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

What is Print on Demand? How Does Digital Publishing Affect the Industry?

Print on Demand vs. Traditinal printing
Old Fashioned Printing Press

Definition of Print on Demand

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author-Book Coach

Print on Demand is the biggest and boldest technological event of the twentieth century and therefore, has spurned the self-publishing era. But, just what is digital publishing? It is the ability to publish a book or other printed materials quickly, easily, and affordably using digital printing instead of using offset printing. This stunning, new development can be likened to the invention of the printing press itself.

Print on Demand–a Real Game Changer

Instead of the upfront costs involved in printing 10,000-20,000 books at a time, with print on demand one book is printed. Notably, offset printing (printing press) requires exacting and difficult setup costs. Therefore, these costs are such that a print run of 20k or more is required by major publishing companies. Understandably, this is necessary for a large print run to set the book’s retail cost price to make the project profitable.

How Marketing & Selling Books is Changing Due to Print on Demand

Traditional publishing companies market books through bookstores, book signings, and traditional media. Because bookstores less popular now, traditional publishing companies’ sales are dwindling as well. When you consider that a majority of books are purchased online, the traditional way of distributing and selling books is becoming less common.

Self-Publishing Becomes Viable & Doable with Digital Publishing

Because traditional publishing houses need a sizable, upfront investment, submitting your manuscript for publication is a long process. Sadly, this involves making a copy and sending it to various publishing houses, and waiting for them to respond. And, since you could ethically send to only one publisher at a time, this made for a long and involved process.

Research of the Print on Demand Choices

Different publishing houses are oriented towards specializing in publishing different venues. Because of this, a certain amount of research was necessary to understand which publishers were most likely to accept what works. This process could take years before finally finding a publisher to accept a manuscript for publication. Then, once accepted, a contract would be signed and the author/publisher business partnership was formed. Today, with print-on-demand publishing and online booksellers a writer can become his or her own publisher. Also, a writer can sell their book online, without investing in a costly inventory of books. Purchased books are printed and shipped one at a time through online booksellers.

How to Become a Self-Publisher

If you are considering publishing your own book, you will become your own publisher almost by default. This role is much like being the general contractor for building your own home. Therefore, you will be coordinating many processes to do in chronological order. The three main processes include book cover design, images and illustrations, and interior design. Each of the phases involves 3 basic parts, and I write about this thoroughly in another article entitled Understanding Self-Publishing Services.

Experience the exhilaration of BOOK COACHING during a trial session with Deborah S. Nelson. Click to schedule a complimentary 1/2 hour—available Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. EST.


Selecting the Best Print on Demand or Self Publishing Company

A print-on-demand printer is a key service you need to select. Indeed, there are hundreds of print of demand printers from which to choose. To simplify, I recommend trying Amazon for paperback books with a four-color cover. Lightning Source is great for short-run and full-color books. In addition, for full-color books in small quantities, I recommend

Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers Steps to Become Your Own Publisher Using Print on Demand to Print Your Books

The most basic step to becoming your own publisher starts with getting an account at Bowker books. Here, you will buy ISBN numbers at wholesale and list your publications in the yearly Books in Print Edition. Also, you may consider connecting with Baker and Taylor who distributes books, audio, and multimedia products to libraries and academic institutions, as well as other retail outlets. In addition, it is a great help to start accounts with and This will help you find outsourcing for publishing services. Finally, take a key step and create an account with CreateSpace, a print-on-demand company owned by Amazon Books.

RELATED ARTICLE: What are the Self-Publishing Costs to Publish a Book?

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 aspiring and seasoned authors through digital publishing step-by-step. You won’t even need a 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

Click Here for Your Self-Publishing Toolkit