book launch guide

Book Launch: How to Launch a Book for More Sales [Printable Checklist]

“Build it and they will come” is advice that rarely works when trying to sell books.

Amazon is full of self-published books that have barely made any sales, leaving many writers dejected.

If you want your books to succeed, to get into the hands of your readers, to potentially achieve bestseller status…. you need a book launch plan.

After all, you’ve already spent months (or even years) crafting your manuscript. You’ve also spent a small fortune on a book cover, hiring an editor, proofreading, formatting, and other related expenses.

The last thing you need after all you’ve invested is for your book to fail, to make exactly zero sales.

(Okay you might make a few, to friends and family. But that’s not why you wrote your book, right?)

book launch

If you have a book, or are looking to write a book, and are already thinking about promotion, then this is for you. Contrary to what you might expect, launching a book isn’t hard, and it doesn’t need to break the bank (although you do need to invest some money).

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

By focusing on the minimal book launch strategy I’ll outline here, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed and launch your book on Amazon like a pro.

We’ll guide you through how to:

  1. Price your book during launch
  2. Book launch checklist
  3. Set up your complete launch strategy during soft launch
  4. Collect reviews from your launch team
  5. Set your book up with the best promo sites for both paid and free
  6. Stick to a minimalist launch plan

What to do Before a Book Launch

Before you go any further, there are a few things you need to do in between finishing your manuscript and launching your book. I put together a 13-point checklist of these action items.

You don’t need to carry them out with perfection since they can be tweaked later.

But don’t launch your book without doing these key tasks:

  • Book Description — Create your book description using the Book Description Generator at Kindlepreneur.com.
  • Keywords — Select 7 keywords for your book. I use KDP Rocket and Kindlespy. There is also Merchant Words and Google AdWords.
  • Categories — Choose 2 main categories for your book in the KDP dashboard. Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Landing Page — Create a landing page for your book. This can be used to collect email addresses and give away a chapter of your book before its release (optional).
  • Upload Manuscript — Upload your manuscript to KDP. Proofread your book using the KDP online previewer.
  • Upload Cover — Upload your Kindle cover to KDP.
  • Launch Price — Set your launch price at 0.99.
  • Lead Magnet — Insert a lead magnet into your book, both at the front and back. Connect this to your email list provider such as Mailchimp or ConvertKit.
  • Audiobook (Optional) — Get your audiobook created. Plan to release your book through Audible or ACX.
  • Paperback — Get your paperback version created. You can set up your paperback at CreateSpace. Optional: Your paperback can be launched after the Kindle release.
  • Emails — Pre-write emails that you’ll send to your launch team.
  • GoodreadsGoodreads account created and author profile setup. Your book will end up there either way, so it’s worth setting up an account to associate the book with.
  • Launch Plan Model — Map out the specific action steps you are taking for each day of your launch. I have provided a model for this further down the post.

Download Your book Launch Checklist

Your free pre-launch checklist for landing yourself a “Bestseller” banner!


Just like there are a variety of business models to choose from when planning your venture, there are a variety of book launch strategies to choose from.

For example, you could follow Steve Scott’s 5-Day Launch Plan That Works which he used to effectively launch the bestselling book 10-Minute Digital Declutter that he co-authored with Barrie Davenport. Or you could emulate Nick Loper, of Side Hustle Nation fame, and his successful launch strategy which sold 2600+ copies of his book Buy Buttons. There’s even the detailed launch plan of Rob Cubbon, the author of The New Freedom.

These are all plans that work because of one thing: They are strategic in their planning and strategic in their execution.

However, while there seems to be a lot of steps, an effective book launch plan isn’t complicated.

Your launch plan will depend largely on:

  1. Your objectives and purpose.
  2. Your platform. The bigger your platform and access to influencers, the bigger (and more diverse) your launch.

In the strategy I’ll show you, I keep things simple. It’s a 12-day launch, including a 3-day free promo through Amazon.

If you’ve ticked everything on that checklist, then it’s time to hit publish on your book and to start your launch strategy.

But, before we dive into that, there are a few things you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm as it informs your book launch strategy.

The Amazon Algorithm: A Few Basics for Your Book Launch

Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales, and everything else on their platform. It’s worth remembering that Amazon wants you to succeed: if you make money, Amazon makes money.

