How to Plan Your Book Printing and Publishing Project

The path to publishing a book can get complicated quickly. Here's a step-by-step guide to working your way through the publishing process, so you can be better prepared.

1. Write

Obvious? Sure. Without writing your book, you won't be able to proceed with your project. But it's easy to jump ahead and worry about other parts of the printing and publishing process before ever writing. Start by creating a Microsoft Word document and drafting your manuscript.

2. Edit

Once you're finished writing, you can move into the editing stage, where you ensure your manuscript is ready for publication—that it's worded clearly, conveys the message it's supposed to, and is free of typos.

Editing consists of more than just a proofread—it includes developmental editing (e.g., to improve the clarity and strength of your book's argument with nonfiction or the characterization and plot with fiction) and copyediting (e.g., to correct errors in sentence structure and word usage).

The right editor will make your book better. Hire one with experience editing the kind of book you're writing, and be sure they use Track Changes in Microsoft Word—Track Changes will make your editing process go smoother.

While your manuscript is being edited, resist the urge to make changes. If you make changes while your manuscript is with your editor, those changes won't be reflected in their copy. Wait until they're finished editing and have returned the file to you before making changes to your master file.

3. Choose a Publisher

Will it be you? A self-publishing services provider? If it's you, make sure you have a publisher name and imprint logo, then proceed through the rest of this list.

4. Buy Your ISBN and Barcode from Bowkers

Once you know your publisher name, you'll be able to purchase your block of 10 ISBNs (yes, even if you're only publishing one book) and register those ISBNs to your book title. Check out our resource on how to buy an ISBN for more information, including why you'll need a block of 10 ISBNs.

5. Register for Your LCCN

An LCCN, or Library of Congress Control Number, is a number that the Library of Congress assigns to titles it's likely to acquire. This number is placed on your copyright page.

Because the LCCN will be printed inside your book, it's important to register for one earlier rather than later. If you wait until you reach a further stage in the process to register for your LCCN, it could potentially hold up your printing and publishing timeline.

6. Lay Out the Interior

Once your manuscript has been finalized—your editor has made his or her edits and you've finished making the recommended revisions—you can move into the interior layout process. During this stage, your designer will be formatting your book so that it's ready for print (e.g., finalizing decisions concerning font, spacing, page headers, etc.).

At this time, you can finalize your copyright page with the ISBN, LCCN, and copyright year. While you won't copyright your work until after the files are complete, you can list the projected copyright year and the name of the individual or company that the copyright will be registered to.

Like with editing, when your book is being formatted, do not make any changes to your file, as these changes won't be reflected in the designer's file.

7. Design the Cover

In addition to your interior layout, the cover design is a necessary part of turning your manuscript into a book. Keep in mind that the spine width will be a rough estimate until you find a printer and receive an exact measurement (aspects affecting the spine width vary by printer).

Your back cover should include a barcode, a place for the retail price (you'll finalize this later), and imprint logo if you're distributing through traditional channels.

8. Register Your Copyright

Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office helps you protect your book; it's a way to claim ownership.

9. Plan Your Marketing Efforts

Before you get into printing and distributing, you'll want to plan how to market your book. What type of marketing will you do? What kind of demand exists for your work? The answers to these questions will influence the number of books you print initially—which affects whether you need digital or offset printing.

10. Finalize the Retail Price

Once you know what your per-book printing cost will be, you'll be able to set a retail price that ensures you make a profit through the traditional distribution model. Check out our book distribution page for additional help calculating your royalties and profits.

After you set your retail price, you can finalize it on the back cover.

11. Print

By this step, you're getting close to publication—but you're not quite there yet. This is when the printer you've chosen will print books from your cover and interior files. Be sure to understand your printer's timeline, including the proofing process.

Don't forget to send a copy of your book to the Library of Congress to finalize the registration of your LCCN.

12. Distribute Your Book

After your books have been printed, you can move into distribution. Our book distribution page covers this process in detail, but the short version is that distribution gets your book in the hands of readers through a variety of third-party retailers and wholesalers.

13. Continue Marketing

While you should market your book leading up to distribution, once the book is available for purchase, it's time to ramp up your marketing efforts and execute the plan you created earlier.

It may seem like a lot, but putting together your publishing plan ahead of time will facilitate a smooth process. And if you need help with any part of the process, please feel free to reach out—we offer all these services individually.

Have questions? Not sure where to start? Give us a call!