self-publishing questions

Confused? How to Start? Top Self-Publishing Questions Answered

Self-Publishing is My Passion

By Deborah S Nelson, Author-Book Coach-Speaker

As a self-publishing coach working at the leading edge of digital publishing, I often meet unpublished writers who “don’t know what they don’t know!” Two years ago, one gal said to me, “Well… $5,000 to publish a book! I will go to one of those free self-publishing companies online!

But she didn’t know what she didn’t know. Two years later, she’s back, no further along than she was two years ago. To her credit she has not given up, but now knows it costs money, time, knowledge, and pricey software to publish a book online from home. Now she knows that what I included in my “VIP” Publishing Package was an incredible value. Now she realizes that the cost of the book cover and interior design ALONE could cost half that much. You don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s change that right now. This article addresses the top 7 questions commonly asked about self-publishing.

top self-publishing questions

Popular Self-Publishing Questions

How Does Independent
Publishing Work?

The real definition of self-publishing is a the process whereby an author becomes their own publisher. This involves preparing the work for printing, distribution, and sales. In times past , which meant writer hired a printing company to print their books. The distribution and sales was left up to the author. In today’s digital age, self-publishing most often refers to self-designing the book cover and interior layout and submitting your digital file to a print on demand company. The print on demand company digitally prints each book as it is ordered and ships it to the person who purchases the book online.

How Long Will it Take to
Publish My Book?

The length of time it takes to publish  a book online can vary and take anywhere from 3 months to year. Now let me qualify that statement. If the book is a standard size book, with a 4-color cover and black and white interior, you can create a professional book in 3-4 months if you the process or are working through a publishing coach or course. If publishing a cookbook, photography book, or a children’s book that requires 4-color printing, these books can take longer, and are more complicated. When I help someone publish a book with my “do-it-yourself private coaching” package, the fast-track program takes 3 months, and the more calm program takes 4 months. The publishing process starts once your manuscript is written and edited. The final proofreading takes place right before printing.

When Did Self-Publishing Start?

Self-publishing has been alive since the the printing press. In the early years, self-publishing was known as vanity publishing. An author with a manuscript not accepted by traditional publishing companies hired a printing company to print small quantities. However, these days, self-publishing is nearly synonymous with print on demand process, meaning a single book is printed, once it is purchased online. With print on demand, no inventory is required, making self-publishing very affordable. This allows for a small investment of 2-10k for most books, compared to 100k and more to publish a book through traditional means. However, before embarking on self-pubishing a book, consider the significant expenses of self-pubilshing services and factor these into your decision.

What Does Self-Publishing Cost?

Are you a graphic artist? Do you know how to navigate through sophisticated and expensive software programs? If not, hiring a graphic artist to design your book cover will be an expense. The same is true for the interior layout and design. Additionally, it is important to hire a content editor, a copy editor and a proofreader to clean up your manuscript. If you try to do this yourself, I guarantee you will miss many errors, and ambiguous and confusing statements no matter how you good of a writer you are. This is because there’s a sort of immunity to errors that “kicks in” while writing.

Your brain blocks out details while you are in the creative passion of writing. Even editors who are also authors, hire or enlist others to edit and proofread their manuscripts. All of these areas, graphic design, editorial, and promotional are skills that take years to master. If you want a book to sell, use in speaking, or to offer clients, you’ll need to hire professionals to do these tasks.

Can You Make A Living Self-Publishing?

Many writers want to know if  they can make a living self-publishing their books. Surprisingly,  many self-published authors on are now making the New York Times Bestsellers list! Amanda Hocking has made a million dollars by publishing romantic e-books online. Many authors are make a part or full-time living through selling their books. However, most people making the big bucks are selling fiction or romance novels.

Additionally, a pattern is developing in which authors writing books series are very successful. Whether a published author through traditional or digital means, an author will need to write and publish multiple books. Indeed, they must be involved in the marketing and promotional process to be successful. Having said that, being a self-published author creates many opportunities for consulting, speaking, and giving seminars and workshops. Selling books is not the only way to profit from becoming an self-published. author. For more exact and detailed information including charts and graphs, see the Author Earnings Report.

What are Tools for Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing in the digital age is a very new industry. I have worked in both traditional printing and self-publishing, and a lot of changes are causing many questions, controversy and confusion. However, being able to self-publish allows ordinary people a great avenue for self-expression and sharing knowledge and wisdom that would normally be unavailable. At Publishing SOLO we have created self-publishing tools especially for those publishing a book for the first time. Indeed, one of the most important tools is the Intent to Publish Agreement, available free from this site. Plus, a second critical self-publishing tool is the Self-Publishing Checklist, which outlines publishing basics in chronological order. Lastly, the Self-Publishing Toolkit a $47 value, includes all the above and more for free when you join pubishingSOLO.

Best Sites for Writers Who Want to Publish

Many of the self-appointed self-publishing sites are really just print on demand businesses. A printing company who offers their services to writers who want to self-publish is hardly a self-publishing company. These are tricky semantics. Technically, they serve self-publishing authors, but it is actually the author who is the true self-publisher–not the printing company.

In reality, the best self-publishing sites offer tools, tips, info, and resources to help writers become published authors. The bigger picture of self-publishing includes more than just print on demand companies.  Therefore, we envision a creative and robust independent book publishing industry reaching beyond print on demand. Photography and music are years ahead of book publishing, having developed systems for creating and distributing the works. Bear in mind, independent book publishing is in the early stages. Lastly, the following sites may be of interest to you:

Guy Kawawsaki (Author of APE); The Writer’s Digest (Writing and Publishing Your Book); CreateSpace Pricing | Publishing SOLO

Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

Have a Dream to Publish—
But Lack Time or Know-How?

Look no further. This potent and detailed DIY publishing guide grants you the time and know-how. Learn how to self-publish a book by doing it! Once you become a published author, friends, family, and peers see you in a whole new light! This unique system propels both aspiring and seasoned authors through the digital publishing process step by step. You won’t even need your completed manuscript to start!