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Self-Publish header Self-Publish header Falling Book

How the Book Publishing Process for Self-Publishers Works

The process of publishing a book has many steps, and each one is important to your book’s overall success. Learn what to expect in each phase of the self-publishing process, so you can confidently write, format, and print your own self-published book.

Want more tips? Request a copy of our free Ultimate Guide to a 48 Hour Book to learn everything you need to know.

Get the ultimate guide

Step 1: Formatting

The formatting of your book is the way your manuscript is composed on the page, including the font, size, and spacing. A typical Microsoft Word document might be formatted for 8.5”x11”, letter-size paper, but if you want your book to be another size, you’ll need to format it.

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Page Size

You can change the page size in your word-process software by making a copy of your manuscript, then clicking the File menu and then Page Setup. Change the paper size to your desired choice then enter 0.75 or 0.5 for your margin widths. When you click “OK,” the software will reformat your manuscript.

Note: Reformatting may cause awkward page breaks, line breaks, or uneven spacing. Carefully comb through your book to catch these breaks.

see formatting services

Want an easier method?

Use our free downloadable book templates and simply type your manuscript right into the template. The templates will already have the page size and margins set up correctly.

Get the templates
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Another important consideration when formatting your book is font selection. The font, or style of characters makes a difference in how easily your book is able to be read by others, and so does the font size.

A common font choice for text is Times or Times New Roman, in an 11-pt or 12-pt size. This serif font has been shown time and again to be easy on the eyes. For your titles, subtitles, and other “display text,” a sans-serif such as Arial is a good choice.

Serf / Sans-Serif

It’s a good idea to use serifs in your body copy because it’s easier to read at a smaller size. Sans-serifs in your display type is usually larger and set off by white space.

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A page break is a separation that indicates a new chapter (or recipe in a cookbook, and so on). Insert a page break after each chapter or unit in your book so the new chapter begins at the top of a new page. You can add multiple page breaks or use section breaks to have each chapter start on a right-hand, or odd-numbered page. This is standard formatting practice for books.


Step 2: Editing

Once your book is formatted, it’s time to read it closely for errors. The editing process is critical and its importance cannot be overstated! Don’t skip the book editing step. Published authors agree, you’ll save yourself time, money, and embarrassment by catching mistakes before your book files are sent, rather than after.

Note: It costs $75 per hour to make post-production edits and changes to your files. It costs $50 to send us revised files.

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Editing tips

Spend at least an hour or two carefully reviewing your formatted file for errors before you send it to us. Before you make changes to your manuscript document, back up your file and put it in a safe place. Then, make the necessary corrections, and check that you haven’t introduced new irregularities in the process.

Check out our editing resources for self-publishers for more tips on the editing process, or to connect with a professional editor for hire.

see editing resources
PDF File

Step 3: Create a PDF file

When your manuscript has been formatted properly and edited carefully, you are ready to create a print-ready PDF file to send to us.

A PDF, or portable document format, is a kind of file that is able to be easily shared and printed. When you create a PDF, it’s a way of “locking in” the formatting of your book so that when we print it, it looks as you expect.

PDF File
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How to create a PDF

There are several different ways to create a PDF file of your work.


In Microsoft Word

Open your file and click the File menu, then click Save As and choose PDF. Choose ‘High Quality Print’ in your conversion settings.


In another program

You can download the doPDF program here, which will allow you to convert to PDF through the Print function in your word-processing software. Install doPDF, then open your file, click File and then click Print. Choose doPDF as your printer.


On a Mac

Mac computers have PDF conversion built right in. You can simply choose File and then Print to PDF.

Note: We print your PDF exactly as it is received — if there is an error on your PDF, it will be in your printed book as well. We recommend reviewing your PDF carefully for any mistakes.

Once you've completed steps 1‑3, you're ready to place your order.


Step 4: Place Your Order

Now that you have a pristine, print-ready file, you’re ready to place your order. Visit our order page to fill out your book specifications and place your order.

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You have several options when it comes to shipping your book order.

