Your Self-Publishing Toolbox for Authorial Success: Publishing Tools

by Stephanie BwaBwa
published in Writing

I’ll come right out of the gate and say, publishing is for the birds.

If you’ve never published a book before, get ready to take a deep sigh. Several times. Be sure to have your Nespresso geared up. Have a financial cushion available, and prepare yourself for hiccups.

If you do all of this, when you run into these skin-flaming steps of the process, you’ll be mentally ready to face, and crush, them.

I say this in advance because getting to the finish line of any marathon is always the toughest, and publishing is no different.

Just because it sounds easy, doesn’t mean it is. However, I’ve laid out some great tools that will lessen the head-to-wall banging that can ensue.

I’ve tried these tools myself throughout the years. Use them! They will be of great service to you, and seriously push you ahead in your authorial career. Your toolbox will thank you!

In the last article, Your Self-Publishing Toolbox for Authorial Success: Editing Tools, we discussed the tools I highly recommend for the writing phase of an author’s publishing journey. 

In this article, I’ll dive deep into what I personally recommend for the publishing phase of your journey as an author.

Publishing Tools

Cover Design: Miblart

Miblart is a web and graphic design company that offers professional book cover design services for indie authors: illustrated, ebook, and print covers, and interior book design.

I have used miblart for years. They’re fast, with affordable investment, and top tier quality. They’re not just for book covers, but they’re also great for other services like: typography, author branding, and more.

I myself have used the book cover services, as well as typography services. I’ve also booked the formatting service for both the paperback and hardcover print versions of my books.

I can attest that their customer service is wonderful! Their designers will do what it takes to get you the cover you need, and overall you’ll leave satisfied.

Is this service for every book you will publish? Of course not. But if you need low overhead, a quick turnaround, and quality art? This is the company to go to at the outset.

If, and when, you use them, be sure to tell Tania I sent you. She’s a sweetheart, and I guarantee you’ll appreciate her kindness.

Cover Design: Professional Designers and Illustrators

Let’s be clear about cover design. You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”

It’s a lie. A bonafide L I E.

We all judge books by their cover. And your readers will judge yours, too, if you don’t invest in high quality book design. Don’t even bother DIY’ing this part. What it will cost you in the long run isn’t worth it.

After miblart, I seriously recommend working with professional designers and illustrators.

Now, here’s the rub. These professionals are everywhere, their schedules are the cesspools of chaos, and their work, plus 1:1 service to you, can sometimes be a hit or miss.

To this date I’m sitting on illustrations that will never see the light of day. However, just because one designer fell short, doesn’t mean all of them will.

I have worked with fabulous illustrators and designers throughout the years that have blessed my career with their art.

Keys to finding a good artist? Check their street cred!!!

Beyond the beautiful fotos you see on Instagram and TikTok. Beyond what they say authors are saying. Ask around. Ask in author communities. Read the comments section on their posts. Look on Amazon for the supposed art they claim they have done. Check who has resposted them.

Do. Your. Research.

Some are pretty obvious they’re professional and a go to, while others you’ll have to take a chance on. 

I still recommend this route.

Be sure to message them in advance. They may require full payment upfront. They may be booked out for half the year, or even up to an entire year. They may only do a certain kind of illustration or design. They may be available, but take 6 months to finish the artwork and you need to publish in 4.

Again. Do your research.

I highly recommend working with professional artists from around the world who specialize in covers for your genre to design your cover so you have a higher chance of success!

Formatting: Vellum

Vellum is a book creation tool for Mac that allows you to professionally format books for publication. This software is free to download and use, but you’ll need to purchase a package to actually export your files to publish.

Ya’ll. If you have a Mac, buying Vellum is a must.




Vellum is a formatting tool that makes getting your book publish-worthy an entire dream! You can format hundreds, or even thousands, of pages in mere minutes to hours.

It’s as simple as uploading your book’s word doc into the software, choosing your header images and the book’s dimensions, adding in your front and back matter, then presto! Click export, and you now have several book files to upload on every platform you plan to publish on.

Sounds too good to be true? I promise you it’s not. This software is the real deal for formatting.

Currently it’s only available for Mac users, but if you can manage to get your hands on this tool anyway, I can’t shout its praises enough!

Publishing: IngramSpark

IngramSpark is an award-winning independent publishing platform, and an online self-publishing company that allows you to print, globally distribute, and manage your print and ebooks!

I’ll say this now, this platform comes with an upfront cost that will result in backend fruit.

What this means is, through IngramSpark you’ll need to purchase ISBN’s, bar codes, and pay a book-set-up fee when you’re ready to publish. 

However, your author copy purchases will be less. And might I add, when you’re ready to ship directly to your readers, while Amazon has you waiting several weeks for your books to arrive, with IngramSpark, your books will take days.

This platform is for those who are willing to spend a little more on the front end, and take a little longer to get their books live, but want long term security for book success and reader satisfaction.

Publishing: Kindle Direct Publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing is a platform to self-publish eBooks and paperbacks for free and reach millions of readers on Amazon.

KDP is often a go to for authors, especially if they’re publishing for the first time, and I completely understand why.

You pay for nothing upfront. Bar codes, ISBN’s, and even a cover generator, are all provided by Amazon’s self-publishing platform. All you need to do is upload your manuscript in the appropriate book file and you’re good to go.

If you’re an author wanting to take the approach of solely publishing on Amazon for now, go for it! Many authors have done this and carved out 6, and 7, figure businesses for themselves.

There are many perks to publishing through KDP and being exclusive to Amazon. I myself have used this service for years, even in the golden hour when it used to be Create Space (Where my OG’s at?). I love the ability to publish a book, with zero stress, in literally minutes.

I highly recommend the KDP platform for publishing your book. Not only you’ll find it simple and easy to use, but you’ll also find great success in using it.

Publishing: Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital is a digital publishing aggregator offering conversion and distribution services for authors. The platform is aimed at authors “going wide” and selling the books in as many places as possible.

Friend, if you’re an author with a vision of having your published book everywhere, Draft2Digital is for you. I used to publish solely on Amazon, and for a time this served me well. 

However – not all my readers like to buy their books on Amazon. What, with them not wanting to constantly feed the Bezos and all that…

Anywho. Some readers are still loyal to Barnes and Noble. Indie Bound. iBooks and the like.

If you know you want to build a “wide” audience, by having your books published on all platforms, in all markets, I encourage you to upload your books to Draft2Digital. It’s quick, easy, simple, and oh yeah, it doesn’t cost you a dime upfront.

I’ll admit. The publishing leg of the authorial process is a bit of a journey with moving parts. However, once you know what to expect, you can make sure you have the publishing tools you need to accomplish your dreams and be successful. 

These are not end all, be all publishing tools. But they’re a wonderful start, and have been tried and tested by me throughout the years. I love and highly recommend them all.

Tell us below: Are you ready to publish your novel? Which of these publishing tools do you plan to use?

email listStephanie BwaBwa is a Fantasy Universe Builder, Author, and Entrepreneur. She’s the creator of Elledelle, the universe filled with angels, adventure, romance, and magic. She’s the author of the fantasy series: The Seraphim Resistance  and The Transcendents, as well as the writing guide, Fantasy Fundamentals. Stephanie co-hosts a podcast for indie authors called: Indie Author Lifestyle with her fantasy partner-in-madness, Angela J. Ford, and is a self-publishing columnist for DIY MFA. You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park, or simply binging anything creatively juicy with too many snacks. Get in contact with Stephanie directly at:

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