Writing and Self-Publishing for Newbies

My First Self-Published Book in the Homemaker Helper Series

Front cover - book self-published with Lulu
Front cover - book self-published with Lulu | Source
Back cover
Back cover | Source

Do You Have What it Takes?

Many dream of being a famous author and making a lot of money from selling millions of copies of their books. While that is a great dream to have (and one many have succeeded attaining) reality does set in quite quickly for new writers.

There is a lot more to becoming a famous author than meets the eye. The writing is often the easiest part; getting your work out there takes a considerable amount of time and effort, especially if taking the traditional route. No matter the route you take, there are some key points to remember. Read on!


What to Write?

Fiction or nonfiction? Do you have an imagination or are you more of a "fact of the matter" person?

Let's start with fiction (something I am personally not very good at - yet). Do you have the ability to think up characters, dialog and settings for your story? If so, you may be well on your way to writing best-selling fiction. I do have to give credit to those who can conjure up people and places, not to mention plots and dialog. Stephen King is my favorite fiction author, and I have read several of his books. Even with all of the reading I have done, when it comes down to me writing a story I seem to get absolutely nowhere. I would like to write fiction one day, but for now I will continue on with what I know.

For those of you who are like me, nonfiction may be better for you. I find it easier to base my writing on my experiences and knowledge I have gained through my 40 plus years. For example, I love to quilt and crochet. I have written articles and designed patterns in both of these areas with ease. It is simply because I know the material and it comes easy to me. I have even been able to design a crochet pattern and visualize what it looked like; then actually make it so I had a picture to include with the pattern. Can you do the same thing?

If you aren't into crafts, don't despair. There are many other areas of expertise you can write about. For example, have you recently lost weight just by changing your eating habits? Share your experience with the world; there is always someone looking for an easy way to lose weight. What about gardening? Are you an avid gardener who has found a way to minimize weeds and problem insects without pesticides and herbicides? Share your knowledge with the world; gardeners everywhere will be very interested in what you have to say.

The main thing to remember with nonfiction is to solve a problem others may be having. if you have an easier or better way to do something, write about it. Someone somewhere will be looking for answers to that problem. If you aren't sure what problems others are having, take a look at the questions being asked on forums or here on HubPages. I have personally written entire Hubs based on the answer to a question asked here.


Editing Poll

When editing, which do you prefer?

  • do it yourself
  • let a friend edit
  • ask a colleague
  • pay a professional editor
See results without voting

What About Editing?

For many, the writing comes easy. Even if it doesn't, persevere and you will soon have an article or e-book you can be proud of. Before you submit it to a website or publishing site, you must make sure it is of top quality. This means editing for mistakes, formatting and even typos. Even the most proficient writer can have mistakes - it does happen. Spell check does not tell you that "is" was used instead of "it" since they are both proper words. In order to notice errors such as that, it is advisable to read the manuscript out loud. I know it sounds silly, but believe me it does work. I have caught errors I hadn't noticed while reading to myself.

If you aren't sure of your editing abilities, have a friend or acquaintance read your manuscript. Depending on the subject matter, you may also request a professional editor to do the final pass, just to make sure all is in order. Depending on the groups you belong to, some members will read a manuscript for you with the same favor asked in return. This way it does not cost anyone anything and you can get (and provide) an objective opinion.


Self-publishing: Is it for you?

For those who have a good grasp on the subject matter, have had manuscripts edited and tweaked, there is no reason to avoid self-publishing.

Keep in mind however, there is a lot of work involved whether or not you self-publish. Personally I took the self-publishing route as I did not want to wait for responses to query letters, editors trying to change my theme or the simple fact it can take over a year to finally see a book in print going the traditional route.

If you are prepared to work hard on doing all of your own marketing, building a list of followers and doing the majority of the work yourself, then self-publishing is the answer. Even those who take the traditional route are often surprised at how much work they still have to do in terms of marketing. I look at it this way: if I am expected to do most of the work, why not do all of it so I can see results faster and get a bigger slice of the pie?

The advance the big publishing companies give you is nice, but you must remember they will not pay you any more in royalties until they have recouped every penny from that advance. For example, if they pay you an advance of $25,000 you will not see any more money until they have sold enough copies of your book to recover that advance. If your royalty on each book is $1.00 it will take 25,000 copies sold to recover that. Anything above and beyond that will then start being added to your royalty cheques.

Self-publishing with POD (print on demand) sites such as CreateSpace or Lulu is quite simple. They are free to use and the only time you may incur extra costs is if you order their additional services (such as editing or widespread distribution). Remember, these are extras and you are not obligated to use them. Both companies provide excellent quality print books; but I do have to say the royalties with CreateSpace are a little higher than Lulu. To publish with either of these, all you have to do is create an account with them (remember, it is free to do so). They will walk you through the steps of submitting your manuscript, uploading a cover and pricing your book.

If you choose to not go with the POD route, you may publish via Kindle, Lulu, Smashwords, BookTango and more. E-book sales are increasing and not tapping into the e-book market would be, well, silly. I have a combination of both e-books and POD available to maximize my exposure. I recommend using both platforms to increase your sales and exposure, along with Facebook and Twitter (that is an entire article in itself).


So Much More to be Said

Volumes could easily be written on the subject of writing and self-publishing (and they have; just check your local bookstores or do a search on Amazon). My way may not be the best way, but it worked for me.

In order to say all that needs to be said, an article just doesn't allow for it. The resources available are plentiful and I will one day add to that list. Even if you are not 100 percent sure of your writing abilities, there is no harm in trying. Start with articles to get a feel for your niche and interests and accept feedback from others. The more you write the more you improve (so be prepared for constructive criticism). Others have been down the road you are starting, so learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Good luck in your career as a self-published author!

