How to Publish a Book in 2021: Learning How to Solve the Self-Publishing Puzzle

The puzzle pieces of how to publish a book

Learn How to Publish a Book with Self Publishing Tips, Tools, and Books by Publishing SOLO Magazine

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author-Book Coach-Speaker

When learning how to publish a book–what is the largest obstacle of all? After being a self-publishing coach for the past decade, my conclusion is that self-publishing’s most serious issue, by far is … lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, both hungry and fat sharks swim about in the ocean of self-publishing. Yet, learning to recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing, and outsmarting the predators–means getting a good education.

Publishing SOLO magazine by Deborah S Nelson

Education is the core of our work at Publishing Solo Magazine. We provide a solid and thorough education for those who want to learn how to publish a book–before you actually attempt it! Obviously, We do not want to leave you to the wolves, or the sharks! So, in this process, we offer many free and paid tools, book coaching, and other resources for those who are learning how to publish a book themselves. Stick around, and learn the truths you need to know to be a successful self-published author!

The Biggest Challenge in Book Publishing: What You Don’t Know is Costly Beyond Words

One of the first questions most writers who want to self-publish ask is–who are the best and worst self-publishing companies? Which self-publishing companies should they avoid? These questions always bring to mind the truism: You don’t know … what you don’t know! To top it off, not knowing adversely affects your self-publishing costs–another popular question in independent publishing! How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

I cannot begin to tell you how much confusion, miscommunications, time, energy, grief, and money writers spend on learning what they don’t know on the way to self-publishing a book. Without realizing it, many have embarked on becoming their own publisher! Indeed, self-publishing a book goes way beyond just printing a book!

How to Publish a Book Kits
by Deborah S. Nelson

“How to Publish a Book” Makes for a Puzzle with a Multitude of Pieces

However, the bigger problem is not which self-publishing company is the best–or the worst, but who is the best match for your book publishing project! But, how can you know that? How do you know which self-publishing company to use in the first place? First, you need to understand the big picture; and you need to know a thing or two.

So, right off you need to understand is that printing a book is only one small piece of self-publishing a book. Many people really do think these are the same–but this could not be further from the truth! Consequently, this one issue causes a lot of untold grief. Indeed, a little education can go a very long way to prevent mistakes and keep from needlessly spending money in the wrong ways.

Tools, courses, books, and coaching for writers who want to publish a book

What is Self-Publishing Anyway? A Few Definitions

This article covers the basic overview of 2021 self-publishing options and possibilities. After a decade of digital book publishing, the dust has settled and systems have prevailed; and stars have begun to shine. Key players, are Amazon Books, Kindle, Amazon Audibles, Ibooks, and IngramSpark. There are many more players in this industry but these are the top ones, for starters.

Image of Publish a Book Kit

Before diving into any one of these venues, you are wise to learn the difference between publishing and printing, self publishing, short run printing, independent publishing and vanity publishing. A lot people companies who print books, refer to themselves and self-publishing companies and they indicate their services are free.

First of all, in reality the “self” publishing is actually produced by the person who has created “the works.” This term has been used loosely or “generically” in the past decade, and it would be wise to get a clear understanding of these terms. You may do so by reading my Dictionary of Self Publishing Terms. This will help you immensely in your quest in learning how to publish a book.

The Chronology of How to Publish a Book

The order of the phases and stages of publishing a book include a lot more steps than just printing a book. This is where a lot of misunderstandings can arise with so-called self-publishing companies. As publisher (self) you are responsible for the design of the cover, the interior layout and design, including front and back matter, and other parts of a book, plus the content editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

As publisher, you are responsible for scheduling, budgeting, hiring freelances; and of course, selecting the printer. Also, you select the distribution options, create author website, social media, and branding and marketing efforts. In summary, for more detail about what a publisher does see the article entitled: Become a Publisher in 7 Strategic Ways.

Frequently Asked Self-Publishing Questions

Frequently Asked Self-Publishing questions

In summary, it is wise to educate yourself in the brave new world of digital publishing. First of all, learn the correct terminology. Secondly, watch a history of printing and /publishing video entitled Once Upon a Book, here. Third, click on the many links within this article which go into specific subject in more depth and detail. Lastly, read my Frequently Asked Self-publishing Questions to build your knowledge and your confidence. I wish you the best and may your dream to publish a book come true!

