Featured

8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS.

From manuscript to fully fledged book, completely for free!

Considering self-publishing can be incredibly daunting and nerve racking, it definitely was for me.

But having recently self published my debut romance novel ‘Hope & Worth’ I was surprised that my dropping the ‘self-published author’ BOMB was such a conversation starter for closet writers and aspiring authors. So it only made sense to share how and why I did it.

So this guide is aimed at those who are up for rolling up their sleeves, skipping the middle woman all together and going straight to market by self publishing.

DISCLAIMER: This is totally my own personal experience and not a direct reflection of the self publishing process in its entirety. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if I can do it so can you!

So here’s 8 BOSS steps to becoming a SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR …

1. Write the Thing!

You can’t publish what you have not written.

It’s all well and good to research beforehand to see if self-publishing is a suitable avenue for you, but too much information can be as crippling as no information at all. So stop procrastinating and get on with writing the next great thing!

2. Edit Your Manuscript

I chose to self edit my entire 85,000+ word manuscript myself because I was on a deadline and I have trust issues. I’m working on it.

But it is imperative that you produce the best piece of work that you can and that you get fresh eyes on it. You are writing for a reader and not just for yourself. So getting feedback and having someone look over spelling errors, syntax, fact checking or even if the story and journey of the characters makes sense, is so very important. 

Of course, if money is no object then hire an editor. But if you have a friend or loved one who also happens to be a great editor, or just a good person for constructive feedback, definitely ask them to look over your manuscript. Pay them back with baked goods, massages or babysitting, whatever doesn’t cost you money.

Now I understand when I say this that time is also a currency, so bear this in mind and spend it well!

Side note: Don’t be afraid of feedback, but be wise and think about providing the best experience for your readers. 

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

3. Choose your Distributor

I researched which channels my book would work best in reaching my readers and sell well in. I went with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) independent service because I wanted an easy and free way to publish and all the prestige that came with Kindle status.

Amazon is one of the best market places for commercial fiction to market your book without any upfront costs. They have both printing facilities, Kindle and audible, so your book could be available in eBook, paperback and audiobook formats.

You get to set the royalty rate, depending on the format of your book, and they take the printing costs from book sales, commission and then send your royalties to you within 60 days if you have an international bank account number. 

For me, it was the most hassle free way of getting my book to market. 

4. Add Additional pages

This was such an afterthought for me. I was more concerned with finishing my story to the highest standard that I forgot to consider what else needs to be included like…

Copyright Page

Copyright is important. Not only does it protect your ideas and finished work as the author it also looks professional. Using your name and the year of publication along with an appropriate copyright statement constitutes to a decent copyright. You can google a standard copyright declaration and use this, or you can even purchase a copyright on your book. Choosing the former is the cheaper option of course and still acts as a protection so that no-one can pirate your work.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

‘Acknowledgments’ Page

No one writes a book alone. Whether you want to admit it or not you’ve had help. Even if it was just that colleague who would ask you every now and then how your manuscript is going. Or that friend that you sent five drafts to and they emailed you back with pages worth of notes. Thank God, your mum, your favourite barista at that coffee shop you frequent at, and even that agent who rejected you but was kind enough to give you feedback. Honour the people that helped make your book possible.

‘About the Author’ Page

Believe it or not, readers want to know who you are. They want to know what your interests are, appropriate education, accomplishments, what you enjoy doing and where you live! (Not your exact address, a general location will do).

They want to know that the person who wrote this exciting and engaging book for them is a living breathing person and not a robot. So go on, don’t be shy, tell them a bit about yourself. 

Side note: This information can also be used on the product description page for your book to give potential readers and idea of who you are.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

5. Check your Formatting

So you’ve got your manuscript, you’ve thanked every possible influencer all the way down to your nursery teacher, you’ve told your readers who you are and you’ve picked your distributor. 

Now that you know what you want to market and where you want to market it, make sure the formatting standards of your book, eBook and Paperback meet the standards of your distributing service.

I know it sounds a bit strange doing this editing back and forth, but depending on the trim size you choose for your book (the final size of your printed book), your margins, indents and chapter headings all need to be in line with your distributors requirements. You do want your book looks as legit (if not more) than the latest penguin published title, right?

eBook

Amazon’s KDP has an application called Kindle Create which helps format your manuscript for both eBook and Paperback automatically and convert it to their .kpf file format. It also allows you to check what each page of your manuscript will look so you can see how your eBook will look on different devices too. 

If publishing on KDP and you don’t use Kindle Create, make sure to format according to the Amazon’s measurement and file guidelines. 

Paperback

Similarly, check formatting and page by page measurements according to your books trim size. Be careful though as paperback formatting may need to be altered in some places in comparison to your eBook formatting.

Side note: Only include a contents page of an ebook, not necessary for a fictional paperback.

