Let’s see what we’ve got so far:
Some form of story: check.
The type of publishing you’d like to toil through: check.
An idea of what format you want to use: check.
Okay, well how about these:
Book cover design?
Social media platform? Marketing and PR plan?
You might be thinking, “Wait, where did all that come from?” but you have to remember that self publishing is an interconnected process. A choice that you make in the beginning has a pretty high chance of affecting choices that you might need to make later on down the road. Realistically, working with a publishing platform is going to be one of the last things that you’ll do, but it’s important to remember that formats and platforms are directly connected to each other so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of planning ahead.
E-book publishing platforms are tools that can help you format and distribute your work. If I had to name a few off the top of my head it would be the Big 3: Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook Press, and iBooks Author. One of the nice things about working with these platforms is that you don’t really have to worry about picking a format because it’s “preselected” for you. For example, when you write something in Word you get a .docx file, when you work with Kindle you’ll get a .kindle file. These are also popular names and you might have an advantage working with their large audience group for you to distribute to your e-book to.
Just because they are popular doesn’t mean that these three are the only publishing platforms out there. It might be a good idea to check out other platforms like Vook, eBookIt, Bookbaby, Smashwords, Kobo, Blurb, or Scribd. However, while all publishing platforms with help you distribute your e-book, not all will offer design or book formatting services and might require that your e-book already be polished and ready to go before they will distribute it. Also keep in mind that many platforms can cross devices (meaning that you can read something on your e-reader and then move to your tablet or smart phone), but that doesn’t mean that your work can cross platforms. For example, if you upload your work on to the Nook platform that doesn’t mean that people on a Kindle platform will be reading it. You’ll have to figure out if your work is going to appear on multiple platforms and be ready to commit to the extra work to get it up if it isn’t.
Honestly, platforms aren’t scary or really all that difficult to work with because, by the time you get to this point, you’ve done most of the hard work already. So the best thing you can do is plan ahead–do some shopping around, a little research, and play around with some platforms to see which works the best for you. Then hold that thought and roll up your sleeves because it’s time to transform your story into an e-book.