Self-Publishing in 12 Steps

A complete quick guide to self-publishing

As a self-publisher, an author assumes all the tasks that a traditional publisher would do. In the hopes you can pick up some tips for your self-published book, we list down here what it is you need to do to get your book self-published.


Finish your manuscript

Writing can be tedious, but for a book to get done, you must first finish your manuscript. A good rate would be between 3 to 6 good pages a day. Then once you’ve finished writing, it doesn’t mean you are done. A good practice that might be useful is to let the book rest for about a week after finishing it. Pick it up again with “fresh eyes” and rewrite phrases that might be confusing or difficult to understand. Rearrange sentences or paragraphs so that ideas flow naturally. Let those whom you trust give good feedback, and be open to what they have to say. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Oh, and name your revisions files so you can identify them easily.


Polish through editing

At some point, there will be nothing to rewrite, and that is the time you know you are done. It is now time to get a professional to edit the manuscript. An editor will check that the parts of the book are in proper order, the sentences are clear, and then checks the grammar, spelling, sentence-length, capitalization, punctuation, quotation, and etcetera to bring your manuscript to a brilliant polish. Most editors mark your manuscript (on MsWord) using the tracking feature where you can see his/her suggestions so you can approve or decline the changes.


Apply for an ISBN and barcode

Every book has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to keep track of published books. They come in two formats, 13 and 10 digits. One applies for an ISBN from his/her local registrar. In the case of the Philippines, it is at the Bibliographic Services Division of the National Library of the Philippines. It is located at T.M. Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila.

You will need the ISBN before printing because it should be included in the back cover, as well as in one of the starting interior pages.


Find a printing company

Look for a printing company that can print your book within your budget and yet satisfies all your needs. Ask for the minimum number of books they can print in one order. Ask for the options in Step 5. Most printers require PDF for the interior pages, and JPG for the cover, but find out the file format and specification the printer requires for printing.


Select trim size, paper stock, ink, cover finish

Trim size refers to the width and height of the book. It is best to choose popular sizes.

Most printers offer different colors/treatment and thicknesses of paper stock. The color can be white, cream, or gray-brown (newsprint). Thickness is measured in “gsm” which is short for grams per meter. Most paper comes in 60, 70, and 80 gsm. When printing in full color – that is a book that has photos – some printers will insist on treated 100 gsm so that the ink doesn’t show through the reverse side of the page.

Most printers have an option to laminate the cover using a glossy or matte finish. Some have options for dust jackets, protective sleeves, embossing, spot UV, and foil stamping.


Format the manuscript to the trim size

When you have selected a trim size, format your manuscript to that size. Ask the printer if they have a template for that specific trim size. Most books use a mirror-margin where the outer margins are narrower than the inner margins. When numbering pages, remember that odd-numbered pages are always on the right.

Don’t forget to include a table of contents. It is best to use the MsWord feature that updates the page numbers so you can edit the manuscript as much as you want and the software will update the table of contents automatically for you.


Design the cover

The reason why the cover design comes after formatting is that we need to know the width of the spine – the thickness of the book. You should ask your printer if they have a template for the cover. You will need to specify the trim size and the width of the spine. Sometimes they ask for the number of pages and the paper stock you have selected so they can calculate the spine width.

You may need to understand bleeds when designing your book cover. When a book is printed, it does not use paper that is already the trim size. Instead, the book is printed with extra space around it. The cover is wrapped and applied to it, and then that is the only time it is cut to size. Because of this process, it is necessary to provide extra space for images that will be cut off.


Get a book proof

Before mass-producing the book, most printers include two book proofs. This means they will print one copy of the book and send it to you for approval.



The book proof is the chance to check that everything is good before mass-production. Usually, the things to check are how well the cover wraps around the pages, the margins are comfortable, the table of contents provides the correct page numbers, page numbers are correct, the quality of images is good, and there are no widow or orphan lines (single lines of a paragraph that are the end or start of a page.) So unlike editing that checks for clarity and correctness of the contents, proofreading checks how to book is when actually printed.

If corrections are needed, make them in the formatted manuscript and/or cover. Use these to update the manuscript if needed. List issues with color and quality, and then send these to the printer for the second book proof. Most printers will allow more book proofs, but those in the excess of two will be charged against the total number of books in the order. (Say you ordered 100 books, if the agreement allows you two book proofs, but had five, then the excess of three will be taken from the total order. In this case, instead of delivering 100 books to you, the printer will deliver only 97.)


Mass-produce the book

Once the proofreading process is done, and you are satisfied with the latest proof you received, you will signify to the printer that you are okay to mass-produce the book. Most printers will ask you to sign a PRINT FORM that states the number of books, and the files used (filenames of the interior and cover). When that is accomplished, printing usually takes about a week (or more if the number of copies is large.)


Apply for Copyright

When you have a copy of the book with you, you can now apply for copyright if you need it. Chapter 2 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (2015) states that books are “original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain protected from the moment of their creation.” This means the author owns all the rights pertaining to the book. (The right to print and distribute can be assigned to a publisher when using the traditional publisher process.) However, if one wants, an author may still apply for copyright from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

One may also go to the National Library of the Philippines to apply for copyright.


Launch, Promote, and Distribute your book

When you have the physical copies of your book, you are ready to launch it and introduce it to the world.

Hold a book launch party. Whether big or small, you deserve to enjoy your creation and also get others to enjoy this moment with you. On a marketing level, invite those who you feel might be interested to purchase your book.

Don’t forget to promote your book both online and offline. Use social media such as Facebook and Instagram to drum up interest. Also, set up short talks with small groups and sell your books there. Join conferences in the industry you are writing on, and sell books there too.

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It's a no-commitment and risk-free step towards self-publishing your new book.

Self-Publish with SimplePublish

Self-Publish with SimplePublish

At SimplePublish, you can find all the different self-publishing services in one place. We offer editing, cover design, interior design, proofreading, printing (through a third-party facility), online marketing, and initial promotions. We also deliver the book with ISBN, copyright, and barcode. The only thing we do not offer is the distribution.

We also have different packages available depending on your target. We can do classic printing, on-demand printing via Amazon, ebook publishing via Amazon, or a combination of any or all of these three.

If you have been writing and been thinking about publishing, get in touch with us, self-publishing is not as expensive as you might think. You can print only a minimum of 50 books and see how it goes from there.