RELATED PAGE: Free Self-Publishing Toolkit

Self-Publishing a Book: 3 Rookie Pitfalls

Self-Publishing a Book Rookie Mistakes

Catch Self-Publishing Rookie Mistakes Before You Make Them

Self-Publishing a Book: Common Rookie Mistakes

By Deborah S. Nelson

So you are thinking of self-publishing a book! Bravo! Publishing a book is an excellent choice for a project that will stretch your imagination, patience, and fortitude. I have self-published 14 books and coached and taught authors to self-publish over 100 books. I can help you avoid the common rookie pitfalls. Self-publishing is similar to taking on the general manager role of building your own home. With that understood, get ready to discover mistakes that could sabotage your book publishing project and make you want to throw in the towel.


Mistake # Three: Hiring a “Self-Publishing Company”

Let’s get your thinking straight right away.  The term,Self-publishing companies” is one of the biggest misnomers of the twenty-first century!  If you truly want to master at the art of self-publishing a book, let me help you with terminology. Also see the Dictionary of Self-Publishing for basic terms. Self-publishing a book as defined in WIKIPEDIA: Definition of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by its author, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. A self-published physical book is said to be privately printed. The author is responsible for and in control of the entire process, including, in the case of a book, the design of the cover and interior, formats, price, distribution, marketing and public relations. The authors can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services.

What does this mean? It means you do NOT hire someone to “self-publish” your book-this is crazy! The ONLY  one who can SELF publish your book is YOU! I get questions and inquiries daily about “self-publishing companies to avoid,” and I say, “AVOID ALL OF THEM!” Having said that you will need to select a printer, most likely a print of demand printer (which often label themselves as “self-publishing companies”)

The reason for this is, since you are the author, YOU and only YOU are the publisher. You are responsible for the entire project. When you hire one of these so-called “self-publishing companies” you are putting a third-party in the middle, spending more money than necessary, while still needing to oversee all the work. This will not save you much time, if any.  These “self-publishing companies” are, are really print on demand printing companies. Yes, you will need a printer, but that is all you will need from these so-called “self-publishing companies.”

Solution: Subcontract your own workers. Hire a print on demand company for the printing only. Then contract experts in each area. You will need a book cover designer, an interior designer, content editor, proofreader and many other freelancers throughout the process. Many so-called self-publishing companies are happy to overcharge for these services. Read my article on Managing Self-Publishing Services.

Mistake #Two: Manuscript Written Equals Book Completed

Once finished writing your manuscript, you are done, nearly done, or halfway done. WRONG. You are one-third of the way to the finish line of your book project. I tell all my clients right away that you can expect THREE parts to the life cycle of bringing a book into the world:

  1. Write Your Book
  2. Publish Your Book
  3. Market Your Book

Keep in mind that once you have written a book, you are only 1/3 of the way to knowing the complete joy of self-publishing your book! Publishing or self-publishing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.

Solution: Keep this in mind throughout the entire process to build mental and emotional  stamina needed to make it to the finishing line.

Mistake #One: Including Friends, Family & Random “Experts” in the Process

This is the top mistake most people make when self-publishing a book that keeps them from actually finishing. However, if they do persevere through all the conflicting critical eyes, the book is likely to be a mish-mash of styles, looks, proofreading rules, editorial approaches, and your watered-down message.

Let me put it to you straight. Writing a book is about giving your readers a passionate message that only you know… a story that only you can tell. When self-publishing a book get a vision for your book, and stick to it. Everyone is a “so-called” expert, and when it comes down to it, most of the decisions in book publishing are personal and artistic preference. Don’t let everyone’s well mean opinion water down your passionate message to the world.

