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
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.

Book Illustrations

Most of my books have been text with few or no illustrations. You may feel that your book will benefit from illustrations but you’re not an artist or you don’t feel your artistic skills are good enough. Getting illustrations is fairly simple, at least it has been for me.

Before I had a co-author, a literary agent, and a book contract with a major publisher for my first book – How to Survive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis: Strategies and Stories from The Midlife Wives Club, published in 2003 by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. – I’d already designed the front cover and paid an artist to create a half dozen cartoons to illustrate various chapters.

Once the publisher’s team got hold of the manuscript, graphic artists had other ideas for the cover and both the marketing and editorial teams didn’t care for the original title (The Midlife Wives Club). I had already decided the cartoons wouldn’t work well as illustrations so they hadn’t been submitted. What I finally did provide for the published book were stick figure illustrations for the beginning of each chapter that a artist drew to my specifications once the final chapter titles were decided upon.

In the years I was putting together my print magazines before GO (going online), I used clipart books to illustrate articles and covers. Since GO, it’s easier to purchase CDs and DVDs loaded with thousands of royalty-free clipart images and easier still to join an online art service such as Note: images must be high resolution, 300 dpi (dots per inch) or higher, so that they will print crisply.

If you’re writing a travel guide, you should be carrying a camera so you can use your own photography in your book. Same thing if you writing a cookbook or a “how-to” book. If you don’t have photos or your photos are poor quality, out of focus, or otherwise not worth using, choose stock photos such as those available through You will still have to give copyright credit if you use anyone else’s art or photography even if it’s something you get through sources such as ArtToday.

Other resources for illustrations are art schools, artists groups, even high schools and colleges. You’ll be dealing with artistic personalities and possible bureaucracy so consider this option as a last resource if you’re trying to keep things simple. If you do use local artists or art students, offer to pay them a small fee or give them illustrator credit in your book (or even on the cover).

If your illustrator wants ongoing revenue, or if use of their illustrations makes them think they can be critical of your efforts, look elsewhere. This is your book, you don’t need a partner, and you don’t need undue criticism.

The only time a book partner might be valid is if illustrations are critical to the book. For instance, a book written for young children would be nothing without good illustrations to enhance the story told in text. In this case the author and the illustrator are a collaborative team and each should share equally in cover credits and the income from the book. A word of caution: choose your collaborative partner wisely as this partnership can last the lifetime of the book.

Try not to get carried away with illustrations that don’t add anything to your book’s content. Books don’t need illustrations if the story is good (unless it’s a children’s book) and good illustrations won’t make a bad story one worth reading.

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