Behind-the-Scenes of Self-Publishing a Book

I am currently experiencing a …


You know the feeling of waking up from a late night with bleary eyes and exhaustion running through every cell of your body? Multiple that by 9 months’ worth of nights, throw in a strong caffeinated drink, and you’ve got yourself one big book hangover. My heart is pumping with excitement over the fact that I’ve finished writing my second novella, but my brain is woooorn out. 🙂 I’m now in the aftermath of things and waiting for my book cover to be finalized and for the content to be formatted for publishing.

So as I’m recovering from my book hangover, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes of self-publishing a book. If you’ve ever thought about self-publishing, this will give you an idea of what to expect.

Step 1: Write the book. Easier said than done, but trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. And if writing a full length novel (40k+ words) scares you, write a novella. 🙂 Or even better, write a children’s picture book (in which case you’ll also need to draw pictures or hire an illustrator).

Step 2: Edit the book. You could hire people to edit and proofread your work or you could do it yourself (and save money). I used the free Hemingway Editor App and edited my book page by page. It was a slow and painful process, but well worth the effort.

Step 3: Find beta readers. Choose some fellow writers, as well as some bibliophiles (aka. lover of books) to read your book. Ask for their feedback on the characters and the storyline, especially if the characters stay true to their personalities in their words, thoughts and actions and if the story moves at a good pace and has enough tension and resolution. This is a crucial step because as a writer, we get caught up in our own “book world” and need objective eyes to tell us what works and what doesn’t work in our story.

Step 4: Polish the book. Take the critiques you have received from your beta readers and make any necessary changes to improve your book. Add the fun parts to your book, such as a dedication page and acknowledgements page (to thank your peeps!). Read the book again from start to finish and make sure you are happy and satisfied with it!

Step 5: Choose a publisher. There are several sites you can use to self-publish your book. For print books, the popular choice is Amazon’s Createspace, which is what I’ve gone with. They do POD (print-on-demand), which means your book is only printed after it has been bought, so there’s no need to shell out money to print the books first. For e-books, there are more choices: Amazon’s KDP, Nookpress, Kobo, Smashwords and Bookbaby. I went with Amazon again just to make things less complicated and also because they give authors more royalty (up to 70%). Create an account and go through the steps to set it up (which will include getting an ISBN number for your book!).

Step 6: Design the cover. If you’re Photoshop-savvy, you could design your own book cover. If you’re not, you could hire someone to do the work for you. While we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, we also know first impressions are everything – and the first impression of a book is its cover. So I chose to find a professional to help me and I am so glad I did! Deborah of Tugboat Design did an amazing job with my first book (see below) and I asked her to design my second one as well.


At my request, Deborah changed the guy’s shoes from plaid to brown (which I thought was more fitting for his character).


Step 7: Format the content. If you are patient and computer-savvy, you could format your book content yourself. If you’re not patient (like me!), you could hire someone to do it for you. Formatting the content means getting the document ready for publishing. This involves choosing the font, setting the margins and spacing correctly, and doing whatever else to make the inside of the book pretty and readable. I also asked Deborah from Tugboat Design to help me with this.

Step 8: Publish your book! After you have your book’s cover and content ready, you’re all set to upload the files to the publishing site. E-books go live fairly quickly (after about a day). For print books, you’ll need to get a sample sent to you to proofread and approve before the book can go live (the process takes 3-5 days).

Whew! I’m on step 7 now and can’t wait to get to step 8 in the next week or so. I’m super excited to share my second novella with you all!

Until then, here’s a cute song, “Bright” by Echosmith to get you in the mood for reading a love story.

What kind of book would you want to write?


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