalties as the book sells. There are also a number of other great companies that specialize in publishing both eBooks and print editions.  Writers can find great information on publishing at issuu, bookbaby, and Lulu.


Writing a book is one thing; getting it to sell is quite another. It’s not enough to simply write an eBook and put it on Amazon. Writers will still be much more successful with a good marketing strategy. One of the best things about using Amazon is that it allows authors to sell their product on other platforms, like the iTunes store. That’s also where companies like gumroad, bookbub.com, and bookgorilla, can be extremely useful. They have a large audience looking for eBooks and can be wonderful promotion and sales tools.

Writers can build hype around their product by offering it for free or with a discount for a limited-time.  Using a cross-platform sales approach means the author can cast a wider net and increase sales.

Genre is also huge when it comes to making a profit.  Some genres are just more popular than others and they make more money because of it. Knowing which genres are lucrative can help young writers focus their efforts in the right places.  Writers who write in less popular genres can still be successful but they might have an uphill battle when it comes to sales and promotion. Knowing the target audience can help student authors turn their words into a paycheck.

As more authors become self-publishers, they are also experiencing a new freedom to design their products to their own specifications. This means they have more control over things like cover art.  Taking the time to design a quality product that is free of formatting errors and that looks professional can be a great sales strategy. The popular adage that “You can’t judge a book by its cover” might be true, but you can increase sales based on that cover.

Good Writing

Finally, one of the greatest sales tools in an author’s arsenal is the ability to put together a good piece of writing. This may sound obvious, but good writing is still very important for sparking the reader’s interest. Power marketing will only get you so far.

Readers instinctively know bad writing. Even if they make it to the end of poorly written book, they probably won’t recommend it to their friends. The new era of self-publishers means young authors don’t have to spend so much of their time and energy trying to get past the gatekeepers of the publishing industry.

Instead they can (and should!) focus their energy on the important task of writing something worth reading.

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Brilliant or Insane contributor Forrest Miller is a writer and an educator, specializing in ESL. He is from Oregon, currently living and teaching in China.

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