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Truston Ailende

Teacher, Author, Game Developer and Engineer

How to Become a Self Published Author in Nigeria

January 5th, 2018 | by Truston Ailende | Posted in Make Money Online
How to Create Digital Products using Free Tools

This will be my first blog post for the year 2018. The above image is the cover image of my fourth book “How to Create Digital Products using Free Tools”. You can get it if you sign up for my newsletter.

The ultimate dream of every writer is to get published. This blog post will cover how to become a self-published author in Nigeria. I consider it a summary of all the things I wished I known when I started on the journey of self-publishing.

I strongly support self-publishing because publishers in Nigeria don’t treat writers with respect and dignity. I haven’t tried OkadaBooks so this blog post will focus on my journey to publishing on Amazon.

As the year begins, I hope this blog post will be a guide to help you on your journey to publishing your book this year.

The entire process of self-publishing can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Idea
  2. Creation
  3. Editing
  4. Formatting
  5. Publication
  6. Distribution
  7. Marketing

Idea

When I started the series that would culminate in my first book in 2016, I had no idea the series would become an eBook.

However as the series progressed and I received feedback from others, it dawned on me that I could publish the series of post as an eBook and thus began the journey.

I remember scouring the internet for guidance. Thankfully, Blogerian was helpful in this regard. Reading his guide and following his instructions led to my first self-published book.

His process of creating an eBook is no longer possible because Mobipocket was swallowed up by Amazon and Mobipocket Creator discontinued.

However, I will forever be grateful to that guide for helping me get started. I used his method to create my first two eBooks.

Four books later, my process for creating books is different.

Still the first step in the entire process is to come up with the idea for the book that I want to write.

In this step, I give the book a title. I am an engineer by training so I write non-fiction books that are focused on technology. If you write for fiction, titling your book might be a bit difficult. Take heart in the fact that textbooks don’t become bestsellers.

Once I have a book title, the next thing I do is create the book cover. I use Amazon Cover Creator to design my book covers. It is a simple and powerful tool for creating professional book covers.

A dear friend of mine says this often: “Where there is vision, there will be provision”. Having a book cover to look at forces me to write my book.

To create a book cover, I simply search the internet for a royalty free image and use the Amazon Cover Creator to add the text. I try to find a suitable font that matches the theme of the book and I preview my cover design. During the preview, I ask for feedback from friends and then my cover is completed.

To use the Amazon Cover Creator, you must sign up for an account on Amazon KDP and create an entry for your book. In the second page, you will see where you are to launch the Amazon Cover Creator.

I repeat that this is after I had already published two books. For your first run, just take your time and do whatever works for you. Eventually you will get your own workflow.

Creation

With the cover ready, I begin writing the book. My goal with writing a book is to create a quality book. I strive to be meticulous in my writing and this shows in the quality of the books I publish.

Here any word processor will do the job. You could use Microsoft Word/Libre Office/WPS Office for this purpose. The goal with this stage is to finish the first draft.

The key to creation is to block out time from your calendar. You simply have to decide on a writing schedule.

I wake up at 4.30 am everyday and meditate till 5 am then I proceed to handle my most important task from 5 – 6 am before I start preparing to go out.

If during the time period in question my most important task is writing a book, I ensure that I write the book every morning without fail.

I might get bonus time to work on the book but I always ensure that I don’t miss the morning shift.

The beauty of this consistency is that gradually the book takes shape and I know eventually it would be finished.

Editing

This is how we introduce quality control into our books. If you can afford it, please hire an editor. A fresh pair of eyes will help you pick out flaws in your writing.

Editing requires “Presence of Mind” which you might not have for your own work. If you have to edit your work, your eyes tend to glaze over as your brain is familar with the material.

If you can afford one, please hire an editor. If you can’t please, ensure that you close your book after you finish writing and let it simmer for a while.

Once you have left your book for a while, change the format and read your book again. For my first book, I read my blog posts and made changes to the HTML files that I created for the book.

Formatting

This is how a book is prepared for conversion to an eBook format. This step is important because it determines the appearance of your book.

The standard eBook formats are ePUB and Mobi. PDF is not considered an eBook format. To be considered an eBook format, the contents of the books must be reflowable. This means that they adjust for changes in the width, height and orientation of the viewing device.

If you have created your book using Microsoft Word, you can typeset your book and upload it to Amazon for conversion. Amazon will convert your manuscript for you.

To typeset your book using Microsoft Word you need to read the guide on how to do this. If you need to read further, this book will help you.

With the Blogerian method, you would need to use Mobipocket Creator. Sadly, that software is gone. With my first book, I didn’t follow the Blogerian method exactly.

