How to Make a Book: Your Complete Step-by-Step Guide

POSTED ON Feb 19, 2021

P.J McNulty

Written by P.J McNulty

Home > Blog > Book Design, Book Production, Self Publishing, Self-Publishing > How to Make a Book: Your Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Learning about how to make a book is an exciting process. It’s time to stop dreaming, start doing and turn your idea into something people can read and enjoy.

But what do you need to know to make it happen?

Making a book requires a mixture of ideas and inspiration along with practical knowledge. It’s not something that should be approached without a proper plan in place. Otherwise, you run the risk of your book dream becoming an expensive and frustrating nightmare.

Thankfully, help is at hand! Follow these seven simple steps to make the book of your dreams.

1. Focus on your book’s purpose

Even the most exciting book project requires a lot of hard work and patience. You don’t want to lose momentum or give up on seeing it through to the end when things start to get tough. So, what’s the best way to guard against that? By having a rock-solid reason for making a book to draw upon when times get tough.

If you’re like a lot of aspiring authors, you know that you want to make a book. But you might not be sure of exactly why. It’s worth examining and defining your deepest reason why as it will give you resilience and perseverance when you need it most.

But what exactly are the underlying reasons for people wanting to put a book out into the world? Often, they fall into these categories.

  • To entertain. Fiction should never be seen as something trivial. Getting lost in a novel or story is one of the best ways to experience entertainment and escapism. If you’ve ever experienced the joy of getting immersed in fiction, you’ll know the power of giving the same experience to your future readers.
  • To inspire. So many different types of books inspire and offer deep levels of motivation to people who need it most. Memoirs and inspirational nonfiction are just two examples. Your wish to inspire others is a superb reason for wanting to make a book that is worth holding onto.
  • To teach. Sometimes, books are one of the best and most affordable ways to learn an invaluable skill. Where else can you learn from some of the best minds humanity has ever produced for such an affordable price? The ability of books to impart knowledge should never be underestimated.
  • To network. No matter who you are, or what you do, making a book can be one of the best ways to grow the size of your network. Imagine the power of being able to offer someone a full book instead of a business card. How much more memorable would you be?
  • To boost business. Books can have other business benefits as well. If you sell a product, service, or course, you can use your book as a way to generate new business directly. There’s no better prospect than someone who has just invested their time into reading and enjoying a full book from you.

If you think it would be helpful, express your deepest reason for writing a book in a single sentence. Display it somewhere near where you write and work. It will always be there for you to draw upon when you need it.

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2. Create the best book possible

Although it’s an amazing achievement to see a book project through to completion, it doesn’t guarantee any type of results at all.

The book marketplace is more competitive than ever. Because of that, it’s essential to not just make a book but to make the best book possible.

Readers are inundated with choice. So how can you help your book to stand out from the rest? Here are five ways to focus on quality.

Plan your project meticulously. If you fail to plan properly, you run the risk of rushing or skipping an important step in the process of making your book. Have a clear, written project plan so that nothing is overlooked. Allow buffer room in case any tasks take longer than anticipated.

Use the best tools out there. You can make a much better book if you choose your software and tools carefully. Select the right software and apps to help you work as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Invest in editing. One of the key differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing is the level of editing available. If you want to make sure your independent book doesn’t dismay readers with typos and errors, invest in the best editing your budget allows.

Understand reader expectations. When you’re new to making books, you want to make sure the right readers can find your work. A key part of that is understanding and meeting reader expectations. Make sure there is overlap between the book you want to write and the book readers want to buy.

Look for ways to stand out. If possible, you don’t want to just meet reader expectations. You want to exceed them. Try and sample a selection of the best books in the genre you are working on. Is there a way you could add something extra to yours? What would delight and surprise readers the most?

Ultimately, you don’t want to just make a book. You want to make the best book possible. The above ideas will help you do exactly that.

3. Calculate the financial aspects of making a book

An important part of making a book is being proactive about the financial side of the project,

There’s an almost endless amount of things you could choose to invest in, like professional book creation services including proofreading and formatting, educational courses and software tools, and marketing and advertising.

It’s important to have an understanding of where you feel your budget will be invested in the wisest possible way. For example, you might find a self-editing tool is a better investment than a proofreader, but an experienced editor is worth spending on.

You also want to think about your book pricing, especially if you are looking to recoup your costs or turn a profit. How many copies will you need to sell to break even? Have you thought about the royalty rate on offer?

Having a solid financial plan in place ahead of your book project will help ensure you don’t end up spending money under pressure or wasting it on services that aren’t the best choice for your situation.

4. Choose an attractive book cover

Ignore the old cliche about books not being judged by their cover. They absolutely are. Your book cover is a fundamental piece of your visual marketing puzzle and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential book buyer. They are browsing through a selection of books on their phone or computer, with book covers being one of the first things that stand out.

