self-publishing companies and process

Self-publishing allows you more control over your book, but also gives you more responsibility:
First you need to design the book professionally and upload the files to Createspace and Kindle (my preferences).

Second you need to put your book in front of the right readers.

That can seem exhausting, so many people prefer to sign with a vanity press or “boutique publishing agency” that sells services. If you find out about a company from their advertisements, and they say they’re “accepting manuscripts” and ask for a phone number, and then call you and say “we’d love to publish your book, we just need you to pay for x, y, z… be careful.


Those companies make their money from author services, and have no incentive to actively market or promote your book (though they’ll charge an arm and a leg to a “press release” or signing nobody shows up to…) It can be comforting and convenient to get help, especially if you just want a book to show your friends and family. But if you want a book to earn a living, you’ll need to learn how to keep costs down and do as much as you can by yourself. Our free book formatting templates will help.

Successful publishing depends almost entirely on what kind of book you’ve written, how many readers are searching for that kind of book, and whether or not your book satisfies them – but no matter what kind of book you’ve written, you want to reach as many readers as possible, right?

Writing and productivity tips

The first challenge, of course, is actually finishing the book – most writers never reach this phase. If you get stuck in the middle, it MAY be because you haven’t plotted out the material or story. Many authors are able to “pants” their way through the story, but this skill often comes from years of experience. For your first book, a clear map or direction can help get more words down on the page. If you need a map, check out my free plotting guide.

Other tips:

  1. Stay motivated – not everyone will understand or support your book project… but don’t expect them to either. Writing a book is your choice (you’re choosing to devote hundreds of hours to your literary baby instead of to them – your friends and family. If they’re critical, they may just be feeling ignored.
  2. Write every day – nothing works better than a daily writing habit, and my most productive friends are NOT the ones who write they most words per hour… they write a little bit, consistently, until it’s done.
  3. Set a deadline – too often, writing a book is something we work on in our spare time, on and off, for years; but by then our manuscript is such a mess we feel lost and stuck. Finishing a book should be your priority, and I think in most cases a single project should take less than one year (so the same person who started it also finishes it). This is totally possible, but you need to clear some time and make sure it’s your main focus.
  4. The first draft is always terrible. Don’t edit your book as you go. Get through the first draft first, all the way to the end, so you can see what you have. Skip the hard parts or leave rough notes to yourself. Don’t flesh everything out. Once you’re sure you have everything in the right place, you can go back and start revising, improving the dialogue, filling in the setting and description, filling in backstory and character motivation, and writing cleaner first and last paragraphs to each chapter.

The best writing software

Personally, I still use MS Word and it works fine for me. If you format your book with our templates early on, you can drag and drop chapters or sections around while you’re working on your manuscript. If you need more support, a lot of authors enjoy Scrivener. But don’t get carried away with the planning and plotting, at some point you just have to start writing and get the words down.

Here’s a huge list of best writing apps and software.


Ready to hit publish?

Once you’ve formatted your book for print and ebook, and uploaded the files to Createspace and Kindle, your book should be online in a few days!

  • Some people prefer Lightning Source or Ingramspark, but they’re picky about files and charge fees
  • If you don’t want to be exclusive with Amazon, you can distribute your book with Draft2Digital (they also have some nice formatting tools).


Make sure you check out this post where I answered 134 common self-publishing questions.

You also grab my free book, “How to Write, Format, Publish and Market your Book Without Spending any Money” when you sign up for our free templates & tutorials.


CONTINUE READING: Book marketing strategies for self publishing authors


Derek Murphy
Derek Murphy

I'm a location independent book designer (and book marketing genius) working on my PhD in Literature and shopping for a castle to use as a writer's paradise. I write non-fiction and YA.

    1 Response to "How to write and publish a book yourself (self-publishing cheatsheet)"

    • Avatar Josh

      Derek your resources have saved me so much time. This is my first book so my learning curve is rather steep. You have somehow managed to level that out for me. I do need help with one thing, how do I print a 8.5 x 5.5 in word correctly if I’m using 8.5 x 11 paper?

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