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Whether your book is an exciting fantasy novel, an informative historical recount, a childrens picture book, or otherwise, there are certain steps that all authors looking to self-publish go through to turn their idea into a real book that out in the market and ready for readers.

Step one: Write your manuscript

The first no-brainer step to getting your book self-published is to, of course, write your book. Writing comes easily to some, but others can struggle to find the time or motivation to sit down and get it done. Thankfully, there are a number of strategies for those authors who fit the latter. Following these steps will get you started: 

  • Identify what you want to write about. 
  • Research your genre, or anything that supports your writing. 
  • Outline the manuscript (structured plot outline) 
  • Plan characters etc. 
  • Start writing 

You can utilise online plotting tools and writing programs other than Microsoft Word to help you. 

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Step two: Build your marketing strategy

It might seem too early to be thinking about marketing when you don’t even have the physical book in your hand, but starting to build out your marketing strategy early on is a great idea. Things to think about at this stage include:

  • Your goal for publishing: Narrowing down your reason for publishing is paramount to figuring out how you’ll market your book.
  • Your target audience: Does your manuscript as it currently is fit that audience?
  • Similar books already in the market: Collect some inspiration to help you later on.
  • Your “unique” factor: You can use the unique factor of your book for your marketing strategy to pique readers interest.

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Step three: Review your content

Before you start approaching editors and self-publishers for quotes on their services, it’s always best to refine your manuscript yourself.

Some strategies for self-reviewing your content are:

  • Setting your work aside for a month or more: This will help to distance your mind from your work so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Let someone else read your book: Whether it is a friend, family member, colleague, or professional beta reader, having someone else read through your content is a great way to get some feedback from someone who doesn’t know your content like you do.
  • Print it out or get your computer to read it out loud: Seeing your manuscript off the screen or listening to it being read out loud can help you pin-point any typos or confusing sections that are more easily missed on screen.

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Step four: Get your manuscript edited

Some author don’t believe in or may be disillusioned to the idea of editing. This can be because they are scared of someone taking their authorial voice away or being overly critical of their work. Editing, however, is about helping your voice and message come across to the reader in the best way possible and will help inform you on both the parts that are well-written and the parts that require work. There are a few different types of editing, including:

To read more about the benefits of having your manuscript edited, check out our blog on editing.

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Step five: Decide your self-publishing route

There are a lot of options out there for authors wanting to self-publish. These include:

  • DIY self-publishing: Companies such as Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are the biggest DIY self-publishers for the western world.
  • Assisted self-publishing: These businesses guide you through the publishing process and assist you with services such as editing, cover design, typesetting, print brokering, distribution, and marketing. Not all assisted self-publishers do everything and some outsource certain services to trusted partners. When considering which assisted self-publisher to approach, always check online for third-party reviews to filter out the scam companies.
  • Hybrid self-publishing: Some publishing houses do a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing. They aren’t the most common type but can be worth looking into. Like assisted self-publishers, hybrid publishers can assist you with publishing services like editing, cover design, typesetting, print brokering, distribution, and marketing.

Depending on which type of self-publishing route you take, you then need to think about book design.

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Step six: Design your book

Book cover

Your book cover needs to look professional and stand up to the market standard. It is much more difficult to market and sell a book that looks amateurish and poorly made, no matter how good your content is. The best way to make sure you get a great product is to hire a book cover designer. Whether this is through an assisted or hybrid self-publisher or a contract with a freelance book designer is up to you.

If you’re set on doing your book cover design yourself, it’s best to equip yourself with the software and knowledge you need to do a great job. The industry standard software is the Adobe suite (products like Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop). Be careful doing your design on free online software as you need to be sure that your fonts and images aren’t in breach of copyright.

Book typesetting

Book design isn’t just about the cover. While this is a very important aspect of your book, the interior of your book is also just as important. Typesetting is a complex craft that will affect the readability of your book. If done well, your book will look professional and the experience of reading your content will be smoother and more enjoyable. On the other hand, if your typesetting is not done to industry standards, your book will come across as less-than-professional and your readers will have a more difficult time trying to immerse themselves in your content.

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Step seven: Print your book


As a self-published author, making sure your book is available via a Print-on-Demand (POD) printer is vital. This is because POD printers have connections to the international distribution circle, meaning your book can be available on retailers such as Amazon, Booktopia, Dymocks online and more (depending on which POD printer you choose, of course). With POD, the retailer will notify the printer when an order is made via an online retailer, then the printer will print and post the book to the customer. 

The POD printers you can choose from in Australia so far are Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. 

Offset print 

Offset printing is a popular choice for book production, however this method is reserved for large, high-quality, full-colour print orders. Otherwise, it is too expensive to sustain for the majority of authors. 

Step eight: Get your book out into the world

Distribution of your book can look like many things. You can distribute through online retailers, through physical bookstores, with the library system, and even on your own dedicated author website.

Online retailer distribution

This is the most common route of distribution that self-published authors take. You can publish online via many different retailers, including Amazon, Booktopia, and many more. Doing so will help make your book available to the global market.

Physical bookstore distribution

Bookstore distribution can help your book stand out to readers as there is less competition than there is on online book retailers. However, getting your book into a bookstore can be difficult for self-published authors and usually requires registration through services like TitlePage which make your book searchable on ordering catalogues. The other way to get your book into bookstores is to visit them personally with a copy of your book and enquire about keeping your books on consignment.

Library distribution

The library will often be happy to have one or more copies of your book for circulation within their system. While this may seem like a loss as readers can now access your work for free, libraries pay royalties to the author while their book is in their system. This is true for print, eBook, and audiobook lending.

Author website distribution

Self-selling your book through your own author website is a great way to cut out the middle-man and make more from your sales. You can connect your socials to your website and direct people to your very own bookstore dedicated to your book/s.

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Step nine: Implement your marketing strategy

As mentioned previously, having a strong and ready marketing strategy is key to your book’s success. As a self-published author, it is your job to put the time and effort into getting your book out there and increasing your readership. 

Utilising social media will work in your favour, too. Don’t be scared to post about your book all the time. The more you post, the more people will see and recognise your book! It’s all about becoming known and building your author brand. 

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Step ten: Keep putting in the work

Being a published author doesn’t end after the book is produced and printed. It doesn’t even end after first round of marketing is done. In order to make sure your book is doing as well as it can in the market and reaching your target audience, you as the author have to be willing to put in continual work.

This isn’t to say that you need to quit your day-job and dedicate yourself wholly to your author brand and book. But consistent marketing on your socials, updating your author website with new content, and hosting events like book tours and signings every so often are great ways to keep your name and your book relevant in the market. Author who dedicate some of their time to their book’s success fare better in achieving their publishing goals than those who leave their book to fend for itself.

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The Little Book of
Big Publishing Tips.


In just a quick 8,000 words, this little book will equip you with the knowledge you need to successfully publish your book.

The Little Book of Big Publishing tips goes into the essentials of self-publishing a book, outlining the business and financial side of publishing, legal issues, design, editing, sales and marketing. There's even a section on how to identify a vanity-publishing scam.