I have just successfully published my first technical book. It was my first writing experience. I learned a lot in the process, and what I share with you in this article will save you a lot of money, time and effort.

In 2019, you don't need a publisher

Publishers, unless they translate foreign language books, are a thing of the past. They also pocket a big part of your money. A typical author of a technical book dealing with a publisher gets about 7% of the book price. So, if your book is sold for $40, then your royalty will be about $2.8. If you also have a day job, then after paying taxes you will get about $1.5 from each of your books sold for $40. Yes, publisher and retailer keep most of the money the reader pays for your book.

Instead of dealing with a publisher, an alternative is to self-publish on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. The process is very simple:

  1. Prepare your manuscript using KDP's Word template or otherwise (build your own PDF, for example),
  2. Design the book cover using KDP's free cover design tool or you design it yourself in any image editor,
  3. Upload both manuscript and the cover to KDP, add book description, and press "Publish". The book will almost instantly become available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

When you publish with KDP, you don't pay anything. KDP only prints your book when someone orders it. Once there's an order, KDP prints your book, keeps a commission (40%), subtracts the print cost (depends on the quality of the print and the number of pages).

Usually, for a $40 book, you will keep between $12 and $20 depending on the quality of the print. As you can see, it's much more than $2.8 a publisher would pay you.

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KDP publishes your book in Kindle and paperback formats. If you want to publish a hardcover, you should work with a third-party print-on-demand service, such as IngramSpark. They will print your books and provide those books to Amazon and other retailers. IngramSpark only charges the printing cost. Again, you pay almost nothing in case nobody orders your book. You only pay about $50 for setting up your book for printing.

In 2019, you don't need an expensive software

You don't need to pay anything to prepare your manuscript and cover image. If you prefer using the Word template KDP provides you, you can use Libre Office, a free alternative to Microsoft Word. If you work on a technical book, then LaTeX, a free high-quality typesetting system, will let you prepare high-quality PDF with all features of a professional book: table of contents, figures, equations, references, index, appendices, and so on.

An alternative to LaTeX is a free software Pandoc, which will convert your text formatted as a markdown into a high-quality PDF.

To prepare technical graphics, you can use a free Draw.io as a replacement for the expensive Microsoft Visio. You can also use a free GIMP to replace Adobe Photoshop for advanced graphics editing.

In 2019, you don't need to spend much money on marketing

Start publishing your chapters as soon as you have written them and grow your audience. One way to do that is to use Leanpub. Authors and publishers use Leanpub to create, publish and sell in-progress and completed ebooks and online courses. On Leanpub, readers can buy your book even before you finish writing.

Use Ghost or WordPress to build a website or blog for your book. No knowledge of programming required.

Use mailchimp or similar mailing list services to let your readers subscribe to the news about your book.

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In 2019, you don't need to spend much on a copy editor

Ask for feedback from your readers and mention the most active contributors in the Acknowledgments section of your book. Share the chapters of your book as public Dropbox links and let users comment directly in the chapter files.

Let Grammarly validate your English and recommend better expressions.

In 2019, you can make a beautiful cover yourself

Canva is a freemium service that let everyone be a great graphic designer. You can choose from a variety of stylish elements to decorate your cover. Canva will assist you with the alignment of graphical elements and the choice of colors that match.

My book is now a bestseller on Amazon, and available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover editions. All done by myself.

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