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Self Publishing - An Alternative for Hubbers?

Updated on September 27, 2012

Self Publishing - Exciting Time for Writers and Authors

Self publishing is an exciting thing to consider for Hubpage authors. Many authors write at hubpges because they don't really want to write "commercial stuff" or because they can find no other home for their fiction. To me that's a mismatch, HubPages doesn't really have good matching ads for fiction, poetry and for even some more "commercial" topics, such as travel.

In the wake of changes made recently at HubPages I have been looking for alternative ways to make money online. One that has got me very excited is eBooks. No, no, I don't mean some spammy info-product which is being flogged off for $49.97 plus bonuses.

I mean books published through major retailers: predominantly Kindle Direct Publishing (for Amazon) and (distributes books to many retailers including Apple, Barns&Noble, Angus&Robertson). They are "normal" legit books typically prices at $0.99c or $2.99 for eBooks. Personally I am more interested in writing non-fiction books, but most of the information I've found on the subject have been from successful fiction writers.


My First eBook

Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)
Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)

Note this book is normally priced at $2.99 - it's just that Hubpages can't get it right!


Self Publishing and eBooks - Their Time Has Come

If you are even slightly interested in reading and writing you may have noticed that the book publishing industry is going through hard times at the moment. Big book retailers are struggling, and major chains have close to bankruptcy in the US (Borders) and Australia (Angus & Robertson).

Why are retailers suffering? Basically for the same reason that CD stores are closing. People are finding it cheaper and more convenient to buy online - Amazon being the best known of the on-line retailers. And that's just for the dead-tree books. As as a non-American the weakness of the US$ means that even after freight, its cheaper to buy a book on Amazon and ship it that buy it locally, with an eBook - I'm paying about a 1/3 of the local paperback price.

Amazon is also in the forefront of eBook publishing. Since Amazon launched their eBook reader, the Kindle, in 2007, sales have skyrocketed, both of the reader and of course of the books to read on it. Kindle is a new technology though - will it catch on. Frankly I own one and love it, but weather it becomes mainstream or not: I don't care. You don't even need a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook - there is free software available on Amazon to read your eBook on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone. In fact you can read your book on several devices at the same time - and the software will remember where you had got to on one device when you pick up the same book another!

Amazon is doing to digital books what iTunes did for digital music. Is killing off the middle-men - the publishers - and connecting the producers (writers) directly with the consumers. So everyone is happy - except the traditional publishing empires - oh dear how sad :-)

Elements for Successful Self-Publishing

I'm no writer - I'm told I can put a coherent hub or website together, but I have never seen myself as an author. Until now. Now I see an opportunity to combine my skills with SEO and keyword research with my ability to string sentences together (more or less). I've read a lot of stuff on the subject in the last month or so (including all the books recommended in this hub).

1) A Subject For Which People Want to Buy Books

This isn't that hard but some market research is useful here. You would have to live under a rock not to know that romance, erotica, paranormal and vampires are hot in fiction right now. So a paranormal, erotic story about vampires should do well! Mind you will have plenty of competition too.

So, particularly for non-fiction. Do some research. Go to Amazon and search your topic in the bookstore (for dead tree books) and Kindle store (for eBooks). Are there any competiting titles? If so that's good - particularly if they are from traditional publishers - that tells you they think there is demand - go for it.

If there is nothing on Amazon but plenty of results if you do the same search on Google - even better.

If you had a hub that ranked well, and got lots of search traffic, before the recent Panda updates and doesn't anymore, or even if it does, that's pretty much guaranteed isn't it?

The Best Writing Guide for Non Fiction

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Classic book - written long before the Internet, never mind eBooks! I own the paperback and really if you read one book about writing non-fiction -read this one


2) Write a Decent Book

If you google "how to make money self publishing books" you will find some crappy schemes which involve adding pictures to public domain (out of print) books or using generic articles ("PLR") to string together a so-called book. This is bullshite as far as I am concerned.