Cover #2

Update October 15, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words; and the cover does sell books.

When I wrote this article I had published on Lulu (photos at the top are of my first book in The Homemaker Helper Series). I have since revamped the cover and some of the content within the pages. For a look at the new look, see the photo on the right. It is much more appealing than the original cover, and it showcases a quilt I spent many hours hand piecing together.

If you think your cover is not important, think again. Would you buy the book at the top of the page, or the one on the right?

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

Good Hub. I have 4 books on Amazon using Createspace, and I sell a few of each monthly. As you probably know, Self publishing has come so far today that anyone can publis a book, even a very bad one. Look at many of those ninety-nine cent ones thrust out there on Amazon that are almost unreadable. What today's writer needs is a reasonable plan for marketing their published book. This is the stage that i find so frustrating, and costly.

Good Luck with yours.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

My next Hub is going to address the marketing of self-published work. It may be a day or three before it gets published, but the Hub is already started. The marketing part is often the hardest, especially for those who don't know where to start.

Congratulations Don on selling a few copies each month. I am not quite at that stage yet, but I am confidant that will change.


spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

Very informative and well developed hub! You have offer many practical suggestions. This is a good resource for those of us who may of been contemplating self publishing.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you spartucus! It is a road I took and I am not sorry I went that way. I learned as I went along, which is why I can now let others know what "not" to do.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

It's great that you know the "ins & outs" of self publishing and that you're willing to help others. I'm sure it has to be a little scary at first - or maybe all along! It's a very interesting process that you explain very well. -K


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very useful hub! I self-published one paperback and eight on Kindle, and I'm so glad I did. Great suggestions!


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

@krsharp05 - Thank you! It was quite scary the first time around, but as each book goes through the process it does get easier. I like the fact I can change the manuscript if there is an error without wasting a pile of money on printed copies, and with my very first book I did have a few errors. I went in blind with that one, and only after publishing did I realize I was missing some very important information (the Copyright page was the biggest). I made the necessary changes and now have it, as well as the one pictured, on Amazon.

Needless to say, it was an experience and not without trial and error. I have since learned more about the publishing world and am very happy to share my experiences so others may benefit and avoid making the same mistakes I did.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

@billybuc - Congratulations on self-publishing! It is a wonderful feeling, isn't it?


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

This is a great introduction to writing and self-publishing. The goals ahead are endless. I've published 10 business books through mainstream publishers. Advances hit a maximum of $5,000, and annual income is more like $2,000 or less. It ain't much, but 80% of people who publish a book sell under 100 copies. So, by that measure, I'm a success. Bestseller, though (except for one day on Amazon, I got that), is a long way ahead.

I would add that, whether you self-publish or have a major publisher release your book, these days, all marketing is up to the author, and it's a major effort.

Still - whether no money, some money, or big money - the journey is totally worth it in terms of self-confidence. I was afraid to publish - now I've published 10 books. And my writing continues to improve. I look forward to sharing my fiction in future years.

Voted up and useful, and shared.


chuckd7138 profile image

chuckd7138 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

Very thorough article. Will definitely be sharing.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you @SidKemp! My next Hub is all about the marketing; including the point you made about it being up to the author. It is not an easy road, but one worth taking.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you @chuckd7138! I am not one to do things the easy way, which has helped me make the process simpler for others. I had no one to guide me through the steps, so I learned via reading, trial and error, and actually doing.


rfmoran profile image

rfmoran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

Very good hub. I've self published two books in the last year through createspace. I'm going to write a hub on this - there can never be too many to help newbies. One thing I strongly recommend is to spend the money and use a professional editor, something only 20% of 5 people think is a good idea in the responses to your poll. As an editor myself for over 30 years, believe me, every writer needs an editor. Voted up and useful.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you @rfmoran! I agree there is never too much information for newbies; I look forward to reading your Hub. Coming from a professional editor I'm sure it will have points I did not make. :)


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

Loved these tips! It makes self-publishing a goal within reach for everyone with expertise in a particular subject. Very thorough and well presented! Voted up, useful and interesting.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you @lindacee! It was a road I am glad I took, and am working on additional projects as well.


mailxpress profile image

mailxpress 4 years ago from New York

Great content about an interesting topic that probably will help many people. I appreciate the example of $25,000 and the royalty being $1.00. That is a lot of books to sell if you are not a famous writer.

I like the way you explain how easy it is to write about almost any topic to earn money online. It really is that simple and writing online daily eventually turns into residual income. I'm so glad that we understand the concept because we have done the time and have experienced.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you @mailxpress! It does take awhile to earn online, but as you say, writing daily does help.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

More and more of my friends and colleagues are becoming interested in self-publishing. You've brought up some great (and very important) factors to consider. I should send my friends to this guide!


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you Simone! It makes a difference when a person is able to write about the process with first hand experience.


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 4 years ago from United States

This is an informative and well written hub I enjoyed reading. I have never written a self-published book, but I know several people who have. What a great guide to get started.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you! I see you have joined our Facebook group, so you are aware of the book I recently published on Kindle. I'm always happy to hear my books and articles have helped someone. :)


mdscoggins profile image

mdscoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

Very helpful hub! Will consider self-publishing. Voted up


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada Author

Thank you for reading and voting. I hope it has helped. I do not regret my decision to self-publish, and do all of my books that way.


nonaweeks profile image

nonaweeks 2 years ago from Florissant, CO

Thanks for the tips. I have been considering self publishing an ebook that I have written. This was helpful

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