The steps on the right show the general order of editorial and design elements when self-publishing a paperback book for commercial purposes.
It may seem obvious to state, but there is only one working copy of the manuscript used throughout the process, and this may pass back and forth between author and editor several times.
The culmination of these steps can take up to nine months to complete. Professional publication, carried out properly, is not quick.
Whilst it is not imperative to have a book cover produced professionally, a graphic designer will understand better the marketing requirements that get a book noticed; separating it from an obviously home-produced cover, or one that has been created using a template.
The author sends their final manuscript to the editor to begin the structural edit. Any major structural issues are reported by the editor, and the author remedies these. The author starts preliminary discussions with the cover designer.
Copy-editing of the revised manuscript takes place. The blurb for the back of the book cover is written.
The copy-edited manuscript is sent for typesetting, transforming it from a word-processed document to its physical book layout. A final draft of the cover is produced. Both typeset document and cover are uploaded to the publishing platform.
A proof copy of the physical book is ordered and proofreading takes place. Corrections are carried out by the typesetter and the revised document is uploaded to the publishing platform.
The book is submitted for commercial publication. If an e-book is required, it is produced by the typesetter. Note that there are two separate formatting processes for a printed book and e-book.