• Kamy Wicoff
  • I'm Thinking of Self-Publishing. Whaddya Think? (And Help!)
This blog was featured on 07/20/2016
I'm Thinking of Self-Publishing. Whaddya Think? (And Help!)

At this year's BEA conference, the talk was all e.  Ebooks, epub, e-everything. And it got me to thinking.  She Writes has an amazingly engaged, talented community, an authentic voice, and an audience.  Maybe we should think about doing some publishing ourselves.

However when I began to look at all the available tools I felt like my head was going to explode.  Create Space? Lulu? iUniverse? Scribd? Kindle Direct? Smashwords?  Which one is the best?  What are the pros and cons?  How important is it to have a universal ISBN number?  How do you set price?  Is it enough to have just an ebook, or do you need a print version, too?

I and one of stellar summer interns, ISABEL FARHI, set out to do some research into these questions, and we have managed to sort out some of the basics.  But as we dug in further, I realized we were underutilizing the best tool we have: YOU.

The whole reason I started She Writes was so none of us had to reinvent the wheel alone -- together we are the smartest kid in the room.  So I am asking for you to share your expertise.  If you have self-published, what tool did you use?  How did you decide?  What might be best for short publications, like, say, "The Best of She Writes"?

I've created discussion threads for each of the tools I'm aware of:

Create Space





Kindle Direct


Lightning Source (though that's a little bit more for independent publishers)

If you have knowledge or information to share about any of these tools, please share it!  And if you are a "self-publishing" expert or coach, feel free to reach out to me about potentially providing some guidance to me and She Writes as we explore this area.

Let's be friends

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  • Sabine A.Reed

    I really don't think it's a good idea for anyone to give away 50% of your royalty in exchange for converting your pdf format to other formats for sale. U can hire someone to do it for less. There are people who will not only design your book cover, edit your book and convert it to epub and other formats for a flat fee. It's better to self-publish through smashwords that offers better royalties, and maybe Amazon ( I am not sure about their royalty but it is bound to be better than 50%). Also all self-published authors must hire an editor, and I would also recommend hiring a cover designer because not many people can do a good job of that. Moreover, ask the editor to also edit your blurb. 

  • Monette Bebow-Reinhard

    I think if you're going to self-publish - and many do hate the submission process - you darn well better have an editor!  That's the problem I see with self-published books - and even some small presses (like mine) don't do a very good job editing.  I'm still looking for the big contract!  (Oh, I'm also an editor for hire. Cheap, because I'm just starting out, doing my first project now.)

  • Dr. Maxine Thompson

    I first self-published in 1995. My book, The Ebony Tree, was a fascimile of my mother's life. The first cover was made from a place mat company's card boards, the inside was copied Staples, computer typed pages. My cover design came from black ink that a guy put on the cover. Anyhow, I sold about 100 of those, then upgraded to a color printer and did my own cover, (not much better.). In 1997, I wasted 7,000 before I wound up with 1,000 books for No Pockets in a Shroud. I still did my own cover. I reissued both books in 1999 and 2000 with a graphic designer's cover, better editing, and a printer through my mentor's publishing company.


    Now, I've had some books published under a traditional publisher, some under my company, and some under Kindle. I use Lightning Source.  Maxine Thompson http://www.maxinethompson.com and http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com, where my blog and 9 1/2 year old Internet radio show is found. I'm on Artistfirst.com for that.

  • Jean Henry Mead

    Beware of most vanity presses. I've had ten royalty publishers over the years and have been placing my out of print books on Kindle and print editions by Create Space. It requires a lot of social networking and guest blogging to get those books before the public. If you're lucky, a fellow writer or reviewer will feature your book on his or her site. Today, my recent self pubbed book, Murder on the Interstate, is featured at Bob Sanchez's site: http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com/ I've also downloaded the book to Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, so the book will also be available online in a print edition. It only cost $39. It's well worth the effort because you have so much control over your books, including covers, which you can created yourself with Photoshop software; or hire a design artist for $100 or less, as well as formating and pricing. Kindle books priced at $2.99 or more earn royalties of 70% while those priced at 99 cents only earn 30%. The $2.99 price seems to sell more books.


    I'll be running a series of interviews about self publishing at my Mysterious Writers blog site beginning next week with a guest appearance by L.J. Sellers who has done phenomenally well with her own self published books.

  • I came across this site, http://www.2bheard.com - they will publish and convert your manuscript into a digital publication. epub, a mobi and pdf  format for free.. What I like about this site is that you can upload a pdf file (which they recommend to protect your work) and will automatically be converted into epub, and mobi. You set your own price and you receive 50% on all sales. You will reach a worldwide market. It is also a great site for playwrights, musicians, photographers, etc.

  • Michael N. Marcus

    Deborah Armstrong said, " has anyone looked into Xlibris? I have been comparing the various self publishing companies and have found that Xlibris offers the best service for the money. Just wondering if I am missing something. "


    Yes. Xlibris is overpriced, and publishes some terrible books. See http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/xlibris-is-ruining-self-publishing-by.html

  • This is all exciting, like the music business, everyone having a chance!

  • Connie Whitener

    I'm a lover of real life books. LOL. I don't have any ebooks or e-readers of any kind. I've been reading since I was three. Had a favorite book that was much like a favorite stuffed animal. I carried it around with me everywhere. :) I said all that to say... e-books are apparently the wave of the future. :)

    I recently publised a P.O.D. book via blurb using their booksmart program. 