Knowing a few basics of it can help you to have a greater launch and to sustain the life of your book for months (and years) after the launch buzz wears off.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

Your book starts ranking as soon as someone buys a copy. Every purchase of your book pushes the ranking up the ladder. As a book moves up, it jumps ahead of the other books in your selected category. The rankings are based on recent sales and Amazon favors a book that is getting consistent, ongoing sales.

A book that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same number of downloads over the course of a ten-day period.

Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your book.

Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.

It’s worth noting also that while reviews and the price of your book do not affect your sales rank, they’re still worth having. The more quality reviews you have, the more credible your book will be to shoppers.

This affects their decision-making power to buy, which translates into more downloads and an increase in sales rank. Focus on getting as many quality reviews as you can during this launch phase.

Then, continue to work on getting reviews from organic traffic.

With that out of the way, let’s look at two necessary steps you need to do before you promote your book.

Setting Up Your Amazon Bestseller

There’s a very specific formula to follow during your book launch that will have you hitting those Amazon bestseller lists. And you definitely want to become a bestseller so you can increase your sales and maintain your position at the top.

The $0.99 Launch Strategy

I know what you’re thinking, “$0.99? Why would I essentially give my book away for free? I didn’t get into this business to fulfill the starving artist stereotype.”

I know how you feel, but trust me, there’s a good reason for launching it at this price. You may be selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later.

Remember: think long term.

It’s better to have a book that has steady sales in the long term than to just have a burst of downloads now, then zero in the future.

Action Item:

Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.

The Free Book Launch Strategy

I mentioned that our strategy will have a 3-day free launch. Setting this up is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days.

A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.

If you don’t have a following (email list) or you are just getting started, I suggest you do the free promo. The free promo gets your book into more hands (that will hopefully read it) and increases its visibility across more platforms.

Action Item: Go to the KDP dashboard, and under “Kindle eBook Actions,” enroll into the KDP Select program. While enrolled in the KDP select program your book has to be exclusive to the Kindle Store.

Action Item:

Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.

Book Promotion Sites: Free and Paid

When launching your book, especially during your free promo, you want to put it into the hands of as many readers as possible. Amazon ranks your book in the free store based on how many downloads it gets.

The higher you rank, the more downloads you’ll get from Amazon browsers.

Which means to maximize your launch, you need an initial surge of readers that don’t come from Amazon.

This is where book promotion sites come in. You can use them for both your paid and free launch. In the launch scenario later on in the post, I’ll show you how to batch these sites together to give your book the boost it needs.

An aside if you have a healthy email list: you won’t need to rely on these sites as much. This is especially beneficial for authors who are just starting out and don’t yet have a strong platform.

Keep in mind that results vary for each site and your performance will largely depend on your book’s quality.

You still need the essentials: a great book cover design, a compelling book description, and an eye-catching book title.

Below is a list of my favorites that I have personally used, in combination with an email list to launch multiple bestsellers. You can also check out Dave Chesson’s blog on this as he covers the best sites to use for both free and paid.

The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category.

The Best Book Launch Promotion Sites

  1. Buckbooks. If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote the 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book. If you use their Archangel Ink book production services you’ll get a guaranteed placement.
  2. Robin Reads — (need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating) Takes a couple days to get approved ($55). Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. https://robinreads.com/author-signup/ Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case, consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
  3. BookSends — $40. If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost. https://booksends.com/
  4. BKnights (Fiverr) You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12-30 depending on the book.
  5. eReader News — Great gig but hard to get approved at times. takes several days for a response. Various prices. https://ereadernewstoday.com/
  6. Booksbutterfly. You are basically paying for downloads, one of the few (if only) sites that do that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle ($90) that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows. (https://www.booksbutterfly.com/bookpromo…/paidbookpromotion/)
  7. The Fussy Librarian (https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/). Great promo but very hard to book in advance. They are usually booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted. Various price ranges. Strong results.
  8. Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results. https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/
  9. eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10. https://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
  10. Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10. They have a free option but go with the paid. https://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
  11. Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29. You can also sign up to become a featured author. https://manybooks.net/promote
  12. Digital Book Today ($40). Good gig, average returns and works better with fiction than non-fiction. https://digitalbooktoday.com/
  13. eBook Stage. Another great little promo site, reasonably priced. $10. https://ebookstage.com/
  14. Book Runes (https://bookrunes.com/). Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25. Average to very good results.
  15. BookBub. This is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on BookBub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature. https://insights.bookbub.com
  16. Email your list (if you have one). if you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.

