The many details of self-publishing

Dec. 15, 2015 | by Ken Walker

Although our respective schedules didn’t allow me to accept the project, a recent inquiry wasn’t the first time during the past year I had received such a request. The author wanted to know if I could go over her book to proof it and double-check page numbers and other minutiae—after it had been published through Create Space (Amazon’s popular self-publishing division).

What this indicates is a lack of understanding of the basics of publishing, something that is essential for anyone hoping to release a book. The time to handle painstaking copy revisions, editing, proofing and production evaluations is before the book is in print. Correcting inaccuracies after the fact is an expensive process.

When it comes to self-publishing, writing the manuscript is only the start. There is editing, necessary revisions, re-editing, and proofreading. Not just once, but two or three times.

Once on a Linked In book forum, an author commented that he had had nine sets of eyes review his book before its release.  

Using multiple eyes

Now, every time a set of eyes reviews your book, that requires an outlay of funds (unless you’re using a cadre of volunteers, which is not a good idea). Nine may be too expensive, but I suggest at least five.

Those eyes could include the author, co-author or collaborator, an editor, a copy editor, and a final reader/editor/proofer. The last two people in line should have never laid eyes on it before: the more familiar someone is with your book, the easier it will be that person to overlook or simply miss mistakes.

Time-consuming task

A member of my professional editors group recently rattled off a quick list of other tasks that follow the manuscript writing and editing process, including:

  • Choose size of book
  • Research best title for book
  • Format or hire formatter/typesetter
  • Buy ISBN or use CreateSpace ISBN (ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a must for retail sales or simply to be considered a professional product)
  • Design imprint logo if you buy your own ISBN
  • If desired, buy a LOC (Library of Congress) number
  • Set up CreateSpace account
  • Hire cover designer
  • Write bio
  • Write jacket copy
  • Edit both
  • Upload files for interior and cover
  • Order proof copies and hire proofreader—preferably not the same editor as the one who did your manuscript
  • Publish

Nor are you done once the book is out. There are press releases and social media copy to be written or posted, and numerous contacts to be made with media outlets and bookstores. Speaking about your book will help increase sales; who might be open to hosting you as a speaker for a meeting or other event?

Prepare for the work

I rarely get involved in this entire process, since I focus my time and efforts on writing and editing. However, the knowledge I have developed over the years is one reason I’ve developed such an appreciation for the publishers I work with. They face a myriad of details after I’m done writing or editing before a finished product arrives in bookstores and at online sites.

Plus, when I helped with the publicity push for a book I co-authored, I sometimes got requests for a review copy prior to a radio or TV interview, or feature story. It was wonderful to simply contact the publisher and ask them to send one.

Self-publishing can be a daunting process, but it offers the kind of flexibility authors never dreamed of in the past. Just be sure you understand what you’re getting into so you won’t be asking someone to proof your book after it’s published.


Topics: Consulting, Ministry, Teaching Resources, Vision



Ken Walker

An experienced freelance writer, co-author and book editor, Ken Walker edits blogs for several contributors to Church Central and has coached various bloggers for the site. A member of the Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), he has co-authored, edited or contributed to more than 50 books. You can see samples of his work or ask about his services as a writing coach by going to http://www.KenWalkerWriter.com or by e-mailing kenwalker33@gmail.com.

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