Welcome to the second part of my self-published author's process blog post. This part is more lengthy than the first part, published two weeks ago, because it contains the publishing piece.
Request or Assign ISBN's and Barcode
You can get a free ISBN if you're self-publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing or IngramSpark, but you'll be restricted to distributing only through them. With that being said, I purchase my own ISBNs and barcodes through Bowker Identifier Services so I can publish through as many avenues as possible. You will need an ISBN assigned for each version you publish. If you plan on publishing a hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio book, you will need to purchase 4 ISBNs and two barcodes. You need a barcode for physical books (i.e. hardcover and paperback). You can purchase one ISBN for $125.00 or you can purchase a bundle of 10 for $295.00, which is only $29.50 each. They have multiple bundles to choose from. I did the bundle of 10 ISBNs plus 1 barcode for $320.00 and I only publish paperback and ebook so I only need to purchase barcodes for the next 4 books I publish.
Design Cover and Interior (Paperback and eBook)
I would not recommend designing your own cover and interior unless you have experience in doing so. The cover is the first thing people are going to see. It needs to be perfect, and it needs to stand out. There are routes you can take with the cover. You can hire someone to do the artwork by going to Reedsy or Flickr. There are several websites where you can find an artist. Remember to credit the artist on your copyright page. There are also several websites where you can purchase a pre-made cover, which is what I did. Be careful because they might use stock photos which can only be used a certain number of times. My covers have come from BookCoverZone and they give me the artist name if I request it. I've been pretty lucky in my covers. I use IngramSpark's BookBuilder Tool to format the interior of my book and upload the pages in the trim size I need. Then I export it as a PDF for later upload to Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) once it's ready to publish.
Send to Readers' Favorite for Review
I use Readers' Favorites to get professional reviews. I pay for the express reviews, which is about 3-weeks for 3 guaranteed reviews. The reviewers will rate you on categories such as characters, marketability, plot, etc, and give you an overall from 1 to 5 stars. If you receive a 5-star review, you get an emblem to put on your book cover and/or interior along with your reviews. These are your reviews to do with so you can put them in your book, the outside cover of your book, online, on sell sheets, wherever you see fit to put them. They are important. The cost is currently $129 for the express reviews. You can also opt for free reviews, but they aren't guaranteed. Reedsy offers a review option for $50, but those reviews may not be guaranteed.
Final Proofread (while in Review)
This will be new to me this time around. While the book is in professional review, I'll proofread and I have someone else proofread at the same time to ensure there are no errors. I definitely don't want another repeat.
Finalize Cover and Interior
Once the reviews come back, I finalize my cover and hopefully have a 5-star emblem to add. I will post the reviews in the interior. I haven't started adding a review to the front or back cover yet, but it might be something I consider soon.
Upload to KDP and IngramSpark
Uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark is relatively easy, but it is time consuming. I would not recommend multi-tasking while you do this. With both, you will enter your title, ISBN, metadata, pricing, upload your manuscript (final formatted interior) and your cover. For KDP you will do the process for each type of publication. I do the paperback first, then I do the ebook. IngramSpark is all together and it should already be in there if you use the book builder tool. You just have to go through it again to make sure everything looks right before you approve. Be sure that "expanded distribution" is unchecked for both. You need a PDF file to load for the cover, both for the paperback (front, spine, and back) and the ebook (front only). For the interior, KDP will be an EPUB file which you will get from IngramSpark if you use the book builder tool. If you didn't, you can use Draft2Digital to reformat your interior into an EPUB format.
Order Author Proof
It takes up to 24 hours to get the email from KDP and IngramSpark accepting (or not) your book. I had a minor issue with KDP on my logo, which is why it's absent from the spine on my first book run. It was taking too long to get it to fit within the template safe zones, and I moved on. I think I got it this time, though. IngramSpark, I had an issue with my 5-star emblem and had to adjust the resolution. Finally, when they were both ready, and I received the emails, I ordered my author proof from Amazon. This is a copy of your book (at your cost plus shipping, which was about $9.50), for you to review to make sure everything looks as it should. I used this proof to read through the book to catch any additional errors or mistakes. However, some errors and mistakes sneaked through, which are fixed now.
Order Author Copies
Once you're satisfied with the proof, you can order your author copies. You can get them at author cost, which is currently $5.26 per copy plus tax plus shipping through KDP. I use the author copies for online sales (if you have a website) and events like book launches, and craft and book fairs. If you publish through KDP and IngramSpark, copies are slightly cheaper through Amazon than IngramSpark. I ordered some from IngramSpark just to see the quality of them, but I ordered the majority from Amazon.
Update website and social media
Once you send your book to Readers' Favorite reviews, you can update your website and social media with the pre-order release date.
Order Marketing Materials
I order bookmarks for my business cards, sell sheets to send to bookstores, and a tabletop sign for events with a rounded up price to include tax. I used Vistaprint for everything, but my bookmarks were not consistent when I had to reorder. So, I'm going to try a similarly priced alternative. The sell sheets and tabletop sign was cheaper with Vistaprint and I'll continue to use them for my other materials.
Apply for Copyright Registration
Once you have your book in hand (not the author proof, which is marked as Not for Resale), you can apply for your copyright. The copyright offices have an option to upload your book instead of mailing it in, along with the $45 copyright fee. I mailed my first book in, but I might do the upload for the next one. It will save me the cost of the printed copy doing it that way, at least.
In closing, I hope you've enjoyed learning about my process and I encourage you to reach out and ask questions. I don't expect people to follow the same process that I follow, but if you have questions about anything I've done, please let me know. Helping you will make me happy! I can't promise I have all the answers, only having been through this one full process and about a half a process with my second novel. I've had stumbles I've learned from, and there is still much to learn!