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You want to publish a book - now what? - WRITE|PUBLISH|SELL

How to Publish a Book

Updated 5/30/20

You’ve written a book and now you’re trying to figure out how to publish a book.

A LOT goes in to publishing a book. Sure, anyone can do it, or self-publishing wouldn’t be such a thing. But just because anyone can do it does NOT mean it’s easy. There are a lot of pieces to manage, it takes a huge learning curve, and if you want to be successful, you want to make sure you’re following guidelines for creating and publishing a book that adheres to industry standards.

Whether you decided to DIY or hire a team to help you, you’ll want to at least have a basic level of knowledge on all of the following:

Here are some tools for success as you prepare to publish a book.

1. Editing

Do NOT skimp on an editor. Please. This is a crucial part of having success with your book. But be sure to look for an editor early. They are often booked for months in advance, so don’t wait until you’ve completed the manuscript to nail down your editor. Here is a list of editors that I work with on a regular basis that I recommend. On the editor note, it’s a good idea to connect with several and ask for a sample edit and quote. You want to make sure you connect with your editor… they are basically going to be your BFF for the next few months. Make sure you feel it’s a good fit. A sample edit will provide a little insight into their process and vibe.

Check out our entire post on working with editors, which has a lot more resources. We provide a full rolodex of editors in our Self-Publishing Course & WIP School, but we also highly recommend using a self-editing tool to help you improve your writing, like ProWritingAid.

2. Cover Design

Do not skimp on a good cover! Everyone WILL judge your book by its cover. You want to get at least a mock-up very early in the process so that you have some images to help you market and promote.

We work with several great cover designers if you need some recommendations. Primarily we use Michelle Fairbanks of Fresh Design

Melissa Williams Design

BookBrush – get a 15% discount with the coupon code WRITEPUBLISHSELL


3. Interior design and layout

We have an entire post on DIY tips for design and layout. Be sure to check it out. Additional tips:

If your book includes graphs, charts, and other complex materials, it is highly recommended that you hire someone to format the book and prepare it for you. We have worked with multiple companies and can recommend Formatted Books and Melissa Williams Design.

Likewise, if you are planning on publishing a print book.

Otherwise, if your book is straight text and you are only publishing the ebook, follow the KDP guidelines for formatting.

If you need help with formatting, please reach out to me.

Tools for formatting:
  • Kindle Format 8 – Amazon’s own, free Kindle formatting tool. Use this one if you are including graphics, illustrations or photographs in your book content.
  • Kindle Gen – Amazon’s simpler, free Kindle formatter.
  • Calibre – free formatting tool
  • Scrivener
  • Word
  • Adobe InDesign

Feeling overwhelmed by everything in this list? Not quite prepared to take on #allthethings related to publishing and marketing your book?



4. Obtain your ISBN and file your copyright/pre-control number

I have an entire post dedicated to the details on what an ISBN is, where to get it, what the PCN is, why you need a copyright, etc. I encourage you to check out that post here.

5. Where to Publish?

If you plan to sell your book outside of your website, you’ll need to have a KDP account at the minimum. KDP = Kindle Direct Publishing and is the Amazon arm for selling your ebooks. Because it is AMAZON, it is the most well known, but don’t overlook the many other places to publish.

These types of publishing accounts are generally Print On Demand (POD), meaning they don’t do large print runs, rather, each time someone buys your book, it is printed and shipped.  Some are exclusively digital publishers, like Smashwords and Kobo, but can help you get your book more widely distributed.

Sign-up for any publishing accounts you intend to use: (these are not all of them, but the biggest)



6. Marketing

First of all, you need to get on marketing LONG before you have completed the book. One of the most important things you can do is start building your platform AS you write. Get a Facebook page. Set up Twitter. Whatever it is you want to use, get on there and start growing your audience. Check out companies like Bublish for great marketing support. If you like what you see, use ALEXABDISCOUNT2019 for $10 off your annual fee.

Do not underestimate the power of your email list! These are your tried and true fans, with whom you nurture a relationship. Find some kind of incentive to get them to sign up for your email, and then make sure you take the time to grow a relationship and build hype about your book. They are far more likely to buy your book when it’s published than any of your cold market!

As you get closer to launch, you’ll want to consider other avenues – giveaways, Facebook Ads, a good book trailer, hiring a social media manager, etc.

There are a lot of moving parts to publish a book.

It’s important to have a plan and to start that plan early.

If you’d like a detailed timeline, be sure to grab our 120 Book Launch Checklist below!

You can also join us in our Write.Publish.Sell Group on Facebook where we answer questions for free and interact as an engaged community of writers or our new NON Facebook Community come on over!

Feeling overwhelmed by everything in this list? Not quite prepared to take on #allthethings related to publishing and marketing your book?




Publishing Timeline and Checklist

All the details to make sure you don't miss key steps when publishing and launching your book!

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