The Self Publishing Glossary

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Confused by the nuances of self publishing? We’re here to help, with a glossary of important terms you need to understand if you’re planning to self publish.


This is the file that you would traditionally submit to the Kindle store. While Amazon has adapted its requirements so you can submit other files instead, your book is more likely to look professional on ereader devices if you submit a clean, well-formatted MOBI for Kindle rather than a Word or other file for Kindle to auto-convert.


An EPUB file is what you’ll need to publish and distribute your book in most other ebookstores.

Interior File or PDF

To print your book or distribute it via print-on-demand, you will need what’s called an “interior file,” typically in PDF form. The reason it’s called an interior file is because when you go to print your book, the printer will ask for your book cover as a separate file.

Print Book Cover

Speaking of which…print book cover files are different than ebook files. So if you’re planning to do both an ebook and a print book, you’ll need two variations. The print book cover includes the back cover, front cover and spine. Its dimensions are calculated based on how many pages there are in your book and the trim size you’ve chosen. Ebook covers also have special requirements. To learn more about book covers, go to

EBook Conversion / Ebook Development

In order for your book to be accepted by the bookstores and to look professional on the many different ereaders, you’ll want to have it “converted” from your basic Word processing file into one that meets the complex standards for ebooks. If you’re using, the system formats your book for you when you upload your manuscript and apply a “theme” (book design). You could also hire an ebook developer (a specific type of programmer that is different than a Web developer) to do this. The cost for this can range between several hundred and several thousand dollars.

Book Formatting / Layout / Design / Production

These are all tasks that a graphic designer might do in order to style your book and prepare it for publication and printing. With, you can bypass hiring a professional and let the system apply one of 50 instantly interchangeable layouts.

Publishing & Distribution

Publishing and distribution is the act of uploading your book and the information about it to your preferred bookstores and print-on-demand outlets. It can take a few hours the first time, but doing this yourself is worth it: You’ll retain all your royalties down the road.

Book Printing

It is possible to print your book without distributing it anywhere. You can skip the hassle of publishing in online bookstores and print-on-demand and simply distribute your book personally within your own networks. In fact, we can help with this– we offer low-quantity book-printing services to Pressbooks users. Go here to request a quote (you must have a completed book produced in Pressbooks to participate).

For more help with selfpublishing, download our free ebook at