What No One Told Me About Writing And Self-Publishing

As you saw in my last post, I am now an official author! I wrote a real novel called The Time Company and it is available now! And while I am super proud and found the whole experience really cool, I’ll be the first to admit that I never planned on self-publishing. As I said in my novel post, the book’s work and publishing happened in a bookmaking course I took. If I hadn’t been in that course and learned about Createspace there, I probably wouldn’t have considered self-publishing. No offense to any self-pubbers out there, but the fact is, self-publishing is seen as the lesser option to traditional publishing, and though I’m thrilled that I was able to make my book my way, I kind of do believe that. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about what I learned over these past several months and what I had to teach myself because there’s a lot I wasn’t told. Self-publishing has been around for several years now, but it’s constantly evolving and in the grand scheme of things, it’s kind of new, so it’s understandable if you, like me, didn’t know a lot at the start.

The Writing

  • When self-publishing, you don’t have an editor or a manager. Sure, you can and should hire a copyeditor, but at the end of the day, you’re the boss, so some parts you want to write or keep in your book is not what should stay.
  • People may not tell it to you straight. I had friends and acquaintances read/edit my book, and while they all gave good feedback, there’s a chance that they were nicer to me because they knew me. Did they really like my characters? Was my plot actually okay? Was my writing decent enough? I may never know.
  • There will be errors. I had many, and honestly, there probably still are some. Oops and all, but I’m only human. My writing professor one day said, “every time you put your human hands on your manuscript, you mess it up a little.”
    flawed human gif
  • Editing sucks. I’m sure people actually do tell you this, but when you’re self-publishing and the editing is all on you, it gets so tedious. Compared to some, my book isn’t that long, but editing it took forever.
  • It’s really hard to write beautifully. Let me explain: I’ve always struggled with writing really deep, powerful, rich text. And so many times I’d try to do that, but I know it’s a weakness of mine. I don’t even know how to improve that. It’s just not how I write.
  • I am not JK Rowling, and people are not going to understand or enjoy all the writing choices I’ve made.
  • Furthermore, I likely won’t get a chance to explain the writing choices I’ve made.
  • You’re going to have days where you just hate your writing. Just power through those days.


The Self-Publishing

  • Fact: unless you’re a graphic designer, or know of one, your book won’t be as pretty as books you see in stores. My cover is simple, and I made it all by myself exactly to look exactly as I envisioned, but I don’t think people (other than my best friend) are looking at it and gasping at its beauty.
  • All online stores like Amazon or iTunes take a cut of the profits, and honestly, it’s a little unfair. In the movie Begin Again, there’s a line about authors getting “a buck a book” and I don’t know if that’s accurate, but selling self-published is only slightly better. My book is currently at about $12 dollars, and for every sale I make on Amazon, I get about $3. That’s the deal for selling on these big platforms, but I think it’s important to know.
  • It’s very anxiety-inducing. I’m a pretty chill person overall, but self-publishing is a big event and it got even me stressed. I had several stress-dreams about finding errors or having the uploading not work. But actually finding errors wasn’t any easier. Because you’re essentially going at this solo, there’s not a lot that can be done to alleviate this. Just do your best to stay calm and think logically and know that many before you have suffered the same.
    this is stressful gif
  • Because you can layout your book however you want, you have to sometimes put aside your preferences for the greater good. For example, I kind of wanted my page numbers in the center of the page because I like symmetry, but I knew that they’d be more effective in the corners so people can flip through the book easily.
  • You’re going to do a lot of research on self-publishing. What platforms, what programs, what prices. Because I wasn’t taught this in my bookmaking class, I had to do this on my own time. I read many articles, watched many YouTube videos, and I know there’s still more I could learn.
  • You’re not going to sell a lot. I don’t think people browse through Amazon self-published books the way people browse physical books in bookstores, so you have to do a lot of marketing and promotions, and even then there’s no guarantee. Make peace with this now.
  • Everything is up to you, and no one is going to tell you if you’re wrong.
  • You can do it! Self-publishing is not hard. Once you have the work written, this part is kind of fun. It’s time-consuming, but if you do have challenges, there are a lot of resources out there to help.

I hope this information was useful to you. I learned a lot so I wanted to pass it on to any future writers and/or self-publishers. If anyone has other questions about my book or the process, feel free to ask me in any way you choose!

That’s all for now!

P.S. As you can see below, I have a link to Goodreads. I’m new to it but I’m going to make an effort to use it to share the books I read and find new material, so please follow me or friend me or whatever it is we do on Goodreads!

Follow me: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Bloglovin’ / Goodreads

7 thoughts on “What No One Told Me About Writing And Self-Publishing

  1. Just followed you because I like your advice. I published one book with an academic press, so they did almost everything. But my new book is non-academic, and I plan to use CreateSpace. Can you offer step-by-step advice so I don’t screw up? 🙂 Right now I’m working on cover graphics, but will probably start pushing buttons in a month or so.

    • Createspace’s upload process is pretty step-by-step, actually. Just click around their info pages so you get the other details like where to place your barcode box and sizes and all that. As for writing, my biggest tip is to really do a good job with the editing/spellcheck because things will be missed, and it’s a pain to deal with. Use online grammar checkers and get trusted friends to assist if you can. Another tip is to also use other books’ features as a reference. I never really thought about putting a page header, but then I saw how frequently they’re used in books. Good luck with it all!

  2. I looked into self-publishing a few years ago now, although I didn’t have a project at the time, it was a market research excercise I took on while I was in training courses. One of the things I read abbout CreateSpace is that the formatting in word-processed files often screw-up post upload. So a lot of self-publishing authors were recommending you should hire editorial services that also format your book correctly and take care of everything. But I wondered it must simply be that individuals using personal software would probably need commercially licensed software to upload documents correctly to a commercial service such as CreateSpace. Although I don’t remember them adding that into user guidelines or Terms of Service at the time, it’s just how it seems to make sense to me. Any knowledge or advice you can share about that?

    • Everyone in my class used Adobe InDesign (we got it free from school) and submitted the files as PDFs, and while I didn’t have major formatting issues (I was mysteriously missing a few headers), a friend of mine did on a page. I think as long as you use Createspace’s file previewer and carefully go through your proof, you should be fine to use MS Word and save as a PDF.

      • I might try something one day in the distant future as a free give-away to test how it works, but I’d still expect to have problems with results while using non-professional personal licensed operating system, software etc. I was doing a mooc where we could have a month’s free trial with InDesign but I really wasn’t well enough to use it at the time so didn’t bother. I’ve been meaning to get back to it and maybe will one of these days. I don’t know how regulation works in other nations, but here in the UK any self-employed type commercial activity is regulated by law to only allow 10% use of personal and domestic facilities/utilities of all kinds (including personal licensed OS & other software) for business purposes – and self-publishing for monetary return would be considered business – as is ticking adwords and becoming a ‘professional blogger’, here in Britain the pushes toward making that leap could be causing huge problems for anyone not realising. Apols, rambling off topic there. Thanks for reply and hope your book does well – it’s on my ‘must buy soon’ list and I’ll get around to some amazon shopping this month 🙂

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