Everything you might need to know before self-publishing

Thoughts, reflections, and pointers about self-publishing that might help you think through the subject carefully, before you take the plunge.

Shawn Seah
9 min readJul 1, 2021


Throwback picture of when my books, Seah Eu Chin: His Life & Times and Leader and Legislator, were first distributed to Kinokuniya bookstore. Photograph was taken by author.

My first book was completely self-published.

In hindsight, I should have first thought through the issues and considerations laid out in this article. If I had known back then what I know today, it would have been a lot less painful.

But my painful experiences are your gain — I hope this article that sets out my thoughts, reflections, and pointers will help you in self-publishing.

In this article, I am going to assume that you are considering taking the self-publication route instead of crafting a successful book proposal and going down a more mainstream route (I hasten to add that self-publishing has become a lot more recognised and accepted these days).

What do you need to consider before self-publishing?

  • Cover design. Will you be designing the cover yourself or hiring someone to design the cover? If you are, what is your theme and overarching design? Is the cover appealing and attractive? If you are hiring someone, what is their skill level and experience? How many rounds of input can you give to refine the cover design?
  • Layout and typesetting. A book is not just a manuscript cobbled together. There are many aspects to consider, such as (1) fixing widows and orphans; (2) general typesetting considerations in general; and (3) graphics, pictures, and other visual elements, such as motifs at the start of each chapter. When you hire someone to deal with layout and typesetting, you might want to consider their experience and knowledge, as well as whether they are typesetting for a physical book or an e-book.
  • Editing. And by this I mean proper editing. An editor can help with many aspects beyond copyediting and proofreading; an editor is more than someone who just fixes typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes. An editor can also work with you on a style guide (or better still, if you have an existing writing style guide that sets out “your rules”, let your editor know!) that will ensure that the book reads…



Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.