How 2 self-publish a book

18th January 2020

Summary: How 2 self-publish a professional looking book, including print version and ebook version. Books are a great way to get exposure for your business.


  • Learn how to self-publish a professional looking book in print version.
  • Learn how to create a professional looking ebook version of this book. 


Step 1: Choose your self-publishing platform for your print version

There are quality self-publishing platforms that you can use to self-publish and print professional looking copies of your book on demand. In other words, you only print and pay for copies of your book as you need them.

You need to choose which self-publishing platforms you are using as they will have specific requirements in terms of book trim sizes, which in turn affects the formatting, layout and cover design of your book.

Two popular self-publishing, print on demand platforms include:-

1. CreateSpace

This is part of Amazon, so your book is automatically put onto the Amazon online book store once it is self-published on CreateSpace. However don't expect your book to magically sell copies just because it is on Amazon. You still need to back your book up with a solid marketing campaign in order to sell copies.

CreateSpace is very user friendly and provides templates to ensure your book is written on the correct page size with the correct margins for printing.

In practice, popular retail book stores are unlikely to stock or sell a self-published book that comes from CreateSpace. It is therefore a great platform to print your own books and then sell them via your own channels, or sell them online via Amazon.

2. Ingram Spark

Ingram Spark is the self-publisher platform offered by worldwide book distributor, Ingram.

Popular retail book stores are still unlikely to choose to keep stock of your Ingram self-published book (unless it is backed up by a strong, established business and very strong marketing campaigns that will ensure sales). However if a customer orders your title from a popular retail book store, it is likely that the store will be able to order it for the customer from Ingram if you self-publish with Ingram. They offer the option for the books to be returnable, which is a requirement of most retail book stores. Book stores will also expect the Ingram 'industry standard discount' in order to make profit from the sale of your book.

The downside is that Ingram Spark's self-publishing process is not as user friendly as CreateSpace. And if you choose for the book to be returnable, you are responsible for the cost of any returns.

We have personally used both options in the past to get the best of both worlds.

Step 2: Choose your book trim size

Using the guidelines provided by your self-publishing platform, choose an industry-standard book trim size. This affects the sizing and margins of your document when you type out your book, and can therefore affect the entire layout and number of pages you envision for your book.

Step 3: Access any pre-formatted templates and pre-format your book. 

Your self-publishing platform will either provide a pre-formatted template or a guideline document to help you with the correct page set up for a Word document, including page sizing and page margins.

Set up the template and basic formatting of your book. Make your initial font choices, including heading font sizes, paragraph font sizes and paragraph and line spacing. Set up your page numbers, taking careful note of odd and even page numbers. Remember that the page numbers and page layouts should coincide with how you want the book to look as someone turns the pages.

It is more common for Serif fonts (example Times New Roman and it's derivatives) to be used for the body text of printed books.

Choose the number of chapters you anticipate to write and get an idea of what your final book will look like and how many pages you think it will be.

Doing the basic formatting of your book upfront saves a lot of time and money when your book is complete and final formatting needs to be done.

Step 4: Get your own ISBN 

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is your unique book identifier and is used to track sales.

While the self-publishing platforms you use will supply you with the option to get an ISBN from them, we recommend getting your own ISBN's from your country's local ISBN agency. This way you have full control to self-publish on more than one self-publishing platform.

ISBN's are free and easy to obtain.

Make sure you get a different ISBN for the ebook version of your book.

To create an ISBN bar code, simply do an internet search for 'ISBN bar code generator'. There are lots of free online tools that do this for you.

Step 5: Write your book

Writing your book is the most time consuming, but enjoyable part of this whole process.

Start with your book title and chapter headings to give yourself the book outline.

Then write the content under each chapter heading.

We recommend using Brian Tracy's technique where you spend a few, focused days writing the main content of your book by hand, using pen and paper, before you start to type it. This stimulates the creative part of your brain and ensures creative flow.

When you then type your book in your pre-formatted Word document, you will be refining all your hand-written written notes and creative ideas.

Step 6: Edit your book

We recommend getting your book professionally edited. No matter how many times you self-edit, there will still be mistakes that you missed.

