I Wrote and Self-Published A Book: Here’s How to Do It and What Happened

So, if you’re new to Housewife Hustle, then you might not know that I wrote and published a book in 2019. While the book wasn’t about blogging, publishing ebooks and books isn’t a foreign concept to some bloggers. Many use it as a way to create more revenue, offer a new stream of content, or to help educate other bloggers.

My first book was a self-help book of sorts about body acceptance and how to grow your confidence. It is titled Eat the Damn Muffin, and you can learn more about it here. Writing a book has been a dream of mine since I could hold a pencil, so I decided to take that dream and make it happen.

Of course my dream of becoming an author would have felt different if I had an agent and didn’t self-publish. After going through the self-publishing process, I’m just as proud and elated as if I would have went the other route though. Honestly, it shocked me that self-publishing felt so good.

Making the Decision

The decision making process consisted of either emailing my book to a ton of agents and waiting for responses, or taking matters into my own hands. Trust me, I spent months deciding. There were a list of questions that I asked myself over and over again before taking the self-publishing plunge.

1. Where do I want to see my book sold?

The first question that I thought about was about where did I want my book to be sold. I wasn’t just writing this book for personal use. Sharing it with the world meant a lot to me. So, I had to determine where I wanted it sold when considering self-publishing or not.

Traditionally, self-published authors with a single title don’t hit bookshelves easily. Sure, you can apply to have your book sold in book stores, but if you publish with Amazon, that’s a pretty wide net to cast with sales. At first, I wasn’t sold on only being sold on Amazon unless another bookstore was open to the idea of stocking my book.

Then, I realized that this is Amazon I’m talking about. There’s a best selling list with them. While it may not be New York Times Best Selling List like I’ve dreamed about, there’s other lists I could strive for that would mean a lot to me as well. Also, keep in mind that more than half of the books sold in the US are sold through Amazon, regardless of format.

2. What are your sales goals?

Obviously, my goal is to eventually land on some bestseller list. However, sales wasn’t the first consideration that popped into my head when writing my book. I didn’t think, “how can this book make me rich.” Most of my thoughts dealt with, “how can this book help people, and how can I explain the pros of this book to my audience.”

Yes, having a steady income from a book that I wrote would be beyond magical. However, I also wanted to be realistic. First time authors, especially self-published authors, do not get overnight sales success. So, sales was never at the top of my list for concerns, but it may be for you.

If sales and numbers are a top priority, traditional publishing may be the route for you. When you self-publish, it can be difficult to score traditional book reviews and traditional media coverage. New indie authors, like myself, do find it extremely frustrating by how much we are ignored by traditional anything and everyone. If you go the agent route with all the traditional perks, there are, like I said, perks to sales and numbers.

3. Do you have a set timeline you hope to achieve?

When I was writing my book last year, I was struggling with an resurgence of issues from my ED. The writing process and the book in general helped me get myself out of a dark place. I know that I wanted my book published soon after it was written, because if it helped me, it could help others. The timeline I set for myself was the biggest factor in deciding to self-publish or go the traditional route.

When you send your book manuscript out in hopes of finding a publisher and agent, there is an ambiguous timeline. You could hear back immediately, or it could take months, even years to find the right publishing fit for your book when going the traditional route. Because I wanted my book published within months of finishing it, the self-publishing route was the best option for me.

4. Does your book appeal to an audience that you can reach on your own?

For me, I knew I could reach my intended audience with self-publishing and self-promotion. Of course, I would have to do all of my own promoting, and even put out money to pay for review sites if I wanted to spread the word even more about my book. With self-publishing and Amazon at my fingertips, the online world offered me vast hope.

As a blogger, I am on every social platform. I also already have subscribers and an audience. So personally, self-publishing didn’t stifle the audience I wanted to reach. Yes, the net could possibly be cast even wider going the traditional route, but the other factors pushed me towards self-publishing.

