Is Self-Publishing a Book Profitable?

Publishing a Book Digitally 

By Deborah S. Nelson

Tablet computer color splashNow that digital publishing has entered the playing field of the World Wide Web, a new question arises over the horizon of online book publishing. Is it possible to make money when publishing a book? In this article we address the question for those considering entering the ring of digital book publishing.


Book Publishing reaches back into history; and traditionally was an expensive venture to enter. The printing press was a pricey piece of equipment in the first place, as was the set-up involved in printing just one book. This required an up-front investment for printing at least 10,000 books to make one book affordable. See the video below which explains in more

detail the difference between digital publishing and traditional publishing.

Now that digital publishing allows any of us to print just one book affordably, that makes self-publishing doable for a one person enterprise.

Money Required for Publishing a Book

Before we can talk about making money in publishing a book, we need to talk about the costs involved to get started.  Since expensive printing equipment or set-ups are not required, that means anyone with a simple computer and an idea for a book can enter the playing field of book publishing. With no large investment required, the potential profit margin obviously skyrockets.

However, expect to put in a great deal of sweat equity, or pay for labor costs involved in preparing the digital file for publication. To find out more details about the exact costs involved in  publishing a book, here’s an article entitled Real Self-Publishing Costs to Publish a Book to get a detailed analysis of initial costs involved.

The Millions Made by Publishing a Book with Digital Publishing

Digital publishing equipment has made a new self publisher era possible. No longer considered ‘vanity publishing,” many successful traditionally published authors are getting excited about the size of their royalties made by publishing a book themselves. Take Barbara Freethy, for instances, Author of 34 novels including the Wish series and first author on Kindle and Nook to sell one million books. She has been writing for 20 years, and was published through four different publishing houses. Freethly is now self-publishing. “Once I saw how well my self-publishing books were doing and how much more attention and focus I could put on my own books, it was a pretty easy decision [to continue self-publishing] because those books have been doing so much better,” Freethy comments.

Amanda Hocking has made millions with her romance series with on e-book platforms as well. Considering now that the self-publishing industry is estimated as a 52 million dollar industry in 2012, there is certainly big money to be made in publishing a book. This is true now, more than ever, especially when self-publishing figures appear to be eclipsing traditional book publishing numbers many times over.

Amanda Hocking and Barbara Freethy are just two of the most well-known millionaire authors; and this article barely scratches the surface. Huffington Post Live has a comprehensive video interview which interviews the some of today’s most successful self-published authors. With the publishing playing field leveled they interview Hugh Howey, Darcy Chan, Bella Andre, Jasinda Wilder, all New York Times Best Selling authors, and all approaching 1 million or more in book sales. With royalties what they are in self-publishing, you can bet those sales numbers has brought each of these authors millionaire status.

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Learn the Process of Publishing a Book

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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