DIY Publishing - How to Publish a Paperback

September 5, 2016

It’s easy to take paperback publishing for granted. We’ve had the opportunity for years and there’s a number of different options and possibilities. The great thing about it, though, is with the ability to make your book available to the major book distributors, the only difference between you and a traditional publisher is your level of professionalism.

And while paperback publishing is fairly simple, take the time to get the details right and you’ll have a beautiful, professional book in the end.


Like ebook publishing, the first step is to set up an account with the distributors you want to use.

  • Nook Press will make it available at Barnes & Noble.
  • Amazon (formerly CreateSpace) will make your book available on Amazon. They also offer to make it available to book distributors (presumably by listing it with Ingram and Baker & Taylor so your local indie can order a copy of they want).

There’s one key trick if you want to use both Amazon and Nook Press. Because if you choose Amazon’s Expanded Distribution your paperback will still be available at Barnes and Noble BUT you’ll get a reduced royalty and you won’t be able to publish it with Nook Press at that point because they already have your ISBN registered in their catalog. Yup, learned this the hard way.

So, publish with Amazon first but don’t select Expanded Distribution. Only make it available at Amazon. I like to start with Amazon since it has several areas with more guidelines and help than Nook Press. Then publish with Nook Press to make it available at Barnes & Noble. Then Ingram to get it in Microsoft Books. Finally, go back and select Amazon’s Expanded Distribution to make it widely available.

Though, up to this point I’ve only worked with Amazon and Nook Press (last update Feb, 2019).

No matter which printer you choose, I highly recommend using your company information for the email address, name, address and the account you set up for direct deposit of your revenue.


While I’ve already covered formatting, it’s worth altering a few things for your paperback format.

Page Numbers

It’s better to add the page numbers to your paperback file rather than your master file. Word makes it pretty simple to edit the header or footer and add page numbers.
To prevent page numbers from showing up on your title page and front matter, use section breaks (instead of page breaks) to separate them, and don’t link to the previous section. Word has help articles for each of their different versions if you’re not sure what I mean.


Since a paperback only has one size, you don’t have to calculate for readers with different devices and screen resolutions. This allows you a bit more freedom to use more elaborate chapter headings or larger images (since they can fill a page rather than needing to compress to a 4″ screen).

The tricky part comes when you go to upload your file…

Publishing your book

Though the steps for paperback publishing and ebook publishing aren’t drastically different, both the book file and cover file for a paperback take a bit more work.


The first step is to fill out the basic information.  You’re probably familiar with this step if you’ve already uploaded your ebooks. If not, you’ll need your synopsis, author bio, ISBN and keywords for your novel.

Book Options

You’ll then select some interior options:

  • Trim Size isn’t strictly interior but it’s in this section. Amazong has helpful tips about standard paperback size and mass market size.
  • Interior Print color (either black and white or color)
  • Paper color. Nook recommends creme paper with b&w printing.

Book File Upload

You can upload the Word doc file to Amazon and Nook.  This is another reason to start with Amazon. It will process the Word doc and give you the option to download a reformatted file based on your trim size. I highly recommend using their template.

For Tattered Heart I don’t remember that I had a template option so I formatted the size and margins manually. It’s surprisingly exacting and sometimes difficult to get the margins correct, especially when some pages are just images (like the map of the Princess Kingdoms).  Also it can be difficult getting the left/right thing sorted out. It feels like it took me days, though I can’t remember for sure.

With Enchanted Storms they had the template.  While I still made adjustments and ensured my maps were within the margins, it was much simpler and quicker.

You can then use that same Word file to upload your book to Nook Press.


If you don’t have a different cover for your paperback, now is the time to make it.

Amazon gives you some options of different templates that you can customize. I use the full size blank template.  It shows the cut lines and helps you size the image correctly.  You can also see the lines for the spine in order to manually include your title and name with your preferred font.   And the blank template gives you the flexibility to use your ebook cover image with the synopsis on the back cover.

Uploading the file with Amazon is a series of steps such as selecting if you want the title and author displayed (I select no for both since I’ve done it manually on the blank template).  Then the file is validated and it will let you know if your image resolution is not high enough or if there are other problems.

Nook requires a pdf file instead of an image file. The easiest way to do this is insert your image in a Word document sized to Nook’s specifications with no margins and then save it as a pdf file.


Then you get to determine the price for your book. There’s a nice calculator to show what your royalties will be at different prices and different distributors.

With Amazon you can select to have it available on Amazon, Amazon Europe and Expanded Distribution to bookstores and online retailers (basically making it available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor). Again, I recommend selecting Expanded Distribution only after uploading it manually to Nook and Ingram.

Once you’ve entered and uploaded everything you need, there’s a review that generally takes 24-48 hours. You’ll get an email informing you if your book is approved or if there are changes you need to make.  If there are no errors, the review process is a few clicks in order to make your book available.

Order and Review

Once it’s all said and done, you can order a copy of your book.

That way you can review it and make sure everything looks and feels the way you want.

AND now your story is a real book. You can hold it in your hands, enjoying the satisfaction of having written and published a book!

Pin it up:
guy on a mountainAnd check out the entire DIY Publishing series!

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