But so is the school of thought who thinks you need to write 100,000 words and agonize over each one! My first book is around 20,000 words - it covers the topic, without the fluff. That's a perfectly decent length, for non-fiction anyways.

If you are into fiction - well that's not my game - read some of the recommended books below, from what I understand you just need to write a book people want to read.

If you are serious about making some real money from this (John Locke - who sold the million books at 99c would have grossed about $350,000 in 5 months...) you need multiple books (Locke has 9). So you need to be able to write a book in months not years - I did so you can too - and probably much better than I did.

3) A Well-Formatted Book


Yes you probably need someone to edit your book - I'm struggling with that one as I write this. At a very minimum you need to have a book which has no typos or grammatical howlers. That's just the start though. You need to have your book formatted so it reads well on your reader's device of choice. If you have a non-fiction book you need a good table of contents so readers can jump to the bit that interests them (remember they can't as easily flip thru the book as they can with a paperback).

Cover Design

This is your front door - you need a decent cover design - even though there are plenty of free programs out there for graphics design - I used a professional designer, a fellow hubbere and friend Sybille Yates

eBook Formatting

There is lots of information out there about how to format your eBook (Self Printed, listed below is particularly good at this. If you are going to get your book printed on paper you will probably end up with two slightly different versions because of the different demands of paper and screen.

If all of this scares the crap out of you - pay someone $50 to format your book - there are plenty of authors out there offering the service!

4) A Well-Promoted Book

OK you write hubs - so you know how to promote your hubs don't you? Well promoting a book is pretty much the same, but different. There are 3 levels of promotion from what I can see.

Directly promote your Amazon listing.

Once your book is approved and up and available on Amazon - you can promote your listing directly - tweet it, facebook it, plus any other social media your already use. Write a hub and include the book in the Amazon module - that's not even self-promotional according of the TOS of HubPages!

Develop an Author Blog

Many authors use free blogs including or to develop their author blog. I don't think its a good idea to tie something as important as your online home to someone else's virtual real estate. Bite the bullet and buy hosting, your own domain and setup a blog - its not that hard - or pay someone to do it for you - you should get a basic WordPress set up for about $100. There's an example of my own author blog below - because I already have my name online associated with "making money online" - I branded my new blog as being about Lis's Travel Tips. Many authors will just use

There is a mailing list signup on this blog - I want people to sign up so I can let them know when my books are published. They can also follow me on social media (facebook, twitter etc) - its all about branding! This is where you put updates, highlight reader reviews, talk about industry changes.

Develop a Book Site

Linked from my author blog you will see my travel books site: Non-Boring Travel Guides. This is more for SEO than anything else. I want to rank that site on page one for my main topic "vacation packing tips" - obviously the Amazon listing will be out-rank it - but its always good to show multiple times in the listings.

I can also list all the ways you can buy the book - particularly the options. Another advantage for you is if someone books via your blogs - you get your affiliate commission as well!

I've Read and Found These Books Helpful (all ebooks - some have paper versions too)

How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!
How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!

John Locke has sold over a million fiction books in 5 months. The guy has taken his knowledge of marketing and applied it to fiction. I own this book - highly recommended


More From Me on Self Publishing

My blog is wide-ranging in topics - but self publishing is what I've been thinking about and doing for the last month or so. I can't do too many links here so here is the link to the category page: most recent posts at the top - enjoy and please leave me a comment on a post if you have questions!

Please help me - I really want to know what devices people use!

Do You Read eBooks?

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    • 101Ways2Life profile image

      Alana Niall 

      4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Great article. eBooks will become pretty commonplace in a few years, so much so that it would be difficult to imagine that someone had to write a hub to express eBooks' worth. And yes, "On Writing Well" is one of my favorite books. Highly recommended. For fiction writers, "On Writing" by Stephen King is a great book.

