How To Self Publish a Book and Become a Writer

How To Self Publish a Book and Become a Writer
Carly Jacobs

I think most people harbour a secret fantasy of writing a best seller. Be it a thriller, romance or even an instructional manual on leatherworking or raising labradors, most of us feel like we have a book inside us somewhere.

The hard thing is convincing a publisher to buy your manuscript. It’s even harder now that hard copy book sales are (mostly) on the decline and e-readers are becoming increasingly popular. Rather than beg at the feet of the remaining profitable book publishing houses, there’s another solution. You could self-publish. Self-publishing is not just for cult leaders or beatnik poets – there are heaps of legitimately excellent writers out there who self-publish and are quite successful at it.

So if you’ve always fancied yourself a bit of a wordsmith and you’re convinced you could be the next Stephanie Meyer (is she still a relevant reference? Is Twilight still cool?) here’s what you need to know about self-publishing.

how to self publish a book

How To Self Publish a Book and Become a Writer 

1. Test your idea out first 

Writing a book just because you want to probably isn’t going to be the money spinner you think it’s going to be. Make sure your topic is something that people are hankering to find out more about. Check Amazon best selling lists, New York Times bestseller lists and Goodreads recommendations to see what’s popular in the genre you’re writing about and seek out the successful books that aren’t written by famous people. Not to dis famous authors but fame is certainly a big player in why a book is performing well. Look at the newer writers or debut books – that’s where your answers are.

2. Understand that it will probably cost you money and it’s unlikely it will make you any money 

It’s a fact that a lot of budding authors like to ignore but not many people make enough money to write books full time. You’ll probably have to invest at least a couple of thousand dollars for a very basic book and if you break even, that’s really great. It’s important to set realistic expectations.

3. Think of your book as a fancy business card 

I once saw Lisa Messenger speak and she said her books are basically fancy business cards. She uses them to promote herself and whatever project she’s working on at the time. Books are also a great way to legitimise yourself. There’s something incredibly tangible about a book.

4. Once you’ve got your idea down get writing 

And set yourself a deadline – three months, six months. Don’t give yourself too much time or you’ll only use it. Get it done and get it published. Hot tip: If you’re worried about procrastinating, pre-sell your book and lock in a public release date. Nothing will get you to publish a book on time like customers that have pre-paid for it!

5. Decide if you want to publish print or digital or both 

Hot tip, if you’re going to do print you might as well do digital too. Definitely, do digital but think about the benefits and drawbacks of print. Print is expensive, you have to include postage costs and your book might not be the kind of book that people want to own hard copies of. Print books are excellent marketing aids but make sure you know exactly what the purpose of the book is. Is it to sell a course that you have? Is it to raise awareness of yourself as nutritionist/fitness guru/behaviour management expert? Make sure your intentions are clear before you go jumping in.

6. Find people to help you

And also, pay them. Chat to Kelly – she’s the master at this. She has a program and services that help people to get their books written if they don’t have time and honestly, who does? 

If you don’t know what you’re doing – get help. Kelly has published more books than I can count for herself and for other people so she knows all the traps you can fall into. Like making sure to keep your book under a certain weight for efficient posting. Little things like that.

7. Market, market, market

No one will buy your book if you don’t pimp it! Tell everyone you’ve written a book at every opportunity. Speaking of which, Kelly and I wrote a book – nice segue there right? 

8. Launch 

Have a book launch, even it’s only online. Send out emails to your email list, pimp it on Facebook. Make a big ol’ fuss about it. Pretend you’re JK Rowling releasing the last Harry Potter book and film yourself on Instagram stories sipping champagne and celebrating. No one will make a fuss about it if you don’t.

9. Keep writing 

Keep on writing and keep on publishing books – take the momentum and go with it. Also make sure you target your existing customers as they’re the ones that are most likely to buy from you again.

If you want to know how to self-publish a book, get a career as a writer or run an online course, this week’s episode of Straight & Curly as all those little nuggets of goodness.

If you were going to self publish a book, what would it be about?

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  1. Mykki 4 years ago

    I have written and started writing so many cool fiction novels that never see the light of day and that’s because rejection fucking hurts. And I’ve had my manuscripts rejected by a lot of literary agents. Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it anymore – I’ll just write the book and publish it online for free. Will people read it if it’s free? Maybe, maybe not.

    I feel like publishing a fiction novel is a different monster than publishing an instructional and self-promotional book. I wonder which one is easier to pitch?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Oh definitely. There’s so much money in self improvement and a publisher can make decent coin on small sales in that genre. With fiction, the really need to know they’re backing a winner.

  2. Kathryn OHalloran 4 years ago

    I make my living as a self published writer. It’s a tough way to make a living, and getting tougher. Most people I know who make money at this are releasing around a book a month and spend as much time on marketing as on writing. Sometimes when friend bitch about their 9-5 jobs, I have real envy!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      You’re a legend! What type of books do you write? You’d know so much more about this than I do!

      • Kathryn OHalloran 4 years ago

        I have two pen names, one for romance and one for urban fantasy. The urban fantasy is so much more fun to write but the romance makes the money.

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