How To Be A Self-Published Author


Introduction | Self-Publishing Options – Part 1 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 2 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 3 | Why Self-Publishing Is Worth Doing | Creating A Manuscript | Critiques Are Painful But Necessary | Book Illustrations | A Cover That Sells | Self-Publishing Through Lightning Source | Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace | Finally A Book!

How To Be A Self-Published Author
How To Be A Self-Published Author: A Step-by-Step Guide
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published in December 2009, explains in detail how to use what was then the most current technology and online resources to turn a manuscript into a published book. I usually tell new authors they need to complete their manuscript before starting on the publishing aspects, but I wrote this book as I did each step.

UPDATE April 2015: The online world is continually changing and what was ‘current’ in 2009, is old news now. I have linked to the book on Amazon so that you can use their ‘Look Inside’ feature to see the layout of the print book as well as the Table of Contents. Not everything in the book is included here but you can probably get most of the information you need through this website.


A Cover That Sells

What’s a book without a cover? The cover is the first thing your potential readers see and if it doesn’t grab their attention and spark their attention, they’ll move on to your competitor’s book. Even if media hype about your book got your potential buyers as far as a bookseller, your competitor may still get the sale if your cover doesn’t sell your book.

If you’re a graphic artist or if you just have a good eye for design, there may be no reason you can’t design a publish-worthy cover, particularly if you have a copy of Pete Masterson’s Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers.

If you’d rather stick with writing and let someone else do the design work, you have several options. Or, if you’d like to design your cover yourself the down-and-dirty, no-muss, no-fuss way, I can tell you how to do that also.

Finding A Cover Artist

When Gordon Ratcliff asked for my assistance in publishing his first novel, The Judas Fragment, he had a basic idea of the cover he wanted and we worked together to come up with the final design. I used ArtToday.com to find the scroll image and tried a variety of fonts and colors before deciding upon the black and red theme that was used.

It wasn’t necessary to do an elaborate design, the various elements were strong enough to get the novel’s theme across. Even as a thumbnail, the cover is easy to read.

My Cover Designs

I design the covers for the books I self-publish. I believe in simplicity so that the cover stands on its own regardless of size. As you can see below, even as thumbnails the covers are easy to read and obvious as to content. All covers were designed in Photoshop. I’ve linked to the actual Amazon ads to show how the books are displayed.

-I used my own photo on the front cover of Sparky the AIBO: Robot Dogs & Other Robotic Pets and photos provided by other hobbyists for the back cover.

-A stock photo from ArtToday.com was the starting point for the front and back covers for Midnight Confessions: True Stories of Adultery.

-A Guru.com artist created the cartoon art used on the covers for Advice for an Imperfect Single World and Advice for an Imperfect Married World.

-I paid a young artist to create the art used on the cover of Teen Mom: A Journal.

-In 2011, rights to How To Surivive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis were reverted to Gay and me and I republished the book in both print and ebook format. I updated the cover to something that I felt was more content appropriate.

The Down-And-Dirty, No-Fuss No-Muss, Do-It-Yourself Cover

One additional cover resource is Cover Creator offered through CreateSpace. This is an absolutely invaluable tool for authors without graphic skills who would prefer not to pay for a cover design. The catch is that the book must be published through CreateSpace.

With Cover Creator, authors choose from a selection of cover designs, customize with their book details and in minutes they have a professionally designed book cover. The best part? It’s free! The downside? The cover artwork can’t be used elsewhere if the book is published through other sources. I think the ease of use and the $0 cost makes this a real winner!

A book cover not only has to look good when it’s full size, it must hold its design when it’s reduced to the thumbnail images used by online booksellers. Try to visualize your book cover reduced down to thumbnail size. Is it still a good design? Would it grab your attention? Would you want to take a closer look?


The simple design of this website is deliberate not only to lessen hacker attacks but also to be more mobile friendly.


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