[Updated February 29, 2024]

You have written a book. Now what?

Below is an outline of the steps to take to publish your book.

#1 – Get it professionally edited and proofread.

I am adept in correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, offering suggestions to clarify text, and ensuring consistency in style and layout. Please contact me (karennewton1@gmail.com) for a quote!

For substantive, developmental editing, consider Cindy Draughon. She focuses on developing and polishing the language, imagery, and pace to ensure the book is both exciting and appropriate for the reader’s sensibilities.

#2 – Choose a format —print and/or digital.

Most self-publishing authors want their books in paperback and ebook formats.

The company you select will have specifications for printing and, possibly, for helping to market your book. Some suggestions for retail and distribution include:

** Draft2Digital bought Smashwords in 2022. Smashwords was another popular aggregator. ALSO, Draft2Digital was initially an aggregator only for ebooks. They now distribute paperback books (using D2D Print), but if you already have your book at Amazon KDP and IngramSpark you could be doubling up and causing havoc. I recommend using Draft2Digital for ebooks only and using Amazon KDP and IngramSpark

“D2D Print doesn’t currently offer a la carte distribution. D2D Print Books are distributed across the extended Amazon and Ingram Spark distribution networks.” ~ Lexi Greene, March 2023

If you plan to list it on Amazon AND pursue other avenues for both PRINT and EBOOK, consider choosing both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. Don’t “double up,” meaning: If you upload your book to Amazon KDP and Barnes and Noble directly, then make sure you do NOT select these when choosing distribution at IngramSpark.

If you do not want to self publish and would like to find a major publishing company to publish your book, do your research and follow their guidelines closely. There might be specialty publishers for your niche/genre. All publishing companies have specific ways they prefer to consider manuscripts, so send them what THEY want (otherwise, your manuscript will go nowhere…).

#3 – Choose a size for the finished book.

This is needed early on, especially if you include images or illustrations. You will want them appropriately sized to fit the page. Example: Children’s books often have illustrations that bleed off the edge of the page. If the book/page size is known, the illustrator can size the illustrations and provide you with high-resolution files. General book sizes (in inches) for different genres are:

    • Mass market paperback, 4.25 x 6.87
    • Young adult, 5 x 7, or middle school, 5 x 8
    • Trade paperback, 5 x 8 to 6 x 9
    • Inspirational/spiritual, 5 x 8
    • Mysteries/thrillers, 5.25 x 8
    • Self-help or memoir, 5.25 x 8
    • Business, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.25
    • Nonfiction, 5.5 x 8.5
    • Fiction, 6 x 9
    • Hardback, 6 x 9
    • Reference, 6 x 9, 7 x 10
    • Textbook, 6 x 9 and variations up to 8.5 x 11
    • Children’s picture book, 8.5 x 8.5 or 7 x 10

Even though these are “standard,” you can select the size from the printer’s options.

#4 – Gather any illustrations and images.

Work with an artist to design the illustrations or obtain stock illustrations or images (be sure to include appropriate credit). Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself for the author bio page!

Tip: Have your illustrations designed using RGB (red, green, blue) colors. RGB provides a richer, more vibrant color palette. Your book can be converted to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) with a click of a button after typesetting and layout are completed. What is the difference, you might ask? RGB colors are primarily for digital media. For the printed page, printing presses use a baseline of CMYK to build colors. Hence, documents and books with images and illustrations in color need to be converted to CMYK.

#5 – Get the cover created.

Have it based on the size you have chosen and the printer specifications. Don’t forget about the ISBN (which will be needed for the copyright page) and the barcode (to place on the back cover). You need an ISBN if you plan to market your book widely. It is your book’s personal identification number. It enables distributors, bookstores, libraries, and others to purchase your book and easily track the sales. [For more information, see our post ISBNs and Barcodes.]

There are different avenues to getting an ISBN. Bowker.com is the primary source in the United States. If you will be writing several books, you can buy ISBNs in bulk.

Some publishers might provide you with an ISBN for free, but it will be for their use only. For example, if you use Amazon’s free ISBN, you can only use that ISBN for that book at Amazon. You will need a different ISBN for the same book elsewhere. It is better to have your own.

#6 – Choose a typesetter – ME!

Once you have selected a typesetter (ME!), you will need to provide the following material:

    • Cover, if you have it, even if it is not yet completed. (I often use this to get ideas for typeface, font, and other small design elements for the book, depending on the genre.)
    • Title, subtitle (if any), and complete author’s name
    • Copyright information (include the ISBN if you have one)
    • Dedication
    • Acknowledgments, if any
    • Author bio and photo (if you want to include one)
    • Text – the FINAL version of your body copy with all editing done. (Inevitably, you might have some minor corrections or text changes along the way, which I can incorporate.)
    • Illustrations, graphics, images, figures, tables, and other added material
    • Table of contents (TOC) and index (These depend on your book. If needed, I can generate both. TOCs are generally part of the book generation. There is an extra charge to create an index. Please note: TOCs and indexes are not needed for ebooks.)
    • Any specifications or instructions you have or layout ideas you have in mind
    • Printer selection

For more information about the services I provide, check out my Menu of Services.

#7 – Start the marketing process during the writing and editing process!

    • Author website (or a book page on your business or personal website)
    • Social media promotion (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) – release date, early review blurbs, book cover, giveaways, preorder
    • Author pages at Amazon and other locales (Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Goodreads, etc.)
    • Reviews from colleagues, friends, and readers
    • Advanced reader copies and giveaways
    • Emails to your reader list – release/launch date, preorder, giveaways, book blurbs, etc.