Solution: If you feel you must get feedback, do not ask for “feedback” to feed your ego–rather for the good of the book. Plan two focus group sessions, and carefully invite your key supporters, along with your book publishing coach to moderate. In the first focus group session, share your original unedited manuscript, and ask people to report back within 7-10 days with their ideas and positive feedback. After that, move on with your book publishing project. Self-publishing a book has a timeline, and you must stay on track to get it done. You may also create a focus group later, for the book cover, and again give people 7-10 days for their reaction, and then move on. This is the biggest mistake that rookies make when self-publishing a book. Looking for support, and complements, and an ego boost, can ultimately sabotage your book project.

self-publishing toolkit only at Publishing SOLOJoin Publishing SOLO
for Support, Structure & Accountability

For All Your Writing & Publishing Dreams


Real Self-Publishing Costs to Publish a Book. Reasonable—But it is NOT Free!

Financial Benefits You Will Receive as a Published Author​--and the self-publishing costs

So You Think You Want to Publish a Book

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author-Book Coach-Speaker

What a great dream! If your dream is a dream to publish a book, get ready for the most encouraging and truthful news. A key question you might have is: What are the real self-publishing costs to publish a book, and it is really free? On this site, I offer many tools, tricks, and tips to teach how to publish a book inexpensively, yet professionally.

First, let me explain why you may want to listen to me. Having immersed me in the brave new world of self-publishing for the past 10 years as an author/publisher, I can share a massive amount of experience, knowledge, and information on how to publish a book.

Why I am an Expert Book Publishing CoachDeborah S. Nelson, Author, Publisher, Speaker

If you understand both the long-term and short-term value of having a publishing coach, sign up for my complimentary coaching session. In my career prior to self-publishing, I traversed the printing, publishing, advertising, and marketing industries for decades. I ran a small ad agency that specialized in promotional items, printing, and a multitude of marketing and events projects.

While creating promotional campaigns, I learned printing and imprinting thoroughly and used some 85 printing processes onto hundreds of different surfaces—including glass, metal, plastics, woods, and papers of course—booklets, brochures, business cards, and books. Additionally, I worked for a traditional publishing house for close to three years and experienced book publishing from an inside perspective. Presently, I work as an author and publishing coach, teaching inside secrets to clients who want to glide through independent publishing smoothly, inexpensively, without frustration or embarrassment! I am well-qualified to teach a multitude of strategies about how to publish a book!

Publishing SOLO: DIY Publishing Kits Start at $97 with Deborah S. Nelson (how to self-publish a book)

How to Publish a Book & What are the Real Self-Publishing Costs?

I know the inside scoop on all the printing and publishing processes—both old school and new-tech ways. So let’s get to it. We are going to start with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the independent publishing industry.

The Good: Self Pubishing’s Lack of Rejection

Self-Publishing’s big plus is the lack of rejection letters. Hurray! You won’t get any of them; and you won’t waste time getting them, either! Self-publishing with print on demand is doable and affordable, but check the real self-publishing costs before diving in. See an informative article about the realities of the time-consuming rejection process: Top 10 Rejected Best-selling Authors.

The Bad: How to Sell Your Self-Published Books?

Maybe you should have gotten that rejection letter. Now that you have published your book, you don’t know how to sell it!

The Ugly: It is not Free to Self-Publish!

Although Self-publishing is difficult and time-consuming, it is no longer nearly impossible to become a published author. Carefully consider these three basic steps to publishing a book in physical form: write your book, publish your book, and sell your book. And it is NOT FREE! Get that out of your head right now. If a self-publishing company tells you it is free, they are not telling you the whole story. So read on to learn more details for what you can expect the real self-publishing costs to be.

Free Self-Publishing accounts are Free—But that is Where it Stops.

Click Here for Your Free Self-Publishing Toolkit

It may be “free” to sign up for a print-on-demand account, an ISBN number may even be free, but those websites do not actually teach you how to publish a book. That is left up to you! At some point, you are going to have to pay a piper, somewhere, sometime.  That won’t be a pretty sight if not prepared in advance. I want to help you avoid finding yourself stranded in the middle of a publishing project, hopes dashed; and unable to publish due to lack of time, money, and other resources.

I explain to my publishing coaching clients and students that to write and publish a book is not for the faint of heart. Compared to having a baby, in many ways it is more difficult. Compare self-publishing to having AND raising a child. If not approached with a clear head and an honest heart, publishing can be extraordinarily expensive, the technical details could cause you to lose your mind; and if not properly budgeted, could even cause you to go broke!

