Six Tips for Successful Self Publishing

by Debra Rosenberg
published in Community

I’m thrilled to be a guest columnist on DIYMFA! Having recently gone through the process of self publishing my novel, Flirting with Monogamy, I’m looking forward to sharing a few pointers and helpful hints of what I learned during the process.

First of all:

1) Do Your Homework

There are numerous outlets for self-publishing a book.  I used Createspace, the self publishing arm of Amazon.  Createspace came strongly recommended through several friends who had also used it for their books.  More important, their royalties were one of the highest I found during my research.  I found the staff to be helpful and they were always able to answer my questions promptly, despite my daily stressed out phone calls.  I was afraid they might put me on some kind of notification in their system to avoid my calls, kind of like airports have to keep potential terrorists from flying, but fortunately, that didn’t happen.

Once I’d decided on Createspace, it was time to figure out what I would need to use their services for, what I could do on my own, and which friends would provide a service at a lower rate than Createspace, or better yet, help me out of the kindness of their heart in exchange for nothing more than a meal or two.

I don’t know about you, but I like to think of myself as a writer.  I am not a computer programmer, graphic designer, or editor.  If you take one piece of advice out of this post it would be:

2) Hire a Professional Editor!

Whether you use Createspace to edit your book, or hire someone to do it, do not think you can do it yourself. It makes no difference if you flunked out of English Composition or you received straight A’s. You have probably revised your book no fewer than 5,473 times.  You could probably recite most passages from memory. Believe it or not, someone with a fresh eye will still found typos. If it’s just not in your budget, enlist the help of a detail-oriented friend.  Make sure they are ruthless!  You don’t want someone who will not be thorough because he is afraid of hurting your feelings.  There is nothing worse than a book with typos! It screams “amateur.”

I hired a former writing teacher of mine.  Not only did she line edit and correct my shocking amount of typos, she also made suggestions, most of which I ended up including. I think she helped me make my book that much stronger. She also charged me less than Createspace would have charged, and I’m sure she gave me a far more thoughtful critique.

3) Take Care With Your Cover

Unless you are an amazing artist or visual creative type, you will want to seriously consider using a professional comapny to design


your cover for you, or find someone who can help you.  There’s more to it than finding a pretty picture that you think works for your book, and sending it in.  There are specific size requirements and unless you are a graphic designer, you will have no idea what those requirements mean.

Fortunately, one of my closest friends is a graphic designer.  I was thrilled with the cover she designed for my book.  She understood the requirements involved and sent it off to Createspace so I didn’t have to deal with it.  I’ve wanted to pay her but she won’t let me.  I will be trying to treat her to lunch for the rest of my life.

If you can enlist the help of a friend, I would definitely recommend doing that.  If not, most self publishing companies will design a cover for you that will range anywhere from $399.00 to $1199.00, depending on your needs.  You can also design your own.

4) Don’t Neglect Your Marketing Copy and Author Bio

The marketing copy is the description of your book on the back cover or, in the case of ebooks, the description on Amazon and other websites.  The marketing copy, along with the cover, are what will make people want to buy your book!

Since I find it tough trying to convey what my book is about without giving away all the secrets, I paid Createspace to do that for me.  I was relatively happy with the description they came up with, but did end up making a few changes.

5) Never Underestimate The Complications of a Kindle Conversion

I figured that once I sent in my manuscript, the powers that be at Createspace would magically turn it into an eBook.  I was wrong.

It’s a bit like the cover.  There are all kinds of technical issues to deal with.  I chose to have Createspace do this for me although you do have the option of doing it yourself.  Since I require Tech support to practically open my email, paying Createspace $79.00 to do it for me seemed a small price to pay to retain my sanity.

6) The Devil May Lurk in the Details

Createspace took care of all the little things that never occurred to me, like an ISBN number and a Library of Congress number.

The ISBN number is imprinted on your books detail page in the front. This number identifies your book title and allows for more efficient marketing of your book to booksellers and libraries.  There is no charge for this.

The Library of Congress number enables libraries to purchase your book title and enter it into their card catalogue system.  It also looks really cool and professional on your books detail page.  The cost was $49.00.

All told, self-publishing my book cost approximately $1,700.00.

Having a real live book to hold after all the hard work I went through writing it…priceless!


head shot 1Debra Rosenberg is the author of the recently released novel, Flirting with Monogamy and the blog, Women of a Certain Age.  Keeping it Flirty and Fabulous at Forty, Fifty and Beyond. When she’s not writing, she’s works as an Extra in film and television.  She spent twenty years in the fashion industry where she gleaned enough knowledge to make sure the characters in her novel are always well dressed. Debra lives in New York City with her husband, son and neurotic Labradoodle, Lola.

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