[Self Publishing Guide] What is Publishing?

We have recently prepared a self publishing guide to help people understand the idea and process of publishing and self publishing, especially in Indian context.

This post is the first of a series of articles, which are excerpts from the guide (these articles may be modified a bit to suit the form of blogs better). This article explains in simple words what publishing is and what tasks it involves. Content may seem obvious to some readers. But before we start discussing self publishing and its nuances, it is important to be on the same page regarding what publishing itself means.

Of course, publishing is a word used in a large number of different contexts. Our discussion here is in the context of publishing books – that too in print.

With more of prologue than actual content, here is the article


Publishing is the process by which books, magazines and other reading material are produced and distributed among the readers. The aim is to make information, ideas, thoughts, stories available for public viewing and, maybe, make some money too.

Publishing Process and Tasks

The process of publishing a book can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Selection of manuscript – This is the step where the struggling writer goes from pillar to post, hoping to draw the attention of some editor or publishing house. This is the step where publishers have to take the crucial decision of making an investment in particular manuscripts in the hope that readers pick them up as books in enough numbers and they get good return on their investment.
  • Editing the book – Once a manuscript is selected, an editor starts cutting the flab — doing away with what is unnecessary. Also under the scanner are language, syntax and readability.
  • Designing the book – Once the basic text is ready, it needs to be packaged the right way to appeal to the target audience. The designer’s job is to ensure, for example, that an Economics textbook does not have Katrina Kaif on the cover.
  • Printing – This crucial process can be handled in different ways, depending on the requirement. We shall discuss this in detail in one of the articles later.
  • Sales and marketing – Thousands of writers get their books printed every year. You need to let the readers know that your book is unique, luring them to buy it. You can have a great book but if the reader does not know about it, it will never get bought! The book needs to be distributed so that every reader – or even a possible reader – gets to buy a copy at the nearest book shop.


Publisher is a person or an organisation which takes the manuscript from the author and handles the tasks outlined above. A typical publisher brings in the editorial and design expertise, distribution contacts, marketing muscles and financial investment needed for the entire process, which are important in making a book a success or a failure.

4 thoughts on “[Self Publishing Guide] What is Publishing?”

Leave a Reply