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How to Self Publish Your Book

Updated on March 17, 2013
Image: My First Self Published Book
Image: My First Self Published Book | Source


To begin, of course you must write the book, but let me give you a little hint why self publish became as simple as A B C for me. While attending a private school in Oshawa, Ontario, I learned the printing business which became my full time occupation. Having first hand knowledge of the necessary steps in printing a book was second nature.

Word or Word Perfect is great software for writing. Setup your page size, margins and indents. Twelve point type is slightly larger than normal, but your readers will love your choice. I can't tell you how many folks have complimented me on the larger type face. A couple of experts tried to convince me to go smaller.

Decide what size your book will be. Remember, standard size paper is 25x38 inches. That's why I choose 5.5x8.5. It leaves room for the press grippers, bleeds, trimming and sixteen pages per side for a total of thirty two pages per sheet. If you choose the 5.5x8.5 size, to save on printing costs, keep your page numbers in multiples of thirty-two (ideal) or sixteen. if you choose a different size book, make sure it fits into a 23x36 space like 11.5x9 so you have the required extra space. Check with a local printer or message me if you are in doubt.

Image: Book Cover Design Comparison
Image: Book Cover Design Comparison | Source


It's best to find a good graphic designer for your cover design. The saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." may be true but not always accurate! A friend of mine, Brent designed the cover of my first book.

Now as much as I hate to admit it, my first book left a bit to be desired when it came to the writing structure. The second, Secrets, which won the US Independent Book Publisher Bronze Award, blows away the first in plot and structure. Guess which sells better? Readers like the cover design of the first book, and even after warning them that it's not that great a write and Secrets is much better, many still walk out with A legend brought to reality. Hmmm... I designed the cover for Secrets!

Image: Sixteen Page Imposition
Image: Sixteen Page Imposition | Source


Imposition is simply arranging your finished pages in the proper order so when the printed sheets are folded and gathered, the pages fall into the proper sequence. Again, any graphic artist or the printer will have the software for imposition. Cork and or Illustrator are preferred by most printers. A local graphic artist, Debbie Crooks is the graphic artist I use. She also positions any illustrations used in my books. I supply her with the images in jpg or tiff format and include instructions for their location.

Image: Single Color Sheet Fed Press
Image: Single Color Sheet Fed Press | Source
Image: Web Press
Image: Web Press | Source


Most of the cost in printing is setup time. Once the press is rolling, a slow speed on a sheet fed press is six thousand sheets per hour for bookwork. Pressmen often run presses at eight to ten thousand sheets per hour when using only black ink. So you see, the difference between printing 500 or 1000 books is only minutes. The same goes for folding, stitching and trimming.

If you're planning on a large run, you might consider printing on a web press which uses paper rolls rather than sheets. Paper rolls are cheaper and the press runs around 30,000 impressions per hour. On my first book, the run was 27,000 so I opted for printing on a web press. Two thousand of those books were bound with a limited edition hard cover and the remainder were perfect bound soft cover. With the reduced cost in paper and press time, the jump from 15,000 to 27,000 books, cost only pennies per book. Of course, sales must be certain to print that quantity or you may be in for big time losses.

Image: Hard and Soft Cove Perfect Bound Books
Image: Hard and Soft Cove Perfect Bound Books | Source
Image: Saddle Stitched Book
Image: Saddle Stitched Book | Source


Hard cove books cost considerably more because of the labor and materials. Also you need a dust jacket which is a separate four color run plus varnish.

Soft cover books have a separate cover run, but automated perfect binding machinery is fast and efficient.

If your books has 48 pages or less, saddle stitching is the least expensive. Many children's books today are saddle stitched. Saddle stitched is simply a book that has staples holding the pages together.

To the right is a 48 page saddle stitched coloring book.

Image: Distributing Your Books
Image: Distributing Your Books | Source


Your biggest problem with self publishing is without a doubt going to be distribution. Local gift shops and book stores may take your product, but it's best to check before you invest heavily in time and money. Amazon is a good place to start selling your books.

The normal discount to retail outlets is 40%. You may want to consider an incentive of 50% if the purchaser pays up front or orders ten or more books. You must allow for the discount. Big purchasers like discount warehouse outlets will want a much higher discount if you are fortunate enough to land a contract.

Whatever you do, sell your books for the same retail price that your retail outlets are charging. They will not be pleased if you are undercutting them.

Image: ISBN Number
Image: ISBN Number | Source


You'll need an ISBN number and if you want to copy-write your book, in Canada, go to Library and Archives Canada. All the information is on their website. If you print a hard and soft cover of the same title, you'll need an ISBN number for each book. Contact the ISBN office if you are having difficulties. They are very helpful.

In the US go to U.S. ISBN Agency.

Other countries, Google your country followed by ISBN Number or Registration.

Image: Credits
Image: Credits | Source


The first page of your book should be the title page. The next page should include all the information about publishing, ISBN number, copy-write, printer and credits to outside agencies that had any part in producing your book. It's proper to give credit where it's due.

Pick up any book published in your country and you'll see how it's done. I followed the same format from another book and added my own information.


You must have an editor. A good editor will direct you in making your book better. Don't be so in love with your writing that you're not willing to listen and make changes. My first book was started in May and on the market before Christmas. Secrets took three years and twelve drafts. Cathleen MacDonald was my editor. She was exceptional and patient while basically teaching me the proper structure. She wanted it good, because we have plans. That's all I'll say about that.

There was one scene where Cathie insisted I change because it was repetitive. She gave me a suggestion. I disagreed. She said I had to come up with something better. So I put on my thinking cap and came up with something better. The result... Cathie loved it, she laughed and said it was Mary's glory moment. Up to that point, Mary's character was rather hum-drum.

You can't have too many proof readers. You wouldn't believe how many proof readers combed through Secrets and we still missed a few mistakes. Don't lose any sleep over it even if you find any minor errors after your book is printed. There aren't many books published by even the best publishers who produce the perfect book.


The publishing industry continues to change drastically since the introduction of the internet. If you still wish to have your book published the traditional way, hopefully these hints will guide you from beginning to completion.

There are a number of printers online offering assistance for self publishers and print on demand. Just beware and read the fine print before signing any contract. I met a self publisher who is not a happy camper.

If you have questions or need clarification, please don't hesitate to ask. Your input may help to improve this Hub, Thanks, Ivan.


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    • Ivan Fraser profile image

      Ivan Fraser 5 years ago from Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia

      Davidlivermore: I wouldn't wait... start writing pronto. A few minutes a day will do. You'll be surprised how quickly you'll improve.

    • Ivan Fraser profile image

      Ivan Fraser 5 years ago from Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia

      There's one thing I forgot... the isbn numbers. For information go to Library and Archives Canada.

    • davidlivermore profile image

      David Livermore 5 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      After my apprenticeship program ends I plan to start writing. I've thought about going the self published route. Your hub gave me some good insight on it.

      I also thought about using Kickstarter to get some funds if I wanted to self publish.

      Good hub, voted up.


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