Self Publishing – Selling Your Work

Now that you have a book, you want to sell it, right?

CreateSpace does some limited marketing even if you don’t pay for the marketing package. I remember how happy I was when I had just bought some Joel Rosenberg books and got an email saying “If you liked Joel Rosenberg, you might like The Dice Of Fate by Rohvannyn Shaw!” That was truly awesome.  Recently I randomly found an ad for my new comedy book on a Hubpages post about customer service!  Not sure who put the ad there, Amazon or the writer, but so far it’s found me about ten customers.  If you put your work out there, it’s entirely possible that others might find it and decide to promote it.  There’s a lot you can do to improve those chances.


Basic Marketing Steps:

Announce on your social media.  That one’s pretty easy to guess.

Create a website or put a new page on your website for your book/s.

Fill out your author page on Amazon, or your profile on Lulu.

Join Goodreads, get an author page, fill it out.

Blog about it if you have a blog.

If you join Goodreads, check out the author communities. Often you will find people willing to host author interviews or feature new books on their blogs.

Do a promotion – CreateSpace lets you make coupons and do giveaways.

Don’t stress over reviews too much, but if you can get them, great.

You can do a Goodreads Giveaway too, they are pretty helpful. They only cost the price of whatever book you are giving away, plus postage.

Make little placards and leave them up places where readers gather. Bulletin boards at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, etc. I make mine when I see those promotions for penny prints at Snapfish, Shutterfly, or similar photo sites.

Buy a few books and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. You might be surprised at who wants one, and it helps put them in front of more people.

Go to craft fairs or holiday bazaars with some copies. There aren’t many authors at craft fairs, so you will have less competition.


Note about blogging:  If you have a big following, it can be perfectly fine to say “hey, I have a new book, come check it out!”  But if you’re still trying to attract new readers or you’re starting out, try to think of some really interesting angle to write about.  Offer a chapter of your book, write an article about something you learned while writing it, something like that.  Give people a reason to click into your blog and then let them know the book is available within that posting.  Let them see why they should put down money to read more of your work.  It really helps!
There are a thousand other ideas out there, some of them quite creative, but I think you get the idea. Notice that most of these ideas are cheap or free!

Check out my page “self publishing” for the other parts to this series, and more.

Self Publishing – preparing and uploading your work

As I mentioned  in Part 2, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay for an ISBN, or for submitting things to the US Copyright Office to “protect your copyright.” Keeping the file on your own computer is fine.  That will show the time stamp on it in case anyone doubts your ownership.  I do recommend backing up your work on a thumb drive or external hard drive, though!  If you publish a book, putting the copyright notice near the front of your book protects you as well. You know the one, “this is a work of fiction… ” etc, etc.


First steps

I like to set up the title and author info on CreateSpace (or first, so the service gives me the ISBN, then I put it into my formatted file, convert it to PDF, and then upload it.  After that, CreateSpace asks you to briefly describe your book, say who wrote it, and asks you how big you want your book to be. 6″ by 9″ is a good size to work with, that’s the standard trade paperback size. If you need templates for covers or interior pages, CreateSpace provides those too. Google “CreateSpace templates” for more information.


Your Blurb

Your short description is often called a “blurb.”  It’s best to keep this relatively short, maybe a few short paragraphs, because the idea is to entice the reader in and tell them what’s special about the book in a short amount of time. You can use your cover description for this, or something a little longer. Your book may have really great points about it, but a text wall is not inviting to readers.  Just reading the descriptions of a lot of books online will start giving you ideas about how to do this and what it needs to say. Notice what you like, what you don’t, and what works for you with what you see.


Setting up your book

While you are setting up your book on CreateSpace, there will be a place where it asks you to set up a BISAC Code. That’s really easy. Basically, you are giving the two main categories that your book fits in. That will affect who sees the book, and who Amazon tries to sell to, as well as where it would be shelved if you get into a bookstore or library. For example, my comedy book might be in fiction: comedy, as well as comedy: business. Play around with it to see where you might fit, you can change it later.

Also, they will ask you to set up five to seven keywords. A keyword can be a short phrase. This makes your book easier to find in net searches. For example, my comedy book might have “comedy, humor, business, customer service, advice” as the keywords. Note that “customer service” counts as just one keyword. Again, you can change those too.

Next, CreateSpace will ask you where you want to sell your book. They will give you the opportunity to market your book worldwide! No extra fee is needed for that. You will also learn what the basic price is to print your book, so you can choose how much profit you get. There are certain guidelines to this but everything is really clearly explained.

