Self Publishing. Is it up or down?



Make Self-Publishing Mighty – Setting Goals

Claire O’Sullivan


Steps to publishing have many different routes, including (yay!) self-publishing. These free the writer from the constraints of the traditional route. I point to the length of time one may wait for agents/traditional houses to accept a novel. Not all (many) make it through slush pile(s). Indie is self-publishing peppered with a light to traditional publishing taste, except… different.

The cavalry has arrived. No, really. The cavalry is here and self -publishing, after several years, is gaining popularity. Again, yay! That cavalry is you. So this is a sexist image, but… okay, I think he’s hot.



How does one enter the foray of fast growing market? As you read, don’t lose heart. It seems overwhelming for first time self-publishers. Self-publishing is a funny animal. It has ups. Then… downs. The market waxes and wanes.

These are the goals you must have to follow through. You are starting a business, and floundering around ends in ‘dead fish’ fodder.

While tempted to throw your first draft to a self-publishing outfit, don’t, have a cup of coffee. Do not pay an agent or publishing house unless you are wealthy (or a politician). Do you want to spend your hard-earned money for ‘I’m published’ gleam in your eye? The real sparkle is in their eyes: the scratch in your pocket. Oh, get your mind out of that gutter. Money.


Here it is:

You’ve completed the manuscript. That is an endeavor. And a half.

pen and sword


Determine your budget for every step of this endeavor listed. I cannot stress this enough. Encourage an elephant to sit on you before you write checks. Have a look around for self-publishing groups.

What do you want to sell, e-books only? Consider Smashwords: Or both e-books and paperback? I recommend both, but in the end, this is up to you. E-books are far less expensive but bring fewer royalties (though I have heard some great success stories). Smashwords gives you about 70-85% of royalties… though you pay 35 cents per book sold. This royalty number is awesome. You keep copyright, and can participate in other parts of the program. Well worth the look. Your biggest obstacle with ebooks is the dearth of readers who are aghast at any work requiring more than 99 cents.

 pay writers ha


Set a time goal. Six months before your novel is ready for printing, start your online advertising. Tell your friends. Get the word out. You are Wonder Woman. Or Superman. Pick one.

      Wonder_Woman                              superman          


Plan a marketing program. Let’s talk cost. Squish your toes in social media. Make it sexy. If you don’t have a website, fer cryin’ out loud, get one. WordPress blogs are free. Their websites cha-ching your pocket from one hundred to five thousand dollars. A domain name will cost from ten dollars to one hundred. Go Daddy and others will offer for a fee, SEO (search engine optimization) to improve visibility.


Some custom websites charge ten times that amount.

Facebook fan page. Love this. If you want advertising on your Facebook fan page advertising costs, but nominal. Twitter is free. With WordPress blog free, you can post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter… you get the idea. You can find free or pay for website services. I went cheap. As in, starving-artist-free: a DIY site. 


ISBN number. You must have one for your novel. That’s the little barcode on the back so you get paid. CreateSpace offers one free, however it remains with them … forever. You can also purchase one for one hundred dollars or more.



Get your murder hat on. Why do I mention this here in your goals? You want your book to sell I suspect. So, slash those scenes like Dexter in a bad mood, those that don’t push the plot along. Some self-publishing businesses will not pass three-hundred-eighty pages. Paying for editors is not cheap. Pretend for a second your novel is five hundred pages. You want to pay said editor a zillion buckaroos for pages to be removed, and edited… again? How do you spell redrum? Editors often charge thirty to forty dollars per hour. Your team of readers/critique buds can help with murder. One with the vase. One with the rug. One with the shovel.

kill em offer


The cover. I know you already have a cover in mind. Now find an artist/photographer to design, or look at stock photos, you can pay a lot or minimal. On my website, I have stock images I want on my new works. Some folks have luck with fivver, a less-expensive method. Fivver is a conglomeration of people who will work in five-dollar increments. Ask your Facebook fans which cover mock-up they like best.