    I did two different versions of the book. And I've received copies of both back and they turned out great. But they don't offer any e-book options.


  • Kamy: I've pubbed 3 books as an Indie & 1 with another bestselling Indie author, Karen Cantwell, a SW member. Currently working on 2 more -- one by me alone & another with a successfully published author thru traditional NY house.

    Pubbed my first book, The Naked Gardener, last August. Both in e-book & print formats. Print thru CreateSpace. Enjoying every minute of this new adventure.

    Anyone interested in this can read interviews with authors on my Blog at TheNovelette.

  • Azalie Hightower

    I have a friend that uses Xlibris. I think it's a bit costly. The product is what you approved so you really need an eye for editng and balance and etc. Any editing changes will cost you per change. You can use their stock covers or create your own. What I felt was a "rip-off" was the promotional packages that resulted in nothing. They were costly and as one ended another was presented in a new packaging. I guess I'm not a fan.

  • Sabine A.Reed

    I recently interviewed Lindsay Buroker, a successful self-published author. You can read the interview here regarding her self-publishing journey. She runs a blog E-Book Endeavors and there is a lot of good advice for writers about self-publishing and promotion.

  • Has anyone looked into Xlibris? I have been comparing the various self publishing companies and have found that Xlibris offers the best service for the money. Just wondering if I am missing something.

  • Nancy MacMillan

    Oops, sorry . . .

    "Marketing in an Electronic Age . . . my 1st steps."

  • Nancy MacMillan

    I'm fairly new to this site, but I'd like to share my thoughts.  My manuscript is in the final edit with a free lance editor.  I've been submitting queries to agents I've "researched" since Nov with no bites.  They're picky and seem to want known names, or your "Marketing Plan!" Times have changed, publishers want to see what you plan to do to promote your own work.  I, too, am considering self-publishing, however, I plan to continue to submit queries until my "Marketing Plan" is healthy.  Each day, I'm "Marketing" in some form or other.  That way, if I do self-publish, I'll have a market waiting for my release.  In a nutshell, my gut feeling is that marketing and a "Marketing Plan" are key to self-publishing success.

    I appreciate the wealth of information on this site, and I'm considering each comment as a tool toward my ultimate goal.  My Uncharted Journey into Publishing My First Book can be seen at:  http://blogofavetswife.blogspot.com/.  Todays blog is:  Marketing in an Electronic . . . my 1st steps.





  • Flora Morris Brown

    I have to agree with Sabine that self-publishing for brand new writers could be career suicide. Whenever we hear a phenomenal success story such as that of Amanda Hocking, we need to look behind the curtain where we will discover that overnight successes take many years of work and persistence.

  • Laura Hegfield

    I am so interested in exploring everyone's comments for each publishing tool. Friends and colleagues keep telling me "You should self publish" but I too feel like a fish in a huge ocean of possibilities. Thanks so much for posting this!!!

  • Sabine A.Reed

    I don't want to be a party pooper but you might want to check out this post on my blog about why self-publishing can be career suicide for new writers and the Secret to Amanda Hocking's success.

  • Carol Apple

    I don't know, but thanks for the list because I am just starting to look into it! I have just agreed to interview a writer who is in the process of self-publishing her first novel on my blog, partly to help her promote her book and partly to learn and share about self publishing.

  • Margaret

    Partner Publishing is another consideration. As of this week I have a new position with Five Star Publications: http://fivestarpublications.com/ as their marketing consultant. This is a great place to go for partner publishing and other services. Their staff is professional and helpful and their books are beautiful.  The owner Linda Radke is very friendly.They have several tiers of service including e-pub and promotions. Check it out!

    Margaret L. [email protected].

  • Cody Young

    Fascinating thread - I have just spent the last hour reading through the posts. I self-pubbed with CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle Direct, but I have since found a publisher (so it can happen!). I found KDP (kindle direct publishing) amazingly easy to use and it is great to have more than one book on my backlist. As part of the promotion for my new book I was able to put the first chapter in at the end of my kindle book - a tactic I highly recommend. More info on my blog over at http://www.codyyoungblog.blogspot.com/

  • Jan Marquart

    Candy, Don't you just love C/S. I did the pro plan with three recent new books, Voices from the Land www.createspace.com/3552509, Kate's Way www.createspace.com/3498926, The Basket Weaver, www.createspace.com/3553668 and three not on pro plan The Mindful Writer, Still the Mind, Free the Pen www.createspace.com/3546101, Echoes from the Womb, a Book for Daughters www.createspace.com/3546083 and The Breath of Dawn, a Journey of Everyday Blessings, www.createspace.com/3546000 and I am so pleased with them. Glad you had a good experience too. Don't they make the whole self-publishing project effective and delightful?

  • Sabine A.Reed

    You guys might want to consider checking out J A Konrath's A Newbie guide to self-publishing. He has been running this blog for years and it contains all the information a self-publishing author might need. He is a successful self-published author and very vocal against traditional publishers.

  • Candy O\'Donnell

    I've gone with Creatspace twice now and have not been disappointed.

  • Carol Edith Wyer

    I'm in exactly the same position and am just about to go with Smashwords. I think self publishing is the way forward these days particularly ebooks. You might also want to take a look at You Write On as they have an excellent  website where you can upload your first chapters and others will comment on them, hopefully suggesting improvements. You can self publish with them too.

    Good luck with it.