Book Review – The Low-to-no Budget Self-publishing Guide

Self publishing guide

This book by Laura Winter subtitled, For the authorpreneur who wants to publish their book without breaking the bank, is definitely a book you need to read if you are interested in self-publishing. At just over 50 pages you can read it in a single sitting but don’t let the compact size of the book fool you. If you want to build a self-publishing side hustle, then this book is a good place to start. You can’t go wrong. Laura the author has written the book from a place of personal experience, after all in one year she’s been able to self publish 8 books.

So what will this book teach you about self-publishing? Let’s start with what it won’t teach you. You won’t learn about how to write a book, how to write an instant hit or guaranteed success from your books here. Laura starts out in a section titled, Overview, dispelling some myths about self publishing. Here are the myths very briefly:

  • It’s easy to self-publish: No it isn’t. Self-publishing involves the hard work of wearing multiple hats to get your book published.
  • Self-publishing equals to lesser quality: Wrong. With technology and resources out there, you can work hard and put in the effort to deliver a high quality book. The choice is yours whether you want to put in the hard work or ot.
  • You won’t make money: Also not true. Of course making money is not a walk in the park but if you write a good book, publish frequently and put in the work then you stand a better chance of making money. Laura herself is a testimony to that, she makes money from self-publishing.
  • You can never traditionally publish once you’ve self-published: It’s almost impossible to traditionally publish a book you’ve already self-published but it’s not unheard of. If you have a goal of traditionally publishing a book then keep on delivering good quality work and you stand a chance of achieving your goal.
  • Success is…: I like this one. According to Laura, success is whatever you want it to be.

Next, let’s look briefly at the other sections in the book.

WRITE THE BOOK – STRATEGIES FOR GETTING YOUR BOOK WRITTEN

Here Laura discusses three strategies to help us write our book.

Make time to write: Her first statement is obvious, if you want to be a writer, you have to write. To make time to write Laura challenges us to:

  • Schedule writing particularly to a time without distractions. Make it a habit and schedule to the same time everyday.
  • Protect your writing time. Eliminate all distractions so you can focus on your writing.
  • Build a writing routine. Set up a system and process that puts you in the mood to write. To do that some suggestions from Laura are, set a time to write, set time or word count goals, have a warm up (make yourself comfortable and prepared to write).
  • Develop writing triggers. Use habit stacking where you pair habits you are trying to build with ones you are already comfortable doing to develop the triggers. For example if you are standing in a queue at the shop, get out your phone and write a bit. Or when you take your lunch break, eat faster and spend 10 or 15-minutes to write or when you are about to reach for social media, use it to trigger a moment to write instead of wasting precious time on Facebook.
  • Learn to say No. Yes, say no to things you normally do that just suck up your time and do some writing.
  • Come prepared. Prepare to write. Plan before you start writing. For example put together an outline for your story or article. Don’t think you can sit down without a plan to start writing, as Laura said, come prepared.
  • Take a notebook everywhere. Notebooks might be a better option than phones because they are not full of distractions. Take a notebook and pen with you so you can jot down writing ideas as they come into your mind.
  • Always be thinking. Your thinking is what will help you come up with writing ideas so take the time to intentionally think.

Setting writing goals: Laura believes it is important to set writing goals. In fact setting your writing goals and working towards them is the only way you are going to get your book written. 

When setting goals make sure they are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Your goals should clearly define what you want to achieve. For example your goal may be to write one book a year. Then you have to break the goal down into tasks so you know what to work on daily. If your book is going to have 50,000 words, then how many words do you need to write daily? You need to know that.

Another good action to take is to know what your daily ‘Most Important Tasks’ or MITs are. These are the top three things you must achieve daily and they must be moving you towards achieving your goal. You should make your MITs SMART too.

Also make sure you challenge yourself and as much as possible build a writing routine you can stick to.

Laura also challenges us to keep learning. Some of her suggestions are to:

  • Read in the genre we are writing in.
  • Read outside our genre. This will improve your writing in a creative way.
  • Study other mediums such as TV, video games and podcasts to see how they present information and what you can learn from it.
  • Look for resources everywhere that will make you a better writer. These could be books you read, websites or Facebook groups.

MAKE QUALITY CHOICES

Here Laura discusses key areas where we need to make quality choices to get our book into the world once we’ve written it.

Writing software: there are lots of free ones you can use such as Word (if you already have it), Google Docs, and Evernote which you can use to compile your book together. Laura spent some money on Srivener because it helps with formatting and organising the book but you don’t need it. Though by the sounds of it, that was a worthwhile investment for Laura. Other resources she mentioned that you should check out are Nanowrimo, a writing community website with good resources to help you with your book, Scribophile, an online writing workshop and community and Grammarly for checking your book’s grammar.

Editing: Laura discusses a really important issue here, should you edit or not edit your own book? She believes we can can with some effort. Here’s some advice she provides to that effect:

  • Take time away from your manuscript before going back to read it with fresh eyes to catch areas that need amending.
  • Read it out loud to yourself.
  • Read it backwards. This is hard and akward but Laura says it does help.
  • Use beta readers. These are people who are willing to read your book for free but you should find a way to reward such people.
  • Trade edits. Look for sites where you can meet people who read your book and you read their’s. You might find such groups on Facebook.
  • Use resources like Grammarly and even the grammar and spell checker features in word processing software such as Word and Google Doc.
  • Find a book where you can learn some editing tips from.

Covers: while you don’t need a professionaly designed cover, a good quality cover is a huge factor in making your book succeed. Laura believes you can get good book covers without breaking the bank and here are someof her suggestions:

  • Canva: you can get really good quality covers from Canve both for free and paid for and even the paid for ones are quite cheap.
  • Adobe Suite: If you have design skills, why not create your own using Adobe design software.
  • Graphics apps: You can find phone apps that can help you design good covers. While designing on your phone can be challenging, it isn’t impossible.
  • Fiverr: You can pay a freelancer at a very affordable price to do it for you.

Publishing: Now on the internet it is much easier to self-publish your book. Here Laura discusses Amazon as a route to self-publishing since it is the biggest one. She touches on:

  • setting up your book genre
  • keywords
  • kindle unlimited
  • promoting your book

MARKETING AND PROMOTION

This is probably the most challenging area of self-publihsing but Laura discusses some low cost methods for getting your book out there which include:

  • building an email list which you can use to promote your work to people.
  • having a blog or website which you can use to promote your work. Combining your blog or website with an email list is a great strategy.
  • Finding places beyond your blog or website to write articles to get in front of audiences. Writing on medium is one of the way Laura promotes herself.
  • Guest blogging on other people blog sites.
  • Podcasting or vlogging can also help.
  • Using social media.
  • Don’t forget the good old word of mouth. Just telling people about what you do who hopefully will tell others.

Laura ends the book with a conclusion reviewing what she focused on in the book and encouraging us to go for it.

Let me say this, I really enjoyed this book because it distilled some actionable insights about self-publishing in a simple to understand way. What Laura writes about in this book can be done by almost anyone interested in self-publishing. Even if this book does not contain everything you need, it has enough information to get you started.

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