The Book Launch Sequence and Set-Up

To keep things simple, I’m giving you an example of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo. However, for this post, I will look at how to include a free promo as well.

Your launch will look and perform differently than this, but you can use this as a model and tweak as required. This launch assumes you are launching your book at $0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.

What is the difference between a soft launch and the actual launch?

I use the term soft launch below, which is different from your actual book launch. Your soft launch begins from the moment you hit publish.

As Amazon takes about 24 hours to set up your book, I recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours before you begin your actual launch. For example, if your launch plan beings on a Sunday, then publish your book on a Saturday.

The 12-Day Book Launch Model

Ready for your book launch? In this book launch model we use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.

Day 1: First Day of Soft Book Launch

The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price point is set at $0.99.

Here is a brief checklist of what to do on day 1 of the soft launch:

  1. Create your Amazon Author Page. Set up your bio and upload an author pic.
  2. Claim your book by hitting the ‘add more books’ tab. This will appear on your author page within 24 hours.
  3. Email your launch team. Let them know the book is ready for verified reviews.
  4. Email Amazon customer support. Request that your book is placed in additional categories.
  5. Set up a few promo sites for days 2 or 3 while your book is at 0.99. This starts to build momentum. Recommended Awesome Gang, Bknights, and Booksbutterfly.
  6. As soon as you have ten reviews, set up the rest of your promo sites for the week. Not all of these promo sites require a set number of reviews. Check the list for links to the sites and submission requirements.
  7. Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will be 2-3 days. This will start on day 4 (or however long you decide to run your soft launch). If you do a 5-day soft launch your free promo will start on day 6. Set up several paid promo sites to advertise your book for free. Although your book is free, the promos will cost you.

For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:

If you combine these promo sites with the organic traffic you’ll get from Amazon, you should do very well for free downloads.

Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch (Optional: You can extend this up to 5 days)

Social media burst to your FB page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word. Don’t forget about other social platforms with large reader audiences like Twitter and Tumblr.

Day 4-6: FREE Promo

The promotional sites you got in touch with on day 1 will be advertising your book. Send an email to your team to notify them that your book is now free. Promote to social media!

Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites

Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.

Day 11-12: Winding Down the Book Launch

If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both your free promo and your $0.99 promo. Remember that your numbers will vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck.

Email your list and remind them the book will be 0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support.

This is the last call for reviews and downloads.

Day 13: Increase the Price to $2.99

Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching what happens. Monitor the sales and adjust accordingly.

I usually spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you. Stagger them out over the course of 10-12 days.

Beyond the Book Launch

One of the biggest challenges authors have is where to go after the initial book launch is over.

How do you promote, market, and keep bringing in traffic so that your book doesn’t drop off into oblivion? Here are two things you can focus on:

#1 – Write another book

Multiple books create momentum. Look at the army of fans that Game of Thrones had before the TV Show launched. How did George R.R Martin build that? By setting up and writing the books as a series.

Do you have a series of books you could write?

A series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and to keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.

#2 – Build your business on the back end

Create a business around your book with coaching, a course, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book.

They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.

Launching a book is a combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people (a small team will do) backing you up, you can have a great launch that gets your book into the hands of your market.

With every book launch, there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better. And as you get better, you’ll get more fans.

Eventually, you can turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status or get featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Imagine that.

What to do Next!

It’s not enough to just read about launching your book.

Learning from the best and then taking action is where real success is made.

#1 – Learn more!

The learning never stops – not when it comes to this ever-changing (yet growing) field of self-publishing. And in order to stay ahead of the curve, you have to continue to invest in your knowledge.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

#2 – Build a valuable launch team

It’s not enough to just launch your book and leave it be. In truth, you should always be looking for new, better ways to maintain your book sales. Here’s what you can do right now to make a difference during your book launch.

Your book launch will only be as successful as the work you put into it. That includes the team you have assisting.

