Home / Blog / Self-Publishing in 2019: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publish a Book

Self-Publishing in 2019: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publish a Book

Written by

Angelica Hartgers


Published on


Self-Publishing in 2019: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publish a Book

Self-publishing: if you’re a writer and considered publishing a book, you’re probably researching all there is to know on how to publish a book.

Being a writer in today’s digital age means you have more options than ever on how to become a published author—self-publishing being among the best.
Until recently, writers didn’t have much of an option outside of traditional publishing if they wanted to become an author.

But now, the game is changing, and it’s never been more easier for writers to self-publish their book.

If you’re considering self-publishing a book of your own, it’s important to get clear on the basics.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the major points you need to know about publishing a book on your own and how to get started.

Here’s all you need to know about self-publishing a book:

  1. What is self-publishing?
  2. The history of publishing
  3. Self-publishing today
  4. Traditional publishing VS self-publishing
  5. Advantages of self-publishing
  6. Disadvantages of self-publishing
  7. How to self-publish a book
  8. Cost to self-publish a book?
  9. Self-publishing companies?
  10. Where to self-publish your book
  11. Self-Publishing trends in 2019 and beyond

Want to jumpstart your book writing process?

Join Chandler Bolt from self-publishingschool.com at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row.

Click here to learn more

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is the act of publishing a book on your own, without the help of an agent or traditional publishing house, most commonly through Amazon or other retailers.

As a self-published author, you will oversee it all, from start to finish.

Here’s what you’re responsible for when self-publishing a book:

  1. Writing the book
  2. Self-editing the book
  3. Editing the book
  4. Book formatting
  5. Illustrations (if you’re writing a children’s book)
  6. Book cover design
  7. Marketing the book
  8. Book maintenance
  9. Working with a self-publishing company if you so choose

However, this doesn’t actually mean that you will do all of those tasks yourself, but rather that you will oversee and fund the entire process.

The history of publishing

Let’s embark on a quick journey through the history of publishing, which can help shed some light on how self-publishing came to revolutionize the modern author’s journey.

To start, think about the role of storytelling and writing books in our society, and it’s importance in human culture and history.

The earliest humans used storytelling and as a means of passing information down – and we continue to do this today! The importance of storytelling hasn’t changed, but the way we share these stories has.

First, early humans inscribed text and symbols on ancient clay tablets to share information. In fact, the oldest known published story dates back to 18th century BCE!

Then, humans began writing, and people copied stories down by hand to preserve and share them.

The birth of traditional publishing

Next, the printing press was created in 1440, which was a breakthrough technology in making books widely distributed. Thus, the traditional publishing industry as we know it came to be.

Traditional publishers buy certain rights from the author in order to publish the work.

However, this took the power away from the storyteller, since the traditional publishers served as a “gatekeeper” that decided which books would be widely shared.

But along came the digital revolution, and the internet. As with many aspects of our society, the internet revolutionized many industries, including publishing.

The rise of self-publishing

So, what does it mean to publish a book yourself and how has it changed? Well, it has evolved throughout the years, and there are a few important events that led to its rise in popularity today.

Here are the three phases of self-publishing:

  • Self-publishing step 1.0: This phase began in the 1990s, when eBooks began to be sold online. During this time, desktop publishing and print-on-demand technology came to be.
  • Self-publishing step 2.0: In 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle eReader and Apple released the iPhone. These two devices changed how people read books.
  • Self-publishing step 3.0: The industry is headed towards this third wave, which is characterized by direct sales from author to reader. We’ll cover more about this in a later section.

Self-publishing a book today

Today, writers can use powerful technology and the internet to self-publish a book and share their stories with a global readership.

Traditional publishers no longer control the storyteller’s narrative.

The only one that decides when to write and publish a story is the author themselves.

In fact, the $1 billion self-publishing market is evidence that it’s become the first choice for many authors.

With today’s growing industry, the road to being a self-published author has widened considerably.

self publishing a book

The difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing

It’s important to understand the differences between self-publishing versus traditional publishing as you determine how to navigate your own author career.

Traditional Publishing

In traditional publishing, you first need to land an agent, which can be very competitive and time-consuming. Once you have an agent, you need to find a publisher to accept your manuscript, which is also a very competitive and lengthy process. Then, the publisher will offer you a contract that essentially buys the rights to your book.

