I couldn't find anything to do with self-publishing. Could someone explain this to me and how I could do it? I know that I should know about this but I sadly don't.

  • 2
    Did you browse the self-publishing tag here first? writers.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/self-publishing Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:26
  • Type 'self-publish' in the search box in the top right-hand corner. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:40
  • Are you asking about paper or electronic self-publising? What kind of readership are you trying to reach? What type of writing? (While the techniques are probably the same, some specifics about promotion will vary depending on whether you're writing technical books, romances, science fiction, biographies...) Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:53
  • This question is incredibly broad. Can you narrow this down? As it is right now there's a risk people will vote to close as too broad. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 17:29

3 Answers 3


A general piece of advice, from experience: Don't self-publish unless you are willing and able to do all the publicity and sales for your book yourself. If you are a wonderful self-promoter, you can do well self-publishing. Otherwise it's a recipe for disappointment.

There are several routes to self-publishing, each with advantages and disadvantages:

  • Electronic: Advantages - low cost, more of a level playing field, large potential audience. Disadvantages - overcrowded field, easy to get lost among the competition, less prestigious (reputation as the refuge of amateurs), no physical object. Amazon is a top player in this market, they have resources to get beginners started.
  • POD (print on demand): Advantages - produces physical books, you pay only per copy (very low up front costs). Disadvantages - Very high cost per book as compared to traditional printing, making it almost impossible to place the book in bookstores. Also shares many of the disadvantages (low prestige, too much competition) of electronic publishing. Amazon and Lulu are two of the big names in POD.
  • Traditional Self Publishing: Advantages - Low cost per book, resulting in very high profits if you sell out your run of books. Cost per book low enough to be able to make a profit off bookstore sales. Disadvantages - High up-front costs, impractical for print runs of less than about 3000.
  • Vanity Publishing: Advantages - none. Disadvantages - High up-front costs with little hope of eventual profits.

The basic issue with self-publishing is that you have to do everything yourself --write the book, edit it, format it for publishing, arrange cover art (and illustrations if any), print it, distribute it and market it. This is a lot of work, and very few people can do all these different jobs well.

There are a lot of services that can help with those tasks, but the vast majority of them are over-priced rip-offs that take advantage of people who want to be authors. Accordingly, most self-published books are either amateurishly produced by do-it-yourselfers, or professionally produced at a nightmarishly high cost by a vanity service.

If you're determined to self-publish, I'd recommend starting with a combination of electronic and POD. A correctly formatted PDF will work for both formats, and neither has up-front costs if you are working through a reputable distributor/printer. If you become a success that way, you can always upgrade to traditional self-publishing once you have an established audience.

My single best piece of advice for you? Start a blog, and serialize the books you've already completed (publish a little bit each week online). Once you build up a fan base, you can use that as a way to convince a publisher to take a chance on your next book


I self-published for my senior project and it wasn't too difficult. If you straight up search 'self publishing' in Google, it will give you a gazillion results. I personally used CreateSpace, the amazon self publishing route. It was fairly straightforward with several steps that helped me get to my end goal. There were also a ton of forums with common questions and answers if I really get stuck.

Although, since your first title is free (with CreateSpace anyways), you become limited. There are only certain formats you can choose, paper you can work with, and covers you can create without costing yourself anything. But, if you are willing to take some money out of pocket to make your book better, there are some nice bundles they offer. But still, money is money.

In my opinion it wasn't hard. It was exciting and fun, a overall good experience. But I also wasn't publishing for money. I simply took on this task so I could graduate with my own self published book. Occasionally a friend or family member will purchase a copy and a few bucks get sent to my back account but its hardly anything to notice. I'm sure many people have made it big with self-publishing, but once again, you put in a lot of money to receive a lot.

I would go over your options if your looking into self-publishing. Is it worth it? Are there other routes that are more appealing to you? How much money are you willing to spend if any? Also, if you decided to self publish, research it a bit. Having a background knowledge about what you're getting into is really helpful in the long run.

Hope this helps!


I don't know why you think you should know anything about this if you've never done it. Everybody needs to start somewhere, and you are taking a good first step by asking for help. There isn't any short and simple answer, but there are a few steps that you can take to help get yourself started.

You might want to consider joining a writer's forum where you can get advice from other writers who are self-publishing. One that I recommend is the Kindle Boards Writer's Cafe. You can find a lot of helpful information, including a Directory of Author's Services at the top of the first page. This is a good place to go to find people who can design your cover, format your book, or provide editing or other services.

Assuming you have already written your book, the next step would be to get it formatted for the appropriate type of book. You need to decided if you want to create an e-book or use print on demand (POD), or both, but each will use different types of formatting. You can hire someone to do this for you, but it is simple enough to learn how to do it yourself.

For an e-book, I would recommend using this guide by Guido Henkel. He will take you through a step-by-step process that will help you get your book formatted. He provides good examples and recommends free tools that you can download to help you get your book formatted. Even if you have no previous experience in working with html or any of the recommended tools, he does a good job of explaining everything.

Once you have your book formatted, you will need to upload it to a distributor, such as Amazon. You can create an account with their Kindle Direct Publishing service, and it will guide you step-by-step through the process of uploading your book and making it available for sale. There are several other distributors, such as Nook, Kobo, and iTunes, but I would suggest starting with KDP and then branching out as you become more comfortable. Each distributor has their own process, but they are all pretty similar.

If you want to make your book available in print, then I would suggest using Amazon's CreateSpace service. Their site has a lot of information on how to submit your book, but one of the most useful things is their templates. They provide preformatted Word documents in different sizes to match whatever size you want your book to be published in. You can basically copy and paste your book into one of these templates and then do a little tweaking to get it ready for publishing.

All of this sounds pretty simple and straight forward, but there is a lot of work involved. Also, your work doesn't end with getting the book published. If you want it to sell, then you'll need to do whatever you can to promote it and let people know about it. A writer's forum is a good place to get advice and suggestions on how to do that.

The bottom line is that you will get out of this what you put into it. If you are willing to work for it, then you can eventually make a living out of it, but it won't be easy. Just believe in yourself and take the time to learn the trade, and you'll find it gets easier over time.

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