Publishing II (Publishing Fiction)

Course CodeBWR202
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


The term ‘publishing’ conjures images of editors, proofreaders, printers, and the like, but the reality is that the publishing industry encompasses many different occupations and skills.

Publishers might employ any of the following:  
  • Cost accountant
  • marketing representative
  • imprint manager
  • copy editor
  • production editor
  • proofreader
  • indexer
  • picture researcher
  • paste-up artist
  • and others

There are many different types of publishers. Most deal in hard copy (print), or electronic publishing via the internet. Anything printed and disseminated can be described as a publication – a simple flyer or handout, a 500,000-copy-a-month magazine, a scholarly journal, an e-zine, a paper, a book. Anyone who engages in producing any of these documents for circulation might describe themselves as a publisher.

The processes in publishing vary for the type of media being published. A daily newspaper is usually a 12-hour process of intense planning, writing, coordinating and printing. A book is a much longer process.

This course builds on Publishing I, and is suitable for:

  • those who have previously completed that course
  • others with a foundation understanding of the industry through experience; and wanting to build on that foundation.

Join us today and start your career publishing fiction!

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. The Publishing Process for Fiction for Adults
    • Stages of the publishing process, from wiring through to publishing the final product
    • Overview of non-fiction genres
    • Overview of fiction genres
    • Defining subgenre
    • Types of story and their word count, including novellas and short stories
    • How word counts vary with genre
    • Graphic novels
    • Defining world building
  2. The Law and Publishing Fiction
    • Copyright
    • Public domain
    • Defamation
    • Criminal libel
    • Author's agents
    • Vanity press vs self-publishing
    • Contract law and types of contract
    • Creative control
    • Scams
  3. Ethics and Morality in Fiction Genres
    • Culture
    • Diversity in fiction
    • Writing diverse characters
    • Sensitivity readers
    • Religious content and niche publishing
    • Content and ratings
    • Censorship
    • Right to privacy
    • Manipulation of digital images
  4. Production Systems I: Costing and Constructing a Book
    • Understanding production costs
    • Costs for website, social media, and software
    • Costing out creative services, including art & design and editorial
    • Printing and distribution costs
    • Self-publishing print
    • Self-publishing eBooks
    • Hybrid publishing
    • Assisted publishing
    • eBook production processes
    • Digital file formats
    • Releasing foreign language editions
  5. Production Systems II: Editing and Perfecting a Book
    • Developing the manuscript
    • Editing the manuscript, including line editing, copy editing, and proofreading
    • Manuscript critiques and beta reading
    • Front matter requirements
    • Back matter requirements
    • Categorisation, sales, and coding, including ISBN, BIC, and BISAC
  6. Layout for Print Media
    • Page layout for books
    • Selecting a font
    • Page setup for working with books
    • Layout for magazines and news sheets
    • Offset printing
    • Binding
    • Graphic designers
  7. Media Advertising for Self-Published Fiction
    • Establishing the market
    • Retail and distribution
    • Print advertising, including reviews, catalogues, and bookmarks
    • Public relations activities
    • Social media presence
  8. Marketing & Distribution Systems and Author Promotion
    • Writer's groups and cross-promotion
    • Print distribution
    • Local author promotions
    • eBook distribution
    • Sales and marketing for self-published authors
    • Book trailers
    • Marketing a publication
    • Using a website for self-promotion


  • Explain the stages and general timeline for self-publishing a fiction book.
  • Discuss different types of genres and how they affect expectations for a fiction book.
  • Discuss word counts and their relationship to genre.
  • Explain the basics of law in relation to self-publishing fiction.
  • Explain the basics of ethics and morality in relation to publishing fiction.
  • Describe the production systems of self-publishing from writing to printing.
  • Discuss layout and design requirements for self-published print media.
  • Discuss ways to sell self-published fiction.
  • Discuss author promotion methods through print and website media.

Appearance can be as Important as Content

A writer needs to focus on putting words together well, and a photographer on composing a good page.
A publisher's role is broader than this. They need to not only have good images and good text; but they need to compile and deliver this content in an appropriate, impressive and digestible way for those who are to read the publication.
To do this, the pages must be designed well, then converted into formats that can be delivered and accepted by an audience.

Page design is all about what items you choose to include in a page, and how you arrange those items. For example, the components of a page might include:

  • a heading or headline, set in the largest text, usually at the top of the page
  • sub headings (larger than normal text, but not as large as the main heading)
  • text, set in one or more columns
  • a drop cap, which is an enlarged capital letter at the start of the first sentence in a chapter or article
  • captions, which briefly describe illustrations, usually placed adjacent to the illustrations
  • graphics, including photographs, line drawings, tables, graphs and maps
  • a masthead or banner, which is the logo or standard text that identifies the company or organisation responsible for producing the newsletter, newspaper or journal
  • margins – the blank space on sides, top and bottom of the page
  • white space between the headings, text and graphics, which improves the readability of the page
  • With eBooks, consideration also has to be given to whether the format of the page is designed in a way that is suitable for eBooks.

The two main considerations in page design are page layout and typography. Page layout is concerned with the macro design (i.e. the broad skeleton of the layout), whereas typography is concerned with the micro design (i.e. the style of lettering; the flesh and blood of the skeleton).

Page Layout
Good page design will pay appropriate attention to all of the following:

The overall design of the document should be consistent. Lack of consistency in a publication creates confusion and an unprofessional image.

  • This means using the same spacing throughout the document, the same type sizes and fonts, and the same repeated graphic elements such as line widths from page to page. A different font may be used occasionally to bring attention to something by creating a contrast, but that contrast will be lost if there is little consistency throughout.
  • Each page or chapter in the publication should have uniform paragraph indents and spaces between columns, and consistent top, side and bottom margins.
  • Headings should also be consistent. For example, the title of each chapter of a book should be printed in the same size and type of text; similarly, sub headings throughout a leaflet should all look similar.
  • Other design characteristics should remain consistent; for example, if lists of points use an asterisk on one page, the next list should not use bullets or dashes.

