The Ultimate Self-Publishing Guide for Aspiring Authors

Are you an aspiring author with a story to tell? Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name on the cover of a book? If so, self-publishing might be the perfect path for you. This self-publishing guide will walk you through the steps to turn your manuscript into a published book.

Step 1: Write and Edit Your Manuscript

The first step in self-publishing is, of course, to write your book. This process can take months or even years. Be prepared to set up a writing schedule so you keep adding to your book.  I found, for my own books, that writing for a half hour to an hour a day over the course of a year worked best.

Once your manuscript is complete, it’s time to edit. You can do this yourself, but it’s often helpful to hire a professional editor to ensure your book is polished and free of errors.

There are different editors for different results. The number of editors and specialists you’ll need really depends on the type of book you’ve written. At a minimum, you’ll need two editors: a substantive editor and a proofreader.

A substantive editor focuses on your book overall. They make sure that the timelines are correct, the order of chapters works, and so on. You’ll work back and forth with the substantive editor since they’ll go over your revisions as well.

A proofreader is essential to ensure your book is free from errors both in the copy and grammatically.

Step 1a: Start Building Your Audience

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to start promoting. I have my writers start this 6 months from publishing. Though it can seem like a long time out, you need to have an audience in place who are excited about buying your book.

Promoting can include building an audience on social media, starting an email list, and creating a website.

Step 2: Design Your Book

Next, you’ll need to design your book. This includes the cover and the interior layout. The cover is particularly important, as it’s the first thing potential readers will see. You might consider hiring a professional designer for this step, as a well-designed book can make a big difference in your book’s success.

Interior book design has more impact than most people realize. If your book is hard to read because the fonts are too big, inconsistent, or wrong altogether, it takes the reader out of the experience of enjoying the book. Ensuring your pages are laid out on the correct side, consistent chapter titles, and more also come into play. You’ve spent all the effort to write your book, it’s important to make sure it’s also readable!

Step 3: Format Your Book

Your book will need to be formatted for the platform you choose to publish on. This includes creating a table of contents, page numbers, headers, and footers. There are many software options available to help with this process, including some that are free.

This is a very detail-oriented process so make sure you are either completely comfortable with it, or you hire a professional.

Step 4: Choose a Self-Publishing Platform

There are many platforms available for self-publishing, including Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Smashwords, and Lulu. Each platform has its own set of requirements and benefits, so do your research to find the best fit for your book. I typically have my clients publish on Amazon for the greatest reach, but I’ve worked with other print-on-demand services to suit the needs of my clients.

Step 5: Set Your Price

Deciding how much to charge for your book isn’t that hard: look at what other books in the same genre, and same dimensions are charging and go with that. The exceptions would be business books that have a limited run or limited audience. Those books can be priced significantly higher.

Step 6: Publish and Promote Your Book

Once your book is formatted, designed, and priced, it’s time to publish. This process can vary depending on the platform you choose, but most platforms make it relatively simple. Make sure, if you work with a professional, that your book is on your account. Having autonomy and the ability to walk away from anyone you’ve hired is critical.

After publishing, it’s time to promote your book even more. This can include social media marketing, email marketing, and hosting events or giveaways. If applicable to your book, remember to look at BookTok and Bookstagram audiences for potential viral growth.

Remember, every author’s journey is unique, so this guide is just a starting point. Your path to self-publishing may look different, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to keep writing and keep working towards your goal.

Picture of Paula Telizyn

Paula Telizyn

Paula helps indie & business authors make beautiful, captivating books their readers will love.