  • Pickup: You can pick up your order at our Twinsburg, Ohio location
  • Ship to address: You can have your order shipped to the address associated with your account, or to another address
  • Split ship: You can divide your order to be shipped to up to four separate addresses

You can choose to ship via UPS Ground or expedited service. If you’d like to use your own shipping carrier, please contact us for assistance.

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We accept PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, as well as check or money order. Pay a minimum $100 deposit or complete your payment in full at the time of order. The full balance will be due before we begin printing.

After you’ve entered your details, click Place Order to be taken to the file upload page.

Send Files

Step 5: Send Your Files

Now that you have a pristine, print-ready file, you’re ready to place your order. Visit our order page to fill out your book specifications and place your order.

Send Files
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Send files digitally

The fastest method is to send your files digitally. Upload the files to your account by browsing to the file location and clicking “Upload.” It may take several minutes for the file transfer to complete.

Note: if you’re using a slow Internet connection or have extremely large files, you can physically ship the files to us on external media, such as a CD or USB drive.


Step 6: Receive and Review Your Proof

Once we have received your files, a dedicated pre-press technician will review them for common layout or printing errors and complete any formatting or design work requested.

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Digital PDF proofs

Once complete, we will send you a PDF proof, which is a document for your review. You’ll typically receive your PDF proof of the cover and interior pages within 1-2 business days, depending on the level of work required (for reformatting and other design servies, expect approximately 2-5 business days). Look for the link to these proofs in your email, or log in to your account the check the status of your order at any time.

The PDF proof is your chance to review your files one last time before your book goes to print, so review it very closely before approving the file. Consider asking a friend or colleague to review it with you as another set of eyes.

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Printed proofs

You also have the option to request a printed proof, which is a single sample book which we will print and bind for you. We'll send your printed proof via Next Day Air so you get it by 10:30 a.m. the next business day. (Options such as case binding, Diamond 3D, or foil stamping may increase the production time of the proof). If you have time to add this option to your order, we highly recommend it.

After seeing a printed copy of their book, many people realize they’d like to tweak the cover design, adjust a color, brighten up an image, or make additional typo corrections. We like to think of the printed proof as “book insurance” that helps confirm you’ll be 100% satisfied with your final product.

File Approval

Step 7: Approve Your Files!

After carefully reviewing your proofs, you must accept or reject the proof.

File Approval
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If the proof looks good and there are no errors, visit your account page and click “Accept.”

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If you have questions or need changes made to the files or order details, please reject your proof. If you find a mistake, determine whether it was your mistake or ours.

If it is our mistake, click “Reject” and send a note or email us to describe the issue. All changes must be submitted in writing.

If it is your mistake, you may need to go back to Step 2 to correct the error, create a new PDF, and send us the revised files. Sending revised files may incur a $50 new file fee.

Ship Books

Step 8: We Print, Pack and Ship Your Books

Once your proof has been approved and your payment completed in full, we print, pack, and ship your books.

Ship Books
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Production schedules

The speed at which we are able to produce your book depends on your ordering timeframe, cover style selection, and optional upgrades. Hard cover printing and coil binding will take longer than softcover books. You can see a full production schedule to determine how long your book will take to produce.

Cutoff times

Orders should be placed at least a few hours before these deadlines to allow time for proof creation and review. Please notify us if you have a specific "need-by" date.

5 p.m. EST: Standard Production
3 p.m. EST: Rush
Noon EST: SuperRush (please call ahead for SuperRush production availability)

See Production Schedule


Don't forget to factor in time for shipping! Our standard shipping method is UPS Ground originating from Twinsburg, Ohio, or Las Vegas, Nevada. We produce your books in whichever location results in the fastest shipping time; transit time for most destinations is within 1-3 business days.

Next-Day Air and Second-Day Air expedited shipping options are also available.

See Shipping Schedule

Your Self-Publishing Partner

We’re here to help! Our customer service team is happy to answer your questions or provide additional support. Call us at 800‑231‑0521 or contact us online.