7 Steps to Creating Your Publishing Plan

Many people dream of one day publishing a book, but few actually know the steps it takes to get there. With so many paths, options, and decisions, publishing a book can be elusive and daunting. It’s easy to get lost or waste time and money if you don’t do the necessary research or have a plan in place before you start. 

Do keep in mind that the path to publishing can vary significantly depending on your book, budget, the path you choose, and many other decisions you make along the way. The most important thing will be doing thorough research or getting help from someone who has been through the process before. However, there are some general steps you can follow, which can give you a good sense of what your publishing plan should look like. 

1. Choose your publishing path

In general, publishing can be broken down into four separate paths depending on the level of control you’d like and the amount of time, money, and effort you are willing to put in: 

Traditional publishing

Supported self-publishing

General contractor publishing

Independent or DIY publishing 

It’s imperative that you research all of your options and choose the one that makes the most sense for you. Each one comes with its own list of advantages and disadvantages, so make sure to understand them fully before making your decision. 

2. Research publishers or publishing services 

Depending on the path you chose in step 1, you’ll have to research specific agents, companies, or publishing consultants to help you with your next steps. For traditional publishing, this means finding an agent that will represent you and find a publisher who is willing to buy your book. For supported self-publishing, you’ll need to research and choose a self-publishing company. For general contractor publishing, you may want to hire a publishing consultant to coordinate the various services and vendors for you. 

For supported self-publishing, general contractor, or DIY, you’ll need to think about which services you want for you book. Knowing which services you want to acquire ahead of time will help you start finding vendors and stay within your publishing budget. These services include: 


Cover, interior design, and illustration

Copyright or protection

E-book formatting

Distribution for print or digital formats


Events coordination 

Website creation  

Video trailer creation

Social media


3. Determine a format

Most authors want to publish a physical copy of their book, but that’s not always the most cost-efficient option. Sometimes it’s best to start with an e-book, or try both to see which works best! There are advantages and disadvantages to both formats. If you’re set on publishing hard copies of your book, make sure you think about how you will distribute it. Will you print on demand or pay ahead to print and store copies in a warehouse? Will any stores or libraries carry copies of your book? 

4. Submit materials 

If you plan to publish traditionally, you will likely need to spend time preparing and submitting your manuscript to various agents and publishers. They will often require you to follow specific guidelines, and making sure you stick to them is key. Writing query letters and book proposals will be extremely important in whether or not your book gets published, so spend time getting them right. 

5. Design your book 

Everything from your book’s cover to the design of the pages is important in whether or not your book will sell once it’s published. Make sure to take the time to conduct market research, follow genre guidelines, and look at what other popular books are doing to give your book the best chance at success. You should also take the time to write the best title, back cover copy, and author bio you can. All of this will be crucial to getting readers to pick up and buy your book. 

6. Copyright

Now that you have a book, don’t forget to make it official. Following the steps to copyright your book will ensure that you own the rights and no one can argue that you don’t. You will also need to buy an ISBN to make sure that you can sell your book. This will give your book a unique code to help you track sales and other data surrounding your book. 

7. Define your sales plan 

Lastly, you’ll want to explore all the various places and options for getting your book into reader’s hands. This includes physical locations such as libraries and bookstores, or online sellers such as Amazon. You should also think outside the box and consider places that aren’t quite so traditional, such as local events or specialty stores. You’ll also need to consider what price you can sell your book for depending on how much it costs to print. 

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