by Shona Bradbury

updated 4/21/2023

This post contains many external links to products, tools, and articles I have found useful during the self-publishing process. None are affiliate links. 

Write like no one is reading. Get that first draft out into the universe! Then revise, revise, revise! Use copyediting tools to improve readability. The following tools offer suggested edits to your work.

2. Editing

A lot of authors suggest hiring an editor for your book before you self-publish. There are many different types of editors, so it is important to know what you are getting before you fork over hard-earned cash on an editor.

Developmental Editor - These are the most common editors to hire before you publish a book. These editors will look at the overall structure of the book from beginning to end. A good exercise to show you how bad you need a developmental editor is to write a long synopsis for your book. A synopsis tells the entire story in 1-2 pages. If you are having trouble writing the flow of your story in 1-2 pages, that may be an alert something is wrong.

3. Alpha Readers

Make friends with another writer who writes in the same genre or style as you. You can be Alpha readers for each other. Here are some links to critique questions that may be helpful when tell your Alpha reader what kind of feedback you are looking for.

4. Beta Readers

Think about who your ideal reader is (other than yourself). This is a good time to look at the demographics for your audience.

Once you have identified your ideal reader, then it’s time to find some Beta readers that fit that profile. You can find them at local book clubs, on social media, or even in our writing group. Just like with Alpha readers, you will want to prepare them with the type of feedback you are looking for.

5. Cover Design

Whatever tool you decide to publish with will likely include a cover creator tool. If you want a little more than what they offer out of the box, there are some user friendly tools out there:

Be careful of copyrights if using images from the internet. If someone else owns the digital rights to the image you found in a google search, they would be correct to sue you for using without permission. There are photo sites out there that allow you to purchase the right to use photos. Some let you use photos for free so long as you give them photo credit in the book.

6. Manuscript Formatting

You will want to make some copies of your original manuscript to fit upload requirements for eBook vs. Paperback vs. Hardcover.

Simply make a copy of your original document something like this:

Depending on which publisher you use, the file requirements are different. For example, I will link to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Be sure to look at the file requirements for whichever publisher you choose.

Note for paperback and hardcover, you will need to consider trim size, font style and size, and the layout of your front and back matter. For eBooks, trim size and font attributes are not a consideration because the user sets their preferences in their e-reader devices.

7. Advance Reader Copies (ARC) or Proofs

If you are creating paperback or hardcovers, make sure you order author copies of your book before you go live! You get the satisfaction of holding your book in your hands! And you get to see how your font attributes, trim size, and cover design look in real life. Maybe you want to go back and change from glossy to matte. Or use Times New Roman instead of Ariel.

8. Marketing & Sales

Wait! Don’t click that publish button yet! It’s time to hype up your forthcoming release!


Most self-publishing sites will allow you to set a release date in the future and collect pre-orders. This is a good opportunity for your Beta readers to go in and add their review of your work. They must specify they were given and ARC (Advance Reader Copy) since the system would not be able to verify them as a customer. This future launch gives you time to spread the word and get people excited.


Some self-published authors are launching kickstarters before they publish their books. The benefit of a kickstarter allows you to sell directly (keeping all the profits) and offer things like signed copies and related merchandise (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)

Plan a Launch Party!

You wrote a book! It’s time to party! Invite all your friends and neighbors. Ask your local bookstore or library if you can host it there.

Social Media

Are your readers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, or other? Tell the world you have a book coming out!

Author Website

If someone googles your name, what comes up? Hopefully, it is your author website. This website should have information and links to your books for sale! It will be your reader’s way to find out more information about you. So make sure they can find you on social media, sign up for your newsletter, and most importantly, buy your books!


Starting a newsletter is a smart way to connect to your readers and keep them in the loop regarding your future publications.

Book Tour

If you are self-publishing, this is going to require an effort on your part, unless you hire a publicist. Places to book events: libraries, book stores, and coffee shops.

9. Choosing a Self-Publisher Option - Targeted or Wide

There are many options for self-publishing. This is not an exhaustive list. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of your self-publishing contract. Some have an exclusivity clause which may hamper your distribution plans. For example, you can get a higher profit from Amazon if you are exclusive to Kindle Direct Publishing. 

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Apple Store

Book Baby

Google Play Store

Ingram Spark