Having said that, knowing how to publish a book using print on demand printing is miraculous compared to the days when there was no choice but to go through a traditional publishing house; and use an ordinary printing press. In fact, it is doable and affordable. And becoming a published author is a dream come true, absolutely exhilarating.

Change Your Story Vision Kits by Deborah S. Nelson

What are the Costs of Self-Publishing a Book?

The following figures are ranges; assuming you would go through the same processes that a professional publishing company. However, various estimated costs of self-publishing are detailed as follows:

  • EDITORIAL: Three editorial phases, content edit, copy-edit and final proofreading.

TOTAL EDITORIAL COST is about $750-$2400, depends on the length of the book.

  • BOOK COVER: Three phases, including front and back cover graphic design, the writer’s bio with Author Photo, and the “sales synopsis” of the book on the back cover.

TOTAL BOOK COVER COST about $200-$1500, depends on the intricacy of cover design.

  • INTERIOR DESIGN: Three phases, including font, header, and divider page design, image and graphic element design and placement, interior digital file preparation to printing specification.

TOTAL INTERIOR LAYOUT AND DESIGN COST, about $500-$2000, depends on the length and complication of design and graphic elements included.

How to Self Publish on Amazon--What are Self-Publishing costs?
How to Self Publish on Amazon

How to Cut Self-Publishing Costs

Obviously, there are many ways to decrease self-publishing costs. At Publishing SOLO, we use tools such as Book Cover Design Template, and Interior Design Concept Worksheet. Thus, these tools completely plan the look and the placement of graphic elements, copy, and images before turning it over to the designer who charges by the hour. By using these tools thoroughly, the time the graphic artist takes to produce a digital file to print specifications can be as little as one hour for a book cover, and 5-10 hours for an interior design, depending on the size and complexity of the book.

RELATED ARTICLE: Necessary Self-Publishing Services

Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

Have a Dream to Publish a Book—
But Lack the Time or Know-How?

Look no further. Indeed, this potent detailed DIY publishing guide grants you the time and know-how. Learn how to self-publish a book by doing it! Notably, once you become a published author, friends, family, and peers see you in a whole new light! Furthermore, this unique system propels both aspiring and seasoned authors through digital publishing step-by-step. Moreover, you won’t need your completed manuscript!

Includes downloadable template
Free ISBN number & POD account
10 steps to print on demand publishing
Displays book parts in chronological order
Publish your book blueprint proof in a week

Self-Published Bestsellers Top NY Times List

Self-Published Bestsellers are Romance Authors

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher Publishing SOLO & VRTG

Self-Published Bestsellers

Self-Published Bestsellers

Romance authors are some of the self-published bestsellers exploding in the self-publishing genre. With the middle man of traditional publishing out of the loop; books are less expensive and authors can make a real living from royalties. Interestingly, rejection letters from traditional publishing companies are commonplace such as with romance author Stevens, who hit number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

A recent event in Seattle covered by a local news station interviewed self-published bestsellers and romance author S. C. Stevens:

SEATTLE – Hundreds of excited fans will line up to see celebrities in Seattle this weekend. They aren’t movie stars or musicians, they’re writers, and some are best-selling authors with passionate followings.

They all started without the help of a publishing company, taking part in a revolution in the book world that lets writers print their own books, and make money while they’re at it.

Author S.C. Stephens is part of the Seattle author event, which is a short trek from her home in the Puget Sound region.

For Stephens, a day at the office starts with a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Next stop, her computer, just a couple rooms away.

Gone are the days of being a bookkeeper, commuting between businesses, and answering to multiple bosses.

“I usually worked over 40 hours in the week just to make ends meet,” Stephens described.  “It’s just completely changed all of that. I quit all of my jobs and I just stay home with my kids.”

She quit all of her jobs except her dream job. Stephens spends her days weaving romantic tales that have fans gushing over the “epic love story” that’s “utterly delicious, addictive and angst-filled.”

Those reader reviews on Amazon are for “Reckless,” the final book in a trilogy that began as a self published phenomenon.

