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Self-publisher essentials with Ellie Marney: your publishing one-stop shop

When first researching the process of self-publishing, it can seem as if there are hundreds of different articles and books on the subject but no single map of the journey. This article outlines the most basic steps of self-publishing to at least make that part easier—you will still need to sort out banking, and social media and promotional platforms. While we’ve tried to include only reputable organisations and companies here, remember to do your own research and check the fine print—the providers listed are not guaranteed, but they’re a good place to start.

Step 1: Write the book

Always the first and most crucial step! If you’d like some professional advice on writing, with the chance to attend workshops and masterclasses, check out the writer support networks in your state or area:

Step 2: Beta the book

Ask some trusted friends—hopefully keen readers, and hopefully also readers from within the demographic the book is aimed at—to read your work. Alternatively, you can find manuscript assessment services at most of the writers support networks listed above.

Step 3: Edit the book

Search the databases of these professional organisations to find freelance editors who work in your state or area. If you’re involved in a writing or self-publishing group, ask members for recommendations.

Step 4: Copyedit the book

Most freelance editors worth their salt will also provide copyediting services. Check the professional editing organisations listed above.

Step 5: Get a cover

This is one of the most important parts of the self-publishing process—and your book’s primary sales pitch! Look for local freelance cover designers to find someone whose portfolio and qualifications seem like a good fit. Alternatively, try an overseas-based designer—there are a lot out there, so be clear about what you want. Remember you will need to use PayPal (or equivalent) to pay an overseas designer. It’s also possible to have covers designed by freelancers on sites like Reedsy, but it might involve some work to find someone who seems reputable.

Quality designers are booked months in advance, so plan early. Have a clear understanding of what you want—ebook cover? Paperback cover? Both? What fonts and design elements do you need? What’s your publishing schedule? It’s worth reading Lara Willard’s article on working with a book cover designer to get some tips.



Step 6: Buy ISBNs

All ISBNs (in Australia and overseas) are sold by Thorpe-Bowker Identifier Services. It’s much cheaper if you buy a pack of 10.

Step 7: Typeset/layout the book

Typesetting is when you set up the pages of the book, populate it with your text, and make sure the fonts and titles all look good. Some editors do typeset and layout, so ask your editor. You can also do this yourself—if you have graphic design skills, you might be equipped to use InDesign to create pages. If you’re less skilled, then user-friendly interfaces like Blurb or Vellum or Book Design Templates might be the way to go, or you can search online for book layout services.

Remember, if you’re also producing paperbacks of your book, you’ll need to ensure that layout is correct for both ebook and paperback—paperbacks need extra attention for things like gutters and margins.

Step 8: Proof the book

Read through your pages again (for the hundredth time!) and after you’re done, ask or hire someone with fresh eyes to read through and catch the tiny errors that you’ll inevitably miss—proofing might be something you can swap with another self-publishing author.

Step 9: Convert your book to formats

Once you have the completed pages of your beautifully typeset and laid-out book, you can convert it to the appropriate formats for publication with a free tool like Calibre.

Step 10: Publish the book

Read through the instructions for creating an account for each platform, and the uploading process. Be aware that you will need to fill out banking, tax and identity details for each platform you use.

As an ebook:

As a print-on-demand (POD) paperback:

  • IngramSpark—most popular choice for local print copies
  • KDP Print—the easiest choice for overseas print
  • Createspace—now Amazon-owned; it’s likely this will eventually be folded into KDP Print
  • Lulu—but be aware of postage costs

Step 11: Market and promote

Marketing tips and techniques are available all over the internet, but it’s a good idea to look at some of the information provided by the people listed below:

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the market by checking:

If you’re struggling to keep up with it all, you might want to consult a local author service provider (but again, watch the fine print):

Finally, good luck with your self-publishing efforts, and all the best for your next publication!

Ellie Marney is a teacher and hybrid YA author. She lives in Victoria with her family, and her latest book, White Night (Allen & Unwin), was published in March 2018. Find her at or on Twitter or Instagram.



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