How To Self-Publish A Book This Year

How do you self-publish a book? And more importantly how do you do it in a way that fun(ish), fast(ish), and won't totally consume your life? This blog post is a must-read for writers and wannabe self-published authors!
How do you self-publish a book? And more importantly how do you do it in a way that fun(ish), fast(ish), and won’t totally consume your life? Today self-published author Theresa is going to tell us how she did it!

Earlier this year, I found myself growing weary of my current lifestyle. Sure, I was living it up in my parent’s house, wallpapering my childhood bedroom with rejected job applications and using my two Master’s Degrees as dartboards, but I wanted more.

I wanted an excuse to change out of my old yoga pants every now and again. I wanted to actually have something to say when friends asked me what I was up to these days. I wanted a paying job, and since offers weren’t exactly piling up, I set my sights on the decidedly unglamorous world of self-publishing.

I’d been working on my fantasy novel, The Unmapped Lands, for several months. The story, which is told from the point of view of a strong-willed, sarcastic, and somewhat unhinged witch named Alanna Rye, involves parallel universes, captive demons, magic, mayhem, and more foul language that is strictly necessary.

I knew I was creating something that would engage and entertain others, but I also knew that I quite literally couldn’t afford to wait and try my luck with the traditional publishing industry. Publishing the book serially online seemed like a great way to improve my financial situation and build a loyal readership.

4 tips to help you self-publish a book 

Ask for advice + feedback

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of wonderful people online, and I knew I could count on them to give honest opinions. I outlined my plans, which involved publishing installments of five chapters in length every three weeks, on my blog and requested feedback. The response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging (did I mention my friends are wonderful?).

Research your options

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu were the two services that seemed the most promising. While I’ve heard plenty of great things about Lulu, I wanted to reach the widest possible audience. Amazon’s high profile and popularity appealed to me.

Their security options and the variety of free Kindle apps appealed to me, too. Amazon seemed to offer the best of both worlds—more exposure and protection from pirating—so I decided to stick with them.

Get (kind of ) tech-savvy

After reading through the Kindle Publishing Guide, I uploaded the first section of my book. The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow, even for someone as technologically inept as me. I wrote the product description, designed and created the cover image, and set the price.

Having total control over the way my work is presented to the world can be nerve-wracking for a perfectionist like me, but it’s also one of the most satisfying aspects of self-publishing.

Get over your self-promotion fears

Now came the hard part. How am I going to promote this thing? I thought. I’m an artist, not a salesman! Well, I had no choice but to ditch that attitude, and fast. Here comes the most important piece of advice I can offer to anyone thinking of self-publishing: ask for help.

Ask family members, ask friends both online and off, ask your roommate’s cousin’s friend’s aunt who runs a book club.  Ask your little sister to post a link on her Facebook page where her 900 friends will see it. Ask your Twitter and blog followers to help spread the word.

The worst anyone can say is no, and you won’t get far without those who say yes. It takes time and a lot of work to gain a following, and every link, mention, and review will help you gain credibility as an author. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of putting yourself out there in a big way, self-publishing probably isn’t for you.

Now that I’ve got you good and scared, go forth and publish! The traditional publishing industry will never die. You won’t hear me making any clichéd statements about new frontiers and waves of the future in regard to self-publishing online. But it’s definitely an exciting new way for creative people to share their stories.

If you think it might work for you, you have almost nothing to lose by giving it a try, and I, for one, can’t wait to read your book.

Have any of you self-published? If you have, please do us a solid and leave your best tips in the comments!

P.S. 5 super easy ways to improve your writing + How to DIY a super cheap, super effective writing retreat

photos by Gaelle Marcel and Eli Francis // cc

7 Comments

Belly B

Wow that is really informative. I've thought of self-publishing before but I had no idea that you could do it this way! Thanks for sharing 🙂

<3 Belly B

Reply
Han

I've been trying to edit my NanoWriMo novel into something that other people might like to read – I'm thinking self publish is going to be the best option when I get to that point. Thanks for this post it's helpful 🙂

Reply
Tish

Oh you are an angel sent from publishing heaven! I'm about to start partying in the world of self-publishing and this was a HUGE help.

Thank you!!!

Also, your book sounds amazing. Guess who's going to go to Amazon and buy a copy 😉 Good to support fellow writing gurus.

Reply
Michelle

Be careful about self-publishing. Working in the publishing industry, I can tell you that most large publishing companies are very, very, very wary of self-publishing agencies and anyone who uses them. I'm not trying to discourage anyone – it's possible to make self-publishing work for you, but if you ever intend to publishing through an actual publishing house, it will be very, very difficult to do so. (I say this from the personal experience of family members, as well as the experience of several of my peers.)

XO Michelle

Reply
Kelly

Many people are talking about Lithasa ! what is it? http://www.lithasa.com .
I've see that some where a guy said that he liked the design. I myself went to the website and it is simple but good.
But I would like to know is it perfect for new authors and upcoming authors?
They do have a separate publishing model.

Reply
Sarah Bamford Seidelmann

Love your blog!!! I’m in MN – where have I been and not seen you??:). I self pubbed in 2011- I hired a pro designer and that first book led to an agent and book deal! It was hard work and I’m so proud of what I made. People told me I wasn’t ready- I needed to be an expert or get more chops- nope you get chops by making stuff:)

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