Stephens launched the series with “Thoughtless” – a novel she first published, free to read, chapter by chapter online.

“They loved it. Almost instantly there were reviews and comments. They were falling in love with the characters. It was very strange,” she laughed.

When Stephens decided to stop giving “Thoughtless” away for free, she used a self publishing website called Smashwords. On the site, authors publish and price their own e-books, getting them directly to major retailers.

Mark Coker founded Smashwords.

“It’s been incredible fun to see writers who were previously rejected by the large publishers now selling hundreds of thousands of books,” Coker said.  “It’s great to see writers dreams realized.”

Coker knew what authors faced, after penning a book with his wife that no publisher would take a chance on.

“Smashwords allows me to take a risk on every single author.  It allows me to give every single author in the world, every writer in the world, a chance. A chance to publish, a chance to be read, distribution to the world’s largest retailers and the opportunity for the readers to judge whether that writer is worth reading,” Coker said.

He founded the company in 2008 and helped authors self publish 140 books. By 2012, Smashwords was a $20 million dollar company that published more than 200,000 books.

Authors are making money, too. Coker says an author earns about $2.00 by selling a self-published book for $2.99.

Through a traditional publishing house, he says the book would have to sell for $10.00 for the author to make that same $2.00 profit.

The driving force in the self published world is romance. Author Colleen Hoover was living in a Texas trailer park when she self published her romance novel “Slammed” through Amazon.

“I did try to query agents and I got a lot of rejection letters,” Hoover told ABC’s Nightline earlier this year. “The book had already come out and I was getting rejection letters after it hit the New York Times.”  (See More)

Ready, Set, Go!

Boost your earning power & social currency by becoming a published book author in record time.

How Can Your Book Be Among Self-Published Bestsellers?

Not all self-published books are self-published bestsellers, but many self-published authors make a good living by keeping 100% of their royalties. Are you a romance writer? Have a dream to publish a book among the self-published bestsellers? Want to learn how to self-publish in 3 days?


publish my

Do You Dream to Publish a Book—
But Lack the Time or Know-How?
Look no further. This powerful learn-by-doing guide grants you the time and know-how. Learn to publish a printed book in 3 days by actually doing it! Once you become a published author, your friends, family, and peers will see you in a whole new light! This unique new system teaches both aspiring and seasoned authors every step of the self-publishing process. You won’t even need your completed manuscript to get startedThis Book Blueprint system:
Includes a downloadable interior template
Displays parts of a book in chronological order
Gives 10 easy steps to print on demand publishing
Sets up free ISBN number and self-publishing account
Gets your blueprint published in 3 days! (shipping extra)


Want to learn how to publish a book in 3 days?

[aio_button align=”center” animation=”shake” color=”red” size=”small” icon=”book” text=”Publish a Book Blueprint in 3 days” relationship=”nofollow” url=””]


Self-Published Author Ebook Millionaire

Some Self-Published Authors are Making it Big

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher Publishing SOLO & VRTG

Self-published author and e-book millionaire Amanda Hocking tells her story. I wanted to share this amazing video I came across on YouTube today. The video reinforces the concept that anybody can self-publish and become a best-selling author if they focus and dedicate themselves. This is a feel-good story that you must watch. Self-published authors are making it big in the digital publishing era. It is interesting how self published authors are able to catch on fire quickly because the publishing process is so much faster than traditional publishing. Traditional publishing has a history of rejecting best-selling authors. See article of 10 Most Rejected Bestselling Authors.

You too, can be like Amanda Hocking. Want to learn more about how to self publish your own book? Want to learn how to self-publish in 3 days?
Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

Have a Dream to Publish a Book—
But Lack the Time or Know-How?

Look no further. This potent detailed DIY publishing guide grants you the time and know-how. Learn how to self-publish a book by doing it! Once you become a published author, friends, family, and peers see you in a whole new light! This unique system propels both aspiring and seasoned authors through digital publishing step-by-step. You won’t even need your completed manuscript to start!

