self-publishing tips

I get a lot of emails asking for both writing and self-publishing tips. So many of God’s children have stories, devotionals, and words of encouragement they want to share with the world! Today with the power of the internet, blogging and self-publishing platforms, we are able to share these stories and messages like never before! 

As a little girl, growing up dreaming about someday becoming a writer, all I knew about the publishing world was this: send your manuscript to a publishing house, and if it’s good enough, they’ll embrace you and sell your book! As a teen, I started searching (with the help of trusty old Google) as many Christian publishing houses as I could find. I learned that most of them had closed doors, sealed with cement and barb-wire (understandably so, I mean, can you imagine how many manuscripts you would get a day if you opened up your front doors to that?!).

At first, my findings were discouraging. It appeared as though there was no way I could ever share my writings with the world unless I got a literacy agent, who could then perfect my manuscript and send it to dozens of publishing houses. But even finding a literacy agent wouldn’t be a simple task. If I could find a literacy agent who wanted to work with me, I would then need to create a killer book proposal which included a business plan, explaining how I would sell thousands of books. (But as a sixteen-year-old, I didn’t have a clue how to sell books. I mean, maybe I could sell some to my Aunts and Grandma?) I started to grow discouraged, realizing that my chance of being published by a big-wig company wasn’t very high. 

I then started looking into self-publishing houses, which seemed really interesting to me. I landed on a website which promised some glorious things. Bookstore space, nation-wide promotion, and much more! I submitted my manuscript, and freaked out when I got an email saying that they loved my work! I talked to someone from this particular publishing house on the phone and they asked about my book, what I envisioned for the cover art, and so on. It was amazingly exciting! Until they dropped a huge bomb on me. This particular publishing house just-so-happened to forget to mention that it would cost thousands of dollars to work with them. And on top of that, I would need to buy thousands of copies of my own book, and they were not going to pay me anything! After that conversation, I did some more research and discovered it was a total scam. The email of glowing acceptance sent to me was also sent to thousands of other naive authors. Sadly, there are many self-publishing houses out there (even so called “Christian” ones) who get trapped in a scheme like this. 

Finally, several years later, when I had nearly given up on my publishing dream, I stumbled across Amazon’s Create Space self-publishing platform. I researched it very carefully, not wanting to fall prey to another scheme. But the more I looked into it, the more I loved it! It was as if an answer to share my words with the world fell right into my lap! And it wasn’t going to cost me anything to use their program. Amazon would take a small royalty fee from each book printed, but other than that, they pay their authors, which is super important!

And so, after using Create Space for several projects, I would absolutely recommend it to other authors who dream of publishing their works! I’ll admit, self-publishing isn’t easy (hence the word, self) it requires a lot of work on your part. But if you’re consistent, patient, and endure until the end, it’s totally worth it! 

So, without any further adu, here are my Top 8 Self-Publishing Tips! 

1. finish your book

Before looking too far ahead into the future, the first (and most important) task is to finish your book! If you haven’t started your book yet, then it’s time to begin! It doesn’t matter if your book is 25 pages or 325 pages…Create Space works great for projects of all sizes. So get writing, girly!      

2. edit your book

When it’s all finished, it’s time to get it edited. Self-publishing can often carry the persona of being “less professional” or sloppy, so make sure that your book is not either of those! Editing is so, so important. And trust me, it’s not enough just to edit it yourself. There will be things that you miss. Professional Editors charge by the word, and when I first found out how much it would cost to edit a 300 page book, I about fell out of my chair! Thankfully, God has connected me with several lovely, talented friends who are college-age and have a passion for editing and English, and have helped me out so much in that area! If you’re wanting to find an affordable editor, let me know! I can definitely pass on their information to you. 

3. get some feedback

Before making your book available for the entire world to see, it’s a good idea to ask some friends and family (or if you’re a blogger, your readers!) to take a peek at your work, and offer their feedback! I have found this so amazingly helpful! It also helps those who read your book for free ahead of time to get excited about it, and possibly even recommend it to friends once it’s published! This is also the time to ask for reviews. If you’re working with Amazon, reviews are super important and it’s never too early to start asking for reviews! Just make sure that when you ask, you request that they be completely honest. It’s not fair to ask a bunch of friends and family to line up and sing your praises. If someone doesn’t like your book, they are free to share that on Amazon. You want real reviews, so ask those who are reading to be completely honest! Amazon has rules against false reviews and if they are suspicious, they can remove your book from their website without warning. 

4. begin planning your cover

Your cover is super important. It’s the first thing potential readers will see when they come to your page! People really do judge a book by its cover, that’s why you want it to appear professional! For my first book, Beauty Boys and Ball Gowns, I used Amazon’s free Cover Creator, and even though it turned out okay, I still feel like it looks a little bit…eh, self-publishly. Which wasn’t a huge deal for the first book. But for my second, I really wanted it to sparkle and grab the reader’s attention! So, I decided to hire someone to work on the cover art. Graphic designers can also be crazy expensive, so if this is only your first or second book and don’t have several hundred dollars set away for your project, I’d recommend Fiver.com. There are many graphic designers willing to do a great job, for only $5! Each designer is different, so you want to read their reviews and make sure you’re getting a good one, but I was totally impressed with what my designer did for the cover of Secrets of Royalty! I explained my vision to her, and she made it happen! My jaw dropped, because the cover looked exactly like what I wanted it to in my mind! So yay, Fiver.com!  

5. find someone to help format your book

Create Space is very picky about the quality, size, font, and the nitty-gritty details of your book file. For me, this was the most challenging, discouraging part of the process. I had worked SO hard on getting my book to the point, and finally uploading it only to be rejected because I couldn’t figure out how to format my margins or add page numbers, was devastating. I definitely shed some tears! I didn’t have a clue where to turn, and I had to figure out each little problem on my own. (And trust me, there were dozens of problems!) In my frustration I promised that I was never going to do this again. But, just like giving birth I guess, you forget how hard the process was, and when you dream of your next book, after a while you’re ready to go at it again! I would never wish this kind of confusion and frustration on anyone, and so I would highly, highly recommend that you find someone who can help format your book! I don’t know, perhaps it wouldn’t be as confusing and hair-pullingly crazy for you as it was for me…but I encourage you not to walk it alone! Again, if you don’t know anyone who has published with Create Space before, feel free to reach out and I might be able to connect you with someone who can help...{Read More!

check out the rest of my tips at autumn's blog!








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