Monday, May 11, 2015

Five Steps and Tips to Publishing a Book

 by Frances Keiser
Used with Permission

Do you have an idea for a book? Turn your idea into a published book by following the 5 steps below and using the 5 tips under each step:

Step 1. REASON: 

Why do you want to write a book? Who is it for? What is it for? Knowing your reasons will help you with your writing, publishing, and marketing choices. Here are some possible reasons:

  • Memoir, family history, or family stories to pass on to family
  • To position yourself as an expert in your business or industry
  • To educate or help others
  • It’s something you always wanted to do
  • To leave a legacy
Reasoning Tips:

  1. Identify your target audience
  2. Do not think: “my book is for everyone.”
  3. Read the most popular books in your genre
  4. Family history: Ask family members what they most want to know
  5. Children’s book: volunteer to read to children at libraries and schools 

Step 2. WRITING: 

What is your writing style? Do you have a voice? Do you know how to develop characters? Pace a story? Write for a particular grade level or age group? Break up sections in a nonfiction book? No?Then get help here:

  • Online and College courses in grammar and writing
  • Continuing Education courses (check out the great courses here at UNF)
  • Writer’s Conferences
  • Writers groups and critique groups
  • Content and copy editors 

Writing tips: 

  1. Use the stylebook followed by authors: The Chicago Manual of Style
  2. Use a serial comma before the conjunction in lists. (Susie, Bob, and Sam) and only one space following a period
  3. Write your manuscript in Word using a common font such as Times New Roman
  4. Use Word’s paragraph styles
  5. Know the range of the number of words for your genre


There is more to putting a book together than a manuscript. You will need to get help with:

  • Design and layout
  • Typography
  • Illustrations and Photo editing
  • Cover
  • Front and Back Matter

Preparation Tips:

  1. Create a mock-up of your book
  2. Use a designer who is familiar with designing books and with the book industry standards (many graphic designers are not) 
  3. Decide on the shape and size of your book before hiring an illustrator
  4. Do not embed or anchor illustrations into your manuscript
  5. Have your book and cover text edited


There are more new printing technologies, software improvements, publishing options, and distribution channels than ever before. You will need to know about the pluses and minuses of each one for your particular genre to be able to make informed decisions on the best choices for you and your book.

  • Learn your publishing options
  • Learn your printing options
  • What is available for your genre?
  • What are the book industry standards?
  • How can my book be distributed?

Publishing Tips:

  1. Look at books in your genre in bookstores and see who published them
  2. Look at the size and shapes of the books in your genre
  3. Learn the price range of books in your genre
  4. Learn the publishing options so you won’t get trapped in a scam
  5. Research your intended readers to learn if they prefer print or ebooks


As an author, some of the marketing options that you may want to explore and embrace include:

  • Website and Social marketing
  • Book stores, specialty stores
  • Businesses and organizations
  • Speaking engagements, conferences, and tradeshows
  • Schools

Marketing Tips:

  1. Know who your target audience is
  2. Learn what blogs and sites are populated by your audience
  3. If you are not experienced in social media, hire an intern
  4. What markets (professions, locations, businesses) are mentioned in your books
  5. Explore retail outlets where your book might fit

Wherever you are in the process of turning your idea into a published book, take the next step in your journey. The University of North Florida’s Department of Continuing Education and the instructors and professionals who teach workshops and classes are here to help. Become informed, have fun, and reach your goals!

About Frances:

Frances Keiser is a book design specialist at Sagaponack Books and Design. She helps aspiring authors prepare and publish their books. ( She is also a partner at Get Book Savvy ( with fellow author Jane R. Wood( Join Frances and Jane on June 16, for their workshop on the ABCs of Publishing a Children’s Book. Learn more about this course.