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

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

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.

Most self-publishing authors will need to work with various freelancers to get their manuscript through the book editing, book design, and book publishing phases, all of which are necessary to your book's successful publication.

The Book Editing Process

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.

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The Book Design Process

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

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 book design. 

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. It's important to be wary of "free" ISBNs because assigning one that is provided for you limits your capabilities. You should understand the importance of owning your own ISBN before accepting a "free" one. ISBNs cost $125 for one, or $250 for ten. 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

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. Self-published books are made available to independent bookstores, chain bookstores (such as Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million), online retailers (such as Amazon, Kobo, and Apple iBooks), libraries, and so much more. With IngramSpark, independent publishers can tap into the same book distribution traditional publishers access, including over 39,000 retailers and libraries and major online retailers. And not only that, IngramSpark's book distribution is global, connecting your book with a world of readers.

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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

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 bias, 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.