    • Green Lotus profile image


      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Jumped right to your wonderful Hub from your recent forum post Lissie. This is great information! I've been a bit timid about putting out an e-book, but I'm gaining confidence and know-how. Much thanks! Rated up and useful of course :)

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Lissie thanks for the clarification :)

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Lobo - no paypal is not an option - if you don't have a US bank account you get a check

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Lissie I may go out of topic here:

      How do u get paid is it only through check or is paypal an option?

      I'm looking to begin an e-book pretty soon so a little help would be nice :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      ok - will look out for it

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      that's not a bad idea - I'll put something together BB!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lissie - yes it's all a bit confusing.

      I've been doing an outline for expanding my poo hub and have been compiling some public domain pics for my color in nature hubs. Perhaps you could do a hub to help us newbies at ebook publishing?

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      THANK YOU, Lissie. That is all I wanted to know. You are a great help. Kenneth

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      @Bailey - there are now lots of Kindles! Kinda confusing - I did a run down on one of my own sites here: The nook is closest to the new Fire. You can publish for both Kindle and Nook - but its a different format.

      Nope its not duplicate content - you don't have to touch your hubs

      I think you can Kenneth - at least in the very newest (not out yet) format for the Fire

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      @ Lissie, and I am wondering if YouTube can be used to share music on Facebook on a Ipad or other tablets? I love writing hubs, but sometimes, I love to share vintage songs from YouTube to Facebook. Any answers? Thanks, Kenneth

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lissie - I've found your insights and honesty about making money on internet very interesting. I've done a little research and if I'm correct, Kindle is black and white, but Nook is colour? Can the same ebook be submitted for both? I'd like to put some science essays out there - combine and expand some hubs perhaps. (Would that mean I'd have to take the hubs down or alter them?)

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      You know I was just in a bookshop BB - not Amazon - a real bookshop - I could buy a copy of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice for $10 - I can download the same for free in any number of places (its public domain). People will pay money for convenience - and its an entirely different audience - so yes why not combine some hubs and try it out?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      lissie - just wondering why people would pay for a kindle article when they can read a free version here? Or does it need to be a longer, in-depth article that's not published elsewhere? Could it be worth turning a collection of hubs into an article?

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Lissie, Voted up, useful and intersting. 2,497 followers? Make that 2,298, as I am one of your followers as of 9:53 p.m.,CST and I think you are an amazing talent. Sincerely, Kenneth Avery, from a small town, Hamilton, in rural northwest Alabama that reminds you of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show.~~~~Peace.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 

      7 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      I'm bookmarking your hub, thank you. It is very useful information for my research.

    • Scarface1300 profile image


      7 years ago

      Facinating and motivational hub. I am interested in the kindle singles do you know if there is a particular sized piece you should aim for.... Thanks

    • cashmere profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Excellent motivation to write a book and self publish. Now if only i could do the step one - write a book!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Voted up, useful, interesting. I can always count on you, Lissie, for honesty and interesting topics.

    • lakeerieartists profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Nice hub, good information. I have been planning to write at least one ebook this year, and this will help immensely.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Cool - glad this is of help guys - really I think its a great opportunities for those of you who aren't scared to write.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 

      7 years ago

      this is wonderful information for those of us that are ready to make the next step from writing sites to our own book.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      7 years ago from North-East UK

      Lissie, thanks for this hub. I went to your blog which also makes very interesting reading. I hope you will have great success with your e-books- I don't doubt it, you're very savvy, you deserve it, you obviously work very hard at this. And thanks for being so honest!

    • almasi profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your info so generously. I had also not heard about the Kindle Singles.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      7 years ago from Canada

      sorry I am so late on the comments here, but I've found this enlightening, and all true, you can do very well with ebooks, and I've found a nice niche for self-published paperbacks, which is linked to amazon. So it is all true what you have said.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 

      7 years ago from The Zoo

      Thank you for the helpful info Lissie.

    • visionandfocus profile image


      7 years ago from North York, Canada

      What an excellent resource! Have bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks so much for taking the time to put it all together. Much appreciated!

    • nikkiraeink profile image


      7 years ago from So. Cal.

      Oh, I needed this! Thank you!

