Six Steps to Self-Publishing

If you’re thinking of self-publishing your book, these are the six major steps to consider before you start. We’ve drawn up a basic roadmap to guide you through them.

Write Your Book

The first step of self-publishing is writing the book. There are two ways to go about this.

Write it yourself: If you are a good writer, you can write the book yourself. Although this will take a lot of time, it will also save a lot of money. If you write it yourself, you can also engage a writing coach to assist you in this process.

Hire a ghostwriter: If you are a knowledgeable individual with a lot of good information to share but no inclination to do the writing yourself, you can hire a ghostwriter to write your book for you. There are three price levels of ghostwriters.

A polished book goes through three different stages of editing before it is considered complete.

Substantive editing: This is editing that examines and improves the content of the book. Structural issues, problems with voice, reading comprehension, flow and pacing, and many other things are taken into account and repaired in a structural edit.

Copy editing: Copy editing focuses on editing the language of the book sentence by sentence, for spelling, grammar, clarity, flow and readability.

Proofreading: Proofreading deals entirely with the technical issues of language, primarily checking for spelling errors and grammar mistakes.


Once the content of the book is complete and polished, the manuscript will need to be transformed into book format. There are two major parts of book design.

Cover design: Your book cover is the first thing anyone sees. Whether you have a hard cover, soft cover or e-book, your book cover must hook readers immediately. Otherwise, they will move on to the next bright, shiny thing on the stand or the next click. Cover design deals solely with designing the cover of the book. The most affordable covers are simple and text-based — but boring. Expensive covers are more complicated and often incorporate licensed artwork — but are more appealing.

Interior design: Interior design deals with formatting the inside of the book. Margins, chapter headings, and design elements such as boxes and lists are all included in interior design.

Set Up Your Company

By definition, self-publishing means you are publishing the book. The best entity for doing this is your own company, which gives you total control and ownership.

Your publishing company is the entity that sells your book to distributors, such as Amazon. It’s the entity that signs up for ISBNs, Library of Congress numbers, tax deductions and other elements.


You can print your book in four main ways.

Hardcover: This is the traditional way of printing a book, with a hard-bound book cover. If you plan to sell your book to bookstores and high-end clients, hardcover is the most durable and impressive. It’s also the most expensive. Many authors choose to skip this option.

Softcover: This is the easier and cheaper way to print a book. Traditionally, publishers came out with the hard-bound version before going to softcover. These days, many self-publishers start with softcover.

Electronic (e-book): This is the most cost-effective way to “print” a book. The digital form can be downloaded to a tablet, iPad, smartphone or other mobile device. Because e-books do not use paper, you save printing and shipping costs.

Audio: Audiobooks are a fast-growing market, popular with commuters, business travelers and others who don’t have time to read. The trend is for authors to read their own books, creating more connection with their fans.


Whether or not you contract with a distributor depends on your plans for your book.

Personal use: If you intend to keep your book small scale (selling it at the back of the room after speaking engagements, for example, or selling it primarily on Amazon), there is no need to contract with a distributor. You can skip this step.

Commercial sales: If you intend to sell your book commercially, you will need a contract with a distributor. This is because, to sell your book commercially, you will want it to be in the bookstore system. For a small publisher, contracting with a distributor is the most practical way to go about that. A good distributor will help you sell your book, deal with finances, and take care of storage and shipping in exchange for a distribution fee.

Marketing & Publicity

The amount of marketing and publicity you do will also depend on your plans for the book.

Personal use: If you do not intend to sell your book commercially, you will need to do little or no marketing and publicity.

Commercial sales: Marketing and publicity are critical if you intend to sell your book commercially. The more you invest in marketing, the more copies of your book you are likely to sell. Sales and marketing methods span a wide range, including websites, social media, affiliates, speaking engagements, workshops, book signings and many more. 

Related Resources

Read more about Self-Publishing E-Books 

Read more about The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing 

Contact Us Today for a Consultation 

Return to the top of the Six Steps to Self-Publishing page 

Return to home page

  • “Thank you for your hard work, long hours, and commitment that you have put into this book. I would not be here if it wasn't for that one phone call. You believed in me, and I can't thank you enough for that, Helen.”

    Nisa Burns, author of Kitchenability, from Acknowledgments section

  • “To Helen Chang, for your editing brilliance and incredible cheerleading. Any person who has the privilege to work with you is very lucky.”

    Chad Mureta, Author, App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life and Let Technology Work for You

  • “To Helen Chang, noble warrior, editor, brave soul, and sojourner, who covers all the bases we would have missed had she not been there.”

    Michael Gerber, Author, The E-Myth Optometrist and other books, Acknowledgments chapter

  • “Helen Chang, wow, we did it! From book jail to book hell to book heaven, all in a few months. Your work ethic is unbelievable. You are a woman of excellence and diligence. I enjoyed working with you, and I love your heart for people.”

    Dani Johnson, Author, First Steps to Wealth, Acknowledgments chapter

  • “[Author Bridge Media] has taken me from talking about writing a book to actually having a book ready for the published market in under 4 months! Their support is amazing and if the author is willing to put in the time necessary, it can and will be done with this team.”

    Carmen Kosicek, RN, MSN, Author, Nurses, Jobs and Money: A Guide to Advancing Your Nursing Career and Salary