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Visual Guide to Self Publishing on iTunes: How to Publish an iBook

I love books. I read endlessly, from the moment I wake up to when I lay down to sleep. It’s a trait I inherited from my father, who collects books like a bee collects pollen, much to the chagrin of my mother, who always had to find a spot for yet another book my father had discovered at a garage sale he happened to be walking past. Thankfully, my wife does not have to contend with the same situation my mother does. My library is overwhelmingly digital and I quite enjoy carrying it with me on my iPad wherever I go.


For someone who loves books as much as I do, writing wasn’t something I took to until I started writing on this site. I mostly enjoy processing information, so laying it out in an easily digestible form was the natural progression for me. Hence why the majority of my posts – such as this one – are “How-To” in nature.


While I have slowly developed a dream to one day write an entertaining non-fiction narrative book, when I first hit on the  idea of writing a book, my first inclination was to write a How-To Guide. That is how my Slow Travel Guide to Antigua was born.


The process of writing a book is hard – don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it is – but for me it was also very enjoyable. I loved every aspect of it, from structuring the information in an easy-to-understand format, to choosing an attractive layout and selecting and editing the pictures that would eventually make the cut. The process of sharing information in a beautiful way also carried over into my next project, creating Location360°, a digital magazine based around the slow travel lifestyle.


Once my work was finished, it was time to share my creations with the world.


Do Traditional Publishers Matter?


You can be the greatest writer in the world, but if your book doesn’t get read by anyone, you will forever toil in obscurity. For a long time, book publishers were the gatekeepers to fame and riches. In order to make your book known to a wide audience, you had to grovel and beg to hopefully land a contract with a traditional publisher, which was a pipe dream for most writers.


Traditional publishers by and large suck. They’ll take 90% of royalties and you’ll be handing over your creative content to someone who may not even care about your book. For me and many other writers, facing off against traditional publishers was unthinkable.


Enter self publishing.


Anything that a traditional publisher does – editing, book cover and layout design for example – you can do yourself or have outsourced to expert inexpensively, and other things, like marketing, you’ll probably do orders of magnitude better than they ever will. Being leaner and faster, you can edit and promote your book in any way you see fit and reap a greater chunk of the rewards.


For me it was a revelation to find out that through self publishing outlets, like Amazon and Apple’s iTunes, I could have access and show my work to millions of readers, regardless of how many visitors were aware of my website in the first place.


It was time to declare war on The Man ;)


How to Publish an iBook


How to Publish on iTunes


To self publish your book on iTunes, you first have to get it properly formatted to be accepted by Apple. This is a lot easier if you use the Book Creator app, a boon for people who want to try their hand at self publishing on iTunes.


Once your iBook is ready, you have to fire up iTunes Producer. Before you use this software, there are two things you have to get out of the way first. You must:


a) Have an iTunes Connect account. Sign up here. Note that you’ll have to have a bank account – I recommend this one – and fill in your tax information.


b) Have iTunes Producer installed – which requires a Mac computer. Don’t have a Mac computer or access to one? Check out my iTunes Producer for Windows post, which chock-full of alternatives for the unwashed, Mac-less masses (like me).


Publish on iTunes: Step #1


Assuming you have a copy of iTunes Producer up and running (I use version 2.8 in the screenshots below and not the slightly different 2.9 version), you’ll have to log in with your iTunes Connect account to get the to the main dashboard. Version 2.9 features minor upgrades, such as the ability to add Parental Advisory warnings (if your book merits it or are writing the one millionth copycat version of “50 Shades of Gray”), upload multiple screenshots (you’ll see below), give your book a series number (if publishing a series), and specify whether your book has been published in Multi-Touch format (if you used iBooks Author on a Mac, for example).


I recommend you bookmark this page and think through all the answers (jot them down!) before you start the upload process to iTunes. Nothing more annoying than feeling under pressure to fill the information out fast when you’re itching to submit your book.


To get started, select the option to Create New Package and New Book to load your Book Creator file. The Book Creator app has a “Send to iTunes” (the music-listening app), from where you can choose to save your book wherever you wish. Knowing where your book file is will be important when the time comes to upload it. The book needs to be .Epub or .iBooks format. It’s not possible to upload PDFs or any other format.
Self Publish on iTunes


Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #2


Tip: Next up, it’s time to fill out your book’s information. You DO NOT NEED AN ISBN to publish to iTunes. Consider getting an ISBN number when you’re ready to print your book. Before then? Don’t bother. You can leave the ISBN number blank if you don’t have one.


Select your Book Type as Book (Textbook is or the other option), Language, Title, and the rest of the information.


For Publisher, you can use your name or that of your company. Imprint is the name of your publishing “division”, if you have one. Publication Date is the date that the book you’re uploading was first printed and released to the public. If this does not apply, use the current date or date you started selling book on your website – doesn’t matter. Fill in the Series Name and Number in Series – if this applies. Print length is the total number of pages – doesn’t need to be exact, just close enough.


The most important part (aside from Title and Sub-Title) is the Book Description. Think of it as the description in the back cover of the book. Fail to make this interesting and eye-catching, and you’ll reduce your chances of reeling in the casual buyer. You need to state succinctly who the book is for, what can they expect, and a short exciting description about what they reader will learn, experience, etc. Keep the description short, as you only get about 2,000 characters.


Another cool thing is that you can upload a sample and make your book available for Pre-order if you’re still putting the finishing touches on the book.


