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Learn How to Self-Publish a Book Yourself With Our 11 Steps

At 48 Hour Books, we know that self-publishing a book can seem overwhelming at first.
Our expert staff is here to help you each step of the way.

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Step 1

How to Publish a Book Yourself: Formatting

The Ultimate Guide to a 48 Hour Book

You've probably already written your book, but it may not be formatted properly. We have tips for self-publishing a book and free templates for Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Open Office, Pages or just about any other word processor. Download and use these to format your files properly before beginning the book publishing process.

Not sure how to get started self-publishing a book? Download or order our FREE "Ultimate Guide to a 48 Hour Book" for all of the information you need on how to self-publish a book with 48 Hour Books.

See our free templates.

See our reformatting services.

Is your book the right page size?

Maybe you typed it into a word processor (like Microsoft Word) using the standard 'Letter size' paper, but you want your book to be printed on half-size paper. Don't worry. There's an easy way to change it, without re-typing the entire book. First, use a copy of your Word file, putting the original in a safe place. Then open the copy and select "File > Page Setup". On the "Margins" tab, make sure it says "Apply to: Whole Document". Choose the "Paper" tab and change the paper size to 5.5" x 8.5". Go back to the "Margins" tab and change all 4 margins. While we recommend .75 on all 4 sides, the minimum should be: .5 for Top, Left and Right, and .75 for Bottom, to leave space for your page numbers. Hit "OK" and Word will reformat your book. Now, you'll have to go through the entire book, page-by-page, to fix any awkward breaks that may have been created.

Are you using the right font for your book?

There are two basic styles of type: "serif" and "sans serif". "Serifs" are those tiny tails Most books use a serif font for the body copy, like Times, in 10 or 11 pt., and a bold sans serif font for headlines and chapter titles. If your audience is older, you may want to use a slightly larger font to make it easier for them to read. It's your work, so when publishing a book yourself, the final decision lies with you. You can use whatever font you'd like, but there are certain accepted standards, and you should think twice before deviating from the norm.

If you been through the process of publishing a book yourself before, then you’re familiar with the next step. Once you've finished the writing of your book, you've got to put it into a reader-friendly format. The following is instructions for setting up the most standard book font size and format. If you've got a specific book layout already in mind, that's great. You can still look over these instructions and tailor them to fit your preferred format.

The most common size is 5.5" wide x 8.5" tall with margins of 0.75" on all 4 sides. And since most writers use Microsoft Word, we'll use that in our examples. For other programs, the steps should be very similar to the following tips for self-publishing a book.

Make a backup of your book file, and only work on the backup copy. If you completely screw things up, you can always throw the backup away and go back to your original.

Open your book file, go to File > Page Setup ... and hit the "Paper" tab. Change the paper size to "letter half" if it's available, or just manually change Width to 5.5" and Height to 8.5". A little lower on the same "Paper" tab, make sure this is applied to "Whole Document".

Now select "Margins" tab and change margins (top, bottom, left and right) to 0.75". Make "Gutter"=0, "Gutter position"=Left, "Orientation" = Portrait, "Pages" = normal, and "Apply to" = whole document. See the sample below.

Click "OK", and see if it completely screwed up your book file. Don't panic yet. It may LOOK messed up, but it can be fixed. You probably have spacing issues, because you set up your pages to look good at 8.5 x 11, but they're going to be printed at 5.5 x 8.5. You may need to reduce font sizes of some of your headlines, delete some forced spaces or tabs that you used trying to center certain lines, things like that.

serif fonts for a book

Select an agreeable font combination. This is up to the individual author, but most people find a very basic serif type (like Times New Roman) to be easiest on the eyes for body copy, and a sans serif font (like Arial) for headlines. What is a serif, you ask? Serifs are the tiny tails on letters, circled in red below:

As a general rule, you'll want to split your headlines and body copy. Use a serif font for one and a sans serif font for the other. Since sans serif fonts are generally bolder, they work better in headlines. And since serif fonts are easier to read in large paragraphs, they work better in body copy. The ideal paragraph line spacing should be set to "Multiple" at 1.25. This gives a little more space between the lines of type. But again, it's your book ... if you want to be different, go right ahead!

