Do you have a book idea you’ve been itching to turn into a real published book? If so, this guide is for you. Publishing your first book is an exciting journey, but it can also feel overwhelming for beginners. Here is your starter guide to understand the key steps and best book publishing services that can help launch your publishing dreams.


Choose Your Publishing Path  


The first big choice is whether you want to seek a traditional publisher or self-publish your book. Traditional publishing means partnering with a book publishing company that vets, edits, prints, markets and distributes your book. These publishers offer more services but are highly selective. Self-publishing gives you full control and faster time to market, but requires you to hire your own editors, designers and marketers or learn to DIY. Hybrid services now exist too, giving you custom levels of support. Weigh the pros and cons of these models as you start.


Understand the Major Book Publishing Steps


Whichever path you pick, some key steps form the core publishing process:


Editing: Editors polish your writing and ensure your manuscript and story structure are clear, consistent and error-free at multiple review stages.

Book cover design: Graphic designers create interior layouts and eye catching front/back book covers tailored to your genre and style.

Printing/distribution: Publishers handle printing physical book inventory and distributing copies to retailers and libraries. They can also convert your book into ebook format and publish it.

Marketing/promotion: Publicists help get the word out about your book through publicity campaigns and author websites.


As a first timer, don’t worry about mastering all this yourself yet as the best book publishing service will be there to guide you. There are affordable resources to help every step of the way.


Pick Your Book Genre


Book genres organize works by their style and subject matter so readers can find what types of stories they like. As you plan your first book, narrow down its genre. Common fiction genres include:


– Romance – Mystery – Sci-fi/fantasy – Children’s

– Historical – Literary


And common nonfiction genres:


– Memoir – Self-help/personal growth – Business/finance – Cooking – Science – History


Of course your unique book idea can blend genres. Defining a target genre helps shape your book pitch and guides partnerships with a book publishing service already working in your niche.


Research Comparable Books 


Another early task is studying current books similar to what you wish to publish, also referred to as “comp titles” in the book world. Search for books like yours on Amazon or at large bookstores:


– What other book topics and styles are akin to yours? How competitive is your niche? Is there room to differentiate your concept?

– Study the covers and book descriptions of popular comparables. What marketing angles hook their readers?

– Read the first few chapters of your favorite comp title books. Get a feel for popular opening styles in your genre.


Doing comparison research gives invaluable insights to inform your own book positioning and publishing decisions in this market.


Estimate Your Timeline 


Book publishing demands patience. From finalizing your manuscript to publishing your book, expect a 6-9 month process at minimum, often stretching over a year or longer. Here is a typical first book timeline:


Initial writing/editing: 2-4 months

Submit to publisher vetting: 1-6 months

Book production: 3-4 months

Publishing: 1-3 months


It may feel challenging as an excited new author, but every publishing journey starts step-by-step. Setting realistic expectations helps ease frustrations down the road. Building in extra timeline cushions also helps buffer inevitable hiccups on a first publishing project. If possible, keep working your regular job as you launch your book writing career.


Submit Manuscript Proposals


When your manuscript nears completion (after rounds of self-editing or getting it edited), you can start sharing it with potential book publishing services. A formal submission package includes:


– A book pitch letter summarizing your concept and credentials

– An excerpt from your manuscript (e.g. first 1-3 chapters)

– An author bio explaining your relevant background


Book publishers seek proposals aligned to their business specialties and current target demographics. Research submission guidelines on their websites. Tailor each pitch accordingly, highlighting why your book fits their catalog and how it reaches their core readers.


Most importantly, make your writing submission as strong as possible. Enlist two or three trusted friends or editors to review your full draft first. Ask them to read your work not as cheerleaders but honest critics, flagging areas that drag, confuses or puts them to sleep. Refine weak spots they catch until your manuscript and excerpt sample shines.


Key Takeaways


Hearing the phrase “first time author” may initially instill doubt (from yourself and others). How can you pen an entire book without prior book publishing experience? But thousands of authors have worked their way out of this before you. Yes, writing and publishing any book remains hard work demanding commitment, resilience and patience. Within each amateur author, however, lies the heart of a professional writer ready to take this journey.


Believe in your writer’s voice. Trust your story vision. Then simply tackle each next step, from the first keyboard tap to signing published copies of your book months down the road. Progress will build momentum carrying you through natural peaks and valleys towards your thrilling destination – becoming a successfully published author.