How to Publish a Book
It’s an exciting time for Indie Authors! So many routes, so many things to do!
You’ve written a book and now you’re trying to figure out how to publish a book.
A LOT goes into 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 the following:
Here are some tools for success as you prepare to publish a book.
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
Alt19 Creative (premades, custom covers, and interior layout)
There are many great cover designers out there! When choosing one, look at their portfolio and make sure you are familiar with the elements of a cover (IBPA Industry Standards Checklist is your friend!)
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.
- Atticus – brought to you by the founder and creator of PublisherRocket, this tool is getting all the rage! The best part about Dave Chesson, and everything he does, is that he has trainings and tutorials GALORE! If you get his tools, you not only can rest assured it will be high quality, but it will also come with great customer support, a commitment to always fixing issues within the tool, and a whole wealth of training.
- Adobe InDesign – used by the pros, this is the best software for designing books
- Vellum – This is a reasonably priced software and fairly simple to use. Highly recommended for fiction and simple nonfiction. However, if your book has graphics, charts, other bells and whistles, I highly recommend using a professional design service, like FormattedBooks.
- 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
- Word – possible but challenging!
Feeling overwhelmed by everything in this list? Not quite prepared to take on #allthethings related to publishing and marketing your book?
CHECK OUT OUR ON-DEMAND WORKSHOP: Self-Publishing 101
4. Obtain your ISBN and file your copyright/pre-control number
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)
- Amazon KDP (https://kdp.amazon.com/)
- IngramSparks (https://www.ingramspark.com/) Check out our tutorial on loading to IngramSpark HERE
- Bublish – offers a full suite of self-publishing support to prep you for publication and distribution
- Book Baby
- Lulu (https://www.lulu.com/)
Self-Publishing Assist Companies that provide A La Carte services
There are also MANY companies that are full service self-publishing assist but also offer services like formatting and covers as a la carte. The companies we know and have worked with are:
These can be a one-stop shop for everything from editing to publishing, or you can get individual services.
Marketing is something you need to start thinking about early in the process. One of the most important things you can do is start building your platform AS you write. Get a Facebook page. Start posting on Instagram. Set up Twitter. Try TikTok. Whatever it is you want to use, get on there and start growing your audience.
A website is KEY! This is your home base! We highly recommend Pub Site for anyone who wants to DIY their website! Pub Site was designed specifically for authors. Get a free trial and play with the Pub Site platform here!
You’ll want to think about WHO you’re trying to get in front of and WHAT message they are looking to hear. Talk to them like they are your friends.
Ex: If you’re publishing a book in self-esteem – this is what you should be talking about!
If you’re writing RomCom, you’ll want to be discussing other RomComs, sharing snippets of your book, talking about the things people who read RomCom are into.
Children’s book? Do you do activities with your children? Are you teaching a theme? Maybe your book is about Kindness. You should be talking about Kindness.
Use social media to grow fans, but also to drive people to your email list!
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!
Need more support?
You can also join us in our monthly membership, WIP School! This membership assists authors through the entire journey of Writing, Publishing, and Selling your book, with an emphasis on the publishing and production (editing, cover design, interior formatting, etc) and marketing / author platform growth areas. Learn more here.
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