Self-Publishing Tip #4 – Look at all Your Publishing Options

By now you have a firm understanding of the first, second and third tips associated with self-publishing a fiction novel. And you know that it's a lot of work.

Wait, let me rephrase that…

It is a LOT of work!!!

But as someone who has self-published two books I can safely say there are few accomplishments that feel as fulfilling in the world for a fiction writer.

But let me reiterate, self-publishing is a lot of work because you'll be doing all the stuff that comes after the writing and editing are finished. And believe me when I say that in comparison, the writing is the easy part.

Please understand that I'm telling you how difficult self-publishing is going to be because if it's the direction you plan to go then you need to be fully committed. It isn't for everyone and that's okay.

Why did I choose to go the self-published route?

The easy answer is because no agents bit on my query.

The more complicated answer is because I read enough stuff written by both types of authors - traditional and indie - to know that marketing was going to be my responsibility either way.

Sure a house will do all the formatting, printing and maybe even provide a cover and blurb, but they don't sell you and your book like they used to do. They don't have to because the world of reading has changed so drastically in the past few years.

I was old school (AKA: green) when I finished my first book. I thought you had to have an agent, publisher and a cross-country book tour to be an official Author.

And then there's the other thing I considered the most important part – a physical book with my name on the cover.

You get some of that stuff traditional or self-published

My first book is a story I really love but the writing is admittedly a bit stiff and more focused on narrative than dialogue. It was a tough sell from the start and then I had to somehow get across the geographically specific details about a tomboy who only slightly falls into a category.

After about 20 rejections I started to research self-publishing.

You might question the strength of my MS considering I just said my book was a little stiff, but allow me to defend myself here. After my beta readers gave me massive feedback, I edited the heck out of the thing again.

Couldn’t I have shopped it again after edits?

Sure I could have sent out new queries, but I was close to 3 years invested into the book already. I wanted the characters out there. I wanted them to be living somewhere other than my computer.

Frankly, I knew it was time to set them free. I had a feeling that wouldn’t happen fast enough if I went traditional.

The query process would have taken another 3 or so months, then, if the book sold at all, another probable 2 years before it would ever make it to the shelf of a bookstore.

I made a choice.

To format the pages, proof it and find a print on demand (POD) publishing option seemed like it would be much faster.

Not to mention it would mean I’d have full control over the process.

Things you'll need when self-publishing:
  • Cover art (making it, hiring someone to create it)
  • Copyright (submitting to the Library of Congress and other legalities)
  • Barcode (for print books only - buying, attaching)
  • ISBN (buy the pack of ten if you plan to publish more than 2 books)
  • Page formatting (a time consuming and highly repetitive process)
  • Jacket copy (get your blurb together)
  • Gathering of additional pages (blanks for spacing/numbering, a copyright page, author bio, acknowledgements, etc.)
  • Headshots (for your website and other marketing materials/back cover)
  • A business plan, marketing plan and funds to execute both

Remember how I said it’s a LOT of work?

Well, it is. But all the bleeding, perspiring and tears are so worth it in the end when you have a fully completed piece of fiction in your hands.

With your name on it.

I’m not trying to scare you out of self-publishing but, in my opinion, it does take an even bigger level of dedication than writing the book in the first place. Going this route isn’t for the faint of heart, the lazy or the wishy-washy.

You’ll need to make specific choices in regard to layout and formatting that will impact the next big stage of your self-publishing process: marketing!

In the next post you’ll learn how to choose the right host for your book and why you need a deadline to stick to for its release date. HINT: It's not about them, it's about you this time.

Image courtesy ddpavumba at

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