Self-Publishing 101 — Step 1: Revision

This article is part 2 of 5 in the series Self-Publishing 101

Self-publishing 101: How to Self-Publish a Book or Ebook

You’ve written your book, made it all the way to the last sentence, and finished with a flourish. It’s your masterpiece, your Pietà, your magnum opus—and it’s ready to publish.

Not so fast.

Hold on There, Shakespeare!

Of primary importance is your manuscript itself. All the beautiful covers and fancy marketing in the world won’t help a bad book sell. (Well, it might, but the returns will be short and small.) The fact is, simple grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes can kill a great story.

Many self-published authors spend far too much time on the layout, design, and marketing of their book when they would have been better off spending that time revising their work. Why build a platform only to watch that platform dissolve when your readers discover you didn’t take the time to make your book as good as possible?

Nothing kills interest in your sophomore release like a shoddy first book. –Tweet This

Revise, Rinse, Repeat

You’ve spent months, possibly years, getting your thoughts into written form. Trust me, I know first-hand the creative toil necessary to produce the written word. My first novel, one I’ll be publishing soon, is a concept I’ve had in my head since my high school days. (I’m over 40, so do the math on that.)

Even after spending so much time writing out the first draft, self-published authors often rush through the editing and revision process. They feel like they’ve got a bestseller and want to get it in the hands of their imaginary, adoring fans ASAP.


If you think your book has been revised enough, you’re wrong. Take the time to revise it three, four, or nine times. Find friends and family, or—dare I say it, enemies—to read through your manuscript. Give them permission to be brutal. Take their legitimate feedback and get back to work. You’ll be glad you did.

“Books aren’t written- they’re rewritten. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” -Michael Crichton

In the next post of this series, we’ll address the issue of editing.

<< I’ve Written a Book and I Want to Self-Publish. Now What?Self-Publishing 101: Step 2—Editing >>


  1. This is great advice! I’m so glad I found this post. I’ve been considering writing an ebook for more than a year and this is the kind of concrete, practical advice I need to really move forward. It takes the mystery out of publishing and promoting ebooks. Thanks!

  2. I know I need to revise revise revise but my
    my friends and family are not experts in grammar,
    spelling, or content. And I’m not sure how the new book should be presented. What format is the norm; double spaced, so many words per page? I don’t know.
    And do I need a reputable editor-for-hire?
    Does Kindle/Amazon accept raw manuscripts?
    Thank You
    Judi Neto

    • I would alway suggest hiring a professional editor if you can afford one. As far as formatting is concerned, the most important thing is creating a manuscript that is clean and generally laid out in a way similar to what you’d like to see in the final version. So, things like double spacing aren’t necessary, and you should do your best to avoid using the tab key or spacebar to create indents. Learn how to set up automatic paragraph indents in your word processing program.

      Shoot for creating a manuscript with page breaks at the beginnings of chapters, well-defined paragraphs, and clear heading and subheadings. For more on formatting, check out Amazon’s guide here:

      To see what types of documents Amazon’s KDP program accepts, look here:

      However, though KDP will accept a manuscript, I’d still suggests hiring someone who knows how to properly lay out and convert your manuscript for the Kindle.