Finally, when you have your cover uploaded, your interior text uploaded, and everything filled out, it will let you do a final review, and you can submit. It takes about a day for final approval. When the files are ready, they will email you and you can give your final stamp to it. You can either use their interior reviewer to check the final proof, or buy a proof copy. It costs three or four dollars plus about four dollars shipping. That step is optional, but at least look at the digital copy before submitting.

Then, feel free to publicize all over, put it on your blog, brag about it, and pat yourself on the back! You’re an author! I’ll give tips on marketing in the next post.

Bonus tip about covers: Make sure and leave space at the bottom or to one side of the back cover for the barcode. If you don’t leave space, or if your art wraps around the whole book, they will overlay the barcode somewhere on the back, so it’s best to leave a spot for it. You can leave a three inch by two inch gap if you want, or use a barricade generator and put it in yourself. Then they won’t add it because it’s already there.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Dice of Fate Cover Final.png


Self Publishing: Formatting and Covers

It’s not nearly as hard as it seems to get your book ready to be published. The main thing is to have decent software for it. I believe Word can do most of the things I talk about, but personally I use Libre Office. It’s free, stable, works on nearly any computer, has no adware or spyware, and has a lot of people who use it. LibreOffice also lets you convert things to PDF, which will be important.


The Basics

The main thing with getting your book ready to print is converting it to the right size. Many of the books you will be making are nine inches by six inches, and you can go into your page settings and just set the file for that. 11 or 12 point font is about right for many books, though you might want to go a bit smaller depending on the story. Georgia and Times New Roman are good fonts for readability, I really don’t recommend Arial or other sans serif fonts. Still play around and see what you like.

LibreOffice lets you add page numbers too. It’s a fairly simple process to add a header to the top of your document, and create a field so it will automatically number them. LibreOffice’s excellent help files will take care of that, or I could create a tutorial if enough people have trouble. Basically, the idea is that the numbers take care of themselves.


Some tips:

Make sure you have all starts of chapters on odd numbered pages. That way they will be to the reader’s right when they come to them.

Same with important pages like author notes, forwards, acknowledgements, frontspieces, tables of contents, etc.

Don’t forget to have a copyright page – CreateSpace lets you get your ISBN before uploading your work, so you can stick that in your copyright information. If you need a good example of what that looks like, pick up any novel and flip to the front.

When you have everything perfect, use the handy Convert to PDF function in LibreOffice. Take a look through and make sure it all looks good. This “locks in” all your careful formatting so it can’t move around.

A note: if you convert your book over to a Kindle version, it’s best to save a copy as a .doc file. Luckily, LibreOffice can do that too. Anybody who’s stuck can feel free to message me, though LibreOffice is really easy to use.


Your Cover

When it comes time to create your cover, there are a lot of ways to do it. If you’re like me, you will paint something and put it in GIMP, another free graphics program, and add all your own text etc. Pixabay is actually an awesome resource if you need photos. I prefer GIMP because it lets you work in transparent layers – great because you can have a text layer, a background layer, and more, and when you have to fix something on one layer you don’t have to change the others. For example, I can paint something, take a picture of it, put it into GIMP and make that the background layer, then arrange the text on top of it. It gives me tremendous flexibility.

For those a bit less comfortable with graphics, there is also the option to use a cover creation program. Both and CreateSpace have those integrated. So it’s perfectly possible to make a nice cover without having to hire anybody. If you need ideas, go online and look up other books in your genre. You can learn a whole lot by looking, noticing what you like and what you don’t, and maybe taking a few notes. Cover design is a fine art but you can do some nice work if you pay attention to what is effective in other covers.

If you’ve created your cover in another program, convert that over to PDF too. GIMP does that so you don’t need a fancy converter. Make sure you leave space on the back for the barcode, it’s about 440 pixels wide by 354 pixels high, which works out to about an inch and a half wide by just over an inch high. Your cover should be saved at 300 dpi if you make your own.

Go to CreateSpace and follow their publishing wizard. It will literally walk you through the process, explaining everything as you go along.

If you have more questions, of course I’m here, and my material on under the authors links and publishing links to the right of the page is still there too.

A note regarding ISBNs: There is no need to pay for them, and no need to submit works to the Library of Congress either. Both and CreateSpace will give you an ISBN for free and your copyright notice suffices for protecting your work. If someone tries to charge you for either, run away.

Self Publishing: Step By Step

Whether you have a novel, a collection of short stories, a poetry book, a manga, a collection of plays,  a group of nonfiction articles, a memoir, or a children’s book, there’s an option for you. It’s very possible to publish both print books and ebooks yourself, without paying a single cent.

