How to Publish a Book

24Aug - by D.L. Lang - 0 - In

Publish A Book

Advice on learning how to write

  1. I am musician without an instrument. My influences are songwriters. Songs use rhyming and rhythm patterns. Study them. If you can memorize a song, you can memorize a poem.
  2. Learn the rules of grammar. Learn forms. Break the rules.
  3. Learn new words. Make up new words. Learn multiple languages.
  4. Read a lot. It doesn’t have to be poetry. Read magazines, comic books, nonfiction, fiction, research history, and read the news.
  5. Find what you love to talk about and read about and then write about it.

How I personally compile poetry for a book

  1. I have an iPod and an iPad. I dictate my poetry into the notes app on iOS.
  2. I have my notes synced to my gmail account, so it will automatically be backed up. Gmail syncs when you check your email. This ensures that if you accidentally delete the note, unlike iCloud, there is a copy in your All Mail folder.
  3. I then copy everything into a word .doc, slowly compiling over several months. In the past I have just compiled in a .txt file but that makes formatting more of chore. It is far easier to format as you go.
  4. I also have Dragon Dictation to reduce repetitive keying.
  5. For easy access while performing on a stage, I sync all of my books to the File Manager Pro app. Every document has a clickable TOC, so I can be most efficient in finding a poem.
  6. Depending on whether I am going for a paperback or an ebook, the instructions are slightly different. They are below.

General Publishing Advice

  1. Read your work over and over and over again–out loud, to your self, to a friend, to an audience.
  2. Spell check. Spell check. Spell check.
  3. If you are not strong in spelling and grammar, have other people read your work before you publish, and again after you publish.
  4. Listen to people who have constructive criticism, but ignore those who flatly put you down.
  5. Above all listen to your heart.
  6. Keep tweaking. And tweak some more. But don’t tweak yourself out of a meaningful poem!
  7. While there is no such thing as a perfectly edited book, too many errors can throw the concentration of your reader off, so do your best to minimize formatting inconsistencies as well as unintentional misspellings. (We’re poets, not perfectionists, and breaking the rules should be an artform, not the norm.)
  8. Write as many poems as you can, and only select the best ones for your book.
  9. Put as many poems as possible in your book, but again, only the best.
  10. Put your favorite poems at the beginning of your book so your free sample goes beyond anyone’s imagination.
  11. Make it worth your reader’s time and money by producing the best book possible. Do not let perfectionism keep you from publishing, however.
  12. Use Google and YouTube to find specific technical advice. Use quotes around your search phrase for best results.
  13. Learn the rules, so that you can break them in a smart way. Break the rules too often and you may be mistaken for a bad writer.
  14. There are no bad writers, only inexperienced ones. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation count, but don’t let them be the bane of your existence! Poetry is more about the soulful message you intend than conforming to form.


I’m personally not happy with the default ebook that Createspace puts out, as they don’t have a proper TOC.

  1. Save a new copy of your word .doc of your manuscript and then do the following.
  2. With the Tables and Index tool, edit the TOC to be without page numbers and have the hyperlinks box checked. Have both Heading 1 and 2 included. Here is a video explaining what it looks like on the Word screen:
  3. Remove the page numbers from your footer since Kindle doesn’t have proper pages depending on the reader’s ereader settings.
  4. I made all of my poems Heading 2 and any section titles Heading 1. This can easily be changed by selecting one of your titles and right clicking “Select Text with similar formatting” and then change the style to Heading 2 instead of 1.
  5. Doing this may change your paragraph settings, so if you are using “Page Break Before” you might need to recheck that by right clicking and selecting the Paragraph option while all of those titles are selected.
  6. Right click on your TOC and click (Update Field)
  7. Then just follow the instructions and upload the .doc at
  8. It can be priced between .99 and 9.99. I no longer enroll in their Kindle Select exclusive program, as I like to share my poems on other websites, but I have in the past and that allows for free giveaways which can boost chart rankings. You can also set it up for pre-order and have it be released as late as three months from the date you upload.

Publishing a paperback

If you’re going to self-publish a poetry book I recommend using You can format your own manuscript in Microsoft word, convert to a pdf, upload it, design your cover, proof it, and have a book readily available around the world online. You’ll have an ISBN and be automatically put into online retailers and eligible for library catalogues.

It’s print on demand so you don’t have a huge environmental impact making books. It’s fairly cheap to order copies of your book. They do provide services for marketing, formatting, and professional cover design, but I’ve never used them.

I’ve had ebooks in the past, yet I have not found an automatic free conversion service that converts poetry properly. I prefer DIY. Often times there are problems with spacing and indentation that need to be fixed, as well as linking the entire table of contents. There is also the risk of piracy, and I have had my work stolen before.

The downside and upside to self-publishing is you have full control. Mistakes are on you, but it also means no one can censor you. You save money on production costs, make a higher percentage of the net profits on each book sale, but it’s up to you to promote yourself. Instead of using a vanity press, I’d recommend promotion as where you spend any money.

Self-publishing will immediately make you ineligible for a lot of first book poetry contests, and you usually can’t submit previously published works to magazines or anthologies for consideration. Also there are bookstores that won’t carry self-published work, mainly because of an assumption of lack of quality, so do your absolute best editing work, or get someone to do it for you.


  1. I edit and format my own books, and generally use this same, simple template for each book. The poetry should speak for itself.
  2. 5.1 by 7.8 is the book size that I print in. I use .3 top / bottom margins. I use .7 left right margins.
  3. My poems are at a 10 pt font. All text under paragraph options should be single spaced, no automatic indentations.
  4. The book title itself at the very beginning is an 18 pt font.
  5. My titles are at a 12 pt font. My headers are at a 9 pt font.
  6. I set up my titles (except for the first one) under paragraph options to automatically page break before.
  7. All poem titles are set to keep with next.
  8. Your first page should be an odd number if you look at the total page count.

I have created a poetry template that includes all of this. Email me at for it, and I will send it to you.


For the purposes of publishing on Createspace there are a few steps:

  1. Compile your poems into a word document.
  2. Sign up with and follow their instructions for an ISBN, cover, description, BISAC (category), and choose how you want it distributed. If you want an LCCN you need purchase one prior to submitting for a proof. Be sure to add your ISBN number, copyright notice, and LCCN (if you purchased one) to your manuscript.
  3. Convert your manuscript to a pdf and upload it to
  4. Proof your book either online or using an actual proof copy.
  5. Go to and customize your author page

Pros: Low environmental impact, print on demand, cheap copies to resell, higher profit than using a publisher, you own your own work, and creative freedom.

Cons: You must promote yourself, mistakes are on you, so edit well, and due to common quality issues, you may be ineligible for many bookstores, first book contests, and most magazines won’t reprint that which is already published (if you have been already published you usually can reprint your stuff in a book, as long as you acknowledge first publication.)

There are other ways to self-publish, but vanity printers usually want hundreds or thousands of dollars, and I have never had the money to do so, so this is totally DIY. If you have that kind of money, spend it on promotion!!!

Additional Links

If you want to distribute an audiobook:

If you want to distribute an ebook: or or

If you want to buy a professional review: or

If you want to distribute a poetry album: or

A lot of magazines take submissions through There is also

Also check out for a lot of resources. It’s run by Rick Lupert, a fabulous funny poet.

Lastly, this website is

I am not tech support. Please do your research.