20 Steps To Self Publishing A Book

how to publish a book

In the past, publishing a book meant shopping the book at the right publishers, sending in copy after copy to publishing houses and then crossing your fingers hoping that someone would eventually decide to read your book. They’d fall madly in love with the book you wrote, call you and offer you a six-figure advance, a three book deal and all the publicity in the world. Move over JK Rowling; you’re in the house. Except that most books are never read by any publisher, and chances of not hearing rejection after rejection were slim (even JK Rowling had her Harry Potter series turned down time and time again). Today, you can publish whatever you want, whenever you want using the internet and your own smarts. Here’s how to self-publish your own book – the right way.

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how to publish a book

Know You Can Do It

The first and most crucial step in self-publishing a book is to know you can do it. You need not be an Ivy League grad with thousands of articles in print from a very prestigious national magazine or newspaper to become an author. In fact, you can publish a book even if you don’t have a high school diploma. You just have to know that anyone can do it, and you have to do the work to make sure yours is the best it can be.

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how to publish a book

Come Up with a Selling Idea

Now you have to come up with an idea that sells, unless you don’t want your book to sell. It’s up to you, of course. However, we really like the idea of a selling point. For example, if you are a fashion blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, you probably do not want to publish a book on historical presidential facts (compelling as that might sound) and then shop that to your readers.

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how to publish a book

Make Notes

Now is the time to make notes. Go through other books that have been self-published in the same category as yours and see what they’re all about. What works? What doesn’t? What is going to help your readers want to buy your book over the many others that are available? If you can go through this and make notes to that end, you’re already on fire and ready to go.

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how to publish a book

Organize your Thoughts

Now is the time to do the organization. You have to get those thoughts on paper so that you can get them organized and on track. You will need to go ahead and make sure that your notes are in order, your thoughts have been thought-out and that you have the plan you need to make this a reality in your life. Now that you are able to get your thoughts on paper and better organize your thoughts, it’s time to get to work.

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how to publish a book

Do the Research

No good book is without ample research. You might be the leading expert on the subject matter in your field, but you still need to go the research. Assuming you’re a fashion blogger, as we mentioned above, we don’t want you writing a book that mentions a year or fact that’s incorrect in the fashion world. That will do nothing but misinform unknowing readers and turn off those who are in the know.

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how to publish a book

Write the Book

Here’s the most important part of publishing your own book; actually writing the book. Can you do it? You can do it, and you don’t even have to be a professional. You simply have to be good with words, be a good speller and have some pretty basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation. It’s a matter of putting your pen to paper (or your keys to the keyboard) and getting to work.

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how to publish a book

Proofread the Book

There is nothing more important – aside from writing your book – than proofreading it. We all make mistakes; all of us. I do it all the time. I proofread, spell and grammar check and still make mistakes when I write. Sometimes I don’t catch my mistakes, and sometimes they are published. It’s not awesome, so it’s imperative that you proofread your book when it is done.

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how to publish a book

Proofread the Book Again

Yes, I know. Here’s the deal, though; if you’re sitting here saying that you don’t want to proofread the book you wrote a second time, perhaps it’s not all that interesting and you should try to put your feet in your reader’s shoes. If you don’t want to read it again, why would they? Now fix it and make it better.

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how to publish a book

Ask Someone Else to Proofread Your Book

I know, I know; you are about tired of reading this book and having other people read it. Sometimes, thought, other people are much better at making corrections than we are. We are often so critical of our own work that we don’t even bother with the idea of proofreading a second time, and we can’t do it a third because we want to cry and throw it into the nearest fireplace while we cry into a bottle of wine. Someone else is going to be able to give you some serious input.

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how to publish a book

Get an Editor

This is sort of an either/or. You can ask a friend or colleague to proofread your book, or you can hire an editor. You can do this online at a number of different locations (ODesk, Elance, etc.) for a small fee and have them edit your book and proofread it for you. It’s an easy job, but you have to be able to find good help and you have to be able to accept the criticism that comes alone with it.

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how to publish a book

Find Metadata that Works

For many, the best place to go for this is Smashwords. This is a program that transforms your work into the right layout so that it looks good, works well and actually has the feel and look of a real book. You cannot just write a bunch of chapters in Word and publish them. There are different things you have to do, and Smashwords will be what helps you get to that point right away.

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how to publish a book

Find the Right Platform for Publication

There are so many different platforms and publications available out there, and they are going to be where you need to do your research. Where do you want to offer your book? Do you want to offer it through Kindle? You need to do the research to find out what is best for you and your book, and then you need to figure out where it is least expensive and where it is most beneficial to you.

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how to publish a book

Find a Print On Demand Service

If you want to print your book, find an on demand service so that you can. This is going to allow you to shop your book in local bookstores and anywhere else that you’d like to shop it. You might find it useful to put it at the local library or just make it available to readers who want to go ahead and use their resources to order an actual copy of your book rather than download the book.

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how to publish a book

Find an Amazing Cover

This is where it becomes imperative to find a professional. You need a book cover that is professional, perfect and gorgeous. This is what people see. Though most of us are perfectly aware that we are not to judge a book by its cover, that’s precisely what we do. So, if you want your book to sell, a homemade cover likely will not do the trick.

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how to publish a book

Market, Market, Market

Next comes the marketing aspect of writing and publishing your book. You now need to market, market, market. This is how you get the word out. Talk to local establishments, put copies in locations that might be relevant to the subject nature of your book. Network with locals, do the work you have to do to sell your book and ensure that it’s something you can use to your advantage.

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how to publish a book

Join Social Media

Now is the time to join social media if you have not already. Actually, the time to join was a while ago. The more followers you have on Twitter and Instagram, the more people you reach when you are marketing your book. Go ahead and join; join writer groups and make friends and network and promote your book left and right and right and left and everywhere in between.

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how to publish a book

Take Constructive Criticism and Use It

Now you have to do the most difficult thing you will ever do; you have to listen to what your readers have to say. They might hate your book. They might love it. It’s not easy to hear people criticize your hard work – especially those who missed the memo about doing so constructively – but it is something that you have to hear. It might hurt, but it will make you better. I promise that.

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how to publish a book

Be Passionate

If you are not passionate about what you are writing and what you are doing, you are not doing it well. Your passion is your driving force, and it is what makes you want to work harder to succeed. If you are not passionate about what it is you are writing, you are not writing about what you need to write about. Your passion shows in your words and in your work, and it is very much what others want to see.

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how to publish a book

Lower Your Expectations

You are very likely not going to sell a million copies of your new book in a week now that you have self-published the book. You might sell a few, you might sell a few thousand; it all depends on how many people know about the book, where you are promoting and what you’ve been doing to get people excited about it. However, you need to lower your expectations. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you are not selling millions of copies when that’s what you are expecting to sell.

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how to publish a book

Try and Try Again

The key to self-publishing success is trying again and again. You will find that it’s imperative that you write many books. Aim for two or three a year. The more your readers have to read, the better. Chances are very good your first book will not be the raging success that your 7th book might be. You get better every time, and that will show in your work. You will have more readers and fans every time, too. Just keep trying.

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Written by Tiffany Raiford

Tiffany Raiford is a lifelong Floridian, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of four littles (two girls and boy/girl twins...no, they are not identical and yes, I'm sure). My kids love to whine, so I love to wine. My loves include nap time, bed time, date night, travel and evenings and weekends when my husband is home because he handles all diaper changes.