Make sure you choose top-notch individuals who really want to push for your book. This will help you book launch reach heights you never imagined.

Building a launch team is essential but it’s also important to make sure that team is not only willing to help, but willing to go above and beyond for you because they believe in your book and your work.

What are some of your biggest concerns when it comes to your book launch? Comment below so we can help you out!

Book Editor: How to Work with an Editor For the Best Result

Choosing the right book editor means the difference between tons of book sales and 5-star reviews…and a book that flops.

I don’t care who you are – even if you’re an editor yourself – you need to get your book edited. This is a non-negotiable when it comes to self-publishing.

If this is your first time writing and self-publishing a book, then working with a book editor may be novel ground. (Pun intended. Hardy-har-har.)

Let’s get one thing out of the way: we encourage all self-published authors to hire a book editor. Nothing will tank a book faster than a whole bunch of reviews complaining about typos.

A good book editor can help turn your book from a ‘ho-hum’ draft into a polished manuscript.

To give your book the best chance of success that you can, and get a pro to get your manuscript into tiptop shape before publication.

book editor

A lot of first-time authors make the mistake of editing their book to death, never progressing far enough to finish their book and getting to the publishing phase.

Others think they can toss a messy draft at an editor and expect them to fix everything. There’s a happy medium between making your draft good enough for an editor—and trusting when it’s time for your editor to step in and take over.

With that in mind, in this article, we help you navigate the process of getting your book edited—both by you and your editor—so you can get published faster.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

Before we get into our seven tips for getting your book through the editing phase, let’s take a look at what an editor does – and why it’s crucial you have one.

What exactly does a book editor do?

A book editor is someone who reads through your book several times, correcting for grammar, punctuation, structure, content, and more, depending on the type of editor you hire.

Essentially, a book editor is there to help your book become the finalized version with the outcome being what you intended.

Because let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we can’t always get the book right by ourselves. We know all of the content, the message, the theme, and we’re far too close to the work to understand how an outsider will perceive it.

An editor works as that outsider as well as someone who views it with a critical eye. They can help you alter the book so your intended purpose is fulfilled by its end.

What type of edit does your book need?

Not everyone will need the same type of edit because everyone has varying levels of skill.

For example, someone who has a great mind for structure but lacks in the technical skills of writing will benefit more from a line edit versus a developmental edit.

That being said, here at Self-Publishing School, we highly recommend all writers of all skill levels get a full edit, which often includes copy, line editing, and developmental edits.

Here’s a table detailing each type of edit and what they entail.

Type of EditWhat it Means
Copy EditingIn this type of edit, the editor will correct sentence structure, inconsistencies, tense, spelling and grammar, as well as some content feedback.
ProofreadingThis is what most people think of when they think "editor." This type is when your punctuation, word choice, dialogue structure, and more is corrected.
Structural EditThis is where the editor organizes the structure, moves pieces around, and suggests changes based on how the information comes across in its order.
Developmental EditThis type of edit is when the editor pays close attention to how each chapter builds on the previous, as well as comments and feedback on the content itself.

#1 – Edit Quickly

If you make the mistake of editing extensively, especially while you’re still actively writing, you potentially set yourself up for a major headache, which can delay publishing your book.

Look at the example of Scott Allan. Before he joined Self-Publishing School, he spent two years working on a voluminous self-help tome.

His first draft clocked in at an impressive 90,000 words. He spent months perfecting each word. In the blink of an eye, six more months had elapsed, and he had not only sucked himself into the drain of editing, he hadn’t written anything new since he became stuck in self-edit mode.

For one year, he wrote (and rewrote!) the book three times. Why, you might wonder? In his words, “I suppose I didn’t know any better, first of all. That was before I learned the expression ‘Done is better than perfect.’

done is better than perfect

I was under the impression that it wasn’t done until it was perfect.”  Months later, he found an expensive editor to take on his book, but the author couldn’t stop tweaking the material.

Tweaking lead to rewriting…and the book which had been so carefully drafted, then rewritten, then tweaked, never saw the light of day. The book was never actually published.

Allan says, “Painful lesson learned: Unpublished books don’t make money!”

Eventually, the author went on to write Pathways to Mastery and publish it on Amazon. Using the lessons learned during his first failed self-publishing attempt, the author spent just eight months writing and only two months editing this time.