The Blogerian method involves writing your book in Microsoft Word and converting it into HTML from Microsoft Word. Then you use the Mobipocket Creator to convert it into the mobi format.

For my first book, I created the HTML files myself and converted the book to the mobi format using Mobipocket Creator. I did this because of the control that creating the HTML gave me.

With Mobipocket Creator gone, my third book was an experiment in using Sigil. I manually converted the manuscript for my book into HTML and Sigil created the ePUB file for me.

Sigil outputs an ePUB that is acceptable by Amazon. The only drawback is that you have to learn HTML.

HTML is a markup language used to structure webpages. A knowledge of HTML will help you format your book using Sigil. You can use Sigil without knowing HTML but that would be limiting yourself.

This method of formatting also provides me the opportunity to edit my work and correct errors.

I believe in learning how to use both hands so I will encourage you to learn HTML. A good starting point for learning HTML is the W3Schools website.

If you decide not to learn HTML, consider taking this course from Udemy which shows you how to format your Microsoft Word document to Amazon specifications.

A word on meat grinders. A meat grinder is an application that converts file formats. A popular example is Zamzar.

Personally, I don’t recommend meat grinders because of loss of control of the final output of your book. However, if I wanted to convert an ePUB to a PDF file, I would use Ebook2PDF.

Ebook2PDF has the best output for an ePUB file. I tried out Zamzar and the output wasn’ satifactory.

When I give out my fourth book to my newsletter subscribers, I send out all 3 book formats. However, I only created the ePUB. You could subscribe to my newsletter to see the differences.

To create the Kindle version, I used the Amazon Kindle Previewer. Ebook2PDF was used to create the PDF version.

Publication

This is where you send out your book to the world. In this step you place your book in a selected store of your choice. For me I choose to publish my books using the Amazon platform.

The first step in this process is to create an Amazon KDP account.

Once you are done with creating your account, you create a new entry for your book and you upload your book files.

After a period of 48 hours, you will receive an email confirming that your book has been published.

If you use Sigil, this process is seamless. This is because Sigil converts books to ePUB.

However, you can upload a Microsoft Word document you just have to learn how to format the document properly for the Amazon system to create an eBook for you.

Amazon provides a detailed guide on how to do this. You can buy this book for a through breakdown of the guide. If you prefer video, you can sign up for this Udemy course.

A book cannot be published without a cover. If you need to create a simple cover, you could use the Amazon Cover Creator for that purpose.

Another great tool for cover creation is Canva.

The requirement for a great cover is that it should be simple and beautiful. Simple because you want something that looks great as a thumbnail. Beautiful because you want to evoke a feeling in your potential buyers.

Do remember to ensure to preview your book as a thumbnail. This is how your potential buyers will first see your book.

Distribution
In this phase, you share your book with the world. This means you provide an opportunity for people to get access to your book.

This happens after the publication of your book has been approved.

Today in Nigeria, you can buy and sell books on the Amazon platform. Using Amazon gives you access to a large collection of people.

A local version of Amazon is OkadaBooks. I have no experience with OkadaBooks.

Once you get to this point, you are a self-published author. The remaining issues to consider are: Marketing and Getting Paid in Nigeria.

Marketing
This is how you spread the word on your book. My own advice would be that you build your author platform.

Your author platform is a place on the web from which you can reach your audience, promote and sell your current or future products.

This includes your website, social media, Author Central, GoodReads and any other method through which you can draw a spotlight on your work.

This is important because this is how you let the world know about your book.

This site is my own author platform. I designed, developed and deployed it all myself.

If you aren’t technical, you should consider getting a developer to do this for you.

However, I will say that the process of developing one yourself isn’t hard. With a bit of effort, you can learn how to do it yourself.

Collecting Royalties
This is the time for harvest. All the months you have spent writing and marketing your book have started to pay off. Now its time to smile to the bank.

With the well earned reputation of Nigerians online, a lot of merchants refuse to do anything with Nigerians.

Thankfully, Payoneer is different. Payoneer is an equivalent of PayPal. Unlike PayPal, they are open to doing business with everyone.

They are a great service to collect your royalties online. All you need to do is sign up for Payoneer by following this link.

To register, you will need to have your identity verified. The documents required are pretty standard. You should have no trouble here.

Once your Payoneer registration is completed, you hook up your Amazon account to send the money to your Payoneer account. This tutorial will show you how.

Conclusion

As the year opens up, I hope that this guide has shown you how to self-publish your books even if you are based in Nigeria.

The feeling of joy that comes over you as an author when you see your book published is like that of welcoming a new child into the world.

I hope this guide has helped you demystify the process of self-publishing.

Go forth and write.


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