There are two different ways to get your book published: traditional publishing and independent publishing, more commonly known as self-publishing.
Manuscript Word Count Guide - Basic guidelines for what length your novel should be, depending on the genre and audience age.
Manuscript Formatting Guidelines - Basic guidelines for formatting your manuscript before you send it to an editor, agent, or publisher.
Finding an Editor - Regardless of whether you are going the independent route or are submitting your work to a large publisher, your work will need to be edited. Learn about the different types of editing, how much editing will cost, where you can find an editor, and how to submit your work.
Finding an Agent - If you're looking to be traditionally published, it's a good idea to hire an agent who can sell your book to the right publisher. Find out what you need to know here.
Independent Publishing Tools - These are just some of the tools you can use to publish your novel, from formatting your manuscript to creating the cover design that will have readers flocking to your book. This list also includes places where you can find freelance editors, cover designers, and more for a cost.
Free vs cost
There are online resources listed within this publishing guide that have a cost associated with them. This has been noted in parenthesis with each listing.
Traditional vs. Independent Publishing
Wondering whether you should go with independent or traditional publishing? Let Jane Friedman help you decide which is right for you and your manuscript with her article: Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?
A note on audiobook publishing
Audiobook self-publishing has different requirements from print and ebook self-publishing and is not covered here at this time.
Writing Contests, Grants & Awards - This database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.
Book award contests: Are they worthwhile? - Fiona Raven and Glenna Collett are book designers with 60+ years of experience who wrote Book Design Made Simple and submitted it for awards. Here is what they learned from the process, as well as a list of legitimate awards at the end.
A note on cover art and layout
We have all heard the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover", and we all know we shouldn't, but we all know we do it. Keep this in mind. If you do not have any graphic design experience, you may want to hire a professional cover artist who can make your cover look attractive to anyone walking by. If someone doesn't know your name, the first thing they see is your front cover, and then your back cover, if they get that far. Make sure they want to pick up your book!
Likewise, make sure your layout and formatting is professional and easy to read. For example, margins should be large enough that you won't lose words in the binding, but not so big that your book takes up more pages than it needs to.
See the section on Independent Publishing Services to find people like cover artists who can help you make your book look professional and attractive.
Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book - Jane Friedman's guide walks you through every step from print books to ebooks.
A list of organizations that help independent writers get their work published can be found in Specialized Organizations under the National Organizations tab.
Reedsy - (Free & Cost for Additional Services/Internet Based) Built for distraction-free writing. Our formatting toolbar makes it easy to apply styles as you write. Reedsy also has a marketplace to help you find editors, designers, and marketers to help your book become distribution ready when you're finished.
Scribus - (Free/Windows, MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, OpenIndiana, Debian GNU/Hurd, eComStation, & Haiku) Helps you layout the finished book, and includes support for vector drawing tools and many file types, emulation of color blindness, and rendering of markup languages.