An Introduction to Self-Publishing

Updated on May 12, 2020
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Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.

Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Book


  1. Saves time—you’re not spending all that time looking for an agent or publisher, waiting for them to respond, then starting over again when they say “no.”
  2. You do not have to share royalties with a publisher or agent.
  3. You have control over your book’s content and design.
  4. The whole creative process can be fun.


  1. No agent or publisher (whose knowledge can be invaluable.)
  2. Many book stores will not stock self-published books.
  3. The stigma against self-published books makes it hard to be taken seriously.
  4. You have to do all of your marketing (which is true of all publishing really.)
  5. It is a lot of work.
  6. There is a learning curve.

Self-Published Books
Self-Published Books | Source

Get Ready, Get Set, Start!

You have finished your book and have edited it to the best of your ability, then had a qualified editor proof it. You are ready to publish!

Before you start, turn on the paragraph marks ¶ and other hidden formatting symbols—find paragraph mark ¶ in the Home Tab. This will help you see errors and where your page and section breaks are. Don’t forget to turn it back off when you are finished.

The following are some formatting tips for making your book look professional.

Word Tips

  1. Size: (5.5x8.5 or 9x6? Your choice), margins, gutter. In my version of Word, it does margins and gutters automatically by default. You can change if desired. Be sure to have the manuscript single-spaced. Use the same font all the way through.
  2. Justify: Distributes the text evenly between the margins.
  3. Page numbering: Make section breaks after each place you want numbering to be different. Examples: no number on the title page, lower case roman numerals on front matter. Start with page 1 on the 1st page of chapter one. At the beginning of each chapter, click page numbering format, click “continue from the previous page," otherwise every chapter will start over with page 1.
  4. Table of Contents: In the Home Tab choose style, highlight the title in your manuscript, and click on the style. Then under the references tab, click on Table of Contents and it will auto the TOC. If you have two lines, ie Chapter number and then a title, use a soft return (shift + enter) and both will appear on one line in the TOC.
  5. Running Headers and Footers: (Odd - right and Even-left) Double click header area for header/footer tools. No running heads on 1st page of each chapter. (section breaks)
  6. Author name on even side, title on the odd side.
  7. Page and Section breaks (control/enter for page break or go to Page Layout – breaks – page break. Earlier versions of Word find under insert. Otherwise, the page will break auto at the end of the page of text.
  8. The Bottom Lines: They should be even with each other—turn off Widows and orphans and hyphen radio buttons on the Page Layout Tab. (see definitions below.)
  9. Front Matter: Half-title (title only) fronts piece (illustration, could be a map or picture), title page (title, author, publisher name) copyright page, dedication, epigraph, TOC, foreword, preface, or prologue, acknowledgments. Page one of the first chapter should be on the right side/odd number.
  10. Back Matter: Epilogue, afterword or postscript, appendix, glossary, index, bibliography, Author bio (write in third person, include a picture if desired).
  11. Widow: A widow is a word or line of text that is forced to go on alone and start its own column or page.
  12. River: A line of negative space that runs throughout a paragraph. It is frequently caused by fully justified text, creating too much space between words within a line of text.
  13. Orphan: An orphan is a single word at the bottom of a paragraph that gets left behind.

Choose a Self-Publishing Venue

  • I started out using Create Space, owned by Amazon, to publish my print books and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for my e-books. Recently Amazon has done away with Create Space and now does print books as well as an eBook via KDP. To find out more about KDP go here. KDP has a good selection of templates for designing your cover or you can DIY one yourself.
  • Another place for publishing ebooks is Kobo. Kobo e-books can be bought and downloaded to the Kobo reader and smartphones, tablets and your computer. Find them
  • My books are published in both places and also via Barnes and Noble's Self-publishing press here. These companies have clear instructions and I found them fairly easy to use.

There are many more self-publishing companies that I have not used including Lulu, Smashwords, and IngramSpark are just three of them. Just Google "self-publishing companies" and you'll find more.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      22 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hey, Donna Campbell, many thanks for this informative article. It will help me and others in the future, I have writ a good e-book relating to jogging. Does the story take care of the issue? so I am bookmarking it for reference.


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