Write + Publish That Book Like You Said You Would

In March 2017, I self-published my book, Nappy by Nature! Upon publishing, I continaully receive inquiries and even meet with people to walk them through the process. Self-publishing has become an option, in addition to traditional book publishing, that has allowed many successful people to share their stories with the world. Some well-known authors who started off self-publishing include TD Jakes, Alex Elle, and Rupi Karr. With 2018 just starting, many people have a goal to write and publish a book, so without a further ado here is a quick breakdown of how to make it happen. Good luck! 


First things first write your manuscript. This is probably the most obvious step but it must be said: Write Your Story. The hardest part is getting your ideas out of your head and onto the page (or computer screen). Discipline yourself to write every day, you don’t have to write hundreds of words a day, but the discipline will help you developing the habit of writing. Also, just write and get the words out. While writing don’t focus on editing or perfecting the story, this is the fun part!

When you’ve got your story done it’s time to edit. Take off the creative hat and put on the practical one. Edit grammar, style and flow of the text. Pro Writing Aid and Grammarly offer software to help edit grammar and style for free or minimal costs. Also, be sure to edit more than once. Print out your manuscript and take a red pen to it- you have to go old school. After you’ve edited once, step away for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes. A great tip is to read the book from back to front, you’ll find mistakes and it’ll help check the flow of the story. If you are not about that editing life you can find an editor online. Editor fees will vary based on manuscript length and services rendered. 

Once you’re happy with your manuscript you can begin to format. Formatting consists of choosing paper color, page number placement, font, font size, and more. Every detail from what page you want your chapters to begin on to how you want to design your table of contents is done here. I suggest visiting your local library or bookstore and looking at different book sizes and interiors to find what you like. Similar to editing, there are companies you can hire to format your book. Cost for formatting will depend on book size and can cost up to a few hundred dollars. If you’re proficient in Microsoft Word in inDesign you can tackle formatting the interior yourself. 

Next, design your book cover. Everyone judges a book by its cover, don’t believe anything else. This is a crucial part of marketing your book and giving it shelf appeal. You can design your cover yourself or hire an artist or designer to create the image you envision. Keep in mind the book size you decided on the previous step so that your designer can implement accordingly. The design includes the front cover, spine and back cover. 

Now that your book is written and edited it’s time to find a printer and secure your ISBN. An ISBN is essentially a social security number for your book-it distinguishes your book from all others. ISBN numbers can be found on the copyright page and near the barcode of books. You can purchase an ISBN from Bowker for $125 or depending on your printer receive a free one, however the free ISBN will list your printer as the publisher instead of you or your publishing company. When you purchase your ISBN you own it right out and can move your book to various printers and sellers with no issue. Most people that self-publish use a print-on-demand company for their books. Print-on-demand companies allow you the flexibility to order small quantities to have on-hand for events, signings, or even your online bookstore without spending much money upfront. One of the most popular companies is Creatspace, which is an Amazon owned company. By printing with Createspace your book is automatically pushed on Amazon’s website as well as other retailers. Before you release your book to the world, order a proof copy to review  the cover and interior printing, it is also a chance for you to reread the book once more and make additional edits. 

For additional distribution, apart from Amazon and brick-and-mortar bookstores, you can create an ebook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks. You can convert the file yourself or use Fiverr (my personal favorite) to have someone convert it. I paid less than $10 to have my book converted to Kindle and ePub, this included a clickable table of contents and correct formatting. 

Once you are happy with your proof and have chosen distribution methods and channels it’s time to release it to the world! If you get stuck in this process remember Google is your friend. Also, several YouTube creators offer great insight and step-by-step tutorials on how to self-publish. 

Hope this Reader’s Digest version of self-publishing gave you enough insight to see the process isn’t as daunting as it appears. You’ve got this! Let me know what you’re working on and don’t hesitate to email me with any questions at charelliam@gmail.com.

Charell Strong