The First Time Self-Publishers Guide

first time self-publishers guideLaozi said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you’ve decided to self-publish a book, congratulations: you’ve taken that first step! This journey may be long, but it’ll be worth it when you hold your book in your hands. Though undoubtedly proud, first time self-publishers often find that they have a lot of questions about the process. While we offer plenty of helpful how-to guides, video tutorials, eager customer service representatives, and thorough blog posts, authors still find themselves bogged down by the specifics. This prompted us to create our First Time Self-Publishers Guide.

First Time Self-Publishers Guide: Where Do You Begin? 

Where should you start? With a book, of course! You can’t self-publish a book if there is no book, so first things first, you need to get your book ready to be published. But how do you know if a book is ready? As an author, you may find it difficult to answer this question. Most books take a lot of time to finish, and writing one challenges even the most established authors. You get stuck in the editing phase or struggle to decide on a proper ending. With this kind of pressure, it’s no wonder first time self-publishers have so many questions! 

How Do You Know if a Book is Done?

When is a book done? We don’t have a precise answer (because it can’t be distilled to just one answer!), but in our first time self-publishers guide we’ve included some signs that your book is ready to be self-published.

The story makes sense. 

In addition to being a good story—one worth reading-—your book should be logical and coherent. A good way to check that a story is finished is by having someone else read it and report their thoughts. This is called a “beta reader,” and all self-publishers should have one. Make sure your beta reader is comfortable being honest with you, because while it may be difficult to hear, it’ll make your book better.

There are no grammatical errors, misspellings, or inconsistencies. 

Editing is just as important as writing. Self-publishers should be prepared to either edit the book themselves, or hire a freelance editor. No matter what option self-publishers choose, the end result should be the same: an edited book, free of grammatical errors, misspellings, or other inconsistencies. 

There is a beginning, middle, and end. 

This seems like an obvious statement, but writing a book is hard! Sometimes you miss the most obvious things. Always keep Freytag’s Pyramid in mind—exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution

You’ve included front matter and back matter. 

First time self-publishers may not know what to include in their book besides the actual story. In fact, there are a lot of other components that must be present in your book before you can self-publish it. These components make up the front and back matter (which bookend the story itself). To learn more about the individual components, read this blog about front matter and this blog about back matter.

You’re happy with the end product. 

Of course, your approval is the most important. Do you feel your book is ready? Are you proud of what you’ve written? Chances are, if you’ve answered yes to those questions, your book is ready to be self-published.  

How Do You Know if a Book is Ready to be Printed? 

So, you’ve decided your book is ready to be self-published. You’ve taken that first step, and you’re already on your journey of a thousand miles. What comes next? 

In order to self-publish a book with DiggyPOD successfully, you need to adhere to our checklist for printing. We’ve been doing this for awhile—and we’ve printed countless books for countless inspiring authors, just like you. We know what’s necessary in order for your book to look as amazing as you’ve been picturing it in your head, which is why we’ve created video tutorials, printing templates, and this first time self-publishers guide. We believe in being transparent and up-front about our entire process. 

Before you can send your book to our printers, you need to get it print ready, so follow this checklist in order for your book to print properly.

DiggyPOD’s Checklist for Printing

Review our format guidelines.

Check our format guidelines ahead of time to save yourself some work and make sure you’re setting up your book per our specifications. 

  1. Your book cover has been converted into a PDF.
  2. Your book interior has been converted into a separate PDF.
  3. Fonts are embedded in both PDFs.
  4. Any images used are high-resolution.
  5. Your PDF page sizes match the trim size you have ordered.

Because we believe in making this journey as transparent and easy as possible for new and veteran self-publishers, we thoroughly cover each of these steps here.

Make sure your interior pages match your ordered trim size.

Use our interior book templates and margins guide to set up your interior pages. Don’t skip this part, because book layout is crucial. You worked tirelessly to create this book, and you’ve come too far in your journey to skip important steps.

Create a book cover.

Some self-publishers hire a freelance graphic designer, others design it themselves, and some opt for DiggyPOD’s eye-catching design. There’s no one right option. That’s the beauty of self-publishing—you get to decide everything. If you choose to design your cover yourself, use one of our book cover templates to make the process smooth. 

Convert your files into print-ready PDFs.

Yes, we made a tool for this, too. 

How Many Books Should You Order?

Your book is written, and you’ve checked off every item from the checklist above. Now what? Now you order your books! But… wait. How many should you order? 

This is a tough question for new and veteran self-publishers alike. You are the best judge of how many books you will need, so while we can’t answer this question for you in our first time self-publishers guide, we can give you some guidance. Always estimate your order based on the interest around your book. If you’ve been doing some pre-publication promotion and marketing, your order should be on the higher side. If you plan to give your book to friends and relatives, start with a more conservative order. Or, if you’re planning on selling the book and giving copies to your friends and relatives, order plenty so you don’t run out, and everyone gets a copy!

When Should You Order More?

What happens if you’ve sold or given away every single copy of your book? This is the problem every author wants to have!

We’d recommend reordering your book once your supply dwindles low. Again, you’re the best judge of this. If there’s marked interest in your book, or if your author website is getting more visits than usual, or if you know of a family member visiting that hasn’t gotten a copy yet, order more. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Once you print your book with DiggyPOD, each subsequent order is easier!

Where Should You Store Leftover Books?

What happens if you order too many books? You’re going to have to store them somewhere safely to preserve their bookstore-quality. We recommend keeping your books away from any place that’s damp or warm. Don’t keep them in a hot attic, a corner of the basement that tends to flood in the spring, or in direct sunlight. You don’t want to risk the book becoming warped, wet, or faded.

The best way to store your books is in a clear, plastic container, because you can easily see inside when you need to find them. Store somewhere cool and dry—under a bed or in a closet. 

If you don’t have a large amount of leftover books, you could always store the extras on your bookshelf! That way, when you have guests, you can easily show them the culmination of all your hard work.

Don’t See Your Question on the First Time Self-Publishers Guide?

If you have a question that didn’t appear in this first time self-publishers guide, leave it in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to answer it!