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When it comes to Self-Publishing, there are many avenues to take. Though I am by no means an expert, I will chronicle my path towards self-publishing and give a rundown of my experience. The 5 Step Process

Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5


Step 1: Write a Novel

This is probably the most fun part of the entire process. There are many ways to go about finding the motivation and time to write a novel. When you write, it’s important to just be free about it.
Here are some rules to help you:

  • Allow your first draft a lot of room to stink:Your First Draft is going to be bad. It’s a first draft. The first draft will be the roughest and the easiest to forgive. The most import thing is ‘get that idea out’.[/learn_more]
  • Do NOT Edit Yet: Don’t edit while you write: this is NOT the time to edit your novel as you go. Some people can do it, but most cannot and it might ultimately lead to frustration and you might give up.[/learn_more]
  • Three Important Things: Important things always come in threes: Namely, what you should establish early on in your novel or you might end up abandoning it and/or going around in circles.
      • Plot or a Problem. What’s the plot, in other words, what’s the conflict. Give your character a problem and a POSSIBLE solution. That possible solution might not amount to much but your character has to be going somewhere.
      • Cut back on the extra characters. In your head they all make sense and they all deserve the same amount of limelight but are they really necessary? A reader will have to keep those names straight and usually a new character means new background story. You might lose the focus.
      • Choose a theme or message for each chapter. Make sure it stays on topic and make sure it adds to your plot. If it has nothing to do with the plot, (keep writing) but consider highlighting it. Everything you cut out, you should save though, don’t ever through away your precious words right away, but take them out if they don’t move your story on through.

Whatever you do, WRITE. Write whenever you can, however long you can. Just keep writing until you’re hollow.
Look for writing sites on facebook or other social media sites NaNoWriMo for example is a great place to find other writers who can help encourage you especially if you get stuck.

Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5

Step 2: Polish That Novel

So you’ve written a novel. Don’t run out and click the ‘publish’ button just yet. Here are a few things you might need.

  • Feedback Get Feedback. You need feedback. Reasons not to show your work; fear of ridicule, fear of theft, fear of rejection. But consider:
    1. Ridicule is good now. Better to get it early than on a large scale if you publish without catching a mistake.
    2. Theft is not something you can predict. Even published indie authors sometimes experience this. Even traditionally published authors have.
    3. Rejection will happen. People will simply say they don’t like it or want to read it. Fine. Don’t blow up, learn. Ask what they don’t like, then nod your head and thank them for reading it. Then use it. You don’t have to change your story but if many people ask the same question, make your character ask the question too.
  • Critiques A critique circle (or partner) is great. Your family and friends will be your first stop. But they will be gentle so get a critique. You can do a few things.
    1. Join a critique circle: (this is a GREAT way to polish your work), why? Because it forces you to read other rough drafts. You can see what doesn’t work.
    2. Beta readers: rarely can you find beta readers who can muddle through typos but they exist. Make a list of things to ask “how’s the pace? is it engaging? etc. etc.”
    3. Pay for development edit/critique: this should be last on your list but it should be on your list if your plot is nowhere in sight. No worries. Critique circles have a tendency to call you out on that so hold off on payments. But shop around!
  • Kleenex A box of Kleenex is your friend. It hurts. It’s gonna hurt, getting your ego punched in (and thanking others for it) never feels good. But eventually you’ll toughen up, and your story will be stronger as well. A critique partner is a good cry buddy. It hurts, but you need the sandpaper to polish this, even if you’re crying every step of the way. This will make it better, it will make YOU better. SUCK IT UP! Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell *hug*

No matter the means with which you polish your novel so long as you polish it. You MUST do this. Even published authors must polish their works. Just remember that it’s your work and you should be true to it while giving it what it needs to shine.


Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5

Step 3: Edit that Novel

So now it’s readable and several people have actually made it all the way through. Congratulations, but get the mouse off that ‘publish’ button. You’ve got to edit. Polishing was not editing. Polishing always comes before editing. There are free methods and paid methods. Just remember that every edit is essentially an opinion. So vet your editors (even the free ones). So many jargons though, what do they mean?