CreateSpace offers free front/back and spine flaps with limited covers, though you can upload your own. When they create a cover for you, now you are looking at over three hundred dollars. I changed one book’s title and cover three times… that’s a buncha clams if you switch from one picture or another through custom artists. Keep that in mind. This was my second free cover (which I liked), another DIY on CreateSpace. The Big However… upon beginning the first chapter as a reader, I realized my fiction (and title) didn’t fit the cover—the formatting was fine. Don’t bother looking for it, the cover never moved passed the proofing stage. Sigh. Looks lovely, though. Keeping it for my next book.

CreateSpace is an easy platform that offers eBooks and paperback. They do the hard work such as bookbinding. They will gently place your work on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and it’s ready. Amazon Publishing is not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but this is their site: .

Preview your work online. Order five book drafts if in paperback. Most self-publishing requires a minimum. CreateSpace requires five. When you receive the box, shout with glee, review it, and bust out the champagne (or beverage of choice). I have declined some first copies and reformatted. No they don’t give you your money back. Rats. Each print-on-demand book through CreateSpace costs three dollars and ten cents. Minus shipping and handling.

Social media blitz and marketing. Put pictures of the books, a box of books in fact, onto every social media site you have. Plug to your friends, and now, family (they don’t count early on). Take the box you’ve ordered to local bookstores. Go to signings wherever you can find them. Authors Innovative Marketing on Facebook is chockfull of ideas for authors. Post your novel on Goodreads. Don’t forget! Put a PayPal button click on your website, and your Facebook fan page-

social media


Before you think the endeavor is beyond you, it’s not. Royalties may be great: but read the contract with a jaundiced eye. Not … really jaundiced, but … Consider the amount you will pay for twenty-five books, print-on-demand. Three-dollars per book. Consider shipping/handling and your profit and loss.

So check around. Self-publishing sites that are true self-publishing sites are tough to find. Vanity and boutique presses, shrouded vaguely, tell you the cost for purchasing a package and then sink their teeth in your pocketbook like Monty Python’s savage attack bunny… “Run away, run away!

monty python

            If you are interested in Indie publishing, the larger Indies (for independent, not East Indian) pay well. And do not make fun. I thought that’s what Indie meant… hey, it was a long time ago, yeesh. ISBN site


This is Diggypod. I don’t consider these folks self-publish but you may get some ideas:


Here is CreateSpace, and I do recommend taking a look:

Post your books on


And … a list of the top Indie publishers:

Here you have it. Goals for your journey to self-publishing.


Cool Surprise!


Giving a shout out to WritersDetective Q&A on Facebook (and Twitter). Received through their email a surprise mention to the group regarding forensic science, and I certainly hope to live up to the status!

I also finished a novel that has nothing (or very little) to do with romance or faith– a gritty (violence and colorful language) military and medical (kinda gory) based on a true happening.

So, if you have any fun and interesting questions for me, find me at: or here and I will research what I don’t know, or give you info on what I do know.

This is what I picture the finished product to look like (the book not the disaster…)



I love editing … said nobody, ever…


. . yes, still editing Forget Me Not . . . and trying to decide if I should change the title.

      Forget Me Not: Non Compos Mentis — refers to a specific character…

     OR . . . should I change it to Nobody Girl — the victim?



     Let me know!

     You can also give me thoughts at c.mahoney.fnp@gmail,com

Um. So I changed my mind. Sort of.





Wait, what?


Sure, go ahead. Make fun. I screamed after printing the manuscript. What a horrible idea! I said…


Okay, so, maybe… just a bit… I may have changed my mind.


Not entirely. But. The good  news is, I can flip back and forth between page, plop sticky notes on what I perceive to be plot holes, or in need of plot thickeners…


Pull out red pen … reword some Phuzzy Phrases. Scenes that fizzle. Sentences that suck. Aren’t needed. Don’t push the plot along. Hasta Lumbago, paragraph of doom, palabras de muerte (Yes, lumbago intended…).


arnold going ape



Then when my inner Arnold is done, I’ll go back and plug the puppy into the eReader. Then plop it into a Beta group. Then, off to an editor, or grammar Nazi … I know a few…


Writing is rewriting. Then, some more rewriting. And … repeat.


Something outstanding in the mix happened. That whole ‘are you actually working…?’ question mark that occasionally crosses my husband’s face contorted into a Holy * moment. Nonchalantly, I said … this is what continues on and on until each. word. fits.


