How to Self-Publish Your Book: A Step-by-Step Guide
5 min readFeb 24, 2023


As a book editor, authors often ask me how to self-publish a book and what the self-publishing process entails. In this article, I’ll run through the self-publishing process, the people you may need to hire, and the options. The rise of self-publishing has provided a great alternative for authors who don’t wish to use traditional publishers for whatever reason. But before we get started, it’s worth considering whether you want to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher — you can find guidance here. If you decide to self-publish, then read on…

Once you’ve written the book, the general process of self-publishing is:

  1. Feedback
  2. Editing
  3. Proofreading
  4. Formatting
  5. Pre-launch
  6. Launch

1. Feedback

It’s important to gain feedback on the book from readers before you jump into the other stages.

Option 1: You can ask honest friends and family members what they think, but make it clear that you want their trueopinion, not to hear what makes you happy.

Option 2: You can also hire beta readers to provide feedback. Beta readers will review your book for free or a small cost and provide feedback. You can find beta readers via websites such as:

Option 3: You can hire an editor to do an editorial assessment of the book. They’ll provide you with a comprehensive report on all aspects of the book, feedback, recommendations, and suggested improvements. This costs more, but if you’re confident making the changes yourself, it saves a lot of work (and therefore costs) in the editing stage. You can find out about our editorial critique service here.

After gaining feedback from readers or an editor, do some self-editing to improve the book.

2. Editing

Now it’s time to hire an editor. The stages of editing are content/developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading. You might hire one editor to complete all of these stages or hire a different editor for each stage. Hiring one editor for the whole process is often cheaper than hiring multiple editors.

Content/developmental editing looks at the overall picture of the book’s content, structure, flow, readability, clarity, suitableness for the audience, and so on. After this stage, you can expect a big list of recommendations if you didn’t get an editorial assessment in the previous step.

Copy editing looks at the language, wording, vocabulary, and tone of the book. This is where the editor makes the book sound great. To find out more about the difference between the types of editing, find out here.

It’s important to hire an editor who specialises in your genre — even if it means waiting for them to become available. Good editors get booked up in advance, so it’s best to seek your editor a month or so before you need them to start working.

The best place to find an editor is Reedsy, a book-specific freelancing site. You’ll find editors there who specialise in every genre and topic. This referral link will give you £25 off your first service.

If you’re looking for a book editor in the areas of personal development/self-help, business, leadership, or philosophy, then feel free to get in touch with me.

3. Proofreading

Proofreading means ensuring correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation etc., removing any typos. Although proofreading is classed as part of the editing stage, it can be approached slightly differently.

Option 1: You might find a friend or family member who can do the proofreading for you (for example, if they are a teacher or writer). Choose somebody who knows their grammar, and take them out for dinner to say thanks.

Option 2: You may find that your editor provides this service too, or can recommend someone, so it’s worth asking them.

Option 3: You can hire a proofreader via Reedsy or any other freelancing site, or hire our skilled proofreader.

A professional proofreader or editor will deliver a higher-quality service than a friend or family member who is just helping out, so this is your choice.

You might decide to get the book designed and formatted before asking the proofreader to work on it, as some proofreaders are happy to check the formatting of the book during the process. In this case, ask your proofreader whether they’re happy to check the book in its final format.

4. Formatting

When the contents of the book are finalised, it’s time to format and design the book. This also includes your cover design. Some authors do the formatting before the editing, but it’s better to wait until the editing is complete — otherwise your formatting can get very messy.

Before doing the formatting, decide which formats the book will be available in:

  • eBook only
  • Print only
  • Print and eBook

Then decide which platform(s) you will use to publish the book (Kindle Direct Publishing, Publt, Smashwords, Kobo, etc.) and which print services you will use (a traditional printer or a print on demand service such as Lightning Source or Createspace). When you’ve decided, then you can either hire a book designer or do it yourself.

Option 1: If you’re fairly computer-savvy, you can format the book yourself using software such as Scrivener, Reedsy Book Editor, or others. If you go with this option, ensure you know the required format for each platform (prc, epub, mobi, etc.) and for the print service.

Option 2: If you want an eye-catching, professional design, it’s better to hire a book designer to format or typeset the book for you. Again, you can hire them via Reedsy, a freelancing site, or us. We have a skilled cover designer and layout designer.

Option 3: You can format the inside of the book yourself and hire a designer for the cover — because you need a cover that really appeals to people.

5. Pre-launch

Before launching the book, you need to do a few things:

  • Get an ISBN (barcode) to sell the book online. Many self-publishing platforms provide these for you. You need a different ISBN for each format (epub, mobi, prc).
  • Add copyright information to the book, either via your self-publishing platform, the copyright office, or your government’s website.
  • Start marketing the book to get interest in it before launching. Some authors choose to accept pre-orders at this stage. You can hire a marketer to help with this.
  • Decide how you’re going to price the book, such as comparing your book to others on the market.
  • Sign up to a print on demand service or a printer to print a batch of copies.
  • Sign up to the platforms you will be using and upload the book.

6. Launch

It’s time to launch!

Option 1: If you decide to launch the book yourself, this might involve running an advertising campaign, a social media campaign, an email campaign, or free giveaways. Marketing and promotion is an ongoing task, so ensure you know what you’re doing before trying it yourself.

Option 2: You can hire a specialist book launcher or marketer, but be aware that book launchers can be very expensive, often costing thousands.

If you need more information, feel free to get in touch.

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We’re here to help writers — we’re here to help you.

By Ameesha Green



At The Book Shelf, we help aspiring nonfiction authors bring their books to life.