How to Self-Publish a Book [The Ultimate Indie Author Guide]

You’ve probably done your research and realized you’re one of those authors who can handle the entire publishing process and enjoys complete creative control and a higher share of royalties. 

That’s fantastic because this guide covers how to self-publish a book with all the steps from the beginning to the advertising part.

You’ll also find many other resources for every step of the process if you need to read more extensively on the subject.

This write-up goes over:

1. Writing with the Reader in Mind

How to publish your own book and have a crowd that buys it? Center your work around your ideal reader. 

You surely want to address a certain audience (young adults, children, etc.). Each genre and category has its readers. You just need to make sure you write a book according to their expectations.

You want to ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the typical age of my desired reader?
  • What does my reader enjoy reading about?
  • What does the reader expect to find in my book?
  • Why would my reader look for a particular genre?

For this first step, you need an ebook software for writing your book. There are several options you could go through to find your optimal setting.

  • Free: Google Docs,Open Office, Reedsy Book Editor
  • Paid: Scrivener, Vellum, Ulysses, Microsoft Word

💡Tip: If you feel like you’re going through writer’s block, you can join writer groups like PublishDrive’s Facebook Group or Reddit’s Writer’s Group to exchange ideas, get feedback, and connect with others.

2. Edit Your Manuscript

As an indie author, you’ll do your fair share of manuscript editing. You’ll work through your draft a few times before handing it over to a professional editor because you need to make sure your characters and plot make sense (for fiction writers) or that your information is accurate (for non-fiction writers).

Here are various ways to get that done:

Once you’ve done this, you can move to the next step and hire a professional editor. It’s important to understand the different types of editors and what each of them does:

  • Developmental editors: They handle the manuscript from a general perspective to spot any logical inconsistencies, plot holes, or character deviations.
  • Line editors: They are a combination of copy editors and developmental editors because although they edit the manuscript, they do it from a general perspective. Authors prefer developmental editors instead. 
  • Copy editors: They correct errors in spelling, grammar, syntax, dialogue formatting, and punctuation use without changing the style and tone.
  • Proofreaders: They handle the last step of the editing process to check the formatting and page layout. They also check for misspellings in case copy editors miss some of them. 

 Editing tools: Grammarly, Wordtune, ProWritingAid

3. Create an Eye-Catching Book Cover Design

When you decide to publish your own book, you’ll also have to handle book cover design. This is an important part of the publishing process as people–regardless of what some might say–do care about book covers. People are more likely to have a selection of books beautifully displayed in their personal library if they have nice covers, right?

You can handle the book cover design yourself or work with a professional. Check out our blog article on how to design a book cover to get a detailed view of the process.

Design tools: Canva, Adobe InDesign

4. Format Your Manuscript 

After finalizing your manuscript, the next step is to format it for ebook, print, or audiobook creation. You can outsource the work to a professional or do it yourself.

  • Ebook

Getting your manuscript for ebook conversion is not only important but mandatory. A poorly formatted manuscript might get rejected by a self-publishing platform. But this is a whole new subject that needs to be handled carefully, so make sure to check our guide explaining how to format a book for self-publishing.

When ready, use this free ebook converter to generate an EPUB file (required and accepted by most stores).

  • Print-on-demand

With the print-on-demand service, authors can offer readers physical books without wasting money on hundreds of copies. When a reader places an order for a book, only then does the book get printed and shipped to them.

With print-on-demand books, there are two main PDF files to have ready. The first file should include a front cover, back cover, spine, and bleed area. The second file is your main manuscript which should follow these guidelines.

You can find out everything you need to know about prin-on-demand and how to reach worldwide readers with your physical books in this extensive guide

💡Tip: With a platform like PublishDrive, you can order copies of your book to use them to send print review copies, pitch them to local bookstores, or fulfill orders for your direct contacts. 

  • Audiobook

As the fastest-growing segment in publishing, we strongly suggest getting into audio. 

What’s needed here are MP3 audio files of your book being read out loud and your cover design (1400x1400 resolution). Audiobooks are usually released after their print or ebook versions, so you’ll earn some royalties from your ebook before starting to work on its audiobook version. 

We have a blog article on how to self-publish audiobooks that covers everything from creation and formatting to publishing.

5. Choose the Right Self-Publishing Companies 

At this point, you may ask “how do I self-publish a book and get it into the right distribution companies and online retailers?

With several publishing companies and services out there, we know it can get overwhelming. You’d have to consider exactly where to send a copy of your book or how to price your book. As a team that works with thousands of book channels, we have pointers.

Most indies know that getting their books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a good starting point. They even have the 90-day exclusivity KDP Select, which can help newbie authors get their books in front of the right audience. 

However, when it comes to self-publishing a book, we recommend going beyond Amazon with international markets and more stores. Although Amazon is a major player in the book market, they’re not the only one. 

Choose to publish internationally

You have an alternative to KDP Select that’ll still get your book into Amazon Kindle Publishing—self-publish with an aggregator like PublishDrive that handles multiple distribution networks for you.

