What is your goal as an author?
Defining your goal is an important first step because this will determine how much work and energy you want to dedicate to this lifetime project. Many authors, especially self-published authors, complete this project without defining their goal first. This is not the best alternative especially when their first published books do not meet standards. For example:
If your goal is to publish a book just for your family, then you can use whatever format you want, no promotion, no website, etc. In this case, leave your legacy, your stories, and life experiences to your relatives as a book without the process of publishing with all standards. You can just get an ISBN for copyright purposes.
If you would like to share your stories, research, and learnings for others to use as a reference, then you can only get an ISBN for copyright purposes as well. Remember to cite your sources if you include published research. No need for promotion or to follow standards if published for a small audience like a classroom.
Full time author:
If your goal is to become a full-time author or you expect to sell your book when published, then publishing a book will involve more steps. Before publishing, find an editor that can take a look at your writing or an illustrator for your children’s book illustrations. You will need to meet publishing standards, promote your books, prepare to attend events, expect to be interviewed, expect to create a website, define your audience, create social media platforms where people can find you, among others.
These are just some of the pieces that you will need to consider and be prepared for. This is why defining your goal as an author is important. You however are not limited to these and there are solutions for all no matter where you are.
Is this your first book? No real goal or plans yet, then continue writing!