Self-Publishing Tips, Resources, and Looking Back.

My Books--Only one is not self-published
My Books–Only one is not self-published

I wrote the post below in January 2014, but lately I have seen increased interest in the subject  from writers I’m meeting online. Many are new to the process, so that’s the reason for the reprint. The blog offers some resources and cautions that newcomers need to know about.

Looking back, I can see that I’m even more committed to the model than I was a year ago. Last summer I took an online course with Kristen Eckstein, a 30-day boot camp for creating a non-fiction series–the results of which I hope to see published by June. It was an inspiring experience, and provided further reasons for me to stick with the self-publishing model. And, in all honesty, I must admit that I’m having fun with it.

Marketing is the biggest challenge, but I’ve drawn up a plan that I hope will help me connect more effectively with my audience, and that, you’ll be glad to hear, doesn’t involve hourly, computer-generated, buy-my-book updates on Twitter. I’m a patient person and willing to let the process take the time it needs to show results. Wish me luck!

Here’s the repost of the 2014 blog. I hope some of the information in it is useful as you negotiate this exciting and challenging publishing option.


I have fumbled my way through self-publishing over the past few years. Trying things, making mistakes, seeing how things turn out. Thought I’d share a bit of that experience.

I’ve used a couple of publishers since I started self-publishing. Right now I’m using CreateSpace and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)  After I finish setting up my book in CreateSpace, I can choose for it to be sent to Amazon KDP (they are the same company.) CreateSpace will also send it to other epub distributors, too. Both services are free, though CreateSpace offers services like custom cover designs, copyediting, and marketing for a fee, if you want to take advantage of them.

I’m using CreateSpace for my second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, and I’m fine with having them distribute it to Amazon and other sellers, such as Kobo. For my sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, I’m going to go with CreateSpace and KDP only. There are some promotion options with KDP that are only available if it is the exclusive distributor for a set period of time. I’d like to try those promotions, so I’m going to give that option a try for my fiction. For 201 Writing Starters, I went to Smashwords . They had a very easy-to-use product and also provide a free service. If I do another edition of the book, I will probably go through CreateSpace, though, because it offers free cover design options that I prefer to use rather than coming up with my own.

The first edition of Writing Fiction was published through iUniverse, a vanity press. I wouldn’t choose that route now for a couple of reasons. First, I want to earn more money per sale, and royalties are much better on my own. Second, I am more confident about being able to format a book that would look professional, and third, I know a lot more about the industry. I was lucky in that I took advantage of a sale offer at iUniverse and didn’t spend money on extras, and I can say that I have earned my money back. A few writers I know who took the vanity press route have realized they will never earn their money back.

I got the templates for the interiors of the dragon books and Writing Fiction – Second Edition from Joel Friedlander at a very reasonable cost. You can see inside the book here to see what one of his formats looks like:

If you’re thinking of the self-publishing route, be aware of the new trend among traditional publishers to have their own vanity press. They make it look like you’re working with Simon & Schuster for instance, but you’re really paying to have your book published with a vanity press that is part of a large company with a very poor reputation. Read this blog from Writer Beware®: The Blog to get the details: To make sure that you are working with a reputable company always check Preditors & Editors, an excellent site that has a listing of publishers/agents along with recommendations and cautions.

To end on a more positive note, here’s a link to a great blog post from Jane Friedman with a lot of helpful links to help you make some decisions about your publishing future.

Good luck!

4 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Tips, Resources, and Looking Back.

  1. Heather,

    Thank you for this information! I am working on publishing my first children’s book and this post has been very helpful. After a failed Kickstarter campaign, I’m reevaluating my options. Publishing can be overwhelming, especially since writing is not my only occupation. Thanks, again for taking the time to share your experiences and suggestions.

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