How To Self-Publish a Book – A Step By Step Guide

Cover Design of Moving TargetsThis is the strategy I’m using to self-publish my upcoming book, Moving Targets. I hope other indie-authors out there find this guide useful. This is a true do-it-yourselfer’s guide. If you want some hand-holding or don’t feel confident, I suggest you seek out people who have done this or who are professionals. I spent many long nights researching everything from traditional to hybrid to self publishing. I finally came to the conclusion I was savvy enough (with my background in design and marketing)  to do it on my own.  I created this guide to save you research time and present you what, for me, was the best route. Everyone is different, so I’ve included some other options too. There’s also one super secret hack to get your book to the top of the iBooks store, so read on!

Step 1. Format the book for your desired print dimension (mine is 5×7). I’m using In-Design, but you could do this in Word too.

Step 2. Get your book cover designed and save it in PDF for print and JPEG (at least 1400px wide) for eBooks. I’m a designer, so this was easy and fun. If you’re not, hire a good designer (might I recommend Shake Creative? Shake has designed covers for many bestsellers and it’s affordable too).

Step 3. Get your ISBN numbers at Bowkers (you will need the 10 pack because each edition needs a unique number- softcover, hardcover, eBook, etc. No need to buy their barcode add on, you can generate a free one here:

Step 4. Apply for a pre-assigned control number from the Library of Congress (you will need your ISBN and page count for this).

Step 5. Use a service like Ingram Spark for the physical book printing and placement in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailer catalogs. This is mostly online, but if someone walks into a bookstore they can also order your book. It just won’t be on the shelf. Who does that anymore anyways? 🙂 Printed books cost approximately $3 each plus shipping for my size of 5×7. Their system will generate the barcode and tell you the spine dimensions, etc. Alternatively, you could use CreateSpace, Lulu, etc. for your printer, though Ingram Spark’s has better book quality. These books are printed on-demand. This means you don’t have to purchase or keep any inventory. When your book is sold on Amazon or through a book store, they’ll print it and ship it direct! Something to note: yes, Ingram Spark also offers eBook publishing, but they take a hefty commission. You’ll earn bigger royalties if you do it through the other sites mentioned below.

Step 6. Register with – Get eBook conversion from Word Doc to EPUB and distribution to Apple, Kobo, Scribd, and many more (they take a 15% cut of net proceeds). Make sure to read their submission guidelines and follow them. It’s long, but will save you many headaches. Your book will go through their “Meat Grinder” which will turn it into EPUB, PDF, txt and other formats. Another similar service is Both sites are great, but the reason I chose SmashWords is because of this great feature…..

Step 6a (optional hack). Super-Hack Bonus Tip: Use the Smashwords pre-order feature. If you can get 500+ pre-orders on Apple you will have a great chance to go to their best seller list on launch date because all pre-order sales will aggregate at launch (like getting a few hundred sales at once). Getting on this list makes you an instant rock star, so worth giving it a shot. Peddle your pre-order by any means necessary and it just may pay off big!

Step 7. Setup a Kindle Direct Publishing account.  Upload your Word doc to have a .mobi file created and get direct distribution through Amazon (they take a %, but they have 80% of the eBook market). You can get on Amazon through, but you will earn more money per book by going direct.

Step 7a (optional).  At KDP you can opt to give them exclusivity for 90 days through their loan program. This will get you maximum exposure and help your Amazon sales rank. This is optional, and means you can’t sell an eBook ANYWHERE else, including your own site. I’m not going this route for the Apple pre-order reason, but you might want to look into it.

Step 8. Sign up for a account and get active. When your book is available on Amazon, claim your author page and interact with the community.

Step 9. When your books are printed, send copies to Library of Congress to finalize that process.

Step 10. Get a free book review at by sending them copies. Pay a few bucks and you can make it a speedier process if you’re in a rush.

Step 11. Sign up with to get reader reviews in exchange for copies of your book. This is a good way to get some review juice flowing.

Step 12. Post books or excerpts from book on This is good for link building and growing an email list that you can re-market to later.

Hope it helps and good luck…..

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