How to Publish Your Book

March 2023
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If you’ve been following my columns this year (January and February), then you know that the focus has been on practically every writer’s dream project: the book.

We’ve covered the ways a book can boost your career or business, strategies for overcoming common obstacles, and how to sit down and write it.

This month is about getting the book produced and published. And for our purposes here, by “book” I mean a full-fledged book, not a short ebook you might offer for free online. Those can be a valuable marketing tool, but the process is much simpler and the stakes lower.

The big question at this stage is whether to pursue a traditional publisher or do it yourself. 

Traditional publishing

For many aspiring authors, getting picked up by a traditional publishing house is the Holy Grail. While that’s a possibility, it’s become more of a remote one. Major publishing deals usually go to people with a large online following. Being famous also helps. (Though infamy can be a quick but painful substitute!)

The process is also long. You’ll have to research similar books in your niche, find literary agents who specialize in that area, create and send book proposals, hope to be picked up and then wait as the agent approaches publishers. 

If you make it through that gauntlet, then you then have to write it and wait another year or more for it to be edited, designed and published.

Independent publishing

If you’re the impatient type, then the main alternative to traditional publishing is quicker, though it’s still hard.

Note that the preferred term these days is “independent” not “self” publishing. That’s partly because there’s still some stigma around self-published books. So, authors took a tip from other media: indie music and independent films.

But it’s also because publishing a book through any route is hardly a do-it-yourself proposition. You’re going to need a fleet of experts. 

It starts with professional editors. (That’s right, it’s plural.)

  • A development editor will help with the bigger content issues: Does it hang together? Is it properly organized? Are there any flaws in the logic or any holes to fill?
  • A copy editor makes sure all grammar, punctuation and style is consistent. 
  • A proofreader will do a final check for typos and other small but credibility-damaging errors.

Do not skip this step! Even bestselling authors require editors.

You’ll also need a designer for the book cover and interior. Do not settle for DIY. Book cover design is an art and a science. In many ways, a book is absolutely judged by its cover.

Other experts can include a specialist who converts the manuscript to ebook and an audiobook producer and narrator. 

Among the details to manage: applying for ISBN numbers, registering for copyright, uploading to Amazon and other sellers, getting blurbs and much more.

It’s a lot of work, and it takes a village. But in addition to relative speed, independent publishing offers much more control over the process and the product. 

A traditionally published author doesn’t get final say on the edits, or even the title, and may not even see the cover design until it’s printed!

Hybrid publishing

There are businesses that will take care of these details for you. They’re called “hybrid” publishers. You pay a flat fee and they edit, design and produce your book. Some do a good job. Many do not. I’ve been asked to write reviews for hybrid-published books that are filled with typos, redundancies, plodding prose and other major issues.

So do your research. Get recommendations from people you respect. And check out samples from their catalog.


Whether you do hybrid, independent or even traditional publishing, most of the burden for marketing the book — getting it seen, noticed and sold — will fall on you. In fact, the marketing has to begin months before publication.

But that’s a whole other story, which we’ll cover next month. 

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