Q & A: How I Self-Published Two Books

Finally made up in your mind that you want to write your own book? Have your manuscript ready to go but just don't know where to start? Debating on whether to go the self-publishing or publishing company route? Then this one is for you.

I've received a few questions lately from different people asking how I went about self-publishing my two books so I thought it would be beneficial to share and answer those questions (and more) here.

I don't want to assume that everyone reading this is familiar, so for those that aren't - I published a book of poetry titled Beauty from Ashes in 2015 as well as a devotional book titled Finding Happiness in 2017.

Where do I start? 

I think focusing on just getting it written is a good place to start. That way, you already have your money in your hand (so to speak) by the time you get ready to checkout (publish). Also, if you already have your manuscript ready to go, it will be a lot easier to get a more accurate quote on how much your books will cost, etc.

How much does it cost?

Cost will vary depending on which company you use, size/length of book, if you require additional publishing services, etc. It's best to search around and compare before choosing one. 

What company did you use to self-publish your books?

For my first book I used 48 Hour Books and for my second book I used The Book Patch.

Would you advise having someone else edit beforehand?

This question is kind of a 'do as I say, not as I do' type question. I chose not to have someone else edit mine beforehand, but I would advise you to consider it if a.) you're not that familiar with proper grammar/sentence structure/punctuation. or b.) you just want that extra set of eyes to double check and make sure that everything looks good and nothing was overlooked.

I'm that person that notices a typo in EVERYTHING without even attempting to, so I felt pretty confident in my ability to self-edit. However, I am definitely not opposed to the idea and would actually welcome it in the future.

Do you get a sample copy before ordering a certain amount and finding out that's not what you want?

I actually have never gotten a sample copy, simply because 1.  I'm impatient. 🤷 and 2. The time frame that I desired for my books to be published never allowed me enough time to order a sample first. However, I do wish I would have gotten one with my second book so that I could have changed something before ordering in bulk. (buttttt one of the really cool things about The Book Patch is that you can go in and edit your book at any time after you've published it at no extra charge)

How do I get it copyrighted? Do I need to?

You can go here to copyright your book. In my opinion, getting your book copyrighted is something that you should really look into, and here's why: 

"According to the Library of Congress, your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Basically, once you've written your book, you are automatically the copyright holder. So go ahead and put your information on the copyright page. However, you may want to register with the Library of Congress if you want to be able to file a lawsuit based on the infringement of your work (if you want your copyright to hold up in a court). It can take several months for a copyright application to be approved, so we recommend researching this as early as possible! Many authors do choose to get their book printed while they are waiting to hear back from the copyright office." 

How far in advance should I apply for an ISBN number?

I can't recall how long it took me to obtain an ISBN number for my first book. But for my second book I was able to purchase an ISBN number instantly for like $20 using ISBN Services. I'm sure there are other options out there so it all just depends on which company you decide to use!

What is your writing process like?

Whenever I get the urge to write it usually starts out as random notes scribbled in my journal or phone - whichever is closest. Then from there if I feel led to turn it into a blog post, poem, or book I begin editing, expounding, and eventually typing it up on my laptop. Sometimes I play worship music while I write - with the volume turned down really low. Most times I simply write in silence because it helps me concentrate better. Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, so I treat it as such. I never pressure myself to write. I typically only write whenever I need to release what's on my mind.

Did you write with the intent to share or was it more so you doing it for yourself?

It's funny, I've known that I wanted  to write a poetry book ever since I was in high school. I just didn't know that some of my most vulnerable poems were going to be included in it. My devotional book on the other hand, I literally wrote for myself during a season in my life where I needed to encourage myself. After I finished writing it, I felt like other people could maybe benefit from it as well, and that is when the idea to turn it into a full on devotional came about. 

How do you not think about any and everything people are saying about you with your books being distributed across the world!? (not an understatement, my books have made it to Africa AND Russia! 😮 And those are just the ones I know about. #allGOD)

The short answer to this is I do, but I don't. On one hand I do think about it simply because of the vulnerability that comes with putting yourself out there like that, but on the other hand I don't because I know it's not about me. Ever. I'm just the vessel. Sometimes you just gotta publish that book or do what God has called you to do before you change your mind. Because His never changes.

 Also, now that my books have been out there for a little while, I really don't think anything of it anymore. The positive feedback outweighs those kinds of self-conscience thoughts anyway.

When writing a poetry book, how much do titles matter? Is it okay to have some with titles and some without?

Personally, I believe titles are like middle names. Most people have them, but there are those very few who don't. I don't think it will make or break the book. I definitely wouldn't stress myself out over it. I actually have a poem in my book that I couldn't come up with a title for, so I titled it [untitled].

How much does theme matter in a poetry book?

This depends on how you desire for your book to flow. Mine didn't really have an overall theme because it consists of poems from all different seasons of my life. However, I did make it a point to strategically order them in the book to where they had a flow about them instead of just randomly intertwining them. It's up to you as the Author to decide how you want your words to be presented to your readers.

After publishing two books, is there anything you wish you would have done differently?

Hmmm. I'm sure there's quite a few, but just to name a couple -- I would have planned out my release dates ahead of time so that I could take my time and not feel like I'm rushing/stressing trying to get everything done by a certain date. I also would have invested more into seeking outside help (w/ cover designs, editing, etc; read: the whole process) if I would have had the funds to do so.

Why did you choose to self-publish? What do you like most about it?

The main reason I chose to self-publish is because it is way cheaper than going through a publishing company AND I get to keep all or majority of my royalties. It also enabled me to publish my books a lot quicker than if I would have went the alternate route.

What I like most about it is the fact that I'm in control of ev-uh-ry-thing! Like all of it. I'm the type of person that would rather do something myself just so I know that it's done exactly how I want it and self-publishing allowed me to accomplish that. 

Should I self-publish or find a publishing company?

That all depends on you. I'm biased of course, but if I would have been able to, I probably would have looked into finding a publishing company. However now that I've went the self-publishing route, twice, I prefer it. 

**disclaimer** If someone works for or has connects to a decently priced publisher, holla at ya girl! Lol but for real, I definitely wouldn't be opposed to the idea if it presented itself and everything was legit. 

Describe your self-publishing experience in three words/phrases?

-Total control
-Time efficient

If you have anymore questions feel free to shoot me a message. I'd be glad to help as best I can. 😊

Also, if you still haven't purchased a copy of my books, you can do so here

♡ LaQuitia Thomas