Useful Tips To Get Your Book Self-Published

So you finished your first book and want to step into self-publishing. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

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Woman writing in a notepad at a table with a stack of books off to the side.

Your first step into becoming a writer was thinking of a plot idea and writing all your thoughts into a cohesive story. After months of work, you find yourself staring at the first draft of your novel. The storyline is gripping, your characters have depth, your plots are twisty, and it’s finally time to share your work with the readers of the world.

Stepping into the self-publishing world can be intimidating, but we’re here to help make it less scary. Here are a few things we’re going to touch on that will help you ease into publishing your own manuscript:

  • Preparing Your Manuscript
  • Creating a Captivating Cover
  • Finding the Right Self-Publishing Platform
  • Launching and Selling Your Book

Preparing Your Manuscript

Making a Marketable Product

The first step would be creating a marketable book. Remember, your book is a piece of art and needs an audience. Any audience will work, but focusing on a marketable one is crucial. It’s a good idea to follow a trending trope with a large and definable audience. This helps you land some eager readers. However, there is a possibility that your book becomes too saturated in the already trending market. You have to be unique and stand out from the rest of the titles in the genre. Whether it’s a gripping plot twist, relatable characters, or a unique writing style, highlighting these elements will make your book more marketable and help it stand out in the sea of similar books.

Edit, Edit, and Edit More

Another important step in the self-publishing process is editing. Even the most talented writer needs a fresh set of eyes to catch errors, polish their work, and smooth out the edges. You know your book better than anyone, which can be a problem in the editing process. You may think one interaction between two characters is important to the story, but another person might see it as unnecessary fluff. Hiring an editor can help gather crucial feedback. A well-edited book is paramount to professionalism and improves your audience’s reading experience. Be sure not to break the bank when hiring editors; you don’t need a full team of Hollywood writers.

Also, don’t neglect to use your fellow writers as ways to receive editing advice. Joining a writing workshop is a great way to give and receive peer review editing. Constructive criticism from other writers will help you rethink things in your story you might not have otherwise thought of. Being in a workshop of writers can give you ideas on how you can improve your writing.

A white keyboard with a blue button in the center with 'Edit' written on it.

Professional editors come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from specializing in genres to focusing on grammar and flow of the story. For example, a developmental editor will read your story for content and story editing. This editor will notice the broad strokes of your plot, characters, and story arcs. They will point out plot holes, ineffective story beats, or underdeveloped character arcs.

On the other hand, a line editor will narrow their focus to the individual lines in your book. Think of it like sandpaper to smooth out any edges. They will ensure the style of your sentences fits the theme and emotion of what you wrote and ensure every sentence reads smoothly.

Lastly, a proofreading editor will give your manuscript a final comb-through. They will notice any errors you may have accidentally created during your editing. They will look for things such as typos, extra spaces, and any story inconsistencies.

Here are a few suggestions for finding the right editor for you:

  • Editorial Freelancers Association: This is a large group of freelance editors that can help find the editor you need for your story.
  • Manuscript Wish List: A collection of editors that specialize in specific genres. Try this if you’re looking for a set of eyes that knows your genre.
  • Fiverr: This website offers freelance editors at different prices and genres. There are options to filter searches based on the editor you need.
  • Reedsy: Another collection of editors to give feedback on your story with the ability to compare prices between editors.

Formatting Formation

Similar to editing, formatting is an important part of the book-writing process. Your focus while writing was to get all your thoughts created and made for your book; the importance of formatting hasn’t dawned on you quite yet. In this digital age we all know and love, readers expect a seamless and simple reading experience across different devices. Formatting editors take your book and make it look and flow better. Whether it’s going to be printed on a small book that fits in your pocket, a book to rival the phonebook in size, or fitting it on a tablet are things formatting editors will take into account. You worked hard on your book, so you want it to be as presentable as possible, and these editors will do just that.

Finding a formatting editor for your book is similar to finding previous editors; here are some suggestions:

  • Atticus: This software will help you format your book yourself. It is a paid program, but the results may speak for themselves.
  • ineedabookinterior: This is a one-woman-run service that offers templates to format your book. Don’t worry — she has experience in publishing!
  • ghostbookauthors: While this is a ghostwriting service, they also offer formatting as a separate service.