Self Publish on iTunes


Click next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #3


Next up, it’s time to categorize your book according to the Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) categories – See the list of BISAC categories here. Alternatively, you can use the BIC2 or CLIL categories, though if you do it’s probably because you have a specific reason to do so.


You can add as many categories as you want, but only one can be chosen as Primary.


Self Publish on iTunes



Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #4


On the next screen, you’ll be able to enter the author’s name. You can add more than one. As a Sort Name, you can add Last Name, First Name – in my case, it would be Polanco, Rich.
Self Publish on iTunes


Click Next.



Publish on iTunes: Step #5


The next step is to choose your Target Audience Criteria. You can choose based on age, education and other factors. For widest availability – and if your book merits it – select Apple and for Target Audience select General.


How to Publish an iBook on iTunes (18)


Publish on iTunes: Step #6


If you have published any related items to the iBookstore, you can link them here.


Self Publish on iTunes



Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #7


This is a tricky step. Apple currently sells book in 51 different markets. To choose a market to sell your book in, you can select each territory individually or click Mass Territory Set Up to highlight and select all territories at once. You can specify different price points for each territory. In the Mass Setup screen, you can select one price and currency (US dollars for example) and prices will be converted accordingly for each territory.


The reason why you might want to tweak prices for each country is to make them more appealing psychologically. There’s a reason stuff sells for $9.99 instead of $10.00. This might not come through during currency conversion. For example, an USD$9.99 price point will be converted as 7.60 euros. You can change the price to 7.99 euros for that territory to make prices uniform across the board.


You can also specify here whether you’d like to remove DRM protection to your book (the default option).


Self Publish on iTunes


Click next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #8


Once you’ve gotten the pricing and metadata info out-of-the-way, it’s time to add the book file to your package. Click Choose, under Publication, to add the finished book. Click Choose, under Publication Preview, to add a sample chapter. Don’t get those two confused ;)


Self Publish on iTunes


Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #9


It’s now to add your Cover Art. Ever heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, that’s exactly what people do when browsing books. A shoddy, amateurish cover will turn off potential buyers before they’ve had a chance to read your book’s description.


It took a lot of trial and error to get mine right. Looking back, my first attempts were absolutely awful. After much tweaking (and polling Facebook fans), I was able to come up with a cover that has gotten praise for its looks and elegance. If you’d rather let a Pro designer, hire one on ODesk or Elance. If anything, you can get a decent cover by hiring someone on Fiverr.com


As for the cover image, it must be JPG or PNG, at least 1400 pixels wide at the base, and 72DPI (Dots per Inch).


Self Publish on iTunes


Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #10


You can add as many screenshots of your book as you want. I added three, as I felt that was enough.


Getting a screenshot is easy. Just open the book on your iPad iBook application, go to the desired page, and take a screenshot (hold the power button down first then press the home button – the screen will flash if it was successful and the screenshot will be saved to your iPad’s Camera Roll).


Once screenshots are uploaded, you can reorder screenshots any way you’d like.


Self Publish on iTunes


Click Next.


Publish on iTunes: Step #11


And here’s the payoff. If you’ve filled out all the information correctly and uploaded the proper files, cover and screenshots, you’ll get a message that your package has validated and that it’s ready for uploading.


Click Deliver to get the upload process started. Depending on the size of your book, you may need a decent Internet connection to carry this out without errors.


Self Publish on iTunes


Sit back and wait. Or grab a cup of coffee, go for a walk, etc.


Publish on iTunes: Step #12


If you’ve uploaded your book correctly, you’ll get a green check mark. Occasionally, you may get a warning, such as the one below. Warnings will not harm the upload process, but red critical warnings will.


In this case, I was good to go. Now it was time to head to my iTunes Connect account to verify that books were uploaded.


Self Publish on iTunes



Publish on iTunes: Step #13


On the iTunes Connect dashboard, click on Manage Your Books to verify whether the books have been uploaded.


Self Publish on iTunes


You will see the books if they’ve been correctly uploaded.


You’ll notice that when first uploaded, books will have a red dot underneath, meaning they haven’t been added to the iTunes Bookstore. And that’s when the waiting game begins, because books have to be reviewed by a Quality Assurance Team at Apple before being allowed in the store. Some people have reported lengthy wait-times lasting weeks. Fortunately, both books were approved within 5-6 days. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t notify you if a book has been accepted, so you’ll just have to keep checking back until you see that cool green dot letting you know your masterpiece is now available to the entire world.


Self Publish on iTunes


Publish on iTunes: One More Thing…


If you click on your book on iTunes Connect, you can take a look at the Metadata information. Fortunately, you can edit the information from here – if say, you spot a typo or want to rewrite description to add more oomph!. Just click the Edit button next to Metadata heading.


Self Publish on iTunes


And that’s it! That’s how you publish a book to iTunes.


Comments? Have a book on iTunes you want to plug?

Share below!

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.


  1. Hi Rich,

    Thanks for the post I didn’t know about this technique its amazing what you could do in the interent in these times.

    I feel that I’m be outsourcing this project in the near future. So Rich thanks again and have a nice weekend.


  2. Shiraz says:

    Hi Rich. Thanks for the info. Do you have a guide for publishing on amazon?

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Hi Shiraz. Glad it was of help. I’ve been thinking of launching to the Kindle. I’ll post a full guide when I do :)



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