    • VioletSun profile image


      7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Thanks to Jodi in Facebook, I saw the link to this hub. It's very informative, there is a lot I didn't know. Have bookmarked this hub to read again over the weekend. Thanks for sharing!

      Voted up!

    • danfresnourban profile image


      7 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Excellent resource, thanks for putting all of this information together in a very helpful hub.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Wonderful resource Hub you wrote here, Lissie. Followed every one of your links to your sites for even more extremely useful information. ;)

      I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of writing Kindle singles and then eventually pulling them into an anthology or full-length book. That's very appealing for anyone who writes either fiction or non-fiction.

      I'm wondering if you have any specific advice about turning Hubs or Hub collections into singles or eBooks?

      Voted up and useful!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      I find the world of self publishing to be pretty daunting, but you've made it seem pretty doable in this guide! Obviously it's a lot of work to take this route, what with doing most or all of the promotion, editing, formatting, etc... (and in ADDITION to writing the dang thing!), but there is something empowering about having the option to do this in the first place! Fabulous Hub.

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A Johnson 

      7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I appreciate your hub. I've been working on editing and formatting a book I wrote a number of years ago to publish through Smashwords. Voted up and useful.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Oh, Lissie, you have to read the hub "Are you a real writer." None of us are fakes! I'll be looking for your announcement!

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Several successful Indie authors (Zoe Winters springs to mind) have used their success of self-publishing as a spring-board to traditional publishing - they would sure be in a better negotiating position to do that ...

    • CMHypno profile image


      7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting stuff Lissie. I am investing the next few weeks in finally finishing my science fantasy book for older kids (don't want to be that person who never finishes the one book they started!) and really don't know which way to go when it is finished. Self publishing or the grind of trying to find an agent and traditional publishing. So thanks for the tips - knowledge is power as they say!

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      LOL no I am a fake FF - though not for much longer - I have my first book in final draft - just waiting on another round of proofing - hopefully this week it will it be up! I'll update the hub and of course my travel tips site when its up!

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Thanks Lissie, I already had it posted there. You just seemed like a bigger expert to me:) I'm not clear from your hub. Have you done this yet? The forums show some exciting results.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi FF - it looks like you get enough info on the statements to split it out yourself - I'm going my this post on the KDP boards (you'll have to be logged in view that) - if that is not quite the answer you need - try asking they question there - its the official KDP support site and them seem reasonably supportive.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Hey Lissie, I didn't know about the singles either..thanks! I have a big question that I haven't been able to get answered. When you publish to kindle, can you have your royalties split like they do here at hubpages? I'm about to publish a dual author book and it would be great if we didn't have set up a separate account. Thanks!

    • celebritie profile image


      7 years ago

      This is great thanks so much, I have been thinking about self-publishing and this hub really makes it easy to get started.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Flora they are pretty new - came out this year - this stuff is moving very fast! Oops they are "singles" not shorts LOL

      Here's an authors view on them

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      I hadn't heard of Kindle shorts before. I am learning all kinds of information on hubpges I never knew before

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Actually Flora there is also something called "Kindle shorts" which are basically short stories or articles. Nothing stopping you publishing short stories as you write them and then also bundling them up later into an anthology - just a thought!

      Mystery isn't my thing but lots of self-published mystery on Amazon

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      Have bookmarked your hub for if and when I ever get to writing a full length book instead of articles. My interest is in mystery and fiction.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Hattie - I am talking about eBooks - not printing your own books on sites like lulu and similar (BTW Amazon's creatspace seems like a better option for dead-tree books as they distribute to Amazon as well). That's always going to be expensive because of the short-print runs so there is no economy of scale.

      Getting your ebook published can cost you exactly zero dollars - though personally I think most people should pay for a decent cover design and maybe editing.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image


      7 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      Already looked into a few places like fastpencil and lulu. Few others, were not to impressed with the prices and what it costs for them to buy your books, as well as putting your stuff on the nook and kindle. Maybe you know something different?


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