by Ali Shaw

“I have a completed manuscript. Now what?”

It’s a common occurrence for authors to come to us knowing they want to publish themselves and knowing they want help to do it well, but they feel unsure of the steps that go into self-publishing at a professional level. That’s where we come in! We’re happy to walk authors through the process.

First thing’s first: understanding the steps involved. This flowchart gives an overview of the various services and steps that go into publishing your book:

Now you might be asking what each of those service names means. In short:

  • Developmental Editing: This is the in-depth editing on the overall content and structure of the manuscript. Topics covered include plot arc, pacing, tone, and character development for fiction, and argument development, pacing, tone, and style for nonfiction.
  • Line Editing: What some people call copyediting, line editing is the surface-level editing for spelling, grammar, syntax, clarity, consistency, and flow. Line editing also includes fact-checking the spelling of proper nouns and the accuracy of quotes.
  • Permissions: For manuscripts that include images or quotes copyrighted by other authors or artists, it’s important to secure legal permission to reprint their work. We work closely with a permissions team knowledgeable in copyright law in order to do this on your behalf.
  • Publicity: Book publicity can involve requesting book reviews, sending press releases, planning events, and much more. Our strategy consultations demystify the inner workings of book marketing and publicity, help you set a timeline, and teach you how to implement your publicity plan.
  • Proofreading: This final-eye edit primarily involves catching typos, dropped words, or repetitions that have been introduced in the final stages of revision, although we watch for any other types of errors as well.
  • Cover Design: We offer custom or template cover design to attract the reader’s eye, reflect genre standards, and best represent you and your book.
  • Interior Book Design: Our custom interior book design service gives your book a unique look that also balances the attraction of art, the science of readability, and the standards of the industry.
  • Publication Management: We help authors manage the production details when publishing their own books, including registering your ISBN, choosing book formats, setting a retail price, and much more.
  • Indexing: A professional and easy-to-navigate index is a valuable addition for many nonfiction books.
  • Ebook Conversion: With this service, you can be sure all readers in your target audience have access to your book, whether they prefer print books, Kindle, Nook, iBooks, or another format.

In between each service, you’ll have a chance to review the work done and make any changes necessary.

Indigo’s services are a la carte, so you can choose whichever services are best for you. If you already have a cover designer, for example, but still need editing and interior design, great! We can help you with those.

Furthermore, not all books need all services. For example, maybe your book is ready for line editing already and doesn’t need developmental editing. Good for you! Or maybe your book doesn’t need an index or you’d prefer not to have an ebook version. When you’re the publisher, you get to make all these decisions, and we’ll be happy to provide whatever services you deem most appropriate for your project.

If you’re not sure where you need to start, or if you feel overwhelmed by the possibilities, that’s okay too. We’re happy to consult our clients to help you make the best choices for you and your project.

Keep in mind, too, that although there are many steps to independent publishing, you’ll go through them one step at a time, and we’ll guide you the whole way through. So take a deep breath, imagine that glorious day when you’ll hold your book in your hands for the first time, and let us know how you’d like us to help.


Ali McCartAli Shaw has been fascinated with making books since she was a small child playing in her mom’s print shop. Although book-making technology has changed drastically since then, the main steps—editing, design, and production—have remained the same, and Ali proudly displays hundreds of hardbacks, paperbacks, chapbooks, calendars, and magazines she has helped produce over her career so far.