Add "Page Breaks". Whether your book is a chapter book, a book of poetry, or a cook book, it's simply a collection of "entries". An entry may be a chapter, a poem, or a recipe. But regardless of what type of book it is, you'll want to put page breaks before each new entry. This will force a new entry to start on a new page. If it's a traditional chapter book, you'll probably want to insert an "Odd Page Section Break," so the next chapter starts on a right-hand (odd) page. Simply click in front of each entry, then select Insert > Break ... > and either select Page Break or Odd Page and hit OK.
Proper margins for a book

Step 2

You Edit Your Book Until It Is Perfect

You've probably spent many months, even years, writing your book. We highly recommend that you spend an extra hour or two looking it over one last time before you send it to us. Our prices are very reasonable, but they do not cover corrections to your files. If you only have a few corrections, it's usually cheapest for us to make the changes on our system (we charge a very reasonable $75 per hour, so your book printing changes may only cost a few dollars.) But if you have a lot of changes, you'll probably want to make the changes yourself and send us a new file. You can send revised files for a $50 fee. If we need to re-format or re-convert your files to PDF, there will be additional charges for that, so you really want to get it right the first time.

See our recommended editing resources.

Step 3

You Create PDF Files

Customer Review for 48 Hour Books - Keith Pitts

Alright, you've finished writing, editing, formatting and editing some more. You're ready to convert your Word document into a PDF for printing. Here's how:

If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat (not just the free "Reader" version), you should have a menu item within Word titled "Adobe PDF". Choose "Adobe PDF > Change Conversion Settings" and choose "High Quality Print" from the drop-down menu. This will automatically do the two most important things when creating your PDF: include your graphics at high resolution and include the fonts.

If you need a conversion program, download doPDF here and select 'Run' when prompted. This installs a virtual printer named 'doPDF' on your computer. With it, you'll be able to 'File > Print ...' to create a PDF from any Windows application. (If you've got a Mac, PDF conversion is built right into your system.)

To create a PDF file, simply open your file, select 'File > Print ...' and choose 'doPDF' as your printer. *** The first time you use doPDF, hit the 'Preferences' button and change 'Graphic Resolution' to 600 dpi (near the bottom right of the window.) Hit 'OK' and your Preferences are all set. *** Hit 'Print', make sure 'Embed fonts' is turned ON, and it will create a PDF.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind, we print directly from the files you send us, so if there's a mistake in your file, that same mistake will be in every one of your books. So check your files, then check them again, then have somebody else check them ... you get the idea.

Step 4

Customer Review for 48 Hour Books - Joe Kaplan

You Place Your Order at 48HrBooks.com

A) From our homepage, click the "Place an Order" button, and fill out all of your book specifications. If you get stuck, click the "More Info" buttons at each step, and you'll be guided through that step with tips on how to publish a book yourself. When you're finished, click the "Next" button.

B) Enter information about yourself. If you've already got an account with us, simply log in to your account.

C) Under "Shipping Information", you can either: (a) pick up the order in Akron, Ohio, or (b) ship it to your account address, or (c) ship it to a different address. You can also 'split ship' the order, sending some books to as many as four different addresses. When you're finished, hit the "Next" button. 

D) Enter your method of shipping. We generally ship UPS Ground, but have faster choices available, too. When you're finished, click "Next >".

E) Enter payment information. We accept PAYPAL and the 4 major credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, as well as checks & money orders.

  • If you select "PAYPAL", you'll log in to your Paypal account, and initiate the payment there.
  • If you select "Credit Card", you'll enter the card number, expiration date, etc.
  • You can choose the pay the $100 deposit or the full amount when the order is placed.
  • If you need to make other payment arrangements, select "Other" and then contact us. Keep in mind that because these are all custom-printed books, we must get payment in full BEFORE we can start printing your books.

When you're finished, click "Next >".

F) Review the information that you entered. If everything is correct, click "Place Order" and your order is placed. After submitting your order, please don't hit your browser's 'Back' button, or your card could be charged twice.

Step 5

You Send Us Files

As soon as your order is submitted, you'll be taken to your order page. Click the "Upload Files" button near the top of the page. Then, simply browse your computer hard drive, find the files that you want to send us, give each one a short description (like "inside pages" or "front cover", etc.), and hit "Upload". Depending on the size of your file, it may take some time to upload, so be patient. If you've got extremely large files, or if you're using a very slow "dial-up" connection, you may want to put your files on a CD or thumb drive and ship them to us (Next Day Air if you're in a hurry, regular mail or UPS Ground if you're not in a hurry.)