5. How much work are you really willing to put into your book aside from the writing?

Writing takes time. Editing takes even more time- for me, at least. Having a fully completed and edited manuscript isn’t even close to being done when you are going the self-published route. There’s cover design, internal formatting, and summaries that need created. When you self-publish, there are a lot more tasks that you have to take control of for your book.

If handling all of the tasks isn’t something you want to do, you can also find resources to help you. You’ll need to have a budget regardless of how you go about it though. If you can’t do it all on your own, you’ll most likely have to pay for assistance and outside resources.

I did everything for my first book except for the cover photography. However, I did have a photographer help me bring my vision to life. I wrote my book, edited my book, and completely formatted and designed my book. I also created a book trailer and all of my own promotional material. No, I did not get Oprah rich from my first book, but I did make meaningful sales.

Here’s the How To for Self-Publishing

You might not believe that I didn’t spend a dime on the majority of the tools needed for everything related to self-publishing. I had a professional photographer and purchased a book trailer program, but the rest all was free and all me. As a mom of two with a tight budget, I had to make my dreams come true without making it rain dollar signs. It wasn’t easy, but it was so incredibly worth it.

1. Where do you start?

I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. Honestly, I prefer notebooks but typing and converting an entire book gave me a headache. Thankfully, LibreOffice exists. This powerful office suite is free and easy to use. So, it made writing my book easy. Plus, it transfers well for the next step.

Writing your manuscript is important. I will say during that first step I concentrated too much on things that didn’t matter. Formatting headers and chapters went out the window when I transferred my manuscript to the next step. So, my advice is to just write, and the editing and formatting should come later. You don’t want to waste any time during the self-publishing route. Work smarter, not harder.

2. Convert your manuscript.

Obviously, I went with Amazon once I decided to self-publish. They offer programs, tips, and step-by-steps that were beyond amazing. You can self-publish ebooks and paperbacks for free with KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing] and reach millions of readers through Amazon.

To do this, a program called Kindle Create is offered to those who decide to self-publish. Make sure to do research for before diving in to Kindle Create. It is a free interior formatting tool that works well with most books you want to publish on Amazon. However, there are requirements and supported features to know about before continuing with them.

Once I did my research and everything checked out with what was required, I converted my rough manuscript to Kindle Create. It was a mess at first. Luckily, the formatting and editing process is incredibly easy with this program. There aren’t a ton of customization options, but there were plenty for me. I can share some pros and cons that led me to use Kindle Create and KDP.

Pros of Kindle Create & KDP
  • It is an easy way to self-publish with all tools offered for free.
  • Tracking sales is simple and free.
  • You keep the majority of your royalties: You have the choice between keeping 35 percent or 70 percent of your royalties. For paperbacks, you can choose between keeping 40 percent or 60 percent. If you choose to keep 40 percent, you have the option to sign up for expanded distribution, where more people will be able to see your book. If you choose to keep 60 percent, you choose to keep the standard distribution for your books.
  • You have full control over your book.
Cons of Kindle Create & KDP
  • There aren’t a ton of customization options for the interior of your book, including a very simplified table of contents.
  • Your book is only available on the Amazon marketplace until you apply and go through necessary channels for other bookstores to carry it.
  • There are a lot of people who self-publish with KDP, so it may be difficult to have people stumble upon your book. This is also why you have to self-promote a lot.
3. Edit and format your book exactly as you want it to be.

Once you’ve fully decided to go with KDP and the Kindle Create software, you’ll have a manuscript that needs edited. Read, edit, and do it a million times. Make your book perfect and exactly as you want it to be. Once you publish it in on Kindle Create, it can be a bit tricky to go back through, revise more, and then publish again.

You have to publish your book with Kindle Create, and it generates it owns file that then get’s uploaded to the KDP process. Once you have the editing and formatting perfect, your book is uploaded to your KDP account. The following steps to bring your book to life will also involve pricing, margins, cover art, and distribution options. Before you even attempt to make those decisions, have your manuscript publish ready.

