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How to self-publish a book (my personal journey)

I started this site, Urban Epics, when I began writing fiction in about 2016.

I’d already worked as a book editor and book cover designer, plus I had a PhD in Literature, not that it helped when I started writing. I kept getting stuck in the middle, revisions were agonizing, and my stories were bigger and more complex than my skills or experience.

Still, I self-published a handful of “book 1’s” to see whether or not anybody wanted to read them, and then did my best to build an audience and promote them. The nice thing about self-publishing is that you can control all the elements, test everything, and change or pivot when things aren’t working… but with the vast sea of competition, visibility is a never-ending fight and challenge.

I’ve neglected this site, because I’m much slower than anticipated, only recently finishing my first ever series (working on the 2nd!) and I have a whole bunch of stalled out projects. But I’ve also sold a lot of books, and have an average of 1000 reviews across all my titles.

Self-Publishing (the process)

I’m not sure if I’ve really talked about self-publishing here, on my fiction site, because I like to keep things separate, but just in case you’re a writer and you’re curious, this is a very short version of how to self-publish a book.

#1 finish the story. I have a 24-chapter plot outline and a ton of writing resources.
#2 self-edit as much as you can or find a book editor. This isn’t just about editing; the craft of telling a satisfying story, is something you can discover on accident or study on purpose.

#3 book cover design is critical, but not all that hard. It can be expensive or cheap if you DIY, but I recommend some templates or premades. After your book cover is sorted, you can format your print and ebook with formatting templates or use something like Vellum or Atticus.

That’s basically it!

Write, Edit, Publish.

It’s tempting to overthink it and try to make everything absolutely perfect, but that can mean spending a lot of money, and until you get your book out there, you won’t really know what to expect or whether readers will even like it.

Book Marketing is something else entirely

I change my covers a lot; I spend a ton on ads and barely break even; and the occasional BookBub deal pushes me into the top 100 or so of Amazon. It’s incredibly hard to make your books stick and stay visible, and I don’t like spending the effort to promote or market my books, so instead I focus on organic SEO and passive marketing strategies.

It kind of works. But mostly, I focus on writing more books, because when a completed series is ready, along with ebook, print and audiobooks, then there’s more of a change to push your meagre earnings into profit, in a way that makes advertising a really viable option.

I have tons of resources about marketing, but it mostly all depends on whether you’ve packaged and positioned your book to appeal to readers, and whether your story actually satisfies them.

To that end, I do have some free books and courses to help authors who want to self-publish.

I also talk about writing and publishing on my YouTube.