Self Publishing: Come on in the water’s fine! by Alberta Ross

In the run up to this round there was a query about self publishing. I said I would post something but as so often happens life has taken me firmly by the hand and led me away from the straight path. I am not today going to go through the various processes I took to reach self publishing. I have been re-posting the original ones on my website . The frustrations and angst can be found there:)

Today I want to encourage any who falter on the edge to take the plunge and dive in to the clear, and growing ever clearer, waters.

When I began at the end of 2009, here in the UK anyway I cannot speak for the rest of the world, self publishing tended to mean ‘Vanity Press’ with firms offering everything from okay to very dubious packages, in return for vast amounts of money. Well, they seemed vast to me, because I went into the process with so little money available it was laughable. ‘Vanity Press’ had a very bad reputation and trying to wend one’s way between them and the good publishers needed a lot of research and good luck.

For reasons which can be found on the website, I was determined to get my book printed. It was a book, so what more natural than to read it up. In books, magazines and on the web itself. It could be done was what I found. For as little, or as much, as you wished to spend.

As little as possible meant me learning the skills. I am not actually as ancient as I make out but I was retired and only just computer literate when I began the dive. I could buy books and groceries on line, and I had typed my book on the machine. That was it!

They had only come into UK homes a few years earlier. I had not learnt about DTP, PDF, photo manipulation, uploading, downloading or any such stuff. All I knew about formatting was to rely on what I was presented with when I started up the machine. I could just about cut and paste.

I tell you about this ignorance to demonstrate how easy self publishing turned out to be. It took time to learn the skills, because of my Dyspraxia, all new knowledge has to be given time, but once learnt the process was all about following instructions.

I can follow patterns, recipes and self assembly furniture plans. If they are clearly written life is simple.

I began with a printing firm down here in reality, and the very helpful gentleman guided me through the first lot of formatting and PDFing and then when his prices for the finished book became higher than I wished to charge readers I turned to Lulu. Lulu issues instructions that are very clear and simple. Take it easy, take it slow, voila I had a printed book.

E-books, almost unheard of when I began, was another skill I tried. Smashwords? – Amazingly good instruction, and again, when I eventually decided to Kindle, it was just a matter of following step by step. Along the way I learnt how to make trailers, music and photo manipulation. I am not a world expert but if one looks there are helpful instructions available and mostly offered free.

It is possible to do a basic self publish for as little as the cost of a proof copy, (do not neglect the proof copy, much can go wrong between computers). From there, one can add what one can afford, do not spend more than you can afford. Work out those sums. What would a first time, unknown author, realistically sell (okay one might hit the jackpot but. . . just in case it takes until the second or third book to make money, keep the costs down to where the rent and food can still be paid for if the miracle doesn’t happen:)

It is not as exciting as creating new worlds, of falling in and love with one’s characters, manipulating plots – it is painstaking and frustrating in various little niggles, but that exciting part of creation needs publication to entertain others. It is definitely worth the angst. To take charge from beginning to end makes that book truly yours. The best part is being in charge of what is the price of the publication and your share of it.

It is you and the platform (lulu, Amazon, Smashwords etc) who have to make any money on the book, so, as opposed to book prices that need to go through agencies, publishers, book distribution centres and shop keepers all of whom need their cut, one’s profits self publishing are higher. You can even give them away to create a buzz, prizes, review copies, if you have spent next to nothing on the process this can be of a real benefit.

So what I am saying is that if you really want to self publish, set aside time, (take time off from writing if necessary) read, research, read all instructions until it understood and in your being, then go for it.

If as sometimes may happen one has to begin again, well then, begin again. It is not a race, it is not a life saving event. Enjoy the learning process. Enjoy the experience and enjoy the reward of achievement.

Come on in the water is fine:)

To read how I came to self publishing start of at (the first) and follow on, a couple of the posts are about writing the books but most are on the process of self publishing.


Alberta Ross







  1. Thank you, Alberta, for sharing these very encouraging thoughts about self-publishing! Perhaps the most important attribute a writer interested in self-publishing can have is that will to learn new skills! And, if not planning to pay an editor, to proofread absolutely ruthlessly. The publishing industry here in the US continues to contract, and technology continues to change. Perhaps one day, folks will be reading our books on those smart phones!

    1. the contraction is happening here as well – new skills def. the satisfaction of it being all yours as well – marketing is a skill I don’t have but then the old fashioned publishers don’t do marketing for authors any more so we all have to try it:(

      I am so enjoying the process of self publishing I’m not sure I would want to go any other route now:)

  2. Great post, Alberta! It’s helpful to know that each format has its own step by step guides, it makes taking the self-publishing plunge much easier!

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