Book Publishing

Write, Design, Self-Publish, or Pursue Traditional Book Publishing

Book publishing takes several forms. You can write the book then turn it over to someone else, self-publish, or pick and choose which aspects of book publishing you want to delegate and which you keep for yourself. For self-publishing there are many things you need to know about how to design and layout a book and get it printed.
Popular Desktop Publishing and Graphics Software
Clockwise from the top: Serif PagePlus, The Print Shop Pro Publisher, Print Artist, Microsoft Office Publisher, QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. Box shots provided by Serif, Broderbund, Nova Development, Microsoft, Quark, Adobe, and Corel.

For the actual writing of the book manuscript, use word processing software. Then, unless your book is very few pages with a simple layout, you're going to need professional graphic design software. Programs such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Adobe Framemaker, and Scribus can handle large multiple page documents, generate a table of contents, do indexing, and produce digital files suitable for commercial printing.


For book cover designs, use graphics software to work with graphics and photos. You can do the actual page layout for a book cover in an illustration program such as Adobe Illustrator or bring your artwork into a page layout program to add text and create the actual book cover or book jacket documents. More »

Parts of a book
How many parts of a book do you recognize?. Book parts

Just because you've written a great story or manual doesn't mean you're done writing. There are more parts you may need including a table of contents, a preface, an index, or a bibliography. In traditional book publishing, someone else may handle these things. If you're self-publishing, you'll be the one that needs to make decisions on all these parts. After you familiarize yourself with all the parts, then you can begin designing the books pages and designing covers or dust jackets. More »

Binding Methods
Try a variety of binding methods. Binding books

One of the book publishing decisions involves how the book is actually put together. Will it be a paperback or a hardcover? Will you need a book jacket? Different binding works best for different types of book publishing.

  • Case binding is used for hard cover book publishing.
  • Comb, coil, and wire binding is a way to save money and produce a book that lies flat when open.
  • Perfect binding is for paperback book publishing.
  • Explore all the binding methods to find others that work well for frequently updated publications or that save money over other binding methods used in book publishing.
More »

Papers for Book Publishing

Pamela Moore / Getty Images
Is your family history an open book? It could be if you write it, format it, print it, and share it. Pamela Moore / Getty Images

While you can print books on all kinds of paper, there are certain paper grades typically used for certain types of book publishing.

  • Bible paper for Bibles, dictionaries, and rate books.
  • Book paper for books of kinds, manuals, textbooks.
  • Catalog paper for catalogs, directories.
  • Newsprint paper for comic books, directories (and of course newspapers too).
  • Cover or Bristol for book covers and catalog covers.
Page Layout in PageMaker
A page layout created in a desktop publishing or page layout application. Prepare page layouts for printing.
Desktop printing is not generally feasible if you're printing more than one personal copy. Although if you're self-publishing or designing a book for someone else you would use your desktop printer for initial digital proofs. It's possible to even use your desktop laser printer to produce camera ready artwork for offset printing.


However, most book publishing involves commercial printing processes which require specific digital file preparation methods. And if your book involves color, you'll need to understand the methods and limitations of color printing. More »

Do-It-Yourself Book Publishing

Christopher Robbins / Getty Images
Share your family history book with family, friends, and future family historians. Christopher Robbins / Getty Images

Self publishing requires a wide variety of skills whether you possess them yourself or hire the services of others to fill in for specialized areas. Writing, editing, design, desktop publishing, marketing, sales, self-promotion, and bookkeeping are just some of what's involved in self publishing. Should I self-publish? is a question many writers ask themselves and others.

  • Self-publishing books to build your business.
  • Self-publishing for creative writers.
  • Self-publishing your family history book.
  • How to publish your own comic book.
  • eBook publishing a home business idea.
  • Print-on-demand services can help self-publishers get their book into print a few at a time.

Book Publishing Companies

Visual Dictionary of Graphic Design
In The Visual Dictionary of Graphic Design by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris each page stands alone yet there are still consistent elements from page to page. Ava Publishing SA

Book publishing companies come in many forms. There are traditional publishing companies who provide you with an editor, get the design and printing done for you, and work to market your book (with your help). Vanity presses do much the same except you pay them to publish your book -- an option for some self-publishers.

Jobs in Book Publishing

be a book editor
editor. Dan Foy / Creative Commons / Some rights reserved
Beyond writing and designing a book, there are other related opportunities including editors, agents, and publicists.