How to Self-Publish Your Book: Primer for First Timers

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Learn to navigate the service landscape and avoid spending what you can’t earn back

Many thousands of authors self-publish every year, often with the help of a publishing service. These services can cost thousands of dollars (even $100k!), but it’s rare that authors earn enough money through book sales to cover their upfront costs.

Self-publishing doesn’t have to be expensive to be high quality. It’s now possible for any author, at low- or no-cost, to publish and distribute their work—to every important online retailer and library—at the click of a button. But you have to know how to sift through the increasing number of services and distributors (and hybrid options) and identify which ones are essential for your project.

In this 90-minute webinar on August 25, 2021, publishing expert Jane Friedman covers everything you need to know about the self-publishing landscape, in plain English. You’ll come away with a clear picture of how the major retailers, distributors and service companies work, and learn the best practices of professional, self-publishing authors.

This class will teach you:

  • The key distributors and platforms for self-publishing authors, including what the professional indie authors use
  • The economics of using services such as Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, and others
  • How much money you can expect to spend to produce a good-quality book (print or digital)
  • Cost-effective tools for creating your own print book and ebook files
  • How to hire professional freelance help that won’t break the bank
  • The basics of creating and distributing audiobooks
  • The most common marketing and promotion strategies used by self-publishing authors
  • The critical sales differences between self-published books and traditionally published books—and how this affects your entire marketing strategy

You’ll not only get answers to these questions, but also an unbiased look at the self-publishing scene, including when you should do it, and—if you do—how to be effective in your efforts, without damaging your credibility or investing more money than you should.

While self-publishing doesn’t equal instant success, you’ll learn the principles behind the successful creation and distribution of an ebook or print edition.

Who should take this course:

  • Anyone who is considering self-publishing for the first time (in print or ebook form)
  • Traditionally published authors who haven’t yet self-published but are considering it
  • Authors who have used paid publishing services in the past but want to try a more DIY route

Who should NOT take take this class

  • People who already use and have accounts at Amazon KDP and IngramSpark
  • People who want to learn about hybrid publishing (this will be touched on, but that’s not the focus of this course)
  • People who seek in-depth information on offset printers, print runs, warehousing, and so on—which tend to be cost-prohibitive for most authors and are appropriate only in a limited number of cases

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you’re looking for.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 10 minutes of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
  • Time: 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided for the live class. We use Zoom’s built-in closed caption service, powered by Otter AI, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

Jane Friedman 2020

About the instructor

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for Writer’s Digest and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

In collaboration with The Authors Guild, Jane wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing, which is distributed free to all members. She has self-published her own work on multiple occasions, including Publishing 101.

Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World.

Her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Vox, the National Press Club and many other outlets.

Jane’s webinar answered all my most pressing questions. She even answered questions I hadn’t articulated yet, things that were just kind of swirling around and keeping me frozen.

Denise Berger


Many thanks for putting on such great courses during the pandemic. I have yet to find classes elsewhere that offer as much comprehensive material (transcript, handout, video, audio, etc) as yours.

Lacey Yong


Thank you for a well-presented and enlightening webinar on publishing. I have taken twelve-sessions-long university courses that did not cover that much material. As well, thank you for answering all questions, including mine, after the session was closed.

Lise Lévesque


You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 90-minute interactive class. After 75-90 minutes, Jane will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 90 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Additional answers to questions, if needed. If there isn’t time for Jane to answer all the questions during the live event, she will answer them in writing afterward. All participants will receive the answers with the follow-up recording.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System Requirements to Join the Webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 or higher running Win 8.1 or later
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.