So for kicks and giggles, I pulled out different colored pens, markers and marked all over it, and now he really is impressed with the amount of work. I have just now become the Jason Bourne of dedication.


jason bourne gif


Yay, me.  Off to the salt mines…




Be the slasher. First.


As I report the humor: I copy and pasted this from my website…and didn’t edit the formatting…
facepalm gif
       Okay then. Here are words of wisdom. I don’t recall who said this, but printing your novel is a good way to find plot holes. And other stuff.
       I am in the slash and dash portion of Forget Me Not (again). So today, I am printing the monster to read as a book, slashing (and making notes for my computer copy), making changes in red, blue, or whatever destructive item that fits my mitt.
       I’ve not done this before. I’ll let you know how it goes. Pretty sure this will suck.
      If you say, ‘Oh, argh, I have no printer…,’ put the MS on a thumb drive and take it to Kinko’s or your closest/favorite copy spot. Take the printed behemoth, put it in a MS box, and pretend you are an editor. Consider taking it to a coffee shop, tea room, library.
      The more you rewrite and edit, the happier you’ll be, and find a BETA group (not family or friends) to read as well. Why? They will find what you have not.
      If your hire a copyeditor, make certain your manuscript is ‘clean,’  as possible. Less turnaround time, because often, the copyeditor turns out to be a ghostwriter or has to rewrite your work.  An editor will not point out your wording, style. Only spelling and grammar. Once that editor takes your $1000 or more, and an agent accepts it, guess…what? They will want portions rewritten. Then a publishing house will want more edits. How rich are you to have it edited two more times?
      Avail yourselves of resources. Conferences. Read well-written books. I always recommend a great writer, Stephen King. He knows the craft. When to use short, long sentences, and when ‘unnecessary’ words are needed.
      Whatever you do, do not… do not… publish your first draft. Don’t hire a vanity press.
       Print that puppy, read a Stephen King, and even though the genre is not one I enjoy, I recommend pay close attention to his use of the English language. Then, slash and dash.
      Wish me luck on a new trial of wisdom passed down. Slasher status. Before the editor’s conference…

Follow this Guy – Dale Amidei


awesome gif.png

I mentioned yesterday how impressive The Bonus Pool was by Dale Amidei, and I was only halfway through. Well, I finished it around 1 a.m. or so, and it really is that good.

His writing is enough to make many of us, especially newbies, stumble, stop, and wonder just what the heck are we thinking, trying to write? Phttp. Bears repeating. It is that good. Kinda envious here. No, that’s not right. Freakin’ envious.

I think all of my fingernails are much shorter. <Looks> Yep.

Modern day espionage meets Boone, a woman searching. Add intrigue, angst, assassins, and a lot of characters well written, faith, and folly.

The thread doesn’t fall apart. The plot is insanely realistic. Pretty sure Dale was a spy in his lifetime…

I am glad I have both copies in paperback. Why? ‘Cause these are worth reading again, especially during the zombie apocalypse. Or maybe, just tomorrow.

Dale is an Indie author. Give him a worthy review, because if they had stars higher than five, I’d hit the top.

Great writing. Kinda hatin’ on ya, Dale. PHTTP.


Secs Sells …


innocentMy works are not filled with sex scenes or erotica. On purpose. Yep, I know sex sells, but I would rather NOT sell at all than pander to the worldly view of voyeurism. Image, well maybe not that ‘cute,’ but you get the idea.

Passion is different. Fighting the battle of not falling into sex is a battle (a subplot) but the main plot is that which grabs. I have read good writing and must skip the erotic scenes because it’s simply a turn-off.

My main characters are flawed, angry, worldly, physically flawed, and emotionally damaged. Once they accept Christ, they backslide. Are we perfect? St. Paul bemoaned his imperfections. At the end of his life he says, ‘I fought the fight, I ran the race’ … what in heaven’s name could that possibly mean? It’s an easy thing to accept grace. It’s a battle to walk, even pray or read the Bible.

I read/write Christian suspense/romance. I want readers to know the plot and the subplot of walking the talk of faith, stumbling, battling the worldly enemy as well as the physical enemy. Asking for help understanding Scripture. It ‘is’ realistic. It is attainable in real life. Using sex to sell is an easy copout.

What do you think?