  • Professional Editing
    • Development Edit: Essentially Content Editing with minor Line edit. Checking for solid; Plot, Consistency, Marketability, Genre, Manuscript Strengths and Weaknesses
    • Content Edit: Checking for solid; Facts, Structure, Order of scenes, Impact, Character Likeability, Cohesion
    • Line Edit: Checking for solid; Grammar, Syntax, Punctuation, Word Choice, Spelling
    • Copyedit: Essentially Line Editing with minor Content edit
    • Proofread: Final stage of editing to catch straggler mistakes. Checking punctuation and Spelling
  • Vetting Editors Choosing Editors are difficult.
    1. Always get a sample edit
    2. Ask for great detail as to what you can expect, i.e. inline comments, suggestions, extra costs, a manuscript assessment, a final proofread after it’s all said and done.
    3. Read the literature of your chosen editor (if available). Some of it might surprise you
    4. Choose a small package. Better to test drive
    5. NEVER pay for sample edits. Sample edits are free. You are not charged to enter a store and shop, you shouldn’t have to pay to receive a sample.
    6. Answer all your emails, even with a ‘I’m sorry I’m going with someone else’, editors are people too and if they gave you their time, respect it.
  • Beta Readers These essential readers ‘test drive’ your novel. They will read but they aren’t effective unless you LIST the things you want to know for example if the pace was slow, etc. etc. They are not editors or proofreaders but they do provide early reviews in some cases.
    Social Sources: Look for beta readers on facebook or goodreads by doing a search for ‘beta readers’
  • Choose Wisely Each level of editing is important and necessary. Not all editors are able to do ALL of these well. Keep in mind:
    1. Free groups who edit each others works are available. Though this is not a professional edit, it will serve to lower the cost of professional editing
    2. Always ask for a sample edit from more than one professional editor and compare them.
    3. Ask for details on the process
    4. Read the writings of editors (free or professional)
    5. Use your money wisely, and if you go the free route, invest in some STRICT beta readers.
  • Ashlyn’s Thoughts Personal opinion: this is the one area I feel needs proper attention and no skimping. No, editors are not cheap, but they are necessary. If you cannot afford it right now, some editors offer payment plans, so consider it. As indie authors, we have a standard to keep. We owe it to our craft to get it edited, to make it look its best before others see it. Please invest in an editor.


Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5


Step 4: Promote that Novel

The next step should happen while you are waiting for your edits to come back. Ahh, Marketing and Promotion, in other words, put on your clear heels ladies and gentleman, it’s time to start selling yourself. Your art is a part of you, therefore it’s you, and you must now sell people…you. You are a no-name indie author. Right there the chips are stacked. Indie can mean creative, but to most it means unedited, unrepresented, and unprofessional. It’s time to change that. Here are some ways promote. Promote months in advance.

