Whether you’ve always aspired to be an author, or writing is a new venture for you, publishing a book is a big commitment. The process can be overwhelming— editing costs how much? What’s a MOBI file? — But remember, just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you’re in it alone.

Of course, everyone has a slightly different experience publishing, since every author has their own individual goals and expectations for their book. However, here’s a basic guideline of what the publishing process should look like.

1First and foremost, write the book! In theory, this is the most straightforward step in the process. If you’re a professional or entrepreneur who’s looking to publish a book to boost your reputation and credibility, then you might consider hiring a ghostwriter, who will write your book for a fee. If you’re an author in your own right, then you know the drill here.

2There are many different types of self-publishing routes you can take, and each one has its own benefits:

  • DIY self-publishing companies, such as Lulu and FastPencil, offer publishing and distribution services to authors. Authors can buy publishing packages, or pick and choose what services they need.
  • Hybrid publishers, such as Wise Ink Creative Publishing, offer a more hands-on approach to their clients. If you’re looking for a company that will be more of a resource and help you with your decisions along the way, then a hybrid publisher is for you.
  • Freelance professionals offer authors the opportunity to build their own publishing team. This route might require more work, but you’ll be able to personally vet the professionals that work on your book. Prices will vary according to the experience of the freelancer, so be sure to put in the necessary time and research to find what you’re looking for in regards to quality and pricing. Looking for a place to start? Online marketplaces like BiblioCrunch and Writer.ly help to connect writers with freelance professionals.

No matter which route you take, it’s important to make sure you’re producing a high quality book. In order to compete in the book market, your book should hold up to the industry standards. Just because you’re self-published doesn’t mean your book has to look self-published.

3Print, eBook, or both? Deciding which formats you will offer your book in is an important decision. I suggest offering your book in both print and digital. Some people prefer the convenience of on-the-go digital, while others are hardcore print fans. You’ll want to appeal to both these groups.

Deciding the formats for your book is the easy part. Deciphering different digital and print options…not so much.

Here are a few of the most popular digital formats:

  • The standard file type, ePub is compatible with most eReaders and smartphones. The benefit of the ePub format is that it allows a book's text to adjust or “reflow” automatically to different screen sizes.
  • The MOBI file type can only be recognized by the Amazon Kindle eReader and the various Kindle apps, such as Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac and Kindle for iPad.
  • The iBook’s format can be created for free through the eBook layout software from Apple, but can only be sold through the Apple iBooks Store and used on Apple devices.

If you do choose to offer a print version (which I hope you do), Print On Demand is the best option. There’s much less risk involved with POD than if you were to print off 1,000 copies of your book. We’ve all heard the horror stories of authors who have hundreds of copies of their book under their bed or stacked in their garage collecting dust and not making them any money. With POD, your money isn’t tied up, so you’ll have more success in a shorter period of time.

Some popular POD providers are Lulu, Blurb, Lightening Source and 360 Digital Books.

4Marketing. This, my friends, is a big step in the publishing process and, sadly, is the one that is most often overlooked. Many authors are in such a rush to publish, they put off thinking about marketing until after the book is released. By doing this, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build excitement and momentum around your upcoming book.

All authors should be working to build their own platform as early as possible. If you’re an entrepreneur publishing in your field, then you have a pre-established platform. However, if you’re writing a memoir, or a novel, you’ll have to work to establish your platform and audience. Knowing who your audience is and how to reach them is the first step in developing the marketing plan for your book.

5Many first time authors, who most likely believe this is a step for already established authors, often overlook collecting pre-orders. However, conducting a pre-order campaign in the 30-60 day time period before the release of your book is beneficial for many reasons.

  • First, if your platform is established, as it should be, you’ll have access to your audience and will be able to generate sales before publication.
  • Second, collecting pre-orders is a sign that you take your book seriously, and others will, too.
  • Third, using a platform like Pubslush will give you access to data about your early readers. This is important information for any author to know.
  • Lastly, a pre-order campaign gives you a more concrete way to promote your book before publication, which will help you to effectively build the buzz and momentum needed to make more of an impact on the release date.

6Which retail outlets will you sell your book through? There are a few major options out there to choose from. Of course, there are always local options to consider as well.

  • Authors can sell both digital and print books through Amazon. Kindle Direct Publishing allows authors to upload and sell eBooks through Amazon. CreateSpace allows authors to publish and sell print books, offering POD technology. Royalties vary for each format and are based on the listing price of the book.
  • Kobo is an eBook store that sells books in the ePub format. It’s simple and free to upload your book to sell through Kobo’s eBook store. Authors also receive market information and statistics for their eBook through their Dashboard dynamics.
  • If you’re an independent author, to sell your book on Barnes & Noble, you must first become a vendor of record, complete a publisher information form, and also submit bibliographic content.

No matter which route you choose, or what your publishing journey looks like, the most important thing to keep in mind is that publishing a high quality book should be your number one priority. Choose the publishing options that make the most sense for you and your book, but always hold your book up to the highest standards. Remember, readers and reviewers will definitely judge your book by it’s cover, so make sure it’s an eye catching one!