The Good and the Bad of Being a First-Time Self-Published Author

Lorraine RegulyGuest post
by Lorraine Reguly

This post is for all you writers out there who have the dream of becoming a self-published author.

As a recent self-publisher, I wanted to share a few things – bad and good – about my experience. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did during my journey. I want you to easily attain your dream.

The Bad

At the end of June, I finally self-published my very first book of short stories. Because it’s fairly short in length, it’s only available as a digital edition.

This leads me to my first regret: I cannot – yet – hold a giveaway on Goodreads.

Why? To hold a giveaway on Goodreads, the author must provide the winner with a physical copy of a book. Ebooks are not yet allowed in the Goodreads giveaway program.

Now I have to create a print edition with CreateSpace so that I can hold a giveaway. Right now, I’m working on doing this. Fortunately, my ebook contains 8227 words, and so surpasses the minimum requirement of 24 pages CreateSpace has mandated for print books.

My second regret involves the cover.

When I first decided to self-publish, I was given an opportunity to have a cover created for me, free of charge. Because my manuscript wasn’t ready for publication at that point – and because I was unsure of what name I was going to use (I was considering a pseudonym) – I lost my chance when I was finally ready. By that point, the designer had changed her mind. Here is the cover I could have used:

Terri's TalesWhen I found out that the offer was no longer available, I tried to create my own cover. Because I’m not a graphics artist (I’m a writer!), this is what I ended up with:

Risky Issues black and red cover

I then had another offer of a cover, but it looked similar to the one I created myself, so I finally decided to hire someone to create a cover for me. Unfortunately, the price I was quoted didn’t include an image! However, the designer was able to incorporate my stick-guy into the design at no extra charge.

After asking my blog readers for their opinion on which cover was the most eye-catching, this is the cover I ended up using:

Ebook Cover - Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly

I’m still not entirely happy with the cover, though.

The Good

My self-publishing experience wasn’t entirely horrible. I DID do a few things correctly.

I found four excellent beta readers whom I trusted would give me critical feedback on my stories without sugar-coating anything, which they did. Without them, my stories would not be as good as they are. Seriously. Their suggestions and comments were not made in vain. They truly helped me improve the stories!

I had help formatting my ebook from a professional. I attempted to do it myself, but I ran into a few technical problems. Ultimately, I turned to Rich Meyer, who helped me format the book to perfection!

I had help editing Risky Issues – and I’m an editor and an English teacher! When I thought my manuscript was perfect, I printed it out and gave it to my parents to read (for the first time!) and I’m sure glad I did, because there were three minor boo-boos to fix. This just goes to show you that you should always, always, ALWAYS get a second or third pair of eyes on your work, no matter how perfect you think it might be! Chances are, because it’s YOUR writing, YOU won’t be able to see your own errors, whether they’re developmental or grammatical. I didn’t really believe this, but, sadly, it’s true. It’s one of the pitfalls of being a writer.

Finally, I mentioned that I was working on my book (even when I wasn’t!) on social media and in some of my blog posts, to keep reminding others that a book was, indeed, forthcoming. Plus, I asked a few people if they’d write an honest review of Risky Issues in exchange for a free copy. I’m pleased to announce that Risky Issues has already received some great reviews. Hopefully the “hype” I created, coupled with the reviews, will lead to some sales!

Now, even though I still have to add my book to Smashwords, market it, and do a few other things, I hope that you have learned something from my experiences as a first-time self-publisher and that you are better-equipped when you finally make the decision to self-publish YOUR book!

Lorraine Reguly is an English teacher-turned-freelance writer and editor, You can learn more about her from her author website or her Amazon author page.

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14 thoughts on “The Good and the Bad of Being a First-Time Self-Published Author”

  1. I’m glad you found Rich Meyer, Lorraine. Without him my books would not be what they are. And I am also glad to hear you emphasize the need for outside eyes, in spite of your proficiency with English. Poor editing and formatting have been the biggest barriers preventing the loss of the stigma against self-published authors.

    And I do recommend adding the Creatspace paper book. O sell more paper than e-books and without those sales I think I would have given up as a failure.

    Thank you for an honest and insightful post.

    1. Yvonne, you are sooo right; the stigma remains because many self-pubbers don’t seek outside editing. While some trad-pubbed books could use a few edits, too, errors tend to be more plentiful in self-pubbed books. Often when I do a book review on Wording Well, I’ve had contact with the author, and so relay the errors I’ve spotted to them, often for free, so that they may make the corrections to their manuscripts, which will ultimately lead (hopefully) to an improved view of self-published books. 🙂

      As for creating a print copy of my book – I am! In fact, I have already received a proof copy from CreateSpace. Unfortunately, there are some taxation issues I need to address first before my book will be available in print to the world. (I’ll be blogging about these issues on my new author site, if you want to know what they are.)

      As for Rich? Yeah, he’s great! 🙂

  2. Hi. Thanks for the post. It broke down many of the key steps of self-publishing, and I took similar steps. Since I dawdled a few months before actually publishing, I had the interior template and cover design ready before receiving my manuscript back from my editor.

    While I was looking for an editor, I started searching for a cover designer. I was very lucky to find Graphicz X Design, and I had a great cover going in. His rates were fair and in line with the rates I was seeing for a custom cover. He was also very responsive and ended up helping shepherd other parts of the publication process.

    Reading the blogs, I found Joel Friedlander’s Bookman templates, and decided to use one of his templates for my interior design. I ran into a snag but when I contacted them, they helped me with it. I’m very happy with the look of the book’s layout..

    I also had issues with the GoodReads Giveaway, because I was having trouble getting my book onto GoodReads before it was available on Amazon. Their staff finally loaded my book onto GoodReads, but it meant the Giveaway started two days before the book was published on Amazon instead of two weeks.

    I found an editor, but still ended up doing some last minute proofreading after I received the proof copies from Createspace. I thought it was ready, but reading a print copy convinced me otherwise.

    But I was very happy with the self-publishing process.

    It was an amazing experience to witness the process of turning a Word document into a book I could hold in my hand.

    My book is Prey, published July 1st.

    1. Kathryn, it sounds like you had a similar experience to mine. 😉 Congratulations on self-pubbing your first book, too!

      I also thought my book was ready for printing, but when I received the proof copy from CreateSpace, I, too, found that I want to change a few things before it is deemed world-worthy.

      July 1st must’ve been a good day. I published Risky Issues on July 1st, too!

  3. Lorraine, congratulations! It’s a great feeling when you finally get that book out there for all the world to see. And believe me, with the help you sought, you had a lot fewer speed bumps than many. It’s obvious that you did a lot of research, asked a lot of questions and took suggestions to heart, and that made your process go much more smoothly than it might have. And … it’s all a learning experience. After just publishing my 13th book, I’m still learning. But it’s all fun and hugely satisfying. Enjoy.

    1. Melissa, you’re correct. I had such a great experience because of many things I did beforehand, but I also learned a lot from other indie authors, especially you. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve taught me.

      Congratulations yourself! 😉 I see even more books in your future.

      Thanks again for your support and also for sharing your wisdom with others, including your motto, “Cooperation, not competition!”

      I love that attitude! D

  4. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Indie World, Lorraine!

    As far as too many eyes on your work, never forget the adage: “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” I use trusted betas–some friends, some other authors, and one very critical person with an “eagle eye.” In the end, the hard work is up to us…but we can get by with a little help from the experts!

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