KDP does scan through your manuscript once it’s uploaded. So, if there are mistakes you didn’t catch, it most likely will. However, no program is completely flawless, so edit the bejesus out of your book so it’s perfectly publish ready.

4. Create a cover.

KDP has it’s own cover creator. At first, I hated it. I wanted to create my cover with Canva, but I found a happy medium. I was able to format and create mock-ups with the app I’m comfortable with. From there, I was able to adapt my wants with the cover launcher offered with KDP.

The cover creator isn’t the only option that KDP gives you though, so keep that in mind too. While the tool allows you to customize your cover with a variety of layouts and fonts. You have options still. However, it does use your book’s details that you enter during title setup and adds your book’s ISBN to the barcode area of the back cover.

There are quite a bit of templates offered that allow you to choose an image from their image gallery. You can also upload your own image. The tool accepts JPG, PNG and TIF/TIFF files. So, options. Always consider your options and choose what’s best for you and your book. After all, having that power is why many people decide to self-publish.

5. Prepare to publish.

Once your book is ready to publish, prepare yourself. It can take a few days for it to officially be published. It goes into a reviewing process that can take up to 72 hours. So plan for launch promotion accordingly. You don’t just hit upload and publish and boom. All good things take some time.

You’ll have a KDP hub of sorts that shows your options that you can change once your book is officially available. Yes, you can even make changes after hitting publish, but keep in mind republishing will take the same amount of time. For example, when I changed the price on my book for the holidays, it took time for that new price and any other changes I made to go into affect.

Once your book is available, you can make changes. Regardless of what changes you make, having the wiggle room is something you don’t get when you go the traditional route. It’s also nice that you can order author copies, which only cost what it costs to make your book, so you don’t have to pay full price for your own creation.

Now You’re an Author, Darling!

I could tell you all the steps and creative ways to self-promote, but I’ll make that a post in and of itself for next week. So, come on back for more tips for self-publishing. Honestly, I’d love for an agent to notice me and my work and offer me a sweet deal, and it’s not unheard of for publishers and agents to work with indie authors. However, it’s not easy.

I used to think self-publishing meant failure as an author, but the feeling of holding your book takes away any negative feelings. Also, self-publishing is hard. Writing a book is hard, so combining the challenges is such a major accomplishment. I commend anyone who goes this route, because it genuinely is simple but extremely difficult as well.

What’s simple is that there are tools and programs that do a lot for you. What’s difficult is that you are in control of the entire process including making those tools and programs do what you want and need. Just because there are resources that make self-publishing free and available doesn’t mean everyone can and will do it. You have to want it. Like really really really want this.

I Self-Published My First Book, and Here’s What Happened

I told the whys and how, but now, I want to tell you about my experience of becoming an indie author. That feeling of accomplishing my biggest dream before 30 trumps all the other good and bad. I’d be lying though if I said this experience was all roses and glitter. The hard work wasn’t the part I struggled with, but the pros still all outweigh the cons.

For me, there was a major disappointing factor in self-publishing- the support. I have a sliver of a fraction of support from friends and family. Honestly, I genuinely believe they would have rallied like I always hoped they would if I would have went the traditional route.

Did you know not a single family member purchased one of my books? My mom handed me cash and told me to order her one, but that’s it. If anyone brought up that I became an author, which was/is extremely seldom, they implied they should be gifted a book.

Not Just About Numbers

When it comes to numbers, our sole income is definitely not flowing from my book, but I have made some money. Also, I’ll admit I’ve haven’t promoted my book enough. Since publishing, we’ve had a lot of family illnesses and death, so I let my duties as an indie author slip. I won’t allow lack of support, depression, or life setbacks to keep me from my dream any longer.

It is extremely possible to be a successful indie author. You have to put in a lot of time and effort. My first book meant the world to me, and the message means even more. The most amazing part is having a stranger message you and tell you that your book and your words helped them when they needed it most.

