On the Fence About Self-Publishing?

I attended a birthday party for my aunt last night. When I announced that I had quit my job and was a full-time writer, she mentioned that her husband, my uncle, had written a book and she wondered if I could help him get it published.

I told her that self-publishing is the route to go these days and said I’d send her an email with some info for him to review.

After I finished writing the epic email, I realized that might be useful for other folks, so here it is as a post.


While it once held a stigma of being the refuge of the terrible writer who couldn’t get traditionally published, self-publishing is now a respected and viable method for a writer to directly connect with their readers and retain full control over their work.

I follow the blog of Joe Konrath. He’s traditionally published (six thriller novels) but has also self-published quite a few and now only recommends that writers self-publish instead of going to a traditional publisher. He wishes he had the rights to his traditionally published novels back as he says he’s losing money every day that the publisher has them.

The Numbers Game – crunching the profit numbers between a traditional publishing contract and self-publishing

Time is Money – about how going the slow traditional route will cost you

Time Investment – Joe compares the effort he spent promoting his print books to the time investment on his self-published books

Self-publishing now is easy. You need just a few things:

1. A good story – professionally edited and proofed. That doesn’t mean you have to pay a professional editor, but the final product needs to be as good as it can possibly be – professional standards.

2. A great cover image that looks good as a thumbnail- self-published writers have to come up with their own cover art. Two options – find a graphic designer with experience in book covers and have them design something. Will cost $.

Or do it yourself, if you’re handy with a graphics program. The key here is to make the cover look professional, as if it could grace a bookstore shelf. Best idea is to review book covers in the same genre and mimic their font, text placement, picture style, etc.

3. A great book description – this is a paragraph or two that entices the reader to buy the book. Think of it as the back cover blurb.

4. A low price – for a brand new writer, .99 is the magic price that will get readers to take a chance on an unknown. A common tactic now is to price the first book at .99 and subsequent books at 2.99. You don’t make a lot of money at .99, but the idea is to get readers first and make profit later.

To start self-publishing, you go to Amazon. With the Kindle, they have the largest catalog of electronic books and that is where much of the world shops.

Self-publishing with them is a matter of creating an account (if you don’t have one already), uploading a properly-formatted file (good series here on how to format from Guido Henkel – you can also pay someone a one-time fee to format it for you), uploading your cover art .jpg file, adding your book description, and setting a price. Amazon will list it in their catalog within a few days and you’re done. (Except for promoting it.)

With self-publishing, you can change anything about the book at any time. If your cover art isn’t drawing people in, you can change it. Book description doesn’t pop enough? Tweak it. Price is too high (or too low)? Change it. Discovered typos in your book? Upload a corrected file.

Easy and the writer has full control over the work.

I’m currently working on a fantasy romance novella (follow my progress here) that I plan to release on the Kindle as soon as it’s ready. Working for some time in March, April at the latest.

Writers can now reach readers directly with minimal effort (beyond writing the actual book). They can control every part of the work and the process. They can actually make money being a writer.

It’s a GREAT time to be a writer!

What’s your experience with self-publishing? Are you considering it or have you taken the plunge? Link to your site or your books in the comments!

2 thoughts on “On the Fence About Self-Publishing?

  1. Becky Wolsk

    Hi Cheryl,
    This article and the links you provide appeal to me because I recently self-published two novels (FOOD AND WORRY and SIX WORDS). I describe my books as beach reads for smart readers, and they are romantic comedies. Both are available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions, and at a few stores in DC. I've written several articles about self-publishing on my blog (www.textislepatchworkblog.com). My articles might especially help unpublished, non-tech-savvy novelists who who want to self-format in order to save money before self-publishing via Blurb, CreateSpace, and the like.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge about self-publishing and I agree that the stigma is gone! And self-promotion is so much easier than in days of yore thanks to social media.

Comments are closed.