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How to self-publish an e-book

So you want to write a bestseller? Self-publishing has shed its stigma. Here's how to start.

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Deborah Reed’s book shot up Amazon’s charts.

Andrew Reed

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Like many new writers, Deborah Reed started by pitching her two novels to traditional publishers. After one particular rejection, she told her agent to stop bothering.

The publisher's representative said that she enjoyed Ms. Reed's thriller, "A Small Fortune," but already had a novel that fit the same genre.

"She didn't turn it down because it wasn't written well," says Reed, who wrote under the pen name Audrey Braun. "She read it in two days, even said she couldn't put it down. I found this so absurd that I self-published."

A decade ago, the story probably would have ended here. But "A Small Fortune" shot up Amazon's e-book bestseller list. Within a few months, Amazon offered her a three-book contract. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt bought the paperback rights. And Reed's two novels have together sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Before the e-book revolution, self-publishing "used to be taboo, a nail in the coffin for writers," she says. "The question these days might be, why not self-publish?"

If you're thinking of going it alone, here are five tips from Reed on how to get started.

Investigate Kindle Direct. Amazon's e-book marketplace offers self-published authors a 70 percent royalty if they meet certain requirements, such as giving Amazon shoppers the best price. Authors can upload manuscripts, including updates and corrections, free of charge.

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