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Stages of self-publishing

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The self-publisher must know all the stages of traditional publication since he must take the place of all publishing and distribution professionals. However, they can choose to call on professionals from each sector to ensure optimal results or to use the services offered by digital self-publishing platforms.


The author as a self-editor assumes many tasks in the process of creating his project. He must obviously create the content of the document he wants to publish. To do this, he selects the appropriate word processor and takes care of the layout himself. For a layout with illustrations, more sophisticated software allows a more dynamic result.

When it comes to editing and proofreading the manuscript, the use of third parties (such as proofreaders) is often recommended. Indeed, the corrections can prove to be difficult constraints to respect for a self-editor without experience.

Printing can optionally be done with a personal printer for a small project, such as a brochure or zine. Binding is however a delicate point, because the result is not always satisfactory (spiral type binding). However, the printing is most often entrusted to a professional. The use of a printer is preferable as soon as the number of copies becomes important. For a printout of less than five hundred copies, we prefer digital photocopying which today provides good quality results. Beyond that, it becomes economically interesting to use offset technology. The binding offered by a printer is generally more satisfactory.

Administrative and legal formalities

The author may want to identify his book via an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). This may be compulsory, in particular if you want to proceed with legal deposit or if you want your work to be legally presented to traders. The author may also wish to acquire one simply so that the object looks like a “real book”. Each edition of the book must have a different ISBN. Obtaining an ISBN is, usually, completely free.

Legal deposit is limited to sending a number of copies to the depositary body after having completed a simple form.

This legal deposit is compulsory as soon as the book is “made available to the public”, in other words, as soon as it leaves the family circle. You can also, if you wish, protect your copyright by online filing (paid), but legal deposit is normally sufficient as proof of prior art.


Distribution is arguably the most delicate phase of self-publishing for a print publication. There are different possibilities: choice of a distribution organization (with the constraints that this implies), direct contact with booksellers accepting the work, direct sale following public events, personal website with mail order sales, recourse to commercial websites for internet sales, literary fairs, etc. The self-publisher, generally having few resources to devote to the promotion of his work, has every interest in targeting very precisely those potentially interested. This explains the longevity of some zines. Their distribution, although very limited, is extremely targeted. In order to make themselves known to people likely to share the same interests, the creators choose the points of sale according to the theme developed in their zine or book which are thus sold from hand to hand, in bookstores and specialized record stores and during fairs.

In contrast, some authors choose to self-publish on blogs or document-sharing sites, and thus make their text available online for free.

Includes texts translated from Wikipedia

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