Since writing Pathways to Mastery, Allan has gone on to write and publish three more books, with a significant reduction in writing and editing time for each successive book.

His latest book was in the editing phase for only three weeks.

Key Takeaway: An unpublished draft won’t earn any money or build your author name.

Keep it simple: Draft first, then edit quickly.

#2 – Accept Imperfections

Letting go of perfectionism is one of the hardest things to do. It sounds doable in theory, but in practice? It’s a challenge.

Many writers strive for perfection—the perfect grammar, spelling, and choice of words. Especially when the story we’re putting out there is our first book, or about an intensely personal topic, it ups the ante significantly. We’ve been there, and we get it.

Here’s what you need to remember: Nothing in life is perfect. No person, book, nor writer.

You can spend forever and your book still won’t be 100% “perfect.” The editing phase can be rough because of the personal investment and attachment we have to our books.

Key Takeaway: Instead of striving for the mythical unicorn of book perfection, strive for a reality-based “as good as this book can be.”

#3 – Do a Quick First Revision

Before you give your book to your editor, you want to do a read-through to catch any glaring errors.

Say this with me: rip off the Band-Aid.

Make your first revision fast. Here’s the best way to make that change of phase from writing to editing: when you’re done with your first draft, circle back and do a quick-and-dirty first revision.

This involves a rapid read of the book, just to get a feel of what you’ve written. Brace yourself. This phase might just be the most painful part of the editorial process. This is because it’s the first time you’re looking at your book with a critical eye and reviewing the results of your first draft.

You need to make sure your book makes sense and that it doesn’t miss any words that would confuse a reader to the point that they don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

This will reduce the back-and-forth hand-offs between you and your editor and will shorten to overall editing phase.

If you notice any major problems, like plot holes or missing information, make a note of them but save these bigger edits for the next round of revisions.

Your mental game needs to be strong here. You’re going to think, “I really suck. I hate writing, I hate my book, and I’d rather watch Netflix than ever look at this crap again.”

The Buddha once said: “All things must pass.” Namaste, my friend. You’ll get through this phase and eventually love yourself (and your writing!) again.

Key Takeaway: Give your book the chance it deserves. Right now, it’s just you alone with your book. Make this first revision quick.

#4 – Read Your First Pass Out Loud

During your first pass, it’s necessary to read your book out loud to yourself. Your ear processes words in a way that your eyes may not so this gives you sense of pacing, chapter structure, and tone.

While you’re reading out loud, try to read through the eyes of a reader.

Imagine what your ideal reader looks like and how they’d feel reading this. Visualize their experience with your book.

During this read-through, don’t stop to make large corrections. Just use a red pen or highlighter to take notes of the obvious mistakes. Simply mark or circle these errors to come back to later.

Put yourself on the clock when you do this. Time yourself for ten-twenty minutes per chapter and keep reading the whole draft through to completion.

Key Takeaway: Reading out loud during your first pass can help with tone and pacing. Do this quickly, with a timer. 

#5 – Delve Deeper With a Second Pass

 

Your next step is to go back to the beginning of the book and do a second pass. Your second revision should delve deeper. As you read, stay alert to passages that have “holes” or sections of the book which need to be filled out more.

Think of the analogy of building a home: First the frame goes up, then you build the walls. Keep adding to your book until your story and message is clear. Some of us have a tendency to change our voice from one paragraph to the next.

Tone shift is something that a strong editor will pick up on, but to the extent you can make things consistent, you should. As this point, your book should be more polished.

This is also the stage in which you should focus on making your book stronger by getting rid of weak verbs and replacing them with stronger verbs, like in this video of a live-edit below:

Your book still isn’t perfect (remember we cautioned against perfect!) but at this stage, you should have a working manuscript which should be close to publishable.

Key Takeaway: Your second pass should fill in the gaps in your story or chapters, and keep tone consistent.

#6 – Hand Over the Reins to an Editor

One of the hardest parts of the editorial relationship is handing over your passion project to a complete stranger.

You may be thinking, “What? I’m giving it to a complete stranger who doesn’t know me—and doesn’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this—just so they can mark it up and tell me about all the things I did wrong?!” 

