How do I Self-Publish My Book?

Self-publishing your book is surprisingly easy. Seriously

What's the difference between Self-Publishing, Hybrid Publishing & Traditional Publishing?

The traditional publishing route is done through large publishing companies, such as Simon & Schuster, Penguin, MacMillan and many others. Getting in the door with one of these groups can be a challenge, as they reject 98% of the manuscripts they receive each year. And while they will take care of a great deal of the design and layout of your book for you, the tradeoff is that you no longer have control over your content and your royalties can be pennies on the dollar. However, if your goals for writing include becoming wildly famous and having your books line the shelves of every major bookstore, this is the path to forge

Hybrid publishing brings the editing and design tools of a traditional publisher, but opens the doors a little wider to anyone with a manuscript. The difference here being that you’ve also got to bring your wallet. A hybrid publisher often charges the author directly for services, either through a bundle or ala carte, to edit, proof, design, publish, market, and sell the book. This is a great option for anybody who’s uncomfortable doing most of the work on their book themselves, and has some money to invest in their project.

Self-publishing can be a true “do-it-yourself” experience, should you desire. It can also be an assisted experience, as you have the freedom to contract help in areas you feel less confident, such as designing a book cover or copyediting. The self-publishing path requires you to be responsible for every facet of your book, from inception to proofing the first printed copy. You will be the writer, marketer and salesperson for your book. This is the least expensive way to publish your book, yields the most control to the author, and is often the most lucrative.

Okay, so how do I self-publish my book?

All you need (literally) is your content in a digital form (Word doc, PDF, etc…) and time to design and edit your book.

Let’s assume you have a manuscript written…a work of exciting fiction, an account of your history, or a user manual for the cool high tech gadget you’ve invented—whatever content you may have, it can become the body of your book.

This the meat of your book. The standard is a PDF file for the entirety of your interior. Some platforms have alternate ways to provide this content, but most likely you’ll be readying a PDF. The interior will need to be created and prepared with pages sized to match your book, any margins and gutter properly added, the front matter and back matter included, and all contents set to the proper specifications for your self-publisher. Most often this means sizing the font correctly for the book size you’re publishing, and ensuring images are the proper resolution.

Interior File

Cover File

The cover is often one of the most challenging pieces of content for a self-published author. You’re a writer, not a graphic designer! Some self-publishing platforms will offer templates and premade covers you can use, but if you want a real professional appearance for your book, you’ll want to commission a designer to make one for you.


What the heck is metadata? By definition, metadata is data that describes and gives information about other data. For a book, this means information about the book, like the title, author, ISBN, and anything else used to separate your book from all the other books out there. There’s a lot that can go into making metadata work for you and your book, so it’s best to do as much research on the topic as you can.

Metadata content:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Back cover text
  • Author description

Why does metadata matter? Well, it’s the information that helps your book show up when someone out there on the Internet performs a search. Imagine you’ve written an awesome book about doing rollerblade jumps. If you don’t have metadata with important terms about rollerblade jumps, fellow rollerblade enthusiasts won’t find your book when they search online.

I'm ready to self-publish, where do I begin?

Before you do anything else, you need a goal. Think about why you’re self-publishing. Is it just so you can print a few copies for yourself? Are you making a manual or educational text you’ll be providing or selling to a large group of people? Will you be selling online or by hand at events? Your goals will inform how you plan and develop your content, and what your marketing (if any) will look like.


  • A book solely for personal use
  • Business or work related material
  • Educational text
  • Fiction or Non-fiction for retail

Or any of countless other goals. Determining your goal is important because it will inform how you create your book, the metadata, and the amount of funds you’ll put behind it.

Understanding the economics of self-publishing

When you self-publish, you have two directions you can take:

1) Self-publish without spending a penny
2) Pay professionals to edit, design, and market your book.

Which path you choose is entirely up to you! This is the beauty of self-publishing; you're always in control.

How much you spend on your book should be directly related to your publishing goals. If you have lofty hopes for your book, you may want to invest in a professionally designed cover, copyediting, and a bit of file layout assistance.

What if I need help with my manuscript?
Here's a rough idea of the cost to develop and prepare a manuscript. As the creator, you can pick and choose which services you require.

Publishing guides and timeline

You've finished your manuscript and you're ready to start your self-publishing journey! But where to begin?

Start with this toolkit full of helpful design and marketing guides.

Then use this planning checklist to make sure you're on track to hit your publication date.


Interior File
Cover File

Example cost for a manuscript of 70,000 words

Author Services

Free and Paid support exist in a variety of forms across the web. Check out the resources below for links to free, community-based assistance and paid services.

Once your book is published and out there, keep up the buzz with a solid marketing campaign!

Innovations in book printing technology have opened the door to publishing for anyone with time and content. You can self-publish a book inexpensively, distribute to all major online retailers, sell on your own website and retain rights to your content,all from the comfort of your couch!

Self-publsihing timeline

The Self-Publishing Timeline

Benefits of Self-Publishing

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Control of final product and formats
(softcover, hardcover, digital)

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Higher profit margins

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Faster speed to market

Flexible Formats

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