Plus, the great advantage is that your book will be distributed to international markets, bringing you more royalties.

See PublishDrive’s list of partner stores made up of over 400 online stores and 240K libraries.

We connect you with online retailers like Amazon, Google, and Apple, plus rapidly growing channels like Dreame.

6. Self-Publish Your Book

Once you decide where you want to self-publish your book, you can start with the actual publishing process. There are free platforms you can try individually, or go to an aggregator like PublishDrive and distribute your book to multiple places simultaneously with just a few clicks. 

We’ll show you how to self-publish with PublishDrive.


Step 1: Log in / Create an account

Step 2: Upload your book

Go to My Books > Upload book and select the format.

Step 3: Fill out the details

In this step, you need to upload your files and fill out all the other necessary details–creators, metadata, categories, price, rights, and distribution.

Note: If you wish to set up a pre-order period, you can do this when you reach the Rights section. Choose Else and the publication date.

Step 4: Select the distribution

In this final step of the self-publishing process, you just need to select the stores you want to send your book to.


Step 1: Log in / Create an account

Step 2: Upload your book

Go to My Books > Upload book and select the format.

Step 3: Set up the manufacturing details

For print-on-demand books, you need to set up the manufacturing information: trim size, binding type, interior color, paper color, cover laminate type, and page count.

Step 4: Upload your files

When uploading your files, make sure you adhere to the print-on-demand requirements. To simplify the process of creating your files, try PublishDrive’s print cover template generator, which you’ll find on the left-hand side of the main dashboard. 

Step 5: Fill out the details

Add information on the book’s creators, metadata, categories, price, and rights.

Step 6: Select the distribution

PublishDrive has print-on-demand distribution partners: Amazon, Ingram, and China Print. Ingram printing is one of the largest companies providing print-on-demand products that sells to over 39,000 partners like Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Costco, etc.


Step 1: Log in / Create an account

Step 2: Upload your book

Go to My Books > Upload book and select the format.

Step 3: Upload the files

Step 4: Fill out the details

Just like for the previous formats, you need to add the creators, metadata, categories, price, and rights.

Step 5: Select the distribution

Select the stores you want to send your audiobook to.

Note: After publishing, you’ll start earning royalties after two months. PublishDrive compiles sales reports around the 10th of the month, two months after the sales, with the deadline for payment being the end of the same month. For example, sales made during May will be reported around the 10th of July and paid at the end of July.

7. Promoting with Effective Tactics and Tools

We’ve reviewed how to publish a book, but there is more to know.

Regardless if you publish a book on Amazon or with an aggregator, you still need to promote your book. In order to sustain your gig, it takes a solid marketing strategy and continuous tactics to advertise your book. 

This includes organic tactics, like posting consistently on social media, but also paid promotions, which, although they will cost you a bit, the return on investment can be much higher.

You must also accumulate enough reviews on the launch day and soon after.

It sounds like a lot, but here are a few resources to get you started:

Expect to learn, experiment, and make adjustments throughout your journey.

💡Tip: On PublishDrive, not only can you set up price promos, but you can run paid placements, submit your book for many featuring opportunities with prominent stores and newsletters, or take part in sales events.

With PublishDrive’s suite of tools, marketing your book takes place on one dashboard.

Send out protected copies of your book to collect reviews from friends and influencers. Use our friendly Amazon advertising tool to set up and optimize ads. Or, if you have a book launch or other news to share, get a social media shoutout.

Go to PublishDrive’s dashboard, click on Promotions, and pick the kind of promotion you’d like to try.

8. Tracking Your Book Sales Performance

It’s critical to have an organized and transparent system for tracking your sales. 

We’ve been working with indie authors and publishers since 2015. We know the frustration that comes with taking care of administrative tasks – especially finances. If you’re an Excel whiz, that’s fantastic. But for a lot of us, saving time and energy on number crunching is a huge win.

PublishDrive’s sales analytics dashboard gives you a comprehensive view of your book sales across stores and markets. Easily track sales in real-time (along with rankings and reviews) and generate financial reports. View pre-made charts and filter by country, title, store type, and more.

💡Tip: If you’re co-authoring a book, use PublishDrive’s Team Royalties or Abacus to automate the process of splitting royalties. The process becomes effortless and transparent to each author. 

Here's an overview on how to market your book using PublishDrives's promotional tools:

What Our Authors Say

"It makes sense from a royalty-saving perspective to use PublishDrive for distribution. Why would I say no to taking home more royalties at the end of the day?! Couple that with the time-saving aspect since I can now manage all my non-direct stores in one place.”

-Bestselling Author, Rachel Morgan

“Within 20 minutes of landing on the site, I had my account set up, my book uploaded, metadata set, and I'd hit publish. A member of PublishDrive contacted me with a potential copyright issue and helped me resolve it. Very soon my first ever book was on sale worldwide.”

- Bestselling Author, Lee Gordon Miller

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