Category: How to Get Started in Self Publishing

My series on Successful Self Published Authors wouldn’t be complete without mentioning E. L. James


Fifty Shades of Grey.

E. L. James has become a successful author who started with self publishing.

E. L. James has become a successful author who started with self publishing.

The book itself has many people more qualified than I to talk about it – I actually haven’t read it yet. I’m currently very interested in how it came to the attention of the world – and shot to the top.

If the subject matter wasn’t controversial enough, the way the book came to be is even more so.

E. L. James was a participant in a Twilight fan site, but moved her material to her own site after her story started to wildly deviate from any Twilight relevance. The story first gained attention through postings and social media, and James kept writing. She, or somebody, (another grey area) put it out as a Print On Demand book and kaboom!

A traditional publisher – Vintage Books who is or was owned by Knopf which is or was owned by Random House – then picked it up and voila it appears in grocery checkout lines. Yet another thing to not explain to my daughters right now…. the practical hazards of a rope bikini… not now, please.

Once again, the moral of this successful self publishing story is … content.

This book had such compelling and interesting content, that it simply sold and sold some more. The rest followed like a weal follows a whip crack.

In the many many things we learn from this book – we learn that content really is dominant.

If the content is riveting enough, it will make its way blindfolded to the hands of readers everywhere.

I should stop now… It’s too tempting to tie myself in knots over this.
Seriously, I’m stopping now.

Congratulations to E. L. James!



The Westchester Press and How To Self Publish A Book

This was my favorite view from our property in New Mexico while I was writing Just A Couple Of Chickens. It looks west, to Oregon, where we now live.

Since my celebration of Christmas and New Year’s is a reflection on the past year and setting goals for a new year, I thought I’d apply it to how to self publish a book, and spin out some self publishing advice to myself – and everyone!

If I could ghost back to each year’s Christmas Eve in the past, what would I tell myself about self publishing a book?

First of all, I’d make more of an effort not to scare the wiggles out of myself by popping up unannounced than ghosts of Christmas past usually do.

Then I’d congratulate my poor wigged-out self on having a book out there in the world, rather than unfinished in a drawer.

I would tell myself that

  • self publishing a book will not make me rich in cash (yet!) but that more self published authors are getting rich every year
  • the skills that I will learn along the way are valued in the working world and will give me options
  • the amazing coolness of having a person email me to say that they enjoyed my book is amazingly cool – and might be worth it all right there
  • I will spend more time working on the self publishing business and marketing than I will in writing, hmm.. eh?
  • self publishing a book feels better than submitting a book for traditional publishing, but I should continue to do both to make all things possible
  • I must keep writing, even if I am writing about self publishing
  • I’m still learning by doing and learning things the hard way, and all of our future selves have agreed to just accept that as our personal motto

And then I would break all time-travel and ghost-past laws by sneaking myself a copy of my soon to be ready series on How To Self Publish A Book, which includes things like How To Set Up A Small Business and How To Design A Book and How To Market A Book, and more… because by having that book in hand, which I’ve written based on all the things I’ve had to do to learn how to self publish, then I will rocket forward in life.

Actually, if I’m going to break the time travel rules, I might go big and give myself a list of stocks to buy, flight dates to avoid, and a headsup on not choosing the IMAX 3D theater option for any of the Avenger movies.

Merry Christmas Everyone!



The Free Rooster is alive and well

My blog at is alive and well, hosted on and headed for a blook adventure!

Back in 2009, when I realized that I was learning how to self publish a book, I followed the advice of every resource I could find, and started a blog to promote my book.

The book was “Just a Couple of Chickens” and the blog was

I blogged about raising chickens, urban chickens, rural chickens, things that ate rural chickens, economic disaster recovery strategies, and writing a book.

I also experimented with every gadget had to offer, and it went pretty well.

But I grew out of Blogger… I needed to do more than it would let me do for free. I discovered wordpress and self hosting, which required a lot of learning by doing, but in the end allowed me to do what I needed to do for the least possible price.

I created a new blog to support both my first book and my current book, the soon-to-be-available-now-in-traditional-publishing-submission biography of my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett…. and to squawk on about self publishing.

So where will go now? What will happen to it?

I have big plans for it… the first of which is to turn it into a blook, to preserve all the still useful information it contains. And then I plan to do big fun things with it starting fresh. Fun fresh things that are big.

In the meantime, it remains a live site with lots of gadgets down the side and an archive of useful information… Blogger is a great platform, and I think it was initially easier to learn than WordPress, but ultimately more limiting than WordPress. When the blook is complete, I will announce it here with great fanfare. I suspect there are a lot of bloggers out there who will be interested in How To Turn A Blog Into A Blook….. !


Details about my writing contract for just a couple of chickens

Buff Polish Chicks want details about my first writing contract for Just A Couple of Chickens, so I made a movie. Because chicks dig movies.

I was so excited when my first book, “Just A Couple Of Chickens” came out in 2010.

I was even more excited when it began to sell,

and when it got good reviews,

and when I heard from readers about how much they have enjoyed reading it.

I got all wrapped up in building a website to promote the book,

And establishing connections with distributors… something my husband, Andrew, is uniquely supremely gifted at doing, which led to sales of over 1,500 copies.

So I thought I would make a little movie to share some of the details of my first writing contract for this first book…. and here it is.


(this post is a re-write re-post from 2011…)

As I near the end of writing my manuscript, I realize that the time has come to polish up the grammer, usage, punctuation,
and so I pull out my mammothly heavy copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
Perhaps, you are thinking, I should have that book out all the time – before I near the end of my manuscript.
Well, I am going to ignore that kind of thinking and move forward.