Those types of messages are why I try to overlook the lack of family support. Messages like that are also why I don’t let numbers bring me down. Another reason that I don’t stress numbers is because it was my first book. I had a vision and completed it, but I also was able to learn along the way. The next book will be even better, and I say that with experience and confidence.

There’s Always a Takeaway

When I dreamed about writing a book, I assumed that I’d have a publishing party surrounded by friends and family. I imagined a celebration followed by numerous orders of my books. Sure, the orders flowed in, and I had some great reviews on Goodreads, but the only celebrating was with me and my husband.

The challenges of the writing, editing, and publishing process frustrated me from time to time, but the pros continually outweighed any cons. I am an author. I am a published author. Saying those phrases and accomplishing my biggest dream made every single bump in the road disappear. If you ask me, time and time again I will tell you it’s worth it.

My next book, which I talked about here, is going to be self-published as well. Expect to see it out this coming summer. There will be a good and bad with everything, so you have to figure out not just what’s best for you but what you want. Once you know what you want, you can go after it and make it happen.

Stayed tuned for details about Blind Out Loud: A Blind Babes Guides to Humor, Bullshit, and Life, because my next book doesn’t have as small of an intended audience. It will be a funny outlook on life that anyone can enjoy. Have a great day.

-With Love,

Jenni

32 thoughts on “I Wrote and Self-Published A Book: Here’s How to Do It and What Happened”

  1. Thank you for sharing this great info! When you are ready to promote your book about blindness please hit me up and I’ll feature you on my platforms. I really enjoy your writing and your resilience and persistence. ❤️ – Kim

  2. Amazon has such a large chunk of the book market that it really makes the most sense. I’ve got my books listed on Apple, Google, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble in addition, and sold maybe a handful of copies.

  3. Fantastic info. I will be buying your book and am excited to hear info about your next one!

  4. This post is very helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. Thank you so much for this breakdown! I am in the process of creating a journal with writing prompts and the whole process seems intimidating and overwhelming! Your explanation makes it palatable and doable!

  6. I self published too and I also have had very little support from friends and family, in some ways. My friends dropped me some time ago and a few people I know in the community did ask to buy a copy but only wanted hard copies, which I hated making through KDP. I made them some but then found a bunch of typos, after I gave them to them, obviously. In addition, I heard almost nothing back about the book so I have no idea if it was horrible or what. I had a friend tell me I needed to write a book so when i started it, I asked if she would look at it. She ignored my email and my messages and four months later when I said we weren’t really talking much anymore she said “well, sorry I never read your little story…” which made me realize she could care less. I haven’t asked anyone to read my stuff since then and don’t even try to reach out to other people now. Live and learn, but I’m still trying and plan to self-publish another book in the Spring.

    1. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience with little support. For so long, I let lack of support hold me back. Then, I realized that I want to self-publish for myself in the first place. So, if it’s what you love, go after it! Sending you support and best wishes!!

  7. LOVE this post! Such great tips! You explained self publishing so incredibly well, and really helped showcase the benefits of it. It amazes me, but also makes me so happy to see how self-publishing has evolved the last few years. The stigma that is around it has diminished considerably, especially with traditional publishing houses being more jailers then angels in helping budding authors reach their dreams, as well as controversy with a lot of writing organizations, especially recently.
    I admit there was a time, when I refused to go the self publishing route, from fear because most “serious” writers would NEVER self publish, and if I did, I would never be a “real” writer. But times have changed and I am SO happy they have.
    I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments! Thank you so much for sharing this and continuing to be such an inspiration sweets! <3

    1. Thank you so incredibly much. I’m so happy that things have and continue to shift in the publishing world! Thanks for the continued support!! It means the world to me.

  8. Wow that sucks about your family/friends with the ‘we get it for free’ sort of thing. I can totally imagine that happening!!

  9. Jenni, this is a really selfless post, you are such a selfless writer. I love your willingness to share tips and guide others is soooooo refreshing!

    Thank you, my lovely 😘 xxx

Leave a Reply