What is Book Publishing?

Are you keen in publishing a book? Yet not knowing what the process is?
Fret not, we have interested authors writing in to ask about this, so you are not alone!

What is Book Publishing?
Simply put, it is an act of issuing an author’s manuscript and putting them in the hands of readers, in a form of a book.

So what are the Stages of Publishing?

Let’s take a quick look into the five steps:

1. Editing& Proofreading

This is the first thing that publishers start with after they decide to publish a manuscript. This stage is where we work on revising, amending, rearranging and improving the words and flow of a manuscript, aiming for clarity and simplicity. It includes checks on spelling, grammar, punctuation marks, and even consistency.

2. Design and typesetting.

Only when the manuscript is finalized would we get into the designing stage, which includes book cover designs and typesetting.

What is typesetting?

Typesetting, or layouting, is the process where the text and images for publication are prepared, typically using a dedicated typesetting program. It sounds easy but then it includes the choice of font sizes, margin sizes, chapter styles, sub heading styles, how large section breaks are, where illustrations go, how large illustration captions are and the list goes on.

Essentially, it is a process where the decision of what page layout will be best for the reader is done.

Many would think this is a very simple process, which sounds like: It’s just making words look neat on a page, no? Microsoft Word does that automatically.

If you think so, that’s a big NO to the answer. Actually, it is one of the toughest in graphic design.

If a typesetting is not done well, it not only effects the visual impact of the publication, but also gives readers a bad headache. So, it’s not exaggerating when we say that typesetting effects a reading experience.

3. Legal Applications

This is the stage where we obtain copyrights for the book, which includes registering for an ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, which is a unique number associated with your book. Every edition of a book (except reprints) would need an ISBN. In simple words, it’s something like a ‘birth certificate’ of your book.

If the book is to be distributed into the libraries or bookstores, it is necessary also to acquire a CIP, which stands for Cataloging in Publication. As it’s name shows, it helps in the cataloging a book.

4. Printing

Printing is as it is, printing. But there are some simple points when it comes to the cost of printing:

  1. As a rule of thumb, the cost-per-book lowers with the more copies you print.
  2. Sizes of books, shapes, measurements would cause the difference in charges. Customised specifications might incur higher charges.
  3. Keep colours minimal for reduced printing costs.


5. Distribution

Distribution would be to have your book distributed to the public. It can be to bookstores, or online platforms. In Malaysia, to have your books distributed to bookstores, 5 copies would be needed to send to the National Library.

Some authors would do distribution on their ends, through various events organized by themselves or some related organizations or parties.