11 Helpful Tips on How to Self-Publish a Book - #getpublished #selfpubbed #indieauthor

Helpful Tips on Self-Publishing a Novel

If you want to publish books successfully and make a living as a full-time writer, then writers need to approach publishing as a business. The most prosperous self-publishers are those that understand they are running a business, which includes the importance of packaging a product. They recognize that promotion and branding, and all the other distinctions of publishing aspects are key factors to success.

Here are 11 tips and advice on how to self-publish your first book. Because so many new writers have emailed me asking for advice on self-publishing, I have decided it was time to write a post on it. Hopefully, it will help anyone wanting to publish his or her own work. 

This is both my personal and professional advice on the “how to self-publish” a book easily and successively. This post does not cover every aspect of self publishing a book, but it does help with the basics. And ways to avoid a few mistakes.


Critique Partners wanted!

Obviously, first you need to write a book. 

Then please, please, please, find a few good critique partners. I have a detailed post on this topic on my blog HERE. (But read this post first.) You can try to find beta readers too, but I personally find that unless they read the genre you write in, and they’re NOT your family or friends, they don’t offer much help.

Once you find a few CPs (critique partners) to exchange your manuscript with and get feedback on your storyline, do another round of revisions on your novel. I do at least 8 to 10 drafts on each of my novels before I feel it is close to being ready for publication or is in good shape to send to an editor.


Professional Editor Advice!

This brings me to my next point. Please consider hiring an editor. Now I realize that it can be expensive; however, I have found quite a few amazing editors over the years who were both amazing and inexpensive. 

Put some money aside to hire someone. Self-publishing is a business and writers need to treat it as such. You must invest money into any new business venture and self-publishing is like starting your own company and selling a product—your book.

A lot of self-published books and writers are getting a bad reputation because of the lack of editing being done. You worked hard on your book, so invest some money into making sure it shines.

Some professional editors will negotiate their prices or let a writer do a payment plan. Don’t be afraid to ask. Also, get recommendations and a sample edit before hiring anyone. 

I recommend getting two passes done on your manuscript (MS). Unless you’re a grammar wiz, you will need two edits. The first pass should be a developmental edit (content editing) on the MS to go over areas such as these:

Conflict / Tension

Plot development

Character ARC / Goals

Show versus tell (Deep POV)

Writing Style (that fits the genre)

Opening and closing scenes

Point of view (POV)

Distinct Voice / Style

Pacing issues

Setting and descriptions




Dialogue exchanges

Point out repetition (including overuse of certain words or phrases)

Indicate clarity issues

A proofread/copyedit should be the very last thing a writer does, so I recommend that you wait until all the revision work has been completed. Next, a writer will need to do a copyedit, which includes such things as:

Awkward sentence structure





Fact checking

Tightening up wordy prose

Smoothing awkward transitions

Extensive rewriting

Check for consistency

Dialogue tags


Educate yourself!

With the Internet nowadays, writers have an abundance of information readily available. But it is apparent that the majority of newbie writers that ask for my advice have done little to no research on writing or self-editing, or even on how to self-publish. 

It does make me a bit cranky. And it reveals to me that these writers are not that serious about publishing. Before I became an Indie author, I did a ton of research on the "hows" and "whys" and "costs" of self-publishing a book. I spent hours looking into how to convert my docs into eBook formats, freelance editors, marketing plans, book cover design, etc.

And oddly enough, it seems as though many new writers will finish writing a novel without really studying the craft, or researching how to publish it. Even if they have done some reading on the subject of self-editing or creative writing, they haven’t applied it to their own writing.

If you are serious about wanting to self-publish your work, you need to research all aspects of the industry. Again, this is a business. Writers need to be constantly learning the tools of their trade by reading books on fiction writing, self-editing, and revision. Plus, marketing and promotion and branding.
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Subscribe to blogs and websites that offer free advice (there are a ton of excellent ones!) Here is a list of the best blogs to follow and read Top Writing 25 Writing Blogs. Plus, follow the Positive Writer blog for words of encouragement and awesome writing advice. 

Buy books on the writing process to improve your skills. Here are a few lists to browse: Fiction Writing and Self-Editing and Crafting Description and Characterization Character ARC and Plotting a Novel and Revision and Dialogue.
Join writing groups and forums.

Follow writing / other writer's blogs. You can get some incredibly helpful advice from people who have had success self-publishing in this tough industry.
Join Twitter and do a search with this hashtag #WriteTip and you’ll find an amazing amount of wonderful writing advice.


Learn. Study. Research. Read!
If writing is your true passion, then educating yourself will be fun and maybe even eye-opening. Personally, I love learning new things about the writing process and how to better develop my skills. 

Read extensively in the genre that you want to write in. For example, if you want to write or publish a horror novel, then you need to read a ton of horror books. Study and absorb how other writers created suspense and scares.

Take some online writing classes. These can be expensive, but are very informative. If you can’t afford to do that, then I suggest going to YouTube and watching videos on the craft.