Step 6

We Send You a PDF Proof

We will immediately start working on your files. Your dedicated pre-press technician will check the files for common layout or printing errors, and complete any design or formatting work requested. Every file is different, so the amount of work involved will vary, but we typically have PDF proofs ready for you to review within 1 business day (3-5 business days for reformats). When we're done, we'll upload PDF Proofs of both the cover and the inside pages. Then we'll send you an email with a link to your proof files. Select the link and you'll be taken to your Order Details page. You will see a "Proofs" tab at the top. The files within the grey box are your PDF proofs. Click on each file, select "Save", and remember where you saved them. When you are done saving them, hide the browser window, open each of the PDF proof files, and look through them carefully. Be sure you are using Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to reivew your PDF files. If there is a mistake on the files and you don't catch it, that mistake will be on all of your books. It is your responsibility to proofread these PDF proof files carefully. Sometimes, the author can be the worst person to proofread his/her own words. You might want to get a second set of eyes to look it over before you give your OK.

Log in to your account at any time to check the status of your order, or contact us by phone, email or live chat to get an update.

Step 7

Is Your PDF Proof OK?

After you've looked through the entire book and cover, you've got to determine if the proof is OK or not. Go back to your Order page on our website, select the "Approve or Reject Proofs" button near the top, and either "Accept" or "Reject" the proof. If you accept the proof, go to step 8. If you reject it and 48 Hour Books made the mistake(s), let us know in an email what we need to correct. As long as it's our mistake, we'll fix it for free. If you reject it and you made the mistake(s), go back to Step 2, where you'll edit your book to correct the errors, convert to PDF again, and send us revised PDF files.

Step 8

Did You Ask For a Printed Proof?

If you asked for a Printed Proof, we'll print and bind a single book, and send it UPS Next Day Air. You'll receive it the next day by 10:30 am (business days only, no Saturday or Sunday delivery). If you did not ask for a printed proof, skip to Step 11, where we will immediately start printing your full run of books.

Log in to your account at any time to check the status of your order, or contact us by phone, email or live chat to get an update.

Step 9

We Send You a Printed Proof

Most perfect bound printed proofs ship the same day that you OK your PDF Proof. If it's after noon EST, or you have special elements to your book, it may take an extra day.

Log in to your account at any time to check the status of your order, or contact us by phone, email or live chat to get an update.

Step 10

Is Your Printed Proof OK?

After you've looked through your printed book, you've got to determine if the proof is OK or not. Go back to your Order page on our website, select the "Approve or Reject Proofs" button at the top, and either "Approve" or "Reject" the proof. If you approve the proof, go to step 11, where we print and bind your full order. If you reject it and 48 Hour Books made the mistake(s), let us know in an email or order note what we need to correct. All changes must be submitted in writing. As long as it's our mistake, we'll fix it for free. If you reject it and you made the mistake(s), go back to Step 2, where you'll edit your book to correct the errors, and send us revised PDF files. Keep in mind that sending new files may result in a $50 new file fee.

Step 11

We Print & Ship Your Full Order of Books

If you've approved your final proof, and paid in full, the "48 Hour Book" clock starts ticking. Keep in mind, we don't count Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays, and each day's cut-off is 5:00 pm EST for Standard Production, 3pm EST for Rush, and noon EST for SuperRush. Any approvals or payments after these approval deadlines will be counted as the following day.

Check out our pre-press & production schedules.

This map shows travel times from Akron, Ohio to anywhere in the U.S.A.

It's very important to keep these self-publishing tips in mind. As your self-publishing partners, 48 Hour Books can help you learn how to publish a book yourself. And if you need to expedite either the printing and binding of your book, or use urgent delivery, contact us via phone, email, or online chat and request a change. We'll let you know if it can be done. Don't forget that Spiral Coil binding and Hard cover (Case Bound books) take 1 week to produce.

Our standard shipping method is UPS Ground from either Akron, Ohio or Las Vegas, Nevada. We will produce your books in whichever location results in the fastest shipping time.

More shipping information and timing can be found here.