Best First Time Self-Publishing Author Toolbox

How to publish my own book

This is a question I get a lot.

Three steps taught me how to produce my first book.

  1. Following a step by step course from a successful author and publisher
  2. Using a special tool to take advantage of Amazon’s ranking algorithm
  3. Getting clarity on my goals and what it’d take to fulfill them

Why should you listen to me? Please let me introduce myself and share with you what I know.

I’m Frank. Ketamine therapy stopped my 25 years of suicidal thoughts in their tracks.

You can find out about this life-saving therapy on my site at Find Ketamine.

In addition to my website and blog content, I wrote and self-published my first book. It’s about Ketamine Infusion Therapy.

Thankfully, it’s helping people find help for difficult to treat mental health, pain, and addiction conditions.

But, something surprising also happened: people started asking me about self-publishing.

Why? Because my book:

  1. debuted as an Amazon #1 New Seller.
  2. reached Top 5 ranking in THREE categories on Amazon.
  3. has a 4.6 review rating.
  4. is sold in ebook, paperback, and audiobook formats.
  5. is a good example of how the right training creates publishing success.

Truth is, I don’t credit myself much for those accolades. More about that in a minute.

Let’s back up.

(This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase from them, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

I needed LOTS of help with self-publishing.

Writing a book is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted to quit many times.

ANYONE who even tries to write a book is ahead of 99.9999% of the population.

I salute and encourage you! Pat yourself on the back!

The question is: are you serious about joining the exclusive group of writers who finished their book and made it successful?

If so, I’ll tell you how I did it.

Did I write the best book? No.

Did I have industry contacts? No.

How about a big marketing budget? No.

How did I make my first book?

I learned from already successful publishers, using their courses and tools.

That’s it. That’s my secret.

For those looking to self-publish, I’ve listed the resources that drove my book’s success.

Let’s get into the details.

This is what I tell everyone embarking on a self-publishing journey.

I HIGHLY recommend a structured education, learning from the best, and using the right tools.


  1. The book market is hypercompetitive. You need proven strategies.
  2. If you are like me, you don’t have the time or money to keep writing books that fail.
  3. Going into publishing with a Do It Yourself approach leads to disappointment and drains your self-confidence.

OK. So here’s what I did. And, I believe you can too because I started with ZERO experience.

Self-publishing checklist

First, I took a course called Mastering Book Publishing from Stefan James. He’s a multi-millionaire from Canada – a successful author (under multiple pen names) and an owner of his own publishing company.

Stefan’s course saved me.

Learning from Stefan was a must for me because I didn’t want to just WRITE a book. I wanted a book that would SELL. There’s a big difference.

Just think about how you shop for books. Do you buy amateurish, second-rate offerings or those that come across as professional inside and out?

That’s an easy one.

When I began the course, I was SHOCKED at how many steps are required to make a PROFESSIONAL book.

If you want to type something up and upload it to Amazon, you can.

But, consumers can IMMEDIATELY distinguish between amateur and professional publications.

If you are going the professional route, let’s cover the steps to produce a reputable product of which you are proud and people will buy with confidence?

The following are NOT all of the steps. But, they’ll give you an idea of just how much help most first-time authors need. If you are inexperienced (like I was), you’ll likely need guidance on these.

All of the steps I needed to self-publish my book are covered in Mastering Book Publishing.

What steps does the course cover:

The manuscript – Write a draft, get initial input, refine, hire a developmental editor, rewrite, hire copy and line editors for flow, grammar, and spelling. Finally, you’ll need proofreading.

The cover – Book cover design is one of your most, if not THE most, high-impact marketing tools.

It may not be fair but we all judge books by their covers.

Cover design is not a matter of what YOU like or think looks cool. It’s a carefully cultivated marketing science. It requires a systematic, experienced approach. Trust me, none of the authors you read have unintentional covers.

I can’t stress this enough: you CAN’T afford to leave your cover to chance.

Yes, you CAN hire anyone. BUT, if you don’t know what distinguishes a good cover from a bad one, you’re wasting your money. (link to supplemental article)

We’ve talked a bit about your manuscript and cover design. Let’s get into formatting; the inside of your book. Like everything else on this list, it’s much more complicated than I expected.

Publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Many writers begin with publishing directly to Amazon in the Kindle format. This is a great first step. It’s simple, fast, and inexpensive. However, while it’s enjoyable to see your name on Amazon (which is REALLY cool!), skipping the steps below probably won’t lead to the success you’re looking for.

Everything below does apply to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. But, I also cover formatting for paperback and audiobooks.

The ebook and paperback versions of your book require strategic dimensions, fonts, gutters, margins, and technical configurations of the files.

What’s more, is that the ebook and paperback versions are not the same. For instance, Kindle requires .epub files that automatically adjust to various reading devices. For the paperback, you’ll need specially formatted pdfs for the printer.

Making the audiobook requires professional equipment, editing software, a narrator or voice actor, and a sound engineer.

Audiobooks can only be submitted in particular formats. This means a specialist must do things like limit the maximum sound levels and minimize background noise. Each chapter is constructed separately with a certain amount of space before the beginning and end of each segment. And that’s not all…

Do you see what I mean about all of these steps adding up? It’s just incredible!

Unless you’re an expert at all of these you’ll need to find the right people, give them the proper materials, manage them, do the quality control, and structure payments to prevent getting burnt.

If you want to bypass a ton of time, money, and failure, I can wholeheartedly recommend Mastering Book Publishing. It was the first publishing course I took.

It’s priced very reasonably. It saved me much more than it cost.

Plus, it’s no risk. It comes with a 30-day Money Back Guarantee.

How to get good rankings for my book on Amazon

Second, I investigated Amazon’s ranking system.

Amazon is the largest book retailer. Let’s talk about how to rank well there.

Remember brick and mortar book stores? Remember how they had sections (self-help, biography, etc)? Unfortunately, most of those stores are gone. But the categories remain.

Amazon has categories. MANY categories.

In a super-crowded book marketplace, consumers need to navigate the millions of selections.

Categories are one way that is accomplished.

What people don’t know is that YOU, as the author, determine the category(ies) to which you submit your book.

Does this matter? YES. It’s a HUGE deal.

Just think, if you are in a very crowded category, your chances of standing out and ranking well, are minuscule.

It makes sense right?

Say you’re writing a self-help book. Can you edge out Oprah, Chicken Soup of the Soul, Tony Robbins, and every other celebrity author who dominates the genre?

Do you have millions to spend on marketing and building a worldwide brand?

I don’t.

Thankfully, I learned that with the right tool, you can decode the least overcrowded categories and identify the keywords that will give you maximum visibility.

Oh, and one more thing…

Would you rather appear in one category or TEN?

Would it be easier to succeed with TEN times as many places for readers to find you?

I’d think so.

I almost hesitate to share this. But, not only is Publisher Rocket THE tool for categories it is just as good at Amazon Keyword Analysis.

You can see why I use this software for my category and keyword strategy. It’s the only one I use. It’s fast, easy, and affordable.

It gives you a HUGE edge. With it you can:

  1. discover the advantageous categories for your book.
  2. determine the ideal pricing. Pricing is not a shot in the dark. It’s a discipline.
  3. Uncover competitive data to position your book on Amazon.

Just like with the Mastering Book Publishing course, Publisher Rocket has a 30-day Money Back Guarantee.

Third, I evaluated my writing goals.

Will my book be successful?

People write for many reasons. There are many definitions of “success.”

Which of these motivations apply to you?

  • Are you a creative person with entertaining material?
  • Do you want to leave a record of your life for posterity?
  • Do you see the value in sharing your story to motivate others?
  • Are you looking to establish yourself as an authority on a topic?
  • Plan to use your book as a springboard into speaking, coaching, or consulting.

In my case, my expertise is both a medical researcher and a real-life IV Ketamine infusion patient. My book reinforces that authority and opens up opportunities to share my knowledge.

Depending on your goals, you may navigate your publishing process differently. It may also inform which resources you use and how much time and money you invest.

What makes a good self-published book?

When you embark on creating a saleable product, you’ll need to uphold certain standards.

  1. Fact-checked content
  2. High production value (editing, design, etc)
  3. Efficient budgeting (I had a tiny budget!)

No matter what pathway you choose as a self-published writer, the name of the game is PERSEVERANCE.

Never give up! Keep learning. Keep trying. Believe in yourself.

Wishing you the best,

Frank Ligons

Coaching Ketamine patients to better, longer-lasting results.

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