There are two basic flavors of self publishing. You can go with a service based publisher like IUniverse, Trafford, or Lulu. They will help you with all the tedious parts of putting the book together. With this method you give up a little creative control. You might use templates and have limited choices in cover art, but it will make the process easier.
Or, you can do it 100% yourself. If you chose to do it this way, you have quite a list of things to do in order to put your book together, but you get the freedom to really make it yours. If you choose to go this route, stop into your local library and pick up a few books on how to do it. I believe Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual is considered the “bible” for all people choosing this route. I have a copy myself and found it to be extremely helpful.
To start, you will want to make your “to do” list. Each step in the process has one major goal with many minor ones to consider. Take your time with each step because the final outcome depends on it. Here is the short list.
1) Write the book and get it critiqued.
Make sure it is 100% ready before you send it off to an editor. Use Critique groups to help you make the story as good as it can be. If there are no local crit groups in your area, check out some of the online sites. There are plenty of them out there, just make sure that your work is protected when you post it. Look through the rules and FAQ’s for the site and make sure your work is not searchable via sites like google. You don’t want your book all over the internet before you publish it.
One of my favorite sites to work with is.
2) Have a Pro, edit the book.
Your book may have been several rounds with a critique group and you may have a masters in English, but don’t send out a book that hasn’t had a pro look at it. Self-Publishing is already looked down on, don’t give reviewers another reason to put a nail in your coffin.
To find info on editors, check out Predators and Editors.
Think of it like the “Consumer Reports” page on Writing and Publishing. It’s a great wealth of information.
3) Printing and Distribution.
Unless you plan on going door to door with a stack of books, you want a printer who can distribute to the big guys like Amazon.com
You can use Amazon’s Create Space/Book Surge to have your books put together and distributed. Check with them on what services they offer too.
No matter who you choose, you want to have your printer selected before you move on to further steps in the book process.
4) Book Layout.
This can be done in word, but it is quite a frustrating process. The layout is how you book will look when printed; all of those fun little details like: headers and footers, font, page breaks, page size, margins, etc…
You can hire out for this, or you can look for programs that help you do it yourself. I found one on Self-pub.net that was quite helpful.
5) Book Cover Design.
Finding a reasonably priced designer can be a fun venture. Do your research and ask around to find your designers. Social networking sites like Facebook are wonderful for this, there are lots of groups out there with aspiring novelist, they are a wealth of information and leads.
I found both my print and ebook cover artist via networking on Facebook.
One note to remember here, your designer will want to know some things before they make your cover. I learned this the hard way. Know what your book dimensions will be before this step. Know the page count, know the size of the book, paper or Hb. Do your book layout first.
Every book has one so you will have to purchase these.
7) PCN or LCCN.
If you want your book able to be on library shelves, you will need one of these numbers.
Please note, you will have to send them a copy of the final product after publication.
File online! Yay!
So there you have it, the short list. If you’re still considering self-publishing, don’t feel overwhelmed. It is do-able. You just have to take your time with it.