  • “Website / Blog Home pages are a good start. You can use the home page, just as that, a home base to talk about your books and projects. Here are some things to consider.
    1. It’s always good to have a website with your name (if possible). You don’t want a very long web site name. You want it to be short, easy to spell, and easy to remember.
    2. Make sure there is a list of all your books (especially those published)
    3. This is not the time to use your weak html skill. Freelance designers (and sometimes fellow authors) are available at a decent price.
    4. Consider making your blog into your main page. You can find free templates that look rather tasteful. Be careful though, if you use your blog mainly, make sure it doesn’t have a long name readers will have trouble writing on the fly.
    5. Even on the first page, have your ‘buy now’ link for your book clearly visible
  • Book Covers Book Covers are expensive, no one can argue that, but they are also necessary. With the countless books out there, from established author, you have to give people a reason to take a chance on you. To me, if you put some effort out in that cover, it might reflect the effort you put out in your book. You can;
    1. Commission Someone you know to do it but don’t do it yourself. When you make something, you can’t tell how good or bad it is, but you usually can judge the works of others fairly accurately.
    2. You can host a contest, there are sites out there such as 99Designs where designers submit their works. It’s a little pricy (but compared to other places, competitive), so save up little by little. The lowest price is $299 for a book design.
    3. Keep in mind that not all designers speak English perfectly, so your instructions might have to be much less thorough.
  • Social Network Facebook and More. Despite what one might think, shameless promotion can be done properly (to a point). The best way I’ve found is just by getting involved and helping others the same way you’d want to be helped. Don’t just bust into a joint and start plastering it with your flyer. This hit and run method is ill-advised.
    • A Facebook (Twitter etc.) Fan Page is a good start. You can easily link it via your website. It also allows you to message and chat with readers under your pen-name.
    • GoodReads is another social media resource solely for authors. You will have to get an author page to utilize it fully. Without an expected publication date and an ISBN the chances of that happening is slim. You can add your book, however, and even an author profile, the only problem is that you won’t be able to claim that profile unless you are already published or ready to publish (this is a great place to find reviewers and beta readers).
    • Groups for either writers or your specific genre. Rather than go in there and lurk, talk to people, participate, join in, post a question. Get to know people. Also, make sure you link, link and more links. More emphasis can’t be put on that. Link all of your profiles to your homepage, from critique circles to fan pages, link link link.
  • Previews Once you’ve gotten some edited parts back (NEVER POST UNEDITED PREVIEWS OF YOUR WORK: first impressions are lasting), then you can post a epub file on GoodReads or put a chapter of your story on your site or Wattpad. On GoodReads, you have the option of limiting readers, making it forbidden for them to read it offline. Whatever you do, you should really show a strong excerpt of your work. Watch reader reaction.
  • Giveaways Let’s be honest, nobody wants your book…yet. That’s what promotions are for. Assuming that you have a good manuscript and a preview out, you can hold a giveaway on GoodReads. You should have already done the editing, and the beta reading. Should your reviews thus far have been positive, then those beta readers most likely reviewed you on GoodReads and/or recommended you. Hold a Giveaway. Keep in mind though, GoodReads is very strict and whatever you promise, they expect you to fulfill.
  • Conventions and Festivals Depending on your genre, consider organizing a book signing in your area. Any time there is a gathering of people, then this is where your little booth needs to be. An author I know did rather well promoting her book at a cosplay event. Get out there, get your book moving.


Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5

Step 5: Publish that Novel

Can you hit publish yet? That depends:

  • I want to be rich! Hold on there. You’re an indie author, get some prospective. This is going to take time, and if you have a good story it will come. If you don’t, then you’ve gotten this far with a very polished body of work and you just have to find your audience. If you have taken the time out to edit etc. etc. then you’ve done the best you can. So you now need to decide about POD (Print on Demand) or otherwise.
  • Poverty’s Okay If I have Love.Yeah, now you’re talking. Your feet are on the ground, maybe one foot’s in the grave at this point but it’s down there at least. Slow and steady is probably the best way to go. Assuming you have a well edited manuscript, you can only keep on promoting it. Now for the publishing itself…

What’s the difference between PODs (print on demand) businesses. Essentially, the only difference is…price. If you pay to publish, they might offer you a book cover, some ‘editing’, and marketing swagger. If you don’t choose to pay, you are flapping in the wind. I personally will pay for everything but the publishing itself. Here is the reason why I say forget about the pay for publishing places.

  • The cover they offer you might not be the cover you want and more often than not, they’ll just hold a contest with a site like 99Designs in order to get you a cover anyway.
  • The editing isn’t really editing actually. It’s just a light proofread if that, and it usually costs extra.
  • The royalties you get aren’t that high, and the ones that offer you 100% royalties are lying. They make their money by charging you a yearly fee regardless of whether or not you sell.
  • The marketing swag can be bought cheaply elsewhere. They don’t actually MARKET you, as much as give you the means to, there is nothing exclusively special about them.
  • Control of your work is in your hands when you choose to go the free route.

Here are my choices:

  • Paperback: Createspace (other free services are fine too. Compare the royalties)
  • Ebook: smashwords (they seem to have a wide reach when it comes to platforms)
  • Kindle: Createspace (It’s an Amazon company and Amazon sells world wide)
  • Hardcover: Lulu (Lulu gives nearly no royalties on the hardcover. The price for the book is high and the return low. It’s literally $0.16 cents. The reason why I have chosen to provide this is because I figure if there is someone who wants my book so badly that they’d buy it in hardcover, then by all means, I want them to have it.

I recommend buying a block of 10 ISBNs if you can, but if you cannot, then these services provide a complimentary ISBN for you. These ISBNs belong to the companies but you can use it as long as you publish with them. You cannot take it with you. Check out the ‘Resources page’ here. And feel free to make a comment or two in order to add your own suggested resources.

Good Luck.