The publisher will take care of the publishing process from editing, formatting, and designing. You earn royalties based on how many books sell.

Some advantages of traditional publishing:

  • Less upfront costs for the author. Since the publisher handles the production expenses, the author doesn’t worry about paying directly out-of-pocket so the cost to publish a book is less.
  • Social Prestige.  Having publishing connections means your book will be easier to get into major bookstores. It can also be validating for some authors.
  • Less responsibilities. You write the book, and let the publisher deal with the rest (ideally).

Some disadvantages of traditional publishing:

  • Extremely competitive. The chances of being traditionally published are very slim, and it’s very challenging to be accepted by a publisher.
  • Less earnings. Royalty rates are often significantly less for authors in traditional publishing.
  • A ton of rejection. To even be considered by an agent or publisher nowadays, writers often must have a social following or fan base.
  • Not much marketing support. The publishers handle the actual book publishing, but marketing is often left up to the author.
  • Less creative control. Authors typically don’t have any say-so in the final product. So, your book may be edited and designed without your input.


It goes something like this: You write a book, you have the book edited, formatted, and designed.

Then, you have a printer or publishing platform publish your book, while you market the book and do book maintenance.

As with anything, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider, which we’ll cover in the next section.

What are the advantages of self-publishing?

When you choose to publish a book on your own, it can be rewarding for a number of reasons. In fact, many self-published authors chose this route simply because of its many benefits.

Some main advantages of self-publishing are:

  • No gatekeeper. There isn’t anyone standing in your way of getting your book published. The only person that can stop you from sharing your book with the world is YOU!
  • Your own timeline. Authors that publish on their own can get their book to market quicker than the traditional publishing process.
  • Complete creative control. You have the final say in how you want your book to be edited, formatted, and designed.
  • Opportunity for greater earning potential. Royalty rates on publishing platforms like Amazon are significantly higher than traditional publishing rates.
self publishing pros

What are the disadvantages of self-publishing?

For some authors, publishing on your own can have its downsides. Be sure to consider your own needs and preferences as you weigh the possible cons.

Some common disadvantages of self-publishing are:

  • Less support. It’s all in your hands, which can be very scary for some authors. It can also be lonely without a supportive community.
  • No one is pushing you. It’s up to you to set your own deadlines and get the ball rolling on your published book.
  • More upfront costs. Self-published authors hire professionals for publishing services like editing and designing.
  • Stigma. Because traditional publishing has been the standard for so long, self-published authors are considered the underdog. The stigma often has to do with the quality of self-published books. This is why it’s so important for self-published authors to pay for professional services.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

Since the author oversees all aspects of the process, the costs to self-publish a book will vary.

Several factors affect how much it costs to self-publish and it really depends on each author’s needs.

This means that you can determine the budget when self-publishing your book. Just remember – don’t cut too many corners and lessen your book’s quality!

The actual cost to publish a book yourself is free on self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

cost to publish a book

But at the minimum, authors need to hire a professional editor and cover designer.

For example, the table below covers the average cost of common professional services used to self-publish a book.

Professional Publishing ServiceAverage Cost
Book Editing$300 to $1500
Book Formatting$50 to $300
Book Interior Design$100 to $500
Cover Design$100 to $600
Marketing Promotion$0 to $500

Again, it all falls back on you as the author, and what your motive is for publishing your book.

Are you looking to build a career? Then you’ll want to invest in hiring experienced professionals that can provide the best quality, this may include investing in a self-publishing company, like Self-Publishing School, to help you do it right.

You can use this Book Profit Calculator to determine how much you can make off your book based on your book price and royalty fees.

Other services you may need to budget for as you consider how much it costs to self-publish are marketing tools to promote your book.

How to self-publish a book

Successfully publishing a book on your own can be a time-consuming process, but it’s usually a lot quicker than the traditional publishing route.

While it does require time and effort, the good news is that the method can be pretty clear cut.

Here are the most basic steps for how to self-publish a book:

  1. Write a book
  2. Choose a title for your book
  3. Hire a book editor
  4. Finalize your manuscript
  5. Hire a book cover designer
  6. Decide where to self-publish your book.
  7. Format & publish your book on the platform
  8. Plan and launch your book marketing campaign
  9. Price your book
  10. Continue to promote, market, and & distribute your book.

