Pen On BooksSelf publishing your book can be overwhelming, but if you think of your process in Four Easy Steps, you’ll be able to get through and even enjoy the journey!


Four Steps You Need Before Publishing Your Book

  • Marketing/Publicity
  • Cover Design
  • Layout
  • Editing/Proofreading


 When I was working on self publishing Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006) six years ago, I booked my book launch (Fri. Oct 13th) before I even signed the contract for publishing the book! I had the end in mind and worked backwards to get my book in my readers’ hands. That’s what I want you to do when you’re planning on self publishing–what kind of marketing strategy do YOU have so readers can get a hold of your book. Book club tours? Readings? Wine tastings? Charity events? You need to have a marketing game plan BEFORE the book is unleashed unto the world!

First of all, I highly recommend you all buy this book:

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published (Workman Publishing, 2010) $15.95

By Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

It is comprehensive and is for both traditionally and self-published authors.



Your home page should feature your book along with a clear way for visitors to buy your book. Tell them why they should buy your book! What does it give them that is not currently out there on the market?


Your website should contain

  • Samples of your writing, your bio, photos from the present and from when you were a kid to create interest, a calendar of your events, open mics, networking, shows, workshops, speaking engagements, etc.
  • A resource section of your favorite books and your favorite links
  • Videos and your book trailer
  • A future projects section
  • Contact info


You’ll also need to think about what colors you want to website to contain and how it should look. I recommend you check out and research other authors’ sites and print out their pages/take notes to see what you like. I did exactly this when I first designed my website 6 years ago.


You can choose whether your book title should be your URL or it should be your name. Experts are divided either way. I use since I want to showcase my entire brand and platform


Many authors are using WordPress ( either as a free blogging platform or they’re using a WordPress template that is running on a domain name they pay for each month.


I recommend you use a WordPress expert or a website designer and then have them show you how to implement updates on your own. You never want to call a webmaster (that’s not you) to add events on your event page.




Set a publication date and build excitement around it! You should use this pub date in all of your marketing materials and in your press releases. Talking up your book via pub date in social media is a lot easier than just talking about your book.


On Facebook either on your Profile Page (the non business page) or your Business Page, I’d set up an event to talk up your book launch and publication date and then invite your friends to it build excitement.


The Social Media you need to use includes


Facebook –you can have a virtual tour on Facebook



Google +


You Tube with instruction videos/writing motivational video and video trailers


Blogging tours—approach bloggers who review books. You go write on other sites during your tour

Once you’ve become known as a person who is generous, comments on others’

posts and gives out great info on her blog
(For ex: you could blog about why it’s important to exercise as a writer or what books you’d recommend for new writers) your friends/followers will be more likely to spread your message about your new book’s launch on your publication date!


Book Signings/Readings


  • Use a press release (more press release and press kit information is in the other handout)
  • Ask local booksellers to host you  (you’ll have to put your book on consignment, usually 60/40 retail split)
    Also think about having your book launch at a coffee shop, a deli or an art gallery!
  • Get a poster made of you holding your book
  • Approach book clubs via
  • Get your book into the library!


Cover Design


Your cover will need:

  • ISBN #
  • Figure out your book’s category: fiction, memoir, cookbook, poetry
  • Grab blurbs
  • Cover Art—spend money on a good photo/art/cover designer—this is your book’s primary marketing tool!
  • Bio (max, 150 words)
  • Author Photo—spend money on a good photo!


Pay attention to your cover! It’s your most important marketing piece and is what your potential readers will see first!


Hire a cover designer to work on your cover or your book designer. You can also find a good stock photo on sites such as or


Use bright colors in your cover to catch reader attention. Bright colors include yellow, red, purple and blue. Don’t use green—it blends in too much. Try to use white type since you can see white type better in dim light than black type.


Four color covers will be more expensive to print so consider a two color cover (black and red/green and white)


Make your spine stand out! Always have the identifiers of your name and title on the spine and if your book is wide enough you can also include a photo on the spine. If you can’t have a photo on the spine consider color blocking and perhaps scroll work.


Test market your cover choices with your friends/followers/Facebook friends!




Hire a book designer to help you with layout and the template. Word is not a good book design software tool!


Ask what should my chapter headers look like? Are you going for an ornate or simple look?


Standard book sizes are 5.5 x 8.5 for a trade paperback and 6 x 9 for a hardback. Anything outside the standard box sizes will cost you more money. These books are perfect bound, meaning that they have spines like a regular book. Saddle stitched means staples down the center and no type can be placed on the spine. With your book designer, you can talk about the “trim size” of the book—the finished cover and page size—along with paper color and weight, and number of colors to be used on the cover and the inside pages.


The more pages you have, the more it will cost you in both printing costs and in weight.


What kind of paper? Uncoated book stock is the best choice, but if you have colored illustrations consider coated papers.


Make sure your page color is off-white. Stark white is a dead giveaway that your book is self-published.


Many POD (Print on Demand Companies) offer basic templates and I suggest that you study both traditional and self published books in your genre (poetry, fiction, how-to nonfiction, memoir) to see how their pages and chapters are set up.


When you’re setting up your interior be aware of what font you want (most books are 10-12 font). Also be aware of the amount of white space in between paragraphs and the amount of spacing between lines (the leading).




If you’re serious about publication, you’ll need to hire an editor before you send your manuscript off to agents. If you’re self publishing you also need an editor so you’re work is the best it can possibly be. A good editor will help you proof your work so those contractions and punctuation mistakes are no more. She’ll help you with clarity and consistency.


She’ll make sure you keep your book reader-centered, will remind you about timelines, will keep your plot in focus and will suggest new ideas and story directions to make your book better so you will be thought of as an expert. By doing so, your book will be able to help others because it will be read! Sometimes the greatest compliment a self-published author hears is, “Wow your book doesn’t look self-published!”


Even after you’re done editing, you should take your book to a proofreader (who’s not the editor) to catch any additional mistakes.

That’s all, folks! Good luck!

Your Turn:

What self publishing tips have I missed? Please share your thoughts with us below!