There are many good and reputable sites out there –, CreateSpace, and SmashWords, just to name three. My advice when starting out is to steer clear of any place that makes you pay for services.

There are also free ways of getting cover art, formatting your book, designing your book, and everything else. This is true even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body!  An eye for design helps, but even that isn’t entirely required.  I’ll be going into more detail in other posts. All the different publishers work pretty much the same way – you format your book, upload it and the cover, wait a few days for it to be looked at, approve your proof, pick your pricing and territories, then click submit. You will usually do most of your own marketing unless you buy a marketing package.

For these examples, I’ll be using CreateSpace. They have great free options, allow you to easily port your work over to Kindle, automatically put your work on Amazon, and actually do some promotion for you. I’ll never forget the day my novel was suggested to me by Amazon! Altogether, it’s a good deal. They will give you a percentage of each sale. Right now I get about $2 for a $7 book. Not bad, really, considering I do no shipping or handling of money.

Have I done this?  Several times.

Have I made fat stacks of cash?   Not yet.

I have certainly gotten a lot of satisfaction and am proud of what I’ve done, and I have gotten my books into several hundred peoples hands so far.

Future posts will delve more into different aspects of the publishing process and will be linked from here once they’re written.  Some material has been seen in other similar posts but I want to have all the information in one place, for everyone’s convenience.

Here’s the link to all related posts:

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I was really pleased and honored to get the Sunshine Blogger Award from Speaking Up For Myself.  I like that blog and was so happy for the recognition!  Thank you, friend!  I’ll answer the questions below and create new ones.  I am passing the award along to seven blogs I think are great, and have added sunshine to my life.

Who knows?  You might like them too if you haven’t discovered them already.



  1. What would you change about your life, if given a chance?
  2. How do you see yourself ten years from now?
  3. How would you make a difference?
  4. What would you say to people who reach out to you for help?
  5. What would your epitaph read?

What would you change about your life, if given a chance?

I would have wanted my younger self to have more drive and ambition, to ask more questions, and really think about what I wanted to do in my life. I wish I could have whispered into the ear of my younger self “get into health care, help people, and don’t forget to write all you can.”

How do you see yourself ten years from now?

I want to have grown greatly in my art and writing.  I will have several more novels finished and if blogs are still popular, I hope this one is an old and well grown one.  I also hope to have moved up in position at my job so I can save for the future, and possibly own a little land.

How would you make a difference?

I try to make a difference by helping others where I can, usually in service rather than financially.  Sometimes I get into trouble doing that because my bosses don’t like it.  At the least, I try to offer good advice and support to those who are in need of it.  I try to make a difference through writing, too, but anyone can make a difference by just being kind.

What would you say to people who reach out to you for help?

I say “I’ll do what I can,” and I help how I can but I don’t endanger myself by doing so.  I’ll take somebody home from work if they need a ride, or give them a shirt if they’re cold, or feed them if they are hungry.  I’ll offer support if they’re sad.  But I won’t harm my family by doing so.  I try to combine compassion with sense.

What would your epitaph read?

Honestly?  I don’t know.  “She always did her best,” would be nice to see.  It’s not really true now but I’d like for it to be.

Thank you for the questions!  They were interesting!


Rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

1.Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
2.Answer the questions sent by the person who nominated you.
3.Nominate seven new blogs to receive the award and write them new questions.
4.List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.


My Nominees

(If anyone doesn’t like getting awards or feels they clutter their page, please feel free to not respond, but I hope you accept my sincere appreciation.)

Enchanted Forests

Rationalising the Universe

Mark All My Words

Totally Inspired Mind

Living Life Is An Art

The Bag Lady



My questions for the nominees

  1. What are your favorite books to read?
  2. What most inspires you?
  3. Why do you write?
  4. How did you start blogging?
  5. If you could have any profession, what would it be?

10 ways to add value to your blog

via Daily Prompt: Value

If you add value to your writing,  your readers will be more likely to come back.  My favorite blogs, the ones I bookmark and come back to again and again, offer me fantastic value and relevance in my life.  I want to be like them.  So when I post, I like to think “what makes me want to read a blog?  What is valuable to me?”  And then I try to give that to my readers.

A good blog is like a conversation in that both participants benefit from it.  Both reader and writer find it valuable.  The writer, because they share their messages and ideas, and the reader, because they learn something, are amused, or have their thoughts expanded or provoked.  So when you write, always try to create a connection.

10 ways to add value to your blog:


Relate personal experiences

When writing about your own experiences, think “how can I relate this to others?”  Doing that can create a connection, help people feel they aren’t alone.