There’s a reason the editor-writer relationship can feel fraught. It’s because while your book is deeply personal to you, whereas for the editor, it’s just another day at the office. Your editor’s job is to care about the flow of the book, the grammar, spelling, and in some cases, content.

They will take your draft and elevate it to a readable manuscript. Try not to take it personally or push back at their criticism. Your editor will shape your draft into a “good” book to publish. Notice the deliberate choice of words—we didn’t say perfect!

A “good” book is enjoyable, useful, readable and publishable.

Key Takeaway: Don’t take your editor’s constructive criticism personally. You have the same end goal: a good book!

#7 – Impersonate a Certain Disney Princess 

Time to just Let it Go. Send your draft off to your editor and celebrate. Put up your feet and queue up your Netflix binge.

You’ve certainly earned it! By the time you’re done with your own revisions and have added and subtracted material, your editorial return time shouldn’t take more than a week—or two, max. 

Key Takeaway: Just get your draft into the hands of your editor! Let them worry now. You’ve done the heavy lifting. It’s easy to get bogged down in perfection, and it’s tempting to hold on tightly to your work.

It can be a natural reaction to pouring your heart and soul into your dreams. But the quicker you can move your first draft through to the editing phase, the sooner you’ll achieve your dream of a published book.

Your Next Steps

Whether you’re just getting ready to write or, even scarier, to edit, we’re here for you.

Take a look at your FREE training that will give you an overview of just what you need to do to get started.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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Have you edited a book before? What tips do you have for others venturing into this terrifying territory?

how to format a book

How to Format a Book: 7 Money-Sucking Book Format Mistakes to Avoid

Self-publishing has changed everything.

Before, you were at the mercy of your publisher on how your book format looked, but today, you have control over this entire process.

In fact, you have the final say over everything in your finished manuscript is displayed. Therefore, knowing the proper book format you need is crucial. And with great power comes great responsibility.

If you’re not careful, you may end up with a sloppy and messy manuscript that an editor will refuse to work on until you tidy it up.

Or worse, your audience will slam your book with negative reviews because you published it riddled with errors.

An unprofessional looking book will not only distract readers, it will harm your brand and label you as an amateur, affecting the sales of future books as well as your current one.

Your completed self-published book should convey professionalism in all aspects – including with its book format.

7 Money-Sucking Book Format Mistakes

There are over a hundred things that can go wrong with your book formatting, and if we wrote about all of them you’d be reading from sun-up till sun-down. But fear not!

From our experience, most authors make the same mistakes when with their book format.

In this article, you’re going to learn what the most common book formatting errors and how to avoid them. By avoiding these mistakes, not only will you have a professional looking manuscript, but you’ll make the process of designing your book to publish on Amazon’s Kindle or in print via CreateSpace a lot easier.

If you have a completed manuscript with botched book formatting on your hands, this article will teach you how to fix it using Microsoft Word.

(A quick note: it’s possible to do many of the fixes in Google Docs, however, Word has a more comprehensive set of features, so it’s better to use that when formatting your complete manuscript.)

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more about it here

#1 – Avoid Hard Indents in Your Book Format

A hard indent is when paragraph indentations are created by manual use of the keyboard’s Tab key.

Many of us learned how to type using the Tab key to create an indent at the start of each paragraph, so this can be a tough habit to break.

When it comes to book formatting, use of the Tab key is a no-no, because it results in an indent that’s far larger than you need.

With fiction book formatting, you want to have just a small indent at the start of each paragraph. If your book is non-fiction, generally speaking, you want to use block paragraphs rather than indents, unless your book is a memoir or historical fiction. (More on that in tip #2.)

If your book is fiction, you may be wondering how to create paragraphs without the Tab key. The fix is simple: In MS Word, set the Paragraph settings to automatically create indentations for the first line in each paragraph.

This simple auto fix will make creating your book format way easier. In Word 2016, on both Mac & Windows, to get to Paragraph settings, click the Paragraph dialog box launcher on the Home or Layout tab.   Then on the Indents and Spacing tab, go to the box under Special and click on First line. You can change the size of the indent using the box to the right.

If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is to pull your favorite book off the shelf, open it up, and take a peek. How big are the paragraph indents?

Experiment with making yours larger or smaller, printing out the page, and comparing them to the book in your hand.