A platform called offers a quality, affordable editing service. Alternatively source a freelance editor who will charge you an affordable editing rate per word.

Please note there is a distinction between proof readers who do a spelling and grammar check and make corrections, and editors who will actually rewrite sentences if necessary.

Step 6: Do the final formatting of your book

We recommend getting the final formatting of your book professionally done, for that final, polished look. This includes the chapter layout, table of contents, page layout, page numbering headings, font and paragraph layout and settings. also offers a formatting service. Alternatively use an affordable freelancer who offers this service.

Make sure that who ever formats your book is aware of which self-publishing platform you use and their page layout and margin requirements.

Step 7: Create your book cover

The self publishing platforms you use will offer professional, paid for services to help you create your book cover. Some of them will offer DIY cover designing tools.

You can also use an affordable freelancer who specializes in book covers. Make sure they know which self-publishing platform you are using so that they create the correct size cover for their specific printing presses.

If you are going to attempt to create your own book cover, don't forget to check for the correct sizing and specs and to include your ISBN number and ISBN barcode on the back cover.

Step 8: Follow the steps on your chosen self-publishing platform to self-publish your book.

Your chosen self-publishing platform will have a series of steps to follow as you self-publish your book.

You will usually need to upload a PDF version of the interior of your book (this will be the final, edited, formatted, typed content of your book) and your book cover.

There will then be a process you need to follow to check your book meets their printing guidelines before you self-publish.

Once you self-publish, your book will be available to be ordered and printed on demand. You can either order and print copies for yourself, or your customers can order and print their own copies through the various sales channels set up and provided by your chosen self-publishing platform, like Amazon.

Step 9: Choose a platform to self-publish a professional e-book version of your book.

Most self-publishing platforms will also offer you the option to create a professional ebook version of your printed book.

This requires a special editing process and ePub formats to ensure that your ebook meets the requirements to be made available on ebook retail stores, such as Kindle, Kobo and Nook.

If you don't want to use your chosen self-publishing platforms e-book options (some of them may limit you to their own ebook stores), then we recommend the quality ebook publishing platform called BookBaby.

Simply send BookBaby the interior of the print version of your book and the cover of your book according to their specs, and they will do all the hard work to convert your book into a suitable format for professional ebook publishing. They will also publish your book for you on all the well-known ebook stores.


About The Author

How 2 for entrepreneurs

How 2 for Entrepreneurs supplies free, step-by-step 'How 2' processes specifically designed for entrepreneurs, including suggested systems, tools or templates to aid each process. To access these free step-by-step tutorials simply go to the 'About Us' page and subscribe, or download one of our many free giveaways.

  • Wendy

    Thank you so much, that was really informative and very very helpful in terms of knowing exactly what is required for “Self publishing”

    Much appreciated.

    • How 2 for Entrepreneurs

      Hi Wendy. Thank you very much for your positive comments. Does anyone else have feedback on this article?

  • Isaac

    Thank you for being a mentor

    • How 2 for Entrepreneurs

      You are most welcome Isaac. Thank you for participating on the website. Does anyone else have some feedback for us on this website?

  • Kristen Steele

    This maps out the process perfectly! It’s not the easiest of journeys, but it’s definitely one of the most rewarding! And it’s not like it’s an accomplishment that you celebrate once and move on. When you become an author, you’re an author for life and it’s always a relevant, impressive and interesting aspect about who you are.

    • How 2 for Entrepreneurs

      Thank you Kristen for the acknowledgement. We could not have written this detailed article had we had not had more than one member on our team who has gone through the journey of self-publishing a book, and you are right, it is not easy, but very rewarding and the accomplishment sticks with you forever :-) Has anyone else had some experiences with self-publishing and did it help your business when you self-published?

  • Ubaid Younus

    A lot of awesome info in here, but be watchful out there, you might not get your expected Kindle publictions for the right price. I massively suggest a CHEAPER and SUPERB KINDLE ghostwriting that anybody can avail. Try looking up you can have your 100% original custom book written by a professional American writer.