When BCcampus Open Education began, its Authoring Guide was created to assist faculty and staff in this province with not only writing open textbooks, but also adapting and adopting them. Basic information about open education and its resources were included as everyone began learning about this new way of teaching and learning. To our surprise and pleasure, others adapted this guide to fit their institution’s or region’s needs.

Much has happened since then. An increasing number of faculty and staff are writing open textbooks, creating a growing demand for a resource that will guide authors through not just the textbook-writing process, but also the many steps needed to carry a textbook — an openly licensed textbook with its own unique requirements — to completion. Some authors are fortunate to have the backing of an academic press or open textbook publisher. For authors who do not have this support, this Self-Publishing Guide is for you.

Using our Authoring Guide as a framework, all of the internal processes used and experiences gathered by BCcampus Open Education project managers during the first phases of the B.C. Open Textbook Project have been included in this volume. Sections about the adaptation and adoption of open textbooks and how to use Pressbooks have been removed and added to separate guides.

I have done my best, when writing this guide, to model what we preach by following the best practices outlined in it. Some of the extra steps taken with this guide include:


  • Following the accessibility criteria laid out in the BCcampus Checklist for Accessibility Toolkit
  • Marking links to Word documents as “[Word file]”
  • Labelling external links — that open in a new tab — with “[New Tab]”

Attention to detail

  • Performing both copy editing and proofreading
  • Creating and posting a comprehensive style sheet

Extra features

  • Highlighting key points or links to additional information in shaded textboxes
  • Identifying keywords with bold text
  • Summarizing key terms, alphabetically, in a Glossary


  • Providing templates as editable Word files
  • Curating only open resources


  • Using attribution statements for all curated open resources: CC-licensed and public domain
  • Citing text throughout using the Chicago citation style
  • Posting all references in an end-of-book bibliography

Topics covered in this Self-Publishing Guide

This guide was arranged into sections that take the open textbook author through the following steps of the writing and publishing process. At the end of each section, look for links to related chapters in the Open Textbook Network’s publication:  Authoring Open Textbooks.

1. Look Before You Write

In this first section, would-be authors are presented with the challenges of writing and publishing a textbook and the unique characteristics of a book that is openly licensed.

2. Prepare to Write

This part lays out issues that should be considered and addressed before starting an open-textbook-publishing project.

3. Plan Your Book

This list of topics will help you create a comprehensive plan for your textbook project.

4. Write… and More

This section discusses the many facets of the open textbook writing and creation process.

5. Edit and Review

The hallmarks of a quality textbook — peer review, copy editing, and proofreading — are covered in this part.

6. Pre-publication

These are the final tasks to complete before publication, including setting up a communication plan.

7. Post-publication

Once your textbook has been launched, look to these suggestions to help track usage and maintain a high-quality textbook.

Other open textbook guides and toolkits

BCcampus Open Education has developed several instructional guides that are designed to complement this Self-Publishing Guide.


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Self-Publishing Guide Copyright © 2018 by Lauri M. Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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