What are the steps in publishing process?

How does the written work get moved from editing to publishing – how does that process work? I’ve heard conflicting stories.

The details of the process are different for everyone, but every aspiring book writer follows the same general steps.

It begins with writing a manuscript, which then is revised over successive drafts. These revisions might be done with the benefit of an editor, a beta reader, a writers group, or a friend or a family member who reads over the manuscript.

Once the manuscript reaches a version that the writer considers “final,” then a publisher is sought. There are two routes to getting published – the traditional, corporate method and the indie, self-publishing way.

If using the first method, the writer will seek a literary agent. If successful in obtaining one, the agent then will try to place the manuscript with a publishing house. Should the agent succeed at that, the publishing house then will assign an editor to the manuscript and take care of the cover design, formatting the book, printing, and distributing. Usually the publishing house will do a minimal amount of marketing as well.

Sometimes the writer will forgo the literary agent and simply seek a publisher. This often is the case with small university publishing houses.

If self-publishing, the author must do all of the steps that a publishing house would undertake. These steps can be contracted out (and most writers contract an editor and a cover designer), but most print on demand companies, such as CreateSpace and Smashwords, have made the process fairly simple. At the very least, the process becomes easier after you’ve done it once.

The basic self-publishing process is: edit the manuscript; format the manuscript (i.e., put it in the form in which it will appear when printed) for paperback, ebook or both; write the cover text and author’s bio; design a cover; select a print on demand house; upload the formatted manuscript, cover, and information so a web page can be made for your book; review and approve the uploaded manuscript, cover and information so that book can be printed; and market the book.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.