How to Self-Publish a Book

How to Self Publish a Book Mature bearded man holding and reading book. Sitting next to sunny window, smiling and wearing glasses

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Learning the process of how to self-publish a book from conception to research to completion — from first draft to final, edited manuscript — is no small feat. It’s a labor of love, a calling, and you can congratulate yourself for making your way to the summit and reaching “The End” of your book-writing endeavor.

But for all the work, the writing was the easy part for many self-published authors. That comes intuitively. Now it’s time for the next leg of your journey. Writing a book is one thing, but how do you go about book publishing? Should you go the traditional publishing route, or is self-publishing a better option for you?

Self-publish a book with a little help from a friend

While the word “self” is embedded in the term “self-publish,” that does not mean you have to do everything yourself. Indeed, it may be foolish to go it alone. There are myriad details, hidden surprises, and mountains of minutiae to climb on the journey from finished manuscript to published book. But breathe easy — you’re not alone.

There are dozens of resources online to help guide you through the process of writing, editing, preparing, publishing, promoting, and selling your book, but none more complete and easier to use than BookBaby. Self-publishing with BookBaby gives you access to a suite of tools and resources to give your print book and eBook their best chance for success. Check out our comparison between traditional publishing and self-publishing that crunches some numbers for printing costs, royalties, book sales, and more.

Our publishing specialists are a phone call away and are ready to answer all your questions for successful self-publishing. Our free guides for authors will educate you on the processes of publishing and promoting and get your project on track. And the BookBaby Blog stands as an ever-expanding resource full of timely advice, up-to-the-minute industry news, and straightforward information to help you navigate everything that is self-publishing.

How to self-publish a book in 6 steps

Yes, there is a lot to do, and you can choose to do it all, offload it all, or share the load with a trusted partner — while maintaining full creative control. Whatever your approach, here are six points of advice to consider before you take your first step toward your self-publishing experience.

1. Do your research

BookBaby publishing specialists are experts at guiding newcomers through the publishing process, but an informed author has taken one giant step in the right direction. Do you know what print on demand means? Have you given any thought to your book metadata? Have you started planning your book launch?

We love when an author has read our 5 Steps to Self-Publishing guide before they call — it’s a great introduction to the state of self-publishing and its process. You’ll learn some standard publishing terminology, gain a basic understanding of the production process, and get a feel for the publishing timeline, from concept to publication. That knowledge can make your initial conversation more productive and help generate questions specific to your project.

2. Complete your manuscript

Of course, you need to finish writing your story before you can publish it, but preparing your manuscript for publication means more than typing “The End” on the final page. You need to revise it through book editing and you need at least one thorough edit by a professional before you’re ready to publish. That’s why you need an editor. These aren’t ancillary, optional steps in the process, this is what every traditionally published book goes through. Every book on the best-seller list has been edited, guaranteed.

As you’re revising and self-editing your manuscript, that is an excellent time to complete your book descriptions and author bio. These are just some of the promotional elements you’ll need to produce when you embark on the sales and promotion leg of your journey, so crafting them while you’re in the midst of your creative stages is a good idea.

3. Determine your products and formats

Planning on producing a printed book? Will it be hardcover or softcover? What trim size will your book be? There are various standard book sizes for a printed book, and there are industry and reader expectations, depending on the genre and market you’re targeting.

Are you going to publish an eBook? You’ll typically need to provide your printed book manuscript as a PDF and your eBook files as a Word doc — that’s the case if you’re working with BookBaby. Are you considering audiobooks? It’s now a real possibility for independent authors, thanks to BookBaby’s new audiobook program for self-published authors. You’ll need your manuscript as a Word doc or an ePub file, and we’ll take it from there.

4. Interior design and book cover design

When we talk about designing a book, there are two basic things to consider: interior design and book cover design.

Interior design, or interior formatting, refers to the elements you see on the pages inside the book. The font, font size, chapter headers, chapter icons, running headers, page numbers — everything that makes your book look like a book is a function of book formatting.

Then there’s your book’s cover design, which is not something you want to throw together or entrust to someone unfamiliar with book design. After all your hard work and effort to write your book, your cover design might just be the thing that makes the difference between someone taking a closer look at your title or moving on to the next.

And, if you’re producing a printed book, you can’t forget your book’s back cover. It’s an extension of the cover design and should include content to entice and engage your potential reader.

5. Book distribution

Distribution is all about where your book is available for sale and how to get it there. It’s a given that you’ll want to be on Amazon, but there are dozens of other online retailers where your book should be available, and BookBaby authors have access to Bookshop, where you can sell your book in every format and reap the benefit of the best royalty rates in the industry.

how to publish on Amazon guideGetting on all the major retail sales platforms is something you could conceivably do on your own, but it’s a lot of work. Every seller will want you to upload your title, add your metadata, set your pricing, create your author bio, and choose your categories.

One of the many benefits of working with BookBaby is that we do this for you. You provide us the information once, and we’ll populate over 70 online retailers with your information and get your book available all over the world. Plus, you can use your BookBaby account portal to monitor your book sales and track your revenue.

6. Book promotion

This, as you can imagine, is a topic unto itself, but you should be thinking about book sales from the outset. In fact, we advise our self-published authors to start the book marketing and promotion process even as you write the book you plan to promote.

Between social media posts, digital advertising, book marketing, guest blogging, media interviews, email outreach to your list, your book launch, book signings, and other in-person promotions, it’s never too early to start your book promotion. We’ve got lots of promotional ideas on this blog, with more coming every week, and our Ads For Authors program makes digital advertising easy, focused, and manageable.

Call BookBaby

At the end of the day, this post could have been nine words long: Pick up the phone and call BookBaby at 877-961-6878.

We are here to serve independent authors just like you.

Book Publishing Plan guide

Related Posts
Why You Need an Editor for Your Book
Paperback vs. Hardcover Books: Which Is Right For You?
Why Does My Book Need Interior Formatting?
How To Write A Great Author Bio That Will Connect With Readers
The Ultimate Guide to Book Sizes

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