Creating a Captivating Book Cover

Cover Design

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s face it, that isn’t exactly true when it comes to purchasing a novel. First impressions matter, and your book cover is no exception. It’s the first thing readers will notice, so it should reflect the tone and genre of your book. Hiring a skilled graphic designer who understands book cover design can help create a visually appealing and marketable cover. Of course, if you have an artistic bone in your body, it isn’t impossible to create the cover yourself!

You know the book better than anyone, so you know best what cover should represent your story. Just like editors, book cover designers can be found through the same websites. Alternatively, you could browse pre-made book covers on websites like thebookcoverdesigner, damonza, and allaboutbookcovers. Remember, your book will be sitting on a shelf with hundreds of other books that went through a traditional publishing method, so you need it to blend in with them rather than stick out like a sore thumb.

A woman standing in a store with books all around her.

Additionally, a book cover reveal is a great way to generate more excitement about the book. If you’ve been talking about the upcoming book on your social media platforms, it would be wise to use the book cover as a marketing tool. Tease your growing audience with sneak peeks at the cover, maybe revealing more about it as the release date approaches. Eye-catching graphics and engaging captions can capture your audience’s attention and increase anticipation for your book’s release.

Finding a Self-Publishing Platform

Self-Publishing Platforms

You can choose from numerous platforms for self-publishing, each with pros and cons. Research and compare platforms based on factors like distribution reach, royalties, and ease of use. It would be smart to seek recommendations for good publishing associations through other self-published authors and trusted industry publications. However, be aware of any potential scams. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Some promise unrealistic results, demand large fees for basic services, or promise to publish your book but instead ignore it and let it collect dust.

Pen hovering over a publishing contract.

Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong choice when it comes to self-publishing platforms. It comes down to whatever needs you may have and who can meet them the best. Here are a few potential self-publishing platforms that you may want to consider and how they can benefit you. Remember, these are not the only places that offer this service. We urge you to do research and find one that works best for you. Here are a few suggestions, along with the pros and cons.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a self-publishing platform owned by Amazon. It helps authors publish their books in e-book and print-on-demand formats. With a user-friendly interface and helpful promotional tools, this is a popular choice for authors looking to self-publish.


  • Large audience: Amazon is the world’s largest retailer, and publishing through KDP ensures your book has access to a vast potential audience.
  • User-friendly interface: KDP is known for having a simple-to-use interface with an easy way to upload and publish your books.
  • Royalty options: KDP offers a range of royalty options.
  • Marketing tools: KDP has various promotional tools to help you reach a wider audience.
  • Print-on-demand: KDP’s print-on-demand option makes it easy to offer print versions of books.


  • Exclusivity: Taking advantage of KDP’s marketing tools requires you to enroll in the Kindle Select program. The program limits your book’s availability on other platforms.
  • Limited pricing control: KDP sets pricing limits based on the royalty option you select, impacting the profitability of your book. They also have the right to change the retail sale price of your work without notice.
  • Limited distribution: KDP offers print-on-demand. However, its distribution channels are primarily limited to Amazon.


IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform that helps authors publish their books in print and e-book formats. It offers services such as file creation, distribution, marketing, and printing.


  • Wide distribution: IngramSpark has a wide distribution network that includes major online retailers, bookstores, and libraries.
  • Flexibility: IngramSpark allows you to publish your books without requiring exclusive distribution rights, allowing you to publish the book through other channels.
  • Access to marketing and promotional tools: IngramSpark offers a range of marketing and promotional tools to help promote your book and reach new readers.


  • Cost: IngramSpark charges fees for many of its services, which can quickly add up.
  • Complexity: IngramSpark can be more complex to use than some other self-publishing platforms, especially if you are new to the publishing process.
  • Limited support: While IngramSpark offers support, some authors have reported difficulty getting help promptly.


Draft2Digital is a self-publishing platform that helps authors create and distribute ebooks to major retailers. It offers helpful tools for formatting, cover design, data management, and real-time sales data. It doesn’t charge upfront fees like other platforms but takes a percentage of each sale.


  • Wide distribution: Draft2Digital allows you to distribute e-books to a wide range of major retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
  • User-friendly interface: Draft2Digital offers an easy-to-navigate and user-friendly interface.
  • No upfront fees: Draft2Digital does not charge upfront fees, which can be a more affordable option depending on personal finances and is a great choice for new authors.


