Publishing Your Writing – A Test for the Ego

Have you been writing for years and years, and hoped to publish one day? I have, ever since I was a child. I can’t even count on my fingers and toes the times I sent treasured poems and stories out, hoping they would be published.

I published my 2 new fiction books in the span of about 3 months in 2011. It was not easy, but now this is in the realm of the possible for me. At first, the sheer number of steps was daunting when I published my book “Death and the Dream” in August 2011. But the second time, 3 months later, publishing my novel, “Vector a Modern Love Story”, was something that felt familiar. Practice makes, well not perfect, but easier. And since I have so many stories, short and long, looking back at me from the shelf where they are stacked as drafts – right across from my bed – I’m sure I’ll have lots of practice in the coming months.

Walking around in Manhattan, it struck me how costly real estate is and I began to wonder, how do all the big publishing houses afford to occupy these tremendous sky scrapers? It baffled me. Authors are often poor, and living on small incomes. I decided not to buy into the dominant paradigm of sending my original work out for others to publish. I made the decision shortly after reading Anais Nin’s first book, which she self-published. Why did she do it? I’m not sure. But I did it because it seems right, and it is possible.

Here is a list of resources that I used to publish my own work:

Step 1- I became a small publisher. I listed myself as a publisher and registered as a business in my local area, using Legal Zoom online,

Step 2 – I got ISBN numbers (10, which is less expensive if you have a few books coming out) online from Bowker, and listed the final books there too, so the book world knows they exist (I think they do anyway.)

Step 3 – I asked an editor to copyedit my work. She was a medical editor and so could also check all my science words and references well. So very painful to see my final copy come back to me with no fewer than 5 and sometimes 10 changes on every page. And all of them right, or at least better in cases where right/wrong does not apply. A real test for the ego, editing.

Step 4 – For the copyright, since I live in the US, I sent my new books to the US copyright office, – this way I own my work. This was very important to me.

Step 5 – For book cover design, I put a bid on Odesk online. I love working with Odesk and the artists I found through their site, . At first I asked a friend who was an artist, but he sent me to Odesk. The bidding process is like having a library of artists at your fingertips. He was right.

Step 6 – To distribe my books to retail stores and libraries, I worked with LightningSource for print editions,  Smashwords for ebooks, both on the recommendation of a fellow author.  I must say that to work with Smashwords you need to be willing and able to follow their directions, which are really long and difficult the first time. It was a really opportunity to practice patience, which I remember is a virtue. But if you do experiments, like I did as a scientist for so many years, you know that following the directions is required, so I didn’t mind. Or if you sew, or if you cook…it is always better to follow the directions exactly the first time, and improvise later. I’m not sure I’ll ever get up to improvising with Smashwords.

What has your experience with publishing been like so far?
Please leave a comment, I’ll look forward to hearing from you and sharing views here.

17 responses to “Publishing Your Writing – A Test for the Ego”

  1. “A real test for the ego, editing” 🙂

    Thanks a lot, Jennifer, for sharing this information. It is very useful. For many years I am preparing (at the same time) three books, mostly in my mind, and notes everywhere. My first ‘book’ (as long as it isn’t finished you cannot speak about book, that’s why I mark this) I’ve just started to write, it is difficult when you don’t have experience with this but I realize discipline is the keyword, we will see if I can manage. One thing I am wondering about is how to publish this book when it’s finished, and if I want to work together with publishers as I have the impression they can demand (force) me things to do that I don’t like. So publishing by myself would be a good solution, the social media gives good opportunities to promote it. I will not forget your advise 🙂


  2. Congratulations!! You have done what 98% of the world claims they would love to do and only a few do the work, take the steps, and actually do it.
    I Self-published my first two novels in 2011, not perfect but learned more in less time than if I would have went to college to get a degree in writing and publishing. I am still learning and each book will be better than the last. More than any thing else I learned I have a talent for writing.

    It is one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I have ever experienced.


    • Cynthia, thanks for sharing the post with your workshop and I hope it is encouraging. It was an author who had gone the traditional route, then switched after many painful experiences, who advised me to go with Lightning Source and Smashwords instead. I valued her advice, and it worked out well for me. Keep me posted!


  3. This is so helpful Jennifer. I’ve bee thinking of self-publishing (non-fiction) but didn’t really know where to start. But now I have a blueprint! Thank you for sharing.




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