Although the document should be consistent both within itself and with other issues published by the same organisation, it should have enough variety to make it distinctive and interesting. Predictable and overly-symmetrical documents can be dull and soon lose the reader’s interest, so designers should strive for a balance between consistency and variety. Occasional elements that look different will capture and revitalise the reader’s interest, and encourage them to continue reading.

For example, the last sentence presumably draws your attention, as it looks out of place, isn’t the same as the rest of the page. When first seeing it, you probably thought it was done in error. But using methods like this, a writer can draw attention to items.

Some examples –

The Dog Rescue Inspector was shocked to hear what had occurred.
The Dog Rescue Inspector was shocked to hear what had occurred.
The Dog Rescue Inspector was shocked to hear what had occurred!!!
The Dog Rescue Inspector was shocked to hear what had occurred. She explained to the court that.......
Can you see the difference and how it draws attention to the word and later the sentence in different ways, but if you were to change that e.g.

The Dog Rescue Inspector was shocked to hear what had occurred.

If we saw “had” underlined, we might wonder why. Is this an error? Am I missing something? It would pique our interest. So authors can also use these sorts of techniques to draw people’s attention.

But you need to be careful how many special effects, different types of font and so on you use.  If it is simple, it will be read; if it is complex, it can become confusing and the reader’s motivation is dampened. The key to simplicity is restraint, limiting the design elements to a few carefully chosen typefaces, sizes and styles. It has been said that the best graphic design should be invisible to the reader. But it does really depend on the type of book or ebook you are presenting.

Effective page design leads the reader through the publication. Articles should be arranged in a logical sequence, with the most important article at the beginning of the publication, or at the top of a page, to lesser items lower down the page, or on subsequent pages. The size, style and placement of headings will act as guideposts to readers.

Also keep in mind that the readers in the Western world have a natural tendency is to read from upper left to lower right. Again, this is something you should be aware when preparing the book/ebook for your target audience.

White/Blank Space
Blank spaces provide a rest for the reader’s eyes. If a page is excessively filled with information, it can look dark and cluttered, and is more difficult to read.

White space also provides contrast for the other elements on the page. With less white space, there is less contrast, hence the printing simply does not stand out and attract attention

The amount of attention which a heading creates is dependent upon how much it differs from the rest of the text. It might differ in terms of blackness (ie. bold), size, type style or even colour. Excessive size or variation from the rest of the text can create an imbalance, and waste valuable space.

Almost every document needs graphics. Graphics provide visual relief and improve ‘scan-ability’ (ie. the reader’s ability to quickly glean the main points covered in the document by scanning the visual elements such as headings and illustrations). The nature and location of photographs or other graphic illustration must be appropriate to the rest of the publication.

The size and placement of all elements on the page should be determined by their relative importance and their relationship to other elements on the page. Paying attention to balance and proportion not only enhances the visual appeal of the document, it improves readability. For example, a properly-sized headline centred at the top of the page, surrounded by white space separating it from the adjacent borders, text and artwork, immediately indicates the importance of the following article to the reader. Similarly, a large photo that dominates the page catches the reader’s attention and sends a non-verbal message to the reader about its relative importance.
Publishing is an Industry that is constantly changing, driven by fashion, economics, technology and other trends; but always underpinned by good and effective communication skills. If you can use words and images well; you will have a good starting point for working in publishing
This course helps hone your communication skills; but also provides an awareness of the publishing industry; building your appreciation for change, and your capacity to adapt to changes in the industry.



There are lots of reasons why you should sign up to do this course with us, including:

  • The course is detailed to ensure that you have the level of knowledge required to apply the practices in your own work, whether that's as a business employee or as a self employed writer/publisher
  • Within each lesson you have the opportunity to apply your learning to activities which enables you to practice different concepts and expand your own research in areas of interest
  • Knowledge of these key areas will enable you to stand out from others when it comes to sharing your work, it will also give you greater confidence
  • Having the knowledge of different publishing approaches will enable you to work in many different sectors and business types, giving you flexibility now and in the future
  • Our subject specialist tutors will be there to support you throughout your course, they are only too happy to share their industry knowledge and experience with you
  • When studying with us you set your own deadlines, meaning you study at your own pace enabling it to fit around other commitments


You can enrol on the course now, but if you have any questions about the content of the course or studying with ACS, then please get in touch with us today - use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to get in touch with our expert tutors. They will be pleased to help you!

Meet some Of our academics

John Mason

John Mason is one of Australia's most prolific writers. He saw his first work published when at secondary school, where he worked on the school magazine. In 1973 he was writing a weekly column for his local newspaper and by 1975 he was a regular contributor to Australia's national magazine "Your Garden". John was engaged by Victoria's Dept of Youth, Sport and Recreation to write a book on Fun and Fitness Trails in 1978. In 1981 he saw two more books published (one in America, another in Australia), and commenced writing regularly for the Self Sufficiency Magazine, Grass Roots. John is a long term member of the Australian Society of Authors, the Garden Media Guild (UK) and the Horticultural Media Association (Australia). He has written or contributed to over 100 books, many published by international publishers and published more than 2,000 articles across a range of genres (Gardening, Education, Business, Farming, Fitness). In addition, John has contributed to and overseen the development of more than 600 distance education courses which encompass around 20 million words. He has been an avid photographer for 40 years, building a collection of over 100,000 images, which are used to illustrate his work. His marine animal photos are even used by Legoland in England, on their Atlantis ride! Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

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