  • Limited customization: While Draft2Digital has a wide range of tools for formatting and designing, you may find the customization options lacking.
  • No print options: Draft2Digital currently only offers ebook distribution, so if you’re looking to make print books, you might want to avoid this one.
  • Revenue share: While there are no upfront fees, Draft2Digital takes a percentage of each sale, which can reduce your earnings.

ISBN’s and Your Book

In a similar vein, it’s important to research getting an ISBN for your book. An ISBN, which stands for International Standard Book Number, helps customers and stores identify your book from the sea of others. Libraries, bookstores, online retailers, and distributors rely on your book’s ISBN as identification. There are free options for ISBNs; the only drawback is that whoever provided that free identification for your book now has the exclusive right to sell and distribute your book in that format. In other words, if you partner with Amazon for a free ISBN to sell digital copies of your book, you cannot take digital copies of your book anywhere else. Purchasing an ISBN for your book can be very costly, so it might not be the best idea for new self-publishing authors.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to sell your books in stores or major platforms, you don’t need an ISBN at all. You can sell the book yourself without having to go through any stores. As a new author, it might be difficult to get your book on retail shelves. And even if you do manage that, there can be stipulations in your agreement that might end up hurting you in the long run.

Marketing and Selling Your Book

Market Like a Professional

Well, you got the book written and edited. You have a great book cover that depicts your book. You researched different self-publishing companies and decided on getting an ISBN or not. Now, here comes the fun marketing!

First things first, remind yourself you are selling a product. Your book is a piece of art that you spent a lot of time creating and putting a lot of love into, but to other people, it’s just another book. Convince them it isn’t. Show your audience why they should pick your book over another book in the same genre. Build anticipation through pre-launch promotions on social media, author newsletters, and book blogs. You can even offer preorder incentives or limited-time discounts to bring in early buyers. Launch day is a big day and bound to be full of excitement, but it isn’t time to relax quite yet! Use launch day to maximize the visibility of your book through online advertising and promotional events.

Person sitting at desk with laptop, phone and notepad. She is taking notes on the notepad.

Bookstr offers a great author program to help increase your online presence. It can also help you create a personal brand and stand out from other writers. Let’s face it: managing social media can be a bit of a headache. Bookstr will work with you to plan out and create content to lighten your social media burdens and help you reach a larger audience.


Something to consider around the time of your book’s release is to find some ARC (advanced reader copy) readers. As a self-publisher, reviews are important to your book because otherwise, no one will know what type of writer you are. ARC reviews can help push your finalized book to the next level by showing potential readers what other people think of your book by creating anticipation and proving that your book is worth the price tag.

After the initial launch day and giving your readers time to read the great book you created, check out online reviews and feedback for your story. Reviews provide valuable insight into reader preferences and help you refine your craft. If multiple reviews mention the same thing, whether it’s good or bad, take that advice to heart. It’s something to consider in your future work. Additionally, you can respond to reviews courteously, whether positive or negative. Use this time to further cultivate a loyal reader community by being present and showing your appreciation to these readers who took the time to share their thoughts on your story.

Work on the Next Book

You got your first self-publishing book written, edited, marketed, and sold. Congratulations! Take a few days to relax and feel proud of what you did. But don’t stop; writing isn’t a one-time thing. You are starting a lifelong journey of creativity and self-improvement in your craft. Start brainstorming ideas for your next project and dive back into the writing process with enthusiasm. You have the beginning of your audience, and you need to take full advantage of it. Whether your next book is part of a series following the first or completely different, you are creating an audience for your writing, and it’s important to take the opportunity by the horns.

Keep your social media active and your followers engaged in what your next book will be. While working on your next story, keep those followers and your growing audience in mind. Those reviews from your first book will help you focus on what worked and what didn’t work. More importantly, have fun with it. Remember, you are officially a published author with a book under your belt and more to come.

Self-publishing is a difficult journey, but it can be so rewarding when you finally hold that first book in your hands and see your name on that cover. It’s going to be tough, but we know you can do it, and we hope you’re able to see it through to the end. Have fun writing!

For more help getting into publishing, check out our Bookstr Blog here!

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