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

6. Make an Eye-Catching Book Cover

This is where judging a book by its cover is allowed. You have to create something that is eye-catching but also fits the mould of the genre or genre’s your book is in. The reason I say this is because we are creatures of habit. We will likely purchase something that looks similar to something we already have or we can associate with some familiarity. I’m pretty sure you could describe the cover of E.L James ’50 Shades of Grey’ in a heartbeat. 

Design

When designing your cover try not to go for imagery that is too intricate as the quality may not translate.

If you aren’t splashing out on a photoshoot or hiring a graphic designer you can use Canva, a great website for creating images for multiple use. But because Canva’s free image library didn’t have what I envisioned for the cover of my book I searched and dowloaded royalty free images from Google to create the main image on the cover of my book. To sum up, Google is your friend.

For your cover you’ll need to create 3 images…

Front cover: Name of the book and author

Spine: Name of the book and author

Back cover: Blurb and ISBN (Amazon KDP will automatically add this for you if you don’t have one already).

Once you have created a design that you feel represents your book and you’ve run it by a trusted friend, or a few, make sure you save them as an PNG images. This is the highest quality and will translate well to the digital and print of your book.

If the image still seems pixelated/low quality IMG.Online is a good website to help enhance the pixel quality of your cover or other images.

Side note: The great thing about Canva is that it saves your previous designs so you can always come back to them and use them for additional promo images!

Editing

You can edit together the front image, spine and back image of the book on Word or Pages (for Mac) into one single image. I dowloaded KDP’s book cover template and used this to make sure my cover was in correspondence with their measurements. Make sure you converted this into a PDF file.

Once you’re happy with the size and look, you’re ready to add it to your book!

| 8 Steps to Self Publishing LIKE A BOSS |

6. Create a Standout Product Description

Once again look at how books with a similar genre, audience or author have been presented on their live book page. You’ll need to include a brief description of the book which can be the blurb, any reviews you may already received, information about the Author (told you this would come in handy), and any website or social media links.

HTML

To make sure your book description stands out use HTML tags that allow you to make paragraphs, headings, italicise font, make font bold etc. You must do this according to KDP, or your chosen distributors, HTML guidelines.

If, like me, you find it all too complex, HTML-Online is a great free tool that shows you what the text will look like on your live book page, whilst mirroring the appropriate tags in a separate box for you to copy unto your book description page.

7. Determine your pricing

We all know the hard work you’ve put into your book. But let’s face it, selling it at £1000 a piece sounds may sound like an appropriate amount but most everyday readers will straight up laugh at the price of your product. Again, look at books that are similar to yours, both new and established, and see how much they sell for. Don’t price it so cheap that your readers think that you don’t value the book you’ve worked so hard on.

Amazon also takes a commission for their publishing services so make sure you price it (particularly paperback copies) with this in mind. 

8. Hit publish!

Well done! Now that you’ve gone through each section of preparing your book for publishing, double check everything.

Once you’re happy go ahead and click ‘publish’ and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back. 

You’ve covered all bases, from manuscript to print, and basically begun to understand the work of about 5 different types of people who make publishing a book possible. So now you can do the steady work of regularly promoting your book. Name dropping it in conversation with people, reading a copy on the train or bus (if you can stand reading your book at this point), and emailing Oprah to add it to her book club. 

So go and treat yourself. Have a dance party, take a holiday. Because you my friend, have just made your dream come true!

Follow me on

Seasons of Love

What is a ‘Seasoned Lover’?

A seasoned lover is typically a phrase not all that referenced. This idea that something has been accustomed to particular conditions or even been flavoured. Certainly you and I have heard or used the term ‘seasoned’ for a traveller, or a turkey (you can see my mind is still on last year’s Christmas dinner). But I’ve only recently heard it being used in regard to a persons experience with love.

Of course in theory it makes sense that love, like wine, could get better over time, or over seasons. Love after all is an individuals choice and a process in which time is an essential part of. But the meter in reality (dare I say this as a romance writer) doesn’t always prove the most exciting. The value of time is not exactly a popular precept in modern culture nowadays.

Seasoned love is not popular in culture.

Growing up my mum definitely didn’t say to me, “Finding love later in life is a good thing,” and popular culture’s #Relationship Goals don’t exactly scream this sentiment from roof tops either. Modelling this in picturesque snapshots of what idealistic love looks like with younger heart throbs like Twilight’s Edward and Bella or Disney’s Jasmine and Aladdin. Leaving the less palatable versions of people who have storied past’s of heartbreak, divorce, unconventional couplings, being solo parents, health issues , etc., with barely a look in or a chance to be represented. 