I can’t pretend that I like The Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve spent too many hours trying to follow all the freakin’ rules and regulations.

Rules like how percentage has to be spelled out if it refers to human beings, but can be a symbol if it refers to anything else unless it is at the beginning of a sentence and depending how big of a number it is referring to.
This is the kind of rule that seems to love itself too much.

The T-Rex of Self Publishing, Chicago Manual of Style

This is how I feel about the Chicago Manual of Style, but I use it… and use it… and use it some more.

To be a rule simply to exist as a rule and not to help mankind in general.
Stop signs, good rule.
Percent rule,  not so much.

The manualfesto is produced by the University of Chicago Press – who is actually a publisher.
They have a section of their website with manuscript preparation guidelines that are a handy basic starting point for formatting a manuscript, even if it isn’t going to be submitted to them.

And I wondered why the University of Chicago got to determine the final word on usage of the English Language… wikilore says it is because they did it first, and they did it most, and they’ve continued to do it.

It started in 1906 with the first edition and is now in a 16th edition and is considered a guide for the proper use of everything in American English.

If I sound a little negative, it’s only because I don’t write right and I have to spend many many hours creeping through the Chicago Manual of Style to put out a decent manuscript.
Their rules of English usage are not obvious to me despite my fluency in the language.

It is also because I decided not to sign up online because if I bought the durn book, then I’d have it and not have to pay again every year. How often would they put out a new edition?  I’d be set for decades.
The very next year, they put out the new edition. All newest editions are automatically accessible in the online subscription, which is also, naturally, searchable online.

If I had the online version, I could be searching the proper usage of the word “Dammit” right now.

Self Publishing Advice shoots for the moon

Self Publishing isn’t as hard as putting a man on the moon… but it’s still a LOT of work.


Here’s the plain truth. Self publishing is a LOT of work.

And the rewards can be as big as you can imagine, but are more often just under the rewards of traditional publishing…. who are all claiming to be on the brink of going-out-of-business.

As long as an author keeps the ISBN number in his or her own name, it is still Self Publishing, even if the author hires out all the editing, book design, cover, upload and marketing. But hiring it out can cost more than the book will reasonably earn… unless the author hits the big jackpot we all dream of.

And this is why I keep coming back to the suggestion of putting out more than one book, or a series, or a sequel, or a lifetime of book after book. Because doing it once is the biggest effort. Doing it again uses all of the prior work. Doing it yet again begins to make it worth it.

Once I have my first book design, I can use that as a template for the next book. Once I’ve learned the process of ISBN, Copyright, LCCN, Books In Print… I can do it again. Once I have a website, I can make a page for my new book. I can repeat my marketing efforts.

Producing a book on our own is big work if we are going to try hard to combat the main critique of self publishing, which is that self published books are poorly produced. But it can pay off. People are doing it.

But it doesn’t make money very fast, and the whole-lot-of-work doing it means that I am not writing my book when I am busy self publishing it. I think this needs to be said, needs to be taken into consideration, in any discussion of self publishing.

These are the elements of DIY self publishing that will take time, work, and sometimes – whenever there is no alternative – money:

  • Establishing a business (this isn’t hard or complicated, but it does have to be legally done. Sole proprietorship, licensed, with a name… don’t use your own name so you have flexibility…)
  • Editing, Designing, Producing a finished book
  • Paying for or DIY creating a cover and title and cover text
  • Uploading and/or printing an inventory of books
  • Marketing, getting reviews, getting distribution
  • Learning wordpress and creating a website… and set up your keywords properly… and make sure you are set up to catch passive income off your website..
  • Following through… (ebooks… make it into an ebook or start with an ebook…)
  • Writing the next book and doing it all over again

So which parts are you going to do yourself, and which are you going to hire out?
Do you have a choice?
If you have more ideas than you have money, then you are probably destined to do-it-yourself, and self publish in every sense of the word.

And this is a LOT of work, but it is not impossible. The how-to information is all out there on the web, and the costs involved for true DIY are less than a week of groceries… (depending on your culinary habits). (um, not including a short print run…)

I’m fessin’ up here… it’s a big effort. But I’m encouraging too… it’s not impossible. You can do it. Step by step and don’t give up… and write really good books.


Self Publishing Advice Busy Bees

The editors at Writer Beware Blogs have been busy bees gathering important information for us writers.

The technology that has made self publishing possible has opened new possibilities for scammers. The industry is so new and so confusing that it’s way too easy to get caught in a scam. But writers are artists who create with their minds – using words as their medium, and we are not helpless marks.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with support from the Mystery Writers of America formed a Committee on Writing Scams and They Have An Excellent Blog.

As a self publisher, you will use one of the dozens of print on demand companies out there to produce your book and make it available for sale online, but you should be very aware of the fees they are charging. As a true self publisher, you will be using your time more than your bank account. There are basic fees you can’t get around, like the cost of a business license, ISBN number (don’t accept the free one – buy your own to be your own publisher), and proof copy of the book… but you shouldn’t be paying extra to get the book on, for instance. If you choose the right print-on-demand company, there’s just the royalty schedule and distribution channel choices.

I use CreateSpace and I’m happy with them… and LightingSource is highly recommended also, and although each of these companies offers service packages so that you can pay to have things done that you can do yourself… I suggest you only do that if you would rather pay the money and save the time, not because you think you have to pay for it.

Do it yourself self publishing takes an enormous amount of time and learning – but it does NOT take an enormous amount of cash.
You also may not make an enormous amount of cash doing it… but then again, you might!


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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