Self-Pub – The First Steps

Ok, so if you read my last post, aka, The Long Ramble, you’ll know that my journey to where I am now wasn’t an overnight event. I had to be coaxed into self-pubbing.

Let’s start with Your Book. Is it done? And by done, I don’t mean you’ve written ‘The End’ and popped open your favorite adult beverage. I mean, have you had someone (NOT MOM!) read it, looking for flow? Do you have a beta reader? Someone who will firmly but clearly offer you constructive criticism?

If not, you need it. One of the ways I bridge chapters or scenes that are giving me grief is trot them into my critique groups. When most of my two groups say the same thing, it’s time to look over the whatever it is. Good example of this – of my most current WIP, both my Tues and Thurs groups wanted place and timeline clearly laid out. I’ll tell you the truth – I did a flashback within a flashback.motherofgod

Yeah. It’s all gone now. BUT – in the flow of my writing, it made sense at the moment. You need someone else to tell you – HEY! NO!
–But nicely.

You should be able to go back into your work, and read it, and think, Hey. Wow. I don’t really suck! (Or is that just me? I’m always surprised that I like what I’ve written when I read it as a proof on my Kindle. Usually because I’ve been working hard on various parts of it, and I don’t have a sense of the whole.)

Have you had someone or a program edit it for you? We all think we’re Shakespeare, twisting and manipulating words until the audience is just right in the palm of our hands, and a lot of times, it’s true. But not always. So you need someone, or at the very least, a copy editing program, to tell if you the sentences make sense. Personally, I have an editor, and she does both developmental feedback and line editing. We won’t go into our disagreement over the Oxford Comma. Yes, it’s a thing. Prior to writing a book, I had no idea.

If you’re on a budget, and who among us are not? – I have found three programs that are FREE – and will offer you help and suggestions.


These are the three that popped up when I looked for software. At the same time, this came up as well, and I love her idea of using all three:

At this point, this is where we are:

  1. Finish the book
  2. Have it edited, both developmentally and copy.

Once you’re there, what else should you be doing? My opinion? Go forth and find a cover artist. At this point, you might not have spent anything, particularly if you’re on the budget plan. Here’s where, and once again, this is MY opinion, you’re going to need to spend a little.

Your next step is to find a cover artist. If you’re on a schedule, while your book is being edited, go look for a cover artist. Take your time, email some of them, ask them what their policies are, ask for a sample contract. Here’s what I look for in my cover artist:

A) Ebook version
B) Print cover and facebook banners/posts
c) How many edits/revisions will they allow?
D) Do you own the cover? Can they use the cover elsewhere (I recommend strongly that you make sure you own the cover – that is, the image generated by your contract with them. A lot of images are available for purchase and use – but you and your artist will arrange them in a specific manner for your work. THAT piece is yours. Although you may want to allow them to use your work in their portfolio.)
E) What is their payment policy? All at once, before the work is done? After? Half now, half later? What is their guarantee that you’ll be happy?

Remember, they are artists, just like you are. If they do work for you, they should be compensated. I had an artist I worked with that I didn’t end up going with. I still paid her for the work she did. Anything else is inappropriate.

There’s also Canva.com, if you want to fiddle about on your own. Having done this for my pen name…be wary. But I use Canva for a lot of promo stuff – I make my own banners, posts, business cards, postcards, etc. Back to that in a moment.

At this point, you’re here:

  1. Finish book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed

Now comes the tricky part.


I watched a video from H.M. Ward where she likens your book to a three-legged stool. Your book is the seat, and the cover, sample, and blurb are the legs. Any of those are not on par, the stool will not hold up.

I like that. So look at the blurbs in the genre you’re working in. What are they doing? Longer? Shorter? Personally, I start long, and then go short. I just got a blurb review recently, and I am in the process of redoing all my blurbs. It’s worth it.

Think about it. When you’re browsing, what catches your eye? What makes you click ‘Buy’ on a book?

So back to the Canva. Check it out if you haven’t already. Canva is a great resource for the DIY side of indie publishing. I made business cards, postcards Facebook banners, pics for my Facebook author takeovers, and anything else I can think of with it. Canva doesn’t cost a thing unless you use their elements. I generally don’t need to – although like anything that doesn’t cost, there are limitations. But for me, it works nicely. It’s something to check out to see if it can be utilized as part of your toolbox.

At this point, this is where we stop for the time being.

  1. Finish Book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed
  4. Write up your blurb

This is already long enough, so I will be back in a few days to talk the next steps: Hitting The Publish Button.


In the meantime, work through those first four steps.

Onward and upward!

3 Replies to “Self-Pub – The First Steps”

    1. Thanks, Virginia! I appreciate that you had a list of how you tackled editing with a small budget. I hear that concern from a lot of writers just getting started, and what I really enjoyed about your piece is that you use all three. I’ve adopted that philosophy, and it’s made an improvement in my writing! So thank YOU! 🙂

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