How to Publish a Book: Elements Your Self Published Novel Needs

Self publishing is a hot industry right now and statistics says that self publishers could control as much as half of the total e-book market in a year’s time. If you have a story or manuscript that you’d like to see published, now is the time to get it ready for uploading to a self publishing platform – where you are in control.

Being in control can mean that a lot of the “traditional publishing” responsibilities like choosing cover art are now in your hands. 

Self publishing might take a bit more effort on your part than just sending your manuscript to a publishing house to get your book published, but the pay-off is worth it.

Here are the elements that are considered essential for your self published book manuscript before uploading it to your platform. 

Seeing Examples

If you have questions about book formatting, one of the best things you can do is to grab your nearest published book (either print or e-book) to see practical examples of formatting and how it’s supposed to look. This can get you out of a lot of tight spots where you can’t remember what the publishing standard is meant to be – the easiest way is to look at an example.

Page Numbers

All published manuscripts should contain page numbers to indicate where the pages are. This is about a lot more than just telling readers where they are in the book – but it’s also about telling the printer (or e-book reader) the same thing. Without page numbers, you have potential chaos. Make sure that you always include them. 

Properly Formatted Headers

Most fiction and nonfiction books contain headers of some sort. For example, in fiction books, you need headers to tell you where Chapter One starts and Chapter Two begins. 

When you’re formatting for self publication, use the Header settings in your word processor (usually H1) to set these headers. This can help converters and e-book readers to tell where the chapter breaks are meant to be, which helps them compose the index. 

If your headers are screwy, the manuscript’s final format won’t work right. 

Cover Art

Every book needs a cover – and that’s not just a saying. All books uploaded to self publishing companies like Lulu or KDP Select have to include a high-quality book cover accompanying it. 

Each publishing company has requirements on what size they will need the image to be, and it often depends on the page size chosen for the final e-book or print version. 

Check each individual publishing company’s requirements for just what they need the cover to look like, and make extra sure that the one you upload matches up. 

Remember that paperback and other print covers wrap all the way around: E-book covers do not. 

An ISBN Number

An ISBN number is the international identification number that tells systems like Amazon (and millions of libraries and other book stockists) essential information about a book like the date of publication and the author. 

If you want your book listed on markets like Amazon – and officially printed and published – it means that you’ll have to make sure your book has an ISBN Number. Usually, the self publishing company provides you with one – other times, you might have to buy one separately (or in bulk). 

E-Book copies and print copies need different ISBN numbers since they’re different versions, even if they’re of the same text. The ISBN number usually also has to appear in the copyright page and on the cover. 

A Copyright Page

All books need a copyright page that identifies the publisher, the writer and the year of publication. If you want to see some examples of how you can write yours, you can see thousands of examples online in other books that have already been published: Use these as a rough guideline.