Learning the Process of Publishing a Book

The Creative & Empowering Process of Publishing a Book

By Deborah S. Nelson

How to Publish a Book: The Process of Publishing a Book

The Process of Publishing a Book

The process of publishing a book comes up again and again from clients and students. Years ago I worked in a major publishing house, and for the past 5 years I have passionately dedicated 6 days a week to self-publishing! As a publishing coach and instructor, I am excited to answer this question: What is the process of publishing a book? As always, if you find this information valuable please share what you appreciate on your favorite social media option above.

Keep in mind I have outlined these steps for the process of publishing with a broad brush stroke for simplification. Some of these action steps are actually implemented at the same time, but this is the general order for the process of publishing a book.

Publishing is not Just Printing!

Step One–The Manuscript: Find, write, and contract the work. You will need this manuscript in the form of a Word Document. If the publisher is a traditional one, you will be asked to sign their contract. If you are self publishing your own book, I suggest you sign An Intent to Publish Agreement with yourself. These contracts and agreements serve to create deadlines, and definition of royalties and goals for the publishing of the book.

Editoring services for self-published books

Editorial Steps in the Process of Publishing a Book

Step Two–Editorial Process:  The publisher, self-publisher, or publishing coach will direct the first content editing, copy editing, and proofreading of the manuscript. Assign these three separate tasks in that order, since doing them in the wrong order will require extra work. This part of the process will include identifying and obtaining permissions, credits for illustrations and photos, as well creating front matter such as table of contents, title pages, copyright pages, interior images, along with front and back matter. To find out more about what needs to be included in a book, read my article What are the Parts of a Book?

Step Three–Interior Layout & Design: Your edited and polished manuscript will next go to a graphic artist. An interior book designer will create the book layout required by the printing company. This final layout is often called galleys and will go through another round of copy editing and proofreading later. Final corrections are sent back to layout artist for corrections to prepare for printing.

Steps in the Process of Publishing a Book: The Book Cover

The Book Cover: A  step in the Process of publishing a Book

Step Four–The Book Cover: The book cover includes a front cover and a back cover. For the back cover, this process involves an author headshot, author bio, and sales synopsis of the book. The front cover will include the title, subtitle, and author name and an intriguing graphic. The name of a book in a traditional publishing company setting is normally decided in meetings with the marketing department and editorial department. The title and subtitle of a book in self-publishing is sometimes done by the author, or by the author and publishing coach, or publicity agent. The title and book cover are of supreme importance in book sales. For more information on creating a cover see, Judging Book Covers: How to Design a Compelling Book Cover.

Step Five–Registering the Book Title: The book will be assigned an ISBN by the publishing company, or independent publisher, or the print on demand company, depending on how the book is being published. Additionally, the ISBN is associated with the title, subtitle, and author of the book. Once completed, this cannot be changed, except for initiating the process all over again, and purchasing another ISBN number. You will also create the copyright page with this information along with other credits to include in the front matter of the book.

Step Five–Print the Book: If printing is done by a traditional publisher, a first run of books are ordered and printed. There may be some a print check to be sure the cover is being printed in the right color range. If done at a print on demand company digital files will be submitted after a hard copy proof approval.

Step Six: Distribution & Marketing: If distribution of your book will be handled through a traditional publishing house, you will likely be assigned a publicity manager who will schedule media interviews and book signings to launch the new book. If the book is self published this will involve setting up an online shopping cart, often through Amazon Books. This is a basic overview of the process of publishing a book. As always, if you find this information valuable please share what you appreciate on your favorite social media option above.

If you would like more detailed information you may also read the following articles:

Becoming a Publisher in 7 Strategic Steps
DIY Publishing: How to Publish a Book Yourself
The Steps to Publish a Book–Part 1
Steps to Publish a Book–Part 2


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About Deborah S. Nelson