Includes downloadable template
Free ISBN number & POD account
10 steps to print on demand publishing
Displays book parts in chronological order
Publish your book blueprint proof in a week

Those who have completed Ms. Nelson’s Courses are raving fans. See Videos Reviews & Author Library.
Hmmm … I am not quite ready—just send me the Free Self-Publishing Toolkit

Click Here for Your Self-Publishing Toolkit


Talli Roland on Self-Publishing Her Books

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher Publishing SOLO & VRTG

After being published by a traditional publishing company, Talli Roland decided to go the self-publishing route.  She took a hard look at the her sales metrics and found that she could do everything the traditional publishing company was doing and keep more of the profits in the end. After going through the process of self-publishing, she felt more empowered to control her own destiny; and here’s her take on self-publishing after trying it both ways:

“Why did you decide to self-publish?

I had a very satisfactory experience working with a traditional publisher for my first two novels, but with hardly any distribution in print and 99% of my sales in ebooks, it made more sense for me to pay a one-off fee to an editor and cover designer, and keep the remainder of the profits for myself. Since striking out on my own, I have published three novels and two novellas, and hit the top 100 on Amazon UK three times. Leaving a traditional publisher was a risk, but it’s one I don’t regret at all.

I don’t think self-publishing is for everyone, though. I’m very much of the mindset that authors are lucky to be living in a time when there are so many options available to them. The rise of the hybrid author – one who traditionally publishes as well as self-publishes – shows that authors can pick and choose which model works best for them. I’ve recently signed a two-book deal with Amazon Publishing and I plan to continue to self-publish, too.

What are the positives of self-publishing?

I think any self-publisher would tell you the biggest positive is having control of every step of the process. You set your own timelines, choose your own cover, and press that “publish” button yourself. You manage marketing campaigns, check your sales figures, and decide on price-points. The ability to publish as quickly as possible is also a huge benefit: self-publishers can take advantage of trends before traditional publishers (witnessed in the US with the emergence of the New Adult genre) and can grow their readership much faster than traditional publishing usually allows. A big advantage of self-publishing is also the financial reward, of course. I’ve been able to make a living as a writer for the past couple of years, something I couldn’t do when I was traditionally published.

And the Negatives?

Having instant access to your sales figures can lead to madness! If you have a whiff of the obsessive about you, it can be difficult not to stress if your numbers start falling. Likewise, if your sales rank starts climbing, it’s hard not to constantly check “just this once” to see where you’re at – I even checked during labour (what can I say? I was getting a little bored …). I’m constantly reminding myself that, while the business side of things is important, there won’t be a business if I don’t get busy and write more books. Being your own boss can be quite difficult if you’re not motivated and dedicated to building your career. I have learned to keep a very strict schedule and not to engage in social media until I’m finished my word count for the day.

As wonderful as self-publishing is, it does have its limits. I’ve found it difficult to get my printed novel into bookstores, despite solid e-book sales figures. It can also be a little isolating – you’re on your own every step of the way. That’s one of the reasons I’m part of an author collective called Notting Hill Press, made up of hybrid authors. We work together to promote our books and share resources, and it’s been a great way to feel part of a team. I’m very much looking forward to working with Amazon Publishing for my next novel, The No-Kids Club. They seem to have hit the right mark by allowing the author to remain an important part of the collaborative process and providing lots of marketing support.” Read The Whole Article Here:

Join publishing solo and get a free self publishing tool kitJoin Publishing SOLO
for Support, Structure & Accountability

For All Your Publishing Dreams

Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

Have a Dream to Publish a Book—
But Lack the Time or Know-How?

Look no further. This potent detailed DIY publishing guide grants you the time and know-how. Learn how to self-publish a book by doing it! Once you become a published author, friends, family, and peers see you in a whole new light! This unique system propels both aspiring and seasoned authors through digital publishing step-by-step. You won’t even need your completed manuscript to start!

Includes downloadable template
Free ISBN number & POD account
10 steps to print on demand publishing
Displays book parts in chronological order
Publish your book blueprint proof in a week

Those who have completed Ms. Nelson’s Courses are raving fans. See Videos Reviews & Author Library.
Hmmm … I am not quite ready—just send me the Free Self-Publishing Toolkit

Click Here for Your Self-Publishing Toolkit