But what if your 535-page tome has already been drafted, using the dreaded Tab key for each and every paragraph? No need to set fire to your laptop!

Here’s what to do to clean it up:

  • Use Find and Replace (Ctrl+H or Control+H or here’s how to find it in Word 2016 on Mac and on Windows.)
  • Enter ^t in the Find (This will help you find every “Tab” in the document.)
  • Leave the Replace field blank.
  • Hit Replace All.

Going forward, set your Paragraph settings so that you don’t have to remove hard indents again. Presto!

You now have a much prettier, easier-to-convert document through the magic of technology that will make your book format much more professional-looking.

#2 – Indentation vs. Block Paragraphs

Works of non-fiction today typically don’t use indentation, except for some notable exceptions we will discuss momentarily. Rather, a popular book format for modern non-fiction is the block paragraph.

What’s a block paragraph?

A block paragraph doesn’t have indentation on the opening line, but instead uses a horizontal line of white space beneath each paragraph. This helps to delineate the separation between paragraphs.

For instance, I used block paragraphs in my latest book Published., which looks like this:

how to format a nonfiction book

The reasoning behind whether you should use indentation vs. block paragraphs is this: in works where one thought should flow smoothly into the next, such as in a novel, paragraph indentations are used with no line spacing between paragraphs.

But in books where complicated information is being consumed, having a single line space between paragraphs aids the brain in processing one piece of information before moving on to the next.

Here is an example from a fiction novel, The Savior’s Champion by full-time, self-published author Jenna Moreci of what it looks like to use indents instead of block paragraphs:

how to format a fiction book

An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction/indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrativessuch as a memoir or historical fiction, should use the same indent style described above in tip #1.

In non-fiction works where some information should flow, and other sections require more brain power to comprehend, some authors decide to mix formatting types and use indentation where appropriate and block paragraphs where useful.

But in general, to avoid confusing the reader and to make your book look uniform, clean, and as if you didn’t make a book formatting error, it’s best to choose one style or the other and stick with it throughout your book.

However, if you insist on getting crazy and mixing it up, knowing how and when to use block paragraphs versus when to indent results in a more professional manuscript.

#3 – Avoid Double Spaces After Periods

Here’s the truth: Two spaces after a period is wrong. Period. (Ha!) Just as with the good old-fashioned Tab key indent, two spaces after a period may have been the norm back when you were learning to type.

This is because, with typewriters, characters were all the same width, so the two-space rule allowed for greater readability.

With modern computer fonts, the characters all fit closer together in a proportional fashion, thereby eradicating the need for that one additional space.

Most major style guides—including the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by traditional publishers—now formally recognize the more modern single-space rule.

From an aesthetics angle, one space looks neater, which your readers’ eyes will appreciate. Before you convert your manuscript, change all double spaces to single spaces. The result will be a better formatted, stylistically correct book.

You’re going to use that super handy “Find and Replace” function again:

  • Enter two spaces in the Find (This will help you find every double space in the document.)
  • Enter a single space into the Replace field.
  • Hit Replace All.

Voila! Like magic.

#4 – Be Cautious with Hyphens

Improper hyphenation is a common error that may be harder to stay on top of because the rules of hyphenation differ depending on the grammatical situation.

So when it comes to your book format, you’ll have to do some research.

Generally, keep these three rules in mind while you write so you’ll have to do less work when it’s time for book formatting:

  • Two or more words that, together, function as an adjective are joined with a hyphen. For example, dark-pink skirt or two-way street.
  • Two words or more that form a number are joined with a hyphen. For example, twenty-one.
  • Compound words, which are two words that are joined together to make a single word, do not require a hyphen. For example, toothbrush or starfish.
  • Two or more separate words that are used as a single word or idea. For example, action-grabbing, top-notch, or larger-than-life.
book format

When in doubt, look it up! For a more detailed treatment of the hyphen, here is an important source to consider: Elements of Style.

#5 – Know When to Use Quotes vs. an Apostrophe

Few things scream “new writer” like a book formatted with punctuation errors. You want to make sure you’re using quotes and apostrophes correctly so you don’t lose credibility with your readers.

