Whether you’re at the earliest stages of writing or further along the publishing path, questions are sure to arise. “What do I do next?” “Where do I go from here?” The good news is there’s a clear and logical direction—you just need to follow it! Use this handy guide to learn about the entire book publishing process. Start at the beginning and read in all, or click the links below to jump to the section that applies to you.
- I have an idea for a book.
- I completed my first draft.
- I’ve self-edited my book.
- My book has been professionally edited.
- I have a professionally-designed cover.
- My book has been formatted.
- An eBook has been created.
- I chose a distribution method.
- I’ve started marketing my book.
I have an idea for a book; now what?
You have the perfect story to write or topic to cover—great! Now it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and WRITE. No book will be published until it’s written, so first things first: Write the first draft. It may not be pretty (most first drafts aren’t), but it’s the most essential step toward publishing a book. Get our Writer’s Guide to help you get started!
I completed my first draft; now what?
Finishing a first draft is such a satisfying feeling, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Your book needs several rounds of edits and revisions. Start by reading through from the beginning, looking for big-picture things like structure and plot holes. Subsequent passes should narrow in on line-by-line edits, including prose and grammar. Once you have self-edited your manuscript, it’s time to get outside eyes on it. Connect with beta readers or swap with critique partners who can provide valuable feedback.
I’ve self-edited my book; now what?
Just because you’ve spent time editing and incorporated beta feedback doesn’t mean the editing stage is done—sorry! Now it’s time for a professional editor. While some people may consider hiring an editor as an unnecessary expense, the value you’ll receive is priceless in terms of elevating your book to publish-worthy standards. Editors come in all types: developmental editors, line editors, copyeditors, and even proofreaders. Decide which ones you need most, or at least hire a professional copyeditor to review your manuscript.
My book has been professionally edited; now what?
At this stage, it’s time to think about cover design. Book covers are vital to the book’s overall success. Why? Because humans are visual by nature, and that age-old saying that people judge a book by its cover is true. An eye-catching, professionally-designed cover is the easiest way to attract a reader. Likewise, cheap, amateur, or unattractive covers are a surefire way to turn off readers. The big takeaway is this: Don’t skimp on your book cover, and don’t try to create one yourself if you don’t have the skill and experience to do so. Hire a professional cover designer.
I have a professionally-designed cover; now what?
The outside may be complete, but the inside of your book still needs the finishing touches. It’s time for formatting—that means turning your Word document into a book layout. Like the cover design, this is not something you want to tackle yourself unless you have experience. Instead, look to experienced typesetting designers who ensure everything looks clean and professional, including fonts, spacing, margins, page numbers, chapter headings, headers, and so much more.
My book has been formatted; now what?
Now is when you should decide whether you will offer an eBook in addition to your print book. eBook sales continue to rise, and the use of eReaders is becoming more and more popular. In many cases, authors can earn higher royalties on eBook sales because of the low production costs. Consider hiring a designer who can turn your manuscript into the appropriate file type for an eBook, or you can read our blog on how to upload your manuscript.
An eBook has been created; now what?
Your book is written, designed, and formatted—YAY! But how are you going to get it out to readers? Do a little research into distribution options. Amazon KDP is a popular and easy print-on-demand platform for authors, and it includes step-by-step instructions for setting up your book. Like it or not, Amazon is one of the first places readers go to buy books and read reviews. For this reason, most self-published authors will opt to use this platform. When it comes to eBooks, you can distribute directly through common sites like Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, etc., or you can use an aggregator service such as Draft2Digital, which will link your book to all those platforms for a small percentage of sales.
I chose a distribution method; now what?
If your book is ready to go out into the world, you must start thinking about how to market it. Book marketing is incredibly important to attract readers and increase your book’s visibility—but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to most people. Writers, by nature, tend to be introverted, so self-promotion is something you’ll have to learn to be comfortable. The hard truth is this: No one will know about your book if you don’t market it, so you should consider what types of marketing are best for you and your book. Consider pre-publication efforts like setting up social media accounts, teasing readers with a cover reveal, and encouraging people to pre-order the book. Before launch day, contact local bookstores to inquire about hosting a book signing. Reach out to podcasters in your area of expertise or genre about being a guest. Find bookstagrammers or book bloggers who might be interested in your book and ask to send them a free copy in exchange for a review. You can do so many things to market your books, but the most important is to be persistent. Don’t underestimate the power of book marketing!
I’ve started marketing my book; now what?
Keep going! Marketing never really stops, and while there may be a more significant push around a book’s launch, you should aim to keep the marketing efforts going well beyond when your book is published. Think about seasonal or annual ways you can refresh your marketing. Does your book tie into a particular time of year or a social/cultural/historical theme? That’s an excellent time for another marketing push. At the end of the day, you want to keep your book in front of readers as much as possible. Once you have a plan for extended marketing, it’s time to sit back and take a well-deserved breather. You wrote and published a book! Give yourself a pat on the back—you earned it!