Fall 2020. And a turn of the season that also seemed to invite in a turn in my life. Writing has always been my secret comfort—like that first sip of coffee in a sleepy house. The idea of being an author, though, never sat long with me. I felt clueless and incapable. Where would I start? And where would I find the time? And there’s just no way. Me? Yeah, right.
Then, one morning, I checked my email and saw my last reminder to be a part of The Tiny Book Course. I was interested, but concerned about the limited time, resources, and self-doubt that wouldn’t shake off.
Yet, still I couldn’t resist the urge to just try. To see what happens. And so I did.
Since completing The Tiny Book Course, which turns out to be much more of a continuous, winding journey—I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share with fellow self-publishers. I should also mention that there’s likely no way I could have started the process and published my book without the support and guidance I received from the TBC instructors & community.
First, know this: Play was born as an idea for a download for sale somewhere on the internet. I didn’t have a clue about cover design, ISBNs, pricing, or anything to do with creating a physical book. Following my gut to join The Tiny Book Course took me on an entirely new journey.
Since publishing Play, many people have told me about their desire to write a book. A close friend of ours showed me her perfectly illustrated children’s book. I had no clue that she was working hard on this behind-the-scenes. Amazing!
So here’s my personal nudge to you—write your book. Do it.
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page” — Jodi Picoult
5 things I learned as a self-published author:
1) Pricing for different formats turns my brain to mush. Complete mush. I don’t know why this was so difficult, but I just couldn’t settle on a price for the hardcover. The problem is that I felt I must absolutely offer all formats: Paperback, Hardcover, and eBook. I love books I can hold and smell, so there was no reason for me to have an eBook. My decision to publish a hardcover is purely selfish. I love hardcovers. The paperback is perfect and enough.
2) The tech! I consider myself somewhat tech savvy, but getting the barcode placed correctly on the cover almost had me crying under my desk. Do yourself a favor—hire it out. I knew immediately that my somewhat savvy tech skills were not up to this job. Know what you’re good at, what you actually want to spend your time doing, and where you’re far better off calling in help.
3) ISBNs—you’ve got options. The whole ISBN thing was confusing to me. What’s an ISBN? An International Standard Book Number. Essentially, a code that helps with tracking all the books. You can find them for free or pay for them. If you pay for them, they’re not cheap. So you might play tug of war with the decision to go free vs paid like I did. Here’s an article to help with that.
4) Have someone look over your work. I worked with editor, Andrew Fox, to polish up my initial draft and 2nd edition. The feedback and guidance I received was phenomenal. Andrew pointed out things I hadn’t noticed. And when you’re staring at the same words repeatedly—you kinda stop noticing the tiniest details. So, have someone look over your work. They’ll catch the things you don’t see, and they’ll make everything better.
5) The work is never finished. If I don’t stop myself, I’ll have a thousand editions of any book I write. Maybe 1,004. The nagging pull to add or make parts better is exhausting, so I’ve had to stop myself. There’s always work to do, always. Set a finish date, honor it, and call it good.
What’s most amazing is how proud I am of my 1st book, Play. The sense of accomplishment that follows sharing your work with the world is a big deal.
Finally, here’s why I think self-publishing is a wonderful space to be in:
- The only thing standing in your way is you.
- You have total control over your project.
- No deadlines. (But have one anyway. Cross that finish line.)
And holding YOUR book in your hands is both powerful and comforting. It’s not just about the work that you put into making your book, it’s also very much about the life experiences and uniqueness that is YOU—and that went right onto those pages.
I’d love to know… are you a self-published author? Where are you on your book journey?
Leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.