The Self-Publishing Process

I had to make a big decision about whether to publish my book with a traditional publisher or to self-publish. With a publisher, I would have the benefit of their experience with the ins and outs of design, typesetting and marketing. Plus, there is a prestige element there. I wanted to go that route, initially.

First, I went on Submittable. Submittable is an online platform that connects writers and creators with publishers and the art community. I have been published in a journal with their help and really like them. So, I logged on and searched for a publisher for my chapbook. I found one and sent off my cherished chapbook, but I waited and waited and got no response. I became discouraged and withdrew my submission, and decided to do it on my own.

When I received the withdrawal notice, I checked over my manuscript and was so glad! It had worked out for the best because there were so many little problems with the collection. I spent quite some time working on adding some material and revising other poems to make the collection more satisfying.

I guess that I should have been more patient. Patience is after all a virtue. I guess I’m not very virtuous. So now that I had decided to self-publish, how do I go about doing it?

There are many companies that advertise in writing journals and magazines that charge fees for editing, designing covers, formatting and marketing your book. I looked them over and even briefly thought about crowdfunding to pay for their services. But I don’t have that kind of time and funding.

So I found this online site that takes your manuscript, checks it over to make sure that the formatting is appropriate and then converts it into an ebook that you can later place on Amazon, and that they will also distribute to Barnes & Noble and others for free. So I did it.

As of yesterday, I took my chapbook and I uploaded it, and it is set to launch on the 19th of August. It is now on Smashwords. I worked for a long time on this book, choosing which poems to go into it, selecting the fonts, formatting it and arranging the poems in a specific order. I selected the poems that I wanted and I divided them into different sections that I called chapters and gave them individual titles. After looking at the poems with a critical eye, I found out that they told a specific story. I had written the poems during a very difficult period in my life and they had a lot of anger and reflected that.. But the work also had a little sense of humor and a lot of hope.

I had two readers who enjoyed the poems and said that they were ready. Now, it is time to start the next phase of the process which is marketing and distribution.

The topic is very personal to me but I hope that people read it and get a little sense of that magical feeling that one gets when they read a poem that they like. Yesterday, I had the privilege of reading some poetry by Ada Limón and found it amazing and wonderful. My poems do not approach the standards of Limón, nor should they. I think in poetry each person needs to have their own space. My poems weren’t angry although I might have been angry at times when I wrote them. My poems weren’t sad but wistful while I was going through the sorrow of death, divorce and illness. In the end I concluded the collection of poems with a fresh perspective and a new love for Life.

4 thoughts on “The Self-Publishing Process

  1. Wow. Sounds like an interesting process indeed, and I’m wishing you all the best with your chapbook, as well as your writing journey, Helen!


  2. Well done! I’m proud of you and what you have accomplished. Looking forward to the book’s release.


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