New Adventures in Self-Publishing

I’ll confess something straight off: I’m nervous about this. Well, let’s say nervous excited. It’s a new challenge for me and I’m not quite sure what to expect. I’ve never self-published anything in my life and the truth is, I never imagined I ever would. After all, self-publishing is for people who can’t get published traditionally, right? Well, wrong actually. Completely wrong.

To give you a little background: my first two novels, The Poet’s Wife and The Girl and the Sunbird were trade published and did just fine. I don’t want to go into the reasons here why I am not sticking with my publisher for my third novel, but suffice it to say I’ve decided to take the plunge. There’s never been a better time to be a writer: opportunities and publishing platforms abound, and if we make sure we write a cracking good book in the first place, there’s no reason why we can’t make a success of it.

We’ve all heard the stories of how dramatically the publishing landscape has changed in the past twenty odd years. All kinds of studies have been published on how readers absorb less whilst reading kindles than paper. But even so, nobody can deny that sales of e-readers have gone through the roof. Perhaps they’ll plateau, perhaps they won’t, but either way, reading digitally is here to stay.

But how to go about self-publishing? Where to start? What can we as authors do ourselves and where is it absolutely necessary to employ the right people to help us create a product of the highest quality?

Even if you’ve never published anything before, but are just thinking of self-publishing, you’re at no disadvantage. As I said before, we need to begin by writing a fantastic story. This means a tight plot, strong characterisation and a compelling narrative. There are no short-cuts to this.

Personally, I’m not there yet. I’m at the stage with my novel (that I think all writers go through at some point) that I actually can’t stand it and believe it should never see light of day. Well, that’s because at this stage, it can never see light of day. A considerable amount of work is still needed on plot, characterisation and narrative and I just have to put in the hours and the work.


Matala, Crete – the setting for my third novel

But once I’ve done that and I believe the story is as polished as it possibly can be, what’s next? Well, I’ve had conversations with a few people who have self published and have read Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran (an informative, encouraging account of how & why we should self publish) and this is what I’ve discovered:


We need to find somebody to read through our work. Call them a beta-reader, call them a trusted-reader, call them what you wish. But the important thing here is to identify a person whose opinion you value, someone who reads a lot and who won’t mind doing this for you. Make sure they are your ideal reader you are targeting with your book.

I have somebody in mind, but haven’t asked them yet. But here’s what I’ll be asking them to look for:

– Holes in the plot
– Weak characters
– How well the whole novel hangs together.

Yes, this is a big ask, but it’s going to be worth it’s weight in gold. Essentially, your trusted reader will help you to minimise costs at a later stage with the editor we WILL be paying for.

I’m on the very start of my self-publishing journey and I’d love your input, thoughts and suggestions. I’m going to be blogging now and again about the steps I am taking towards self publishing my third novel, but by the time I post my next blog on this subject, I will have asked my trusted reader my BIG REQUEST and hoped that they will say yes! I will also have edged ever so slightly closer to the stage where I feel confident enough to send it to them.

How about you? How did you find your trusted reader or did you skip this stage altogether? What are your thoughts about self-publishing and do you know anyone for whom it’s been a huge flop or a huge success? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!


If you enjoyed this blog post, complement it with Ignite your Fiction Fire: 5 Tips .for Aspiring Writers; What makes writers writeThe Art of Letting Go for Writers.

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Not read my latest novel yet, The Girl and the Sunbird? Here’s what some reviews from Amazon are saying about it:

‘This is a poignant, heart-wrenching, impactful story that I won’t soon forget.’

‘I envy anyone who is still to read this.’

‘It’s one of those books that weaves itself into your soul and stays with you long after you reluctantly read the last page.’

‘A brilliant book, an epic story, this book deserves to be read by everyone.’

6 replies
  1. Terry Tyler
    Terry Tyler says:

    Good luck with your self-pub, Rebecca!

    Just a word – beware of books that claim to tell you how to sell lots of books, be more visible on Amazon, etc. These are often the author’s best selling book; take a look at their fiction titles and see how well they’re doing. If they’re lower down the rankings than 100K, it means their tips don’t work. Some fiction writers turn to ‘how to’ books when their novels don’t sell

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Hi Terry, thanks so much for getting in touch. I must confess I normally avoid these kind of books like the plague, but so many people recommended this particular one, so I thought it was worth looking at. But very good tip re sales rankings – off to have a look now! I always take everything I read with a huge pinch of salt, making sure I question it all. Thanks for the advice, much appreciated!

  2. J. M. Levinton
    J. M. Levinton says:

    This step really can’t be skipped. I have a writers group where every member is a professional editor. But when I needed a pair of eyes for my genre, I went to a friend who had read many, many books in that genre and would be able to catch things the others simply couldn’t. That’s the creative side. On the publishing side, don’t forget to get both an ISBN number and a Library of Congress number. You’ll be wearing many hats to do it yourself but it’s worth it.

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Thanks so much for getting in touch. Agreed, I think finding a reader who loves your particular genre is key. How does one get a Library of Congress number?


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