Remember, this is a condensed process on how to publish a book yourself. It’s important to dive in deep to each step when you are working through the self-publishing process.

What are self-publishing companies?

With today’s rising industry, there are several types of self-publishing companies available.

This isn’t a list of the best self-publishing companies, but rather an explanation of the types of companies that exist today.

  • Self-publishing platform: This is the actual medium that you will publish your book on, which we’ll explain more about in the next section.
  • Self-published author services: These are companies that provide author services such as editing, formatting, and designing. They’re like a one-stop shop for book publishing services. Please do your research before using these types of services since many can lack transparency and quality.
  • Self-publishing education: These are companies that teach authors how to self-publish a book. Since successful self-publishing can be tricky to navigate, these companies exist to provide authors with learning resources and mentorship. Self-Publishing School, Self-Publishing 101, and Your First 10K Readers all offer guidance if you want to do it yourself, but need a bit of hand-holding.

Where to self-publish your book

Because there are many platforms to publish your book available, it can be confusing deciding where to publish your book.

First off, you’ll need to know the two different types of platforms: retailers and aggregators.

Self-Publishing Retailers

Book retailers are platforms that host and sell your book directly. With a retailer, you will upload your book and it will sell directly to readers on the platform. Examples are Amazon’s KDP, Apple’s iBooks, and Kobo.

Here are the most popular self-publishing book retailers:

  • First, Amazon’s KDP has the most retail power. It dominates the self-publishing market with over 80% of the eBook market. When considering where to self-publish, KDP is a must. You will get paid 35% or 70% royalty rates, depending on which you choose.
  • Next, Apple’s iBooks is steadily gaining more traction for self-publishing. It’s reported to have 10% of the market. If you use a Mac, this could be an option on where to self-publish. You will be paid 70% royalty rates.
  • Then, there’s Kobo which holds a small but powerful percentage. But it has access to an international market, so don’t pass it up! To have your book available in Canada and over 190 countries, consider Kobo when figuring out where to publish. Royalty rates depend on the price of your book.
self publishing retailers


Book aggregators are mediums that you submit your book to, and they send it to retailers and libraries all at once. While it may be more convenient so you don’t have to figure out where to self-publish, the cost may be higher.

Some book aggregator examples include:

Decide where to self-publish your book after assessing which markets you want to reach, as well as your budget and needs. Some authors even use a combination of retailers and aggregators to publish a book on their own.

All this talk about the past and the present, but what about the future?

It’s safe to say that self-publishing is not a fad – it’s here to stay as long as the internet is around, and will only continue to evolve.

In fact, the industry is now entering Self-Publishing 3.0. This phase will be direct sales from author to reader by way of subscription models, crowdsourced funding, and other income streams.

To summarize, self -publishing trends focus on the increased opportunities for authors to use technology and the internet to build sustainable businesses and writing careers.

Some forecasted industry trends for 2019 and beyond are:

  • Direct author to reader without any middleman
  • The rise of the “authorpreneur” and indie authors
  • Blockchain technology
  • Decline of major publishers
  • Expanded eBook subscriptions
  • Less stigma
  • Voice marketing as a new avenue for authors
  • Increase in self-published books in the retail world
self publishing trends

Self-Publishing is a Clear Best-Choice for Aspiring Authors

The key takeaway is that self-publishing allows authors to publish their writing and share their stories with the world.

Whether you want to write a nonfiction book, or create a children’s picture book, the options for self-publishing are virtually limitless.

In fact, you don’t even have to pass through the traditional publishing gatekeeper to become an author.

Today, writers and storytellers are more empowered than they ever have been in history.

Are you ready to start today?

Want to jumpstart your book writing process?

Join Chandler Bolt from self-publishingschool.com at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row.

Click here to learn more

Are you ready to take that hold of that power and begin your author journey?

Angelica Hartgers

Content Creation Specialist at Selfpublishing.com
Angelica Hartgers is the Content Creation Specialist here at Selfpublishing.com. When she’s not cooking up content for the self publishing community, she loves to read good books, travel the world, and spend time with her family.
Angelica Hartgers