When to use quotes in your book format:

  • When you’re quoting someone, use quotes! This means either a person is speaking—like in fiction—or you are borrowing material verbatim from another source, like in non-fiction.
  • Use of quotes is rarely needed for common expressions.
  • Ironic terms can be set off in quotes.
  • Overuse of quotes can get annoying, so be judicious in their application.

When to use apostrophes:

  • Use an apostrophe for possessive form (except the word its.) For example: The cat’s toys are blue.
  • Use an apostrophe for contractions, such as it is. For example: The cat’s playing with its toys. It’s a happy cat.
  • Avoid using an apostrophe for plural forms. For example: Five cats ran past her.

Again, the rules can be complicated, such as when to use an apostrophe when dealing with an acronym, so when in doubt, look it up.

#6 – Be Careful When Using the Enter Key

There are many times in your book you’ll want to go to a new page or to create a blank page.

This is simple right? Hit enter a few times, and presto, you’ve got a new page.

Wrong.

Using paragraph breaks, or hitting enter to create a new page can create many problems when it comes to getting your manuscript ready to publish.

For instance, you or your book designer will need to change your page size or page setup according to the book size and style you’ve chosen. Using paragraph breaks will create extra space where none is needed and will change the page layouts of your book, making your book look ugly.

If you’re wondering why after you change your paper size, your chapter headings are no longer at the top of the page, but halfway down, it was because of your liberal use of paragraph breaks.

Instead, use the page break function.

This instantly creates a new page, and it remains a new page even when you’ve changed the page size, page layout, or added more content above. On Microsoft Word, this can be done by pressing Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Cmd+Enter (Mac).

You can also find it in the ribbon in Word. Google Docs also has this feature. In Word 2016 go to Insert > Page Break In Google Docs go to Insert > Break > Page Break

#7 – Use the Styles Feature Instead of Formatting Yourself

Stop formatting your chapter titles yourself. Many writers indicate a title or subtitle by simply changing the font size and changing the font from the default font (ah, Times New Roman, how we miss you) and thinking their job is done.

This makes navigating and formatting your book a pain.

What you want to do is use MS Word’s “Styles” feature. Google Docs also has this feature. In Word 2016, you can find the Styles section under the Home tab on both Mac & Windows.

In Google Docs the styles section can be found by clicking the box between the zoom level and the font type.

When creating a new chapter, highlight the chapter heading, and then make it a header by applying the relevant style. If it’s the main heading make it “Heading 1”, if it’s a subtitle make it “Heading 2”, etc.

This has the added benefit of allowing you to easily automatically create a table of contents page, or to navigate through your 30,000-word manuscript with Word’s navigation pane, while also making your book format look professional.

You Need a Proper Book Format

Without question you want your book to stand out because of its invaluable content, stunning tone of voice, and laser targeted towards your audience.

However, don’t let your book formatting or grammatical errors get in the way of your book’s success. If you’ve written your book, and are ready to get it published, follow the guide you just read to make sure your manuscript isn’t full of errors.

For tips on how to format your book for Kindle, it’s best to follow Amazon’s comprehensive guide on the matter. It will help you design your title page on a different first page, your copyright page, trimming to the correct paper size, and the million other things you need to do to get your book ready for print.

Your Next Steps

Thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to publish a book yourself. Today you have all the tools you need to produce a flawless manuscript.

Take the time to review your book—and hire an editor and a book designer—to make sure your book formatting is perfectly professional.

If you’re ready to polish your book format and move on in the publishing process, here’s what you can do next.

#1 – Join your free training!

It’s not enough to put together a pretty book. You also have to know what to do once you’re done and how to go about making it sell! That’s where we come in.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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#2 – Put together your launch team

Once your book is all polished to perfection and formatted correctly, you’ll want to start getting your launch team together. These are the people who will help take your book to the next level.

They’ll be the ones to leave Amazon reviews for you as well as help market your book so you can have the biggest, most successful launch possible.

Just remember to choose enthusiastic individuals who truly love your book!

#3 – Start your marketing plan

Marketing your book can be really hard without a solid plan of attack. Knowing how to build your author platform and get the word out about your book takes time and deep thinking – along with some helpful tips.

Sit down and create a calendar with all the social posts, ads you want to create, and even emails you want to send to your list. 

Once you have your plan together, incorporate your launch team to help you execute it.

Have you struggled with book formatting in the past? How did you figure it out?