If you choose the right cover, potential readers will know that they are in the right place straight away. The choice of colors, images, and fonts all convey a message of what your book is about and who it is intended for.

You also want to avoid putting out a cover that screams sloppiness and makes your book stand out in a negative way. Some of the worst examples of indie publishing are down to extremely bad book covers. The tragedy is that the written content of the books might be amazing, but no one would ever know if the cover repels them before they get to find out.

So what are your options for finding an attractive book cover?

Full DIY. If you have experience using graphics software like Photoshop, you might be more than capable of creating a great-looking book cover. Only consider this option if you are confident you can hit the right level of quality and it makes more sense than hiring someone.

Templates. Book cover templates are a good middle ground if you have some skill at creating graphics but lack the confidence to create a full cover from scratch.

Professional book cover services. For most authors, it will make sense to invest in a professional book cover service. Take the time to shop around and compare prices and levels of quality. Also give your cover artist as much material as they need to work with, and have a clear understanding of the project process and lines of communication.

As much as you might want to be judged on the quality of your words alone, it’s just not how things work. Your book cover is too important to overlook, so take the time to choose one that will get you the best results possible.

5. Select the right retailers

There are plenty of different places for you to sell your book.

At first, you might be tempted to just put your book in as many retail locations as possible. While that might make sense when you first think about it, it isn’t always the right route. Different retailers have pros and cons, and some require exclusivity to access their special programs.

So what are some of the factors you should weigh up when considering the right place to sell your book?

  • Reach. Which markets does any given book retailer serve? How many customers do they have? If you want to reach an international audience, for example, you need to make sure your intended retail channel sells to that country.
  • Royalties. Different retailers offer different royalty rates and allow for various pricing options. Before you sign up and commit to placing your book with a particular retailer, make sure that you are happy with the royalty rates on offer and the price you will be able to sell your book at.
  • Formats. Not every book retailer supports the multiple formats that modern authors often wish to publish in. If you hope to offer multiple formats for your work, such as audiobooks alongside print copies and eBooks, make sure that your intended book retailer is equipped to handle them.
  • Marketing. It’s a lot easier to sell copies of your book if your intended retailer offers some kind of marketing support. You might want to make sure a paid advertising platform is in place, or check that a retailer offers some support for your wider author platform. If you’re not sure how to choose between different book retailers, comparing their marketing capabilities might help you make your final choice.
  • Exclusivity. Some book retailers require the exclusive rights to sell your work for you to access certain programs. For example, if you want to unlock the full promotional capabilities of Amazon, you won’t be able to offer your book anywhere else at that time.
  • Reporting. Signing up for multiple retailers might be a great idea in theory, but it can end up being a logistical headache in practice. Stop and consider whether the extra potential sales from multiple retailers justify having to manage sales reports etc. from more than one channel.

For most authors, especially newcomers, going with Amazon is a smart move. Whether you want to be exclusive to them and access all their programs, or take a wide strategy and offer your book elsewhere, is something to carefully evaluate.

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6. Format and check your book

Most good book retailers will carry out a careful check of your book’s formatting before it is accepted into the store.

Regardless of if your intended retailer does or doesn’t carry out formatting checks, it’s more than worth taking the time to carefully format and check how your book looks before uploading and publishing.

Make sure it displays as you intend it to by checking carefully in a preview tool.

If you are visually-minded and have the right software, you might be able to carry out your book’s formatting by yourself. However, if you can afford to, it’s probably worth investing in the services of a professional. They have the experience, knowledge, and tools to make sure your book looks exactly like you want it to before it goes live.

7. Get prepared to publish

At this point in the process, you should have a finished book that you know looks great and is ready to go.


But, before you take that final step and send it live into the world, there are a few last things to think about.

Reviews. Without reviews close to the time of launch, your book is very unlikely to succeed. What’s your plan for getting reviews? How many will you need to compare well with any books you’re competing against? Reviews aren’t something that can be left to chance, so put a plan in place ahead of launch.

Marketing. For most independent authors, making a book isn’t their main challenge. Marketing it is. How do you intend to get your book in front of the right people and convince them to purchase it?

Platform. Do you have everything in place for your author platform before you launch? Some things to think about include social media platforms, a possible author website, and profiles on bookstore services such as Amazon Author Central.

Next Steps

The final thing to think about is what you will do next. Make a new book entirely? Write a follow-up to your latest release? Make this choice before wrapping up a book project to ensure you don’t lose your momentum.

Making a book is a true bucket-list achievement for millions of people around the world. We’ve helped thousands of authors make this bucket-list item come true.

You now have everything you need to go and make it happen.

Remember how we started by defining your book’s deepest purpose? Hold onto that idea once again.

Use it to inspire you and take a step forward to making your book a dream come true.

Interested in working with us to publish your book? Explore our publishing package.

P.J McNulty

Written by
P.J McNulty

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