The first and most basic thing to do is to learn how to “plot” a novel. There are a lot of helpful books on this subject. Go to your local bookstore or favorite online retailer and buy some guidebooks on plot structure. 

I highly recommend these two: “TAKE YOUR PANTS OFF” by Libby Hawker and “OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL” by K.M. Weiland.

The plot is the skeletal structure of your novel, so that’s the first thing any good writer should learn how to master. Second, if you learn how the Character ARC ties in with your plot, and then you’re on the way to having a great book to share with your readers.

Also, a book that I'd recommend reading is "Writer's Guide To Character Emotion" to improve your writing skills by the use of the “Deep Point-of-View” technique, which can transform any novel from mediocre storytelling into riveting prose. 

The more a writer learns about the elements of great fictionwriting, the more developed their skills will become.


Converting Your Novel!

Once your book has been edited and revised numerous times, it is time to convert your document into the files needed to upload to publishing sites. I would use an online service that does the formatting and conversion on your behalf.

I strongly recommend using bookow.com to convert your MS into professional looking eBooks and a print-ready PDF for print editions.

Or you can hire someone to do the conversion formatting for you. However, bookow is an inexpensive and easy-to-use choice. Plus, if you decide to revise anything in your MS after it’s published, you can just upload a new version into bookow without the hassle of paying someone to redo the conversion.


Places to Self-Publish!

To actually publish the MS once it has been converted into an eBook file, I recommend using only these two self-publishing sites: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Draft 2 Digital (D2D).

KDP is for publishing your eBook on Amazon only: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A37Z49E2DDQPP3

D2D is for publishing your work at all other online book retailers, such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iTunes, among others: https://www.draft2digital.com

All online eBook publishers will submit your book to everywhere in the world if you choose to select those countries. 

A lot of writers use Smashwords, but they have strict policies and I think D2D is a much quicker and easier way to publish your book. 


Have a Print Copy!

I would use Createspace for the print edition, if you decide to create a print copy, too. Link: https://www.createspace.com

With CreateSpace, a writer can easily access the tools needed for quality printing, and sell through booksellers worldwide, as well as having their book for sale on all Amazon channels throughout the world.

If you are “self-publishing,” the author retains all the rights with Createspace. And there’s no need to buy an ISBN number because Createspace does offer writers the choice of either a free one or the option of purchasing one from their site. 

Plus, is nice to have a physical copy of your hard work, too. 

I actually sell quite a few paperbacks, so I recommend having this option for potential readers.


Book Cover 101!

Now, let’s move on to the importance of book covers. I can spot a self-published book a mile away. A stunning cover can attract a reader’s attention and have them buying your book over the competition. It’s like the first impression that a reader has of your wonderful product. 

Browse this huge selection of affordable and amazing book cover designs: SwoonWorthy Book Covers

Readers shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they certainly do. It’s probably one of the key areas that self-published writers fail at getting correct. If your book doesn’t look great on the outside, then people are going to be much less likely to buy it. 

Take a good look at the book covers on Amazon and goodreads and buy one  that fits the genre of your story. It might look generic to you, but trust me, it's more important for the cover to "look the genre" than to have one that is unique and/or evocative. My purpose is to help you sell more books. Period. 

The cover of your book is the first thing people will see, so a writer wants to make sure that it looks professional. As far as designing a book cover, I strongly suggest NOT designing your own, but doing some detailed research on what is trending in the genre. After all, if your book doesn't look like what readers are searching for, it's very easy to go right past it to the ones that do look the way they expect them to.

If you need help deciding what type of cover design you need for your book, please go HERE

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Back Jacket Copy that rocks!

Writing a catchy blurb (product description) is hard for a lot of writers. Consider how readers look for books. They browse through lists of novels, looking at the cover art and titles, and then the price and often the star rating. Then if those things have grabbed their interest, they scroll down the page and read the book description. 

This is THE MOST CRITICAL point in the process for a potential reader. This is when they need to become intrigued, or hooked, into deciding that they must have this book. If they don’t, they click the back button and start looking for another book. And you’ve lost a sale, and possibly a long-time fan and reader, forever.

Whether you plan to self-publish or work with a publisher, it’s crucial to know how to create an appealing blurb for your book—one that’s compelling enough to entice a reader into buying your book. If you need help, I have more info on my blog HERE

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Price matters!

I suggest that writers browse through the popular books in their genre at Amazon or any online book retailer and get an idea of pricing. 

Many variables influence price. What is the page count? What is the competition selling at? Should I do a promo sale? All of these aspects must be considered when deciding on the retail price. 

Studies show that a full-length, self-published novel at 50k words or longer should be priced somewhere between $2.99 to $4.99.

However, if you are new author without an audience or niche market, I suggest doing a promo price of $0.99 for the first few months until you build up a readership. 

Now it’s time to start promoting!

I have a 9 Part Series on Book Marketing and Author Promotion that should help give your novel some instant notice-ability. Start reading HERE

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