How your story is brought from an idea to sitting on a bookshelf can vary. However, there is a common publication cycle that book publications often follow. These steps can be used for digital publications as well, with just a few steps removed. For example, you might wish to print hard copies (also known as paper copies) of your website for an archive. However, in general? You can skip that step.

Follow this infographic to see how a story goes from creation to distribution with most publication agencies.

Publication Cycle


The story idea begins with you.

PROPOSAL — What do you want to write on? Consider the who/what/when/where/ how and why of your project.

OUTLINE — Write out and organize your thoughts. Doesn’t have to be long but will help immensely when writing your draft.

RESEARCH — Now you know what you want and how you want to organize it. Now find information about your topic, your places, and put it down. (Hint: organize it by you outline too!)

WRITE — Getting started is the hardest part. Take your concept, your outline, and your research and start creating your story!

SUBMIT — If you are going through a publisher, submit your manuscript for production. Otherwise, get started on your own self-publishing path. However, you’ll still need to follow these steps!


Editorial, design, and production begin.

EDITING — Your project will need to be edited for content, technical standards, and accuracy. It will then be submitted back to you for a review!

DESIGN — The edited manuscript will then be put into various programs (such as Adobe InDesign) for typesetting and design. Any images will also be processed during this stage.

REVIEW — Now is the chance for final review. The text, layout, and any final images are checked one last time before submittal to the printer.

POST-PRODUCTION — We’re on the home stretch! Now the files are put together and shipped off to the printer. The specifications can vary by printer and selected medium.

PRINTING — The printer prints and ships the books, with most traditional publishers. If you are doing a print-on-demand (no warehouse!), then the printer keeps the files until you are ready to print and ship.

Marketing and Distribution

Help people find your story.

BOOK LAUNCH — Your book is in the warehouse or ready to be printed (on-demand). Now you can promote it!

MARKETING — Time to get the word out about your story! Publishers and you will use a variety of advertising and promotional channels to promote the publication.

PUBLICISE — You and your publisher/marketing guru reach out to media outlets and other target audiences by using websites, videos social media, and other channels.

DISTRIBUTION — Time to approach resellers who might be interested in your story. Resellers can include traditional booksellers and online retailers such as

ANALYZE — Tracking your sales and distribution can help you see if your target audience needs tweaking or if you’re right on track! Sales data may also give ideas for your next book!


Now, continue your story or tell a new one.