Self-publishing: producing a hardcopy book

The steps of producing a self-published hardcopy book are: writing and self-editing (including, possibly, beta reading and/or manuscript appraisal); editing; graphic design; proofreading; proofreading the printer’s final proof; and printing.

Writing and self-editing

Many articles and books have been, and are continually being, written about how to go about writing a book. In my experience, all you need to do to write a book is to sit down and write your first draft (easier said than done). Then, using your figurative or literal red pen, start reviewing and self-editing. You may want to call for help from a beta reader or manuscript assessor to give you feedback on your manuscript and to help you finish the self-editing process. When you feel you have done all you can, it is time to hand your manuscript over to an editor.


For information about the editing stage go to:

Graphic design

The copy-edited manuscript is sent to the graphic designer to import into their design program (for example, InDesign).

The graphic designer of a self-published hardcopy book:

  • converts and designs the manuscript in a format that is compatible with the printer’s systems
  • designs the book in consultation with the author/editors
  • ensures the designs of the cover and the inside pages epitomise what the book is about and is aesthetically appealing to the target audience
  • does their best to ensure no information is ‘lost’ during the conversion into the design program or during the design stage
  • is responsible for providing all the usual specifications and information required to the printer, and for submitting the designed manuscript to the printer by the agreed deadline.

Proofreading and printing

After the graphic designer has completed their task, the designed book needs to be proofread to ensure no errors were introduced during the design process (or inadvertently left in by the copy editor). For more information, go to: Proofreading hard copy publications.

Once the proofreading is done, the electronic file is sent to the printer, who imports the file into their system. When the publication is ready to print, but before being printed, many printers send a hard copy ‘final proof’ to the client to check or proofread again. For more information, go to: Proofreading the printer’s final proof.

The client or editor checks or proofreads the ‘final proof’, signs their approval and the print run commences. The printer then sends the books to the client.

The book is now self-published.

More information about self-publishing

Photo: graphic designer Claire, author Michael Cusick, and editor Sally-Anne, with the final proof of ‘At Crib Point!’ just before the print run (2019).

Edited by Dee Sansom, On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading

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