How to Self-Publish a Book: An Introduction to Self-Publishing

Thursday, December 13, 2018

If you’ve been considering how to publish a book by becoming an indie publisher, here's a brief overview of core publishing topics, from crafting your creation to bursting onto markets across the globe, and why they're so important to achieving publishing success. 

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Advances in technology have given writers the power to put their words to paper and publish a book. In the not so distant past, traditional publishing was the only way for authors to get their works printed and distributed with any credibility. Now, aspiring authors can do most of this work on their own and the bias around self-publishing is falling away. If done correctly, self-published books can have the same superior quality and marketability as books that receive treatment from a traditional publisher and here's how.


This may seem like a no-brainer, but writing is important. Good writing sells books, bad writing doesn’t. There are tons of writing tips out there for you to follow and it's important to avoid common writing mistakes by adhering to structure, but you also need to trust your own writer intuition. These are important elements of crafting a sellable book, however, a large portion of success in writing comes down to time management, knowing when to take a step back from your writing and when to tell writer's block to take a hike. 

Spend some time finding out what writing methods work best for you and then chase your muse to a finished manuscript. Nothing can happen until your book is written, so give this step the focus it deserves.

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Book Editing

Boom! First draft is in the books. Now it’s time to pull out that fine-tooth comb and rip it all to shreds.

No. We don’t want that.

You're welcome to self-edit to get your manuscript to what you feel is its best, but at some point you need to step away and let a fresh pair of eyes take a look at what you’ve created.

When you've finished your book; the next step is to have your manuscript professionally edited. There are many different types of edits, so consider which you think your book needs before hiring an editor or send your book for an editorial review so an editor can help you decide.

Editors do so much more than fix spelling and grammatical errors.

They make sure your story is cohesive from start to finish and that your plot and characters make sense throughout. Rates for editing can vary greatly depending on how much work your manuscript requires and what kind of editors your work with.

Knowing exactly what an editor can do for you and how to decide on one takes a bit of effort, but we recommend starting with an editor that has experience editing books in your genre, whom you feel comfortable with, and who fits within your price range. 

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Book Design and Book Formatting

If your proclivities extend beyond writing to also include computers, design, and the like, then this stage can be a breeze. If not, you're going to need to consider your options before diving headfirst into something that may drive you bonkers and leave you with a less than stellar final product. Nothing identifies a self-published book quite like novice design skills.

Regardless of how great your story may be, no one will give your book a chance if your book cover doesn't shine and your interior design distracts from the text.

It's easy to gloss over things like cover design and formatting, but these are intrinsic parts of producing a book that is sellable. There are specific file requirements for print books and file requirements for ebooks that, if not adhered to, can keep your book from reaching readers. And while your creativity drives your content, it also needs to come across in your book cover design.

The design process includes book cover design, interior design, and book formatting for print books and ebooks.

Book Cover Design

Contrary to the most famous of idioms, the cover of your book greatly affects its sales potential. The cover should be optimized for all media: print, digital, thumbnails, e-readers, and more. If you have a talent for book cover design or your own cover image in mind, creating the cover on your own can save you a great deal of money. You can also look for templated designs or book cover design tools to help you. However, if you do not have design skills, you will want to hire a professional. Professional designers vary in cost as well as editors, but you generally get what you pay for as far as cover design. Understanding the significance of your book cover, be sure you invest in getting this particular piece right.

If you want to design your own book, then take the time to learn how to do it well and in a way that works for your genre. If you don’t have the necessary skillset, it's essential that you reach out to someone who does.

Interior Design

Your interior design is what makes your book readable. It helps orient a reader to where they are in your book and should never distract from the story. Interior design is subtle, but necessary, including things such as the table of contents, chapter openers, page breaks, running heads, and page numbers. Be sure not to miss these standard elements, because nothing says unprofessional book quite like missing the basics of all interior book design. 

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Book Formatting

Once the design of your book's cover and interior are complete, you can format your book for both print and digital. Many authors will create a print version because there's a great deal of nostalgia and sense of accomplishment when you get to hold your finished book in your hands, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't also create an ebook. There are many reasons to create both versions. By printing only the copies you sell with print on demand and making your book available for purchase online, you extend your selling power for maximum results without wasting any time or energy.

Reasons to Publish Both an Ebook and Print Version of Your Book


If you're publishing your book with the intent of selling it, you will need to purchase and assign it an ISBN. The ISBN identifies your book as its own unique product and allows you to list yourself as the publisher and control the metadata associated with it. You should understand the importance of owning your own ISBN before accepting a free one, because free ISBNs limit your capabilities. If you intend to publish your book in multiple formats (meaning perhaps a hardcover version, a paperback version, and an ebook version of the same title), you will need individual ISBNs for each version, in which case, buying a block of ten ISBNs is a much better value.

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Book Distribution

After all the creative work is complete, you need to get your book to market. When considering print and digital, your chosen means of production and distribution play a large role in your ability to reach the right audience and ultimately, sell a whole lot of books.

Book distribution used to be the biggest roadblock for self-publishing authors. You could publish a well-written, well-designed book, but there was no way to get it out to the masses. Thankfully, that's no longer true.

It may seem like connecting with readers worldwide is overreaching, but with self-publishing platforms like IngramSpark, the possibility has never been more real.

IngramSpark helps ensure you don't limit your distribution by making your book available to our over 40,000 retail partners, including independent bookstores, chain bookstores (such as Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million), online retailers (such as Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Books), libraries, and so much more. With IngramSpark, independent publishers can tap into the same book distribution traditional publishers access. And not only that, IngramSpark's book distribution is global, connecting your book with a world of readers.

Learn More About IngramSpark's Book Distribution

Book Marketing

Once you've written your book, lined up editors and designers, and determined your publication date, you'll need to be thinking about your book marketing strategy!

You'll want to plan your book promotion long before you publish a book, because you want your book to have the best chance of succeeding, right? How can your book succeed if you haven't first told anyone about it?

The first step to every good book marketing plan is to determine your audience. It's a mistake to think your book is for everyone because realistically, it's not, and by trying to push your book to everyone, you lose focus and spend a lot of time (and potentially money) targeting the wrong people.

Start here, and then check out the marketing and promotion section of the IngramSpark blog for tons of specific book marketing tactics. There are also many experts that help self-publishers learn how to market their books with channels like social media, book review sites, etc, so feel free to pursue that route as well.

Download IngramSpark's Free Book Marketing Guide

Joining the Indie Publishing Community

By now we're certain this review of publishing for beginners has made it so that you can barely contain your excitement. You're ready to publish a book!

If you haven’t noticed already, the indie community is a pretty tight knit, but accessible group. We're all in it for the betterment of books worldwide and there are plenty of like-minded people out there ready to help you publish like a pro. There's plenty to learn, but also plenty of free resources to help you do so.

There has never been a more exciting time to be an author, and when it comes down to how to self-publish a book, we hope you'll turn to IngramSpark for support along the way. We're probably a bit biased, but we think we're the best option for authors hoping to self-publish a book and we hope you'll allow us to prove that to you! Happy publishing!


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.