Self-Publish a Book in 7 Steps

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, it’s a good idea to be aware of all the steps involved before you start. In this blog post, we outline how to self-publish a book in seven steps.

Step 1: Understand the Publishing Process

The publishing process involves a few moving parts. Understanding these before you begin will help you with the remaining steps. For example, it’s hard to choose the members of your publishing team if you don’t understand their jobs.

Basically, the publishing process involves:

  • Cover design
  • Interior page design
  • Editing
  • Typesetting
  • Proofreading
  • Printing and distribution
  • Marketing

Step 2: Plan

If you’re already in business for yourself, you understand what it takes to launch a new product. Your book is a new product, and as an author who is choosing to self-publish, you’re now in the publishing business.

The jury is still out on whether business plans are necessary, and proponents of lean design will say “just launch” and advise you to “pivot” when you discover no one is interested in what you’re selling. It’s hard to “pivot” when you’re talking about a book—something concrete into which you’ve invested a year or more of your life. We strongly advise you to take the time to do some basic thinking, research and planning before you start, taking into account the following questions:

  • What is the goal of your book? Why are you publishing a book? Are you supporting your career or advancing your business? Are you fulfilling a dream?
  • What is your timeline? Are you trying to launch your book in time for holiday sales?
  • What is your budget? Can you afford to do this right?
  • Who is your audience? What is the profile of your ideal reader?
  • Where is your author platform? If you don’t have one, when and how will you build it?
  • How will you distribute the book?
  • What will you charge per book?
  • What will your cost per book be? You may not know this amount until you have determined how you will produce your book and the per-book printing cost. You should, however, educate yourself on the various routes to self-publishing and how much royalty you can expect to sacrifice based on which route you take.

Step 3: Assemble Your Team

Who is on your publishing team?

During the planning stage, you will have created a budget and determined which parts of the publishing process will be handled by professionals. Now you can do some research into companies and identify those from who you will request quotes.

Note that you can hire freelancers to do each part of the process (i.e., one designer for the cover, another for the interior, and an editor from somewhere else). If you choose this route, you will act as the project manager and contact person for each of these professionals. An alternative is to hire one company that provides all of these services. At 1106 Design, we assign a project manager to each of our clients; the project manager worries about the details and you only need to deal with one person.

Your publishing team should also include someone to provide emotional support and answer your questions about self-publishing. You can join discussion forums on such websites as IngramSpark. At 1106 Design, we pride ourselves on our customer service and “hand-holding.”

Step 4: Assemble Your Resources

Authors who have chosen to do the cover design and page design themselves—not advisable if you are planning to sell your book alongside best sellers or if yours is a business book that you hope will boost your business or career—will need to look into purchasing software, images and templates. Set aside a lot of time to research these items and do some comparisons, and to learn how to use the software and the templates. Many authors underestimate the time that this step will take as the learning curve can be steep and the experience painful.

Step 5: Production Time!

In this step, you and/or your publishing team get to work! Design the book cover, design the interior page layout, edit the book, typeset the book, proofread, and final revisions. Each part of the production process can take between two and three weeks each, and usually cover design and editing can be done in tandem. What might hold you up? Unexpected revisions to your manuscript; it’s best to get an editorial evaluation before you start editing so that you know what shape your manuscript is in before you start production.

Step 6: Printing and Distribution

Distribution largely depends upon the nature of your book. Business and other nonfiction books may be handed out or sold at conferences, and if you think you’ll need more than 500 books, you could explore offset printing. The downside is that you must order and pay for a certain quantity of books and you will be responsible for distributing them.

Your other option is print-on-demand. IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are the two print-on-demand (POD) companies. KDP is your best avenue to selling on Amazon, while IngramSpark is best for everything else, including distribution to other online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores. You can even order a number of books from either company—perfect for small quantities—and have them delivered either to yourself or a customer. You pay only for what you need.

In this blog post from our archives, you can learn how to set up POD yourself and earn maximum royalties.

Step 7: Market Your Book

In truth, step 7 runs parallel to all the other steps. It starts with building your author platform—your fan base of readers. Get active on social media. Get an author website and start blogging. Release teasers of your book. The idea is to start getting readers excited about your book now, so they are ready to buy it when it launches. There’s nothing worse than launching a book to the sound of crickets.

1106 Design offers an assortment of book marketing services, including author coaching, website design and book trailers. Click here to discover our book marketing services for indie publishers.

Another option is to hire a book promotional specialist to help you sell your book into libraries and bookstores. And think outside of the box when it comes to places to sell your book. Here’s a blog post with book marketing ideas that worked for 1106 Design authors.

Want to talk to a self-publishing specialist? Contact Michele for a complimentary consultation.

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