It's gotta be good: The same rule applies to self-published e-books as it does to print books. You have to start with a good product if you have any hope of selling it.
Create an interesting cover:
When it comes to e-books, everything starts with the cover image. Creating an eye-catching, professional-looking cover that also looks good small (it has to stand out as a thumbnail image, since it's being sold online) is easier said than done, but it can really make a difference in terms of sales. Ideally, you should hire a graphic designer who has some experience creating book covers. From a production standpoint, an e-book cover is easier to create than a cover for a print book (you just need a JPEG with decent resolution), but it shouldn't look out of place among traditionally published e-books. I can't tell you how many bad self-published covers are out there.
Avoid any outfits that don't let you set the price:
This is one of the cardinal rules of self-publishing an e-book. You must be able to control the pricing of your e-book. If you want to sell it for 99 cents, then you should be able to sell it for 99 cents.
Marketing is all about creating awareness for your e-book:
I don't have any secret marketing tips to offer, but what I can say is that you can't sell a book if no one knows it exists. Most of book marketing is simply about creating awareness and you need to do that however you can, whether it's through social media or blogging or passing out fliers in the coffee shops.
E-book publishing options:
Here are the three big questions to bear in mind with e-book creation: first, what is the easiest and most cost-efficient way to produce an e-book? Second, where will it be distributed? And third, how much of a cut do you get? With those in mind, let's take a look at some of the more high-profile options available currently. I'm limiting it to these options because I want to keep this as simple as possible.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
This is Amazon's e-book publishing platform, and if you think you're going to sell a lot of e-books, you should figure out a way to upload your file (book) directly to KDP and avoid using any sort of middleman or e-book "aggregator" that takes a cut of the profits. If you're a true DIY person, you can create your own cover (though if you're not a professional designer, it's better to hire a pro) and format your e-book using free software tools such as Calibre.
Smashwords, one of the e-book pioneers and largest distributors of self-published e-books, with more than 125,000 titles from over 40,000 authors, is very much a DIY operation. You bring your Word file and cover image, upload it into the company's "Meatgrinder" tool, and in a matter of minutes, you create your e-book in just about every format you'd want. You can then sell that e-book on Smashwords.com or have the company distribute it to most of the major e-book sellers, including Barnes & Noble's eBookstore, Apple's iBooks, Sony, Kobo, and Baker & Taylor's Blio and others. Smashwords also has deals in place for having its authors' e-books distributed to libraries.
BookBaby, the sibling of CD Baby (Brian Felsen is the president of both operations), has a slightly different business model from some of its competitors. Instead of taking a cut of your royalties, it makes you pay a fee of $99 upfront, then charges you a yearly fee of $19 per title you have in its system. It also offers print publishing services.
Barnes & Noble's PubIt
Barnes & Noble's PubIt self-publishing operation offers similar features to Amazon's KDP, but the two platforms do have their differences. Barnes & Noble has set the PubIt royalty rate for authors at 65 percent of the sale price for titles priced $2.99 and higher. The rate falls to 40 percent if you choose to go lower than $2.99 or higher than $9.99, with B&N setting 99 cents as the lowest allowable price and $199.99 as the highest. (For books priced under $2.99 or over $9.99, you actually earn more by distributing your book to B&N through Smashwords, which pays 60 percent list for all prices 99 cents and up.
So there you have the top places to get your book published. Good luck in you endeavors to get your book finished.