Today’s idea of romance, or certainly my generations idea, is to be young, single yet get the perks of being in a committed relationship without having to declare that you’re in one. And this casual culture of romance doesn’t always allow for flaws. In our microwave culture, love moves quicker, until we hit a wall in the marathon that is “relationship” and when we can’t get past the flaw wall, we bow out…

Social media and online dating can of course offer opportunity for connection and deeper long-lasting intimacy but the casting of such a wide net actually can be counter productive in producing a laziness and lack of commitment when we can so easily move on to the next one. A kind of desensitising takes place where the ideal image of romance starts to become only a fiction or a hashtag and we settle for what is available to us, forgetting that we have whole lives ahead of us, and not everything is for now.

This idea that things happen in time, “Good things come to those who wait”, isn’t exactly in line with the use of Zac Efron’s “YOLO” (you only live once) tattoo. This sense of immediacy makes us feel like time is running out and if we don’t get the partner, or hook-up with that person/s, or live your best life (like, right now), our world will implode. 

Let me state this, what I’m not trying to say is being younger means you’re dumber and destined to fail at love until you reach a certain age threshold. Nor am I saying that being older automatically makes you wiser and more likely to publish the next ‘5 Love Languages’. I know of some younger souls who have a wealth of wisdom in romance and some older individuals who sure are clueless about want they need in relationships. 

‘Hope & Worth’ by D.A. Stevens

What I am saying is it’s all about the individuals perspective first, and how they see themselves being loved and loving. Greater perspective in life tends to be moulded when you’ve exercised patience, and experienced more of life itself and the people in it. Whilst perspective is not the sexiest word in the dictionary, and neither is satisfying, it is where development starts. Unfortunately our modern culture moves way too fast for patience (what even is that?) But let’s be honest, we are affected by what we see, or don’t see.

A lot of what mediatised and popular culture shows us about romance conditions our expectations of it, and when said expectations aren’t met we are left with this gap that can leave us feeling unwanted, unworthy of a worthwhile kind of love or like we have a third arm.  

What I am saying is it’s all about the individuals perspective first, and how they see themselves being loved and loving. Greater perspective in life tends to be moulded when you’ve exercised patience, and experienced more of life itself and the people in it. Whilst perspective is not the sexiest word in the dictionary, and neither is satisfying, it is where development starts. Unfortunately our modern culture moves way too fast for patience (what even is that?) But let’s be honest, we are affected by what we see, or don’t see.

A lot of what mediatised and popular culture shows us about romance conditions our expectations of it, and when said expectations aren’t met we are left with this gap that can leave us feeling unwanted, unworthy of a worthwhile kind of love or like we have a third arm.  

A healthy expectation of romance.

A healthier expectation of romance has to come from somewhere, right? Absolutely! Fiction can be that source, since we all know that writers are one of the many types of people that look at the world and turn it over again and again in our minds to present some kind of message to the world. Or, to point out a blind spot in our culture’s periphery and give helpful insight. At least that’s what I think our job should be anyway. 

I personally took on this challenge with my latest book ‘Hope & Worth’ where I used my own, my friends and loved ones experiences and penned it down with a whole bunch of imagination (this may be the reason why you’re reading this blog in the first place). I had read and continue to read books about wonderful humans who find love in both their young years, older years and everything in between. And, since we’re comparing, I have to say there is greater understanding of what one wants in life, or, at the very least, a more likely tendency to question what that is the older they are. “What do I want and who do I want to do it with?” The launch of every romance. 

But, if I haven’t already lost you ‘pretty young things’ to thoughts of irrelevance and typical millennial insecurities, or you ‘wiser owls’ to assuming that this post is an indulgent and naive rambling of such insecure millennial, please answer me this; is love about the long game?

Why is a seasoned lover more popular in fiction?

Being older, or more advanced in years, isn’t exactly the stuff in which blockbuster movies are made of. It’s not often you follow the protagonist through their teen years, university and/or work years, well into their lives and so on, before they find a love that lasts. But romance is certainly like this in reality. There isn’t always just the one moment, one person, one marriage, one sexual encounter and so on. There are episodes, cycles, chapters, even volumes. And fiction certainly has a tighter grip on exploring this journey than culture does, which is why I fell in love with it.

From my experience, most romance fiction that centralise the story around older heroines and protagonists capitalise on what culture seems to miss; the growth of the individual. These stories don’t negate the experiences of the characters earlier years, but they do use them as lessons. 

As someone in my “young” middling twenties, I can sound somewhat contradictive in my view, after all I’m not all that “seasoned” in life myself. But this is literally my personal experience of reading and writing and living in the world and finding my views on romance and the individual constantly being contended with the worlds ever changing culture. After all, we do stay the same as humans. We want two basic necessities in life; love and health. But how we go about receiving and giving these things is an entirely different story. One that writers and readers alike get to experience in various different ways, with various different people, in time. 

Follow me on