Share your knowledge

You might think everyone knows about a certain subject.  However, you might have a perspective or know a particular little tip that no one else does.  You can share that.

Be bold

When writing, dare to go a little outside the norm.  Use an active voice, write thoughtfully, and always be honest with yourself and your reader.

Know your audience

I see this all over the net, but what does it really mean?  Take a look at the blogs of people following you.  See what they write about, what they are interested in.  This can help you see what you can offer them, and also give them some extra clicks and views.

Read, read, read

To be a great writer, you must read.  That will give you more to write about as you ponder the ideas you see in the books and articles you explore.


When writing an article about a particular subject, think “Is there something I can offer that other bloggers/writers haven’t?  Is there a connection I can make here that they didn’t?”  Then include that.  It will really add value and freshness to your blog.

Write intentionally

Even with a daily prompt, or a daily check-in post, think “will my readers be elevated, informed, or entertained by reading this post?”  Sometimes all it takes is a little more detail, a few different wording choices to make this answer “yes.”

Be positive

Even if you write about difficult or negative subjects, keep positivity in mind.  Offer solutions if possible.  Encourage your reader.  Look for the lesson in your work, and gently point toward it without being preachy.  This can be a delicate balance but it can be done, with practice.

Delete if needed

Sometimes, a post just doesn’t turn out the way you wanted.  It’s perfectly okay to go back and delete it later if it doesn’t serve the theme of your blog.  You can archive it of course, for later reworking, but you don’t have to keep it up.

Edit, edit, edit

Take an extra look at your posting before you submit.  Give it a thorough check for spelling and grammar issues.  Simply doing this will create a better product, and add value to your work.  It also shows you care about your ideas and your readers.


If you add value to your blog, and think about these principles as you write, you will have more readers who keep coming back to read your work!



An ad-free Mindflight will bring us together

via Daily Prompt: Together

Every week I try to think of a way to make Mindflight better.  I’ve removed boring posts, improved the art on this blog, tightened up my prose, tried to figure out entries that would help and entertain.

Now we’ve gone ad free.  Though I might still make discreet suggestions about some really good product that people might love, that’s never going to be more than a simple link, easy to ignore.  I will have no popup ads, no WordPress ads.

No ads means no chance for adware or malware to be transmitted to your computer.   No ads means no sad pleas to shut down Adblockers.

By banishing ads from this blog, I want to serve my readers more fully and create just a little more ad free online space without auto playing sounds, videos, popups or distractions.

This content is going to stay free for anyone to read.  I’m really happy to be able to do it.  I think that we, as creators, can really do something awesome – together.  Therefore, comments and suggestions are always welcome.

I hope you’ll enjoy going ad free as much as I do!

Making Your Own Stock Photography

Did you ever write an article or blog post and have a really hard time finding the right photograph that wasn’t in copyright and was available for reuse?

Not to worry. It can be a blast taking your own stock photos! You don’t even need an amazing camera. For web purposes, most sites need you to upload a comparatively small photo anyway, so a camera phone or older digital camera can do wonderful things.

Use the free program GIMP for all of your photo processing and resizing needs. It’s a great program and widely available, and it works whether you have Windows, Mac, or Linux. You can even use it to convert color photographs to make beautiful, vintage looking black and white photographs. I’ll write about that later.

Run around your area with your camera. Take pictures, not only of the things you need pictures of, but also random things. Think about where the item is in the “frame,” sometimes centered isn’t best. Try extreme close ups. Rearrange items, stack them. If you can zoom, do so.

writing tackle
I took this photo when I needed stock for an article about writing.

I made this stock photo a while ago. It’s not the best but it’s mine, and it did a good job of saying what I wanted it to.

It’s easy to make a backdrop, just use a white sheet draped over a chair for small items. Morning light from a north facing window has served me well for a lot of my art photographs. If you want to get fancy, you can get a light set from Amazon for about $50 that includes a tripod.

Experience will teach you more than any tutorial. If you take some really great photos, you can upload them to Pixabay to make resources other artists can use, and maybe earn some donations for them.

Now your photos will be part of your personal story!

When you want to publish your book: tips for aspiring authors

The only thing worse than failing as a writer, is failing as a writer and paying someone else for the privilege.  Writing and getting your things published doesn’t have to be hard, though it often is. There are certain things you can do so you aren’t taken for a ride. I’ve watched the publishing industry change over the years, helped publish a few books, and in all of it I’ve seen that certain things remain true. So I have come up with some tips and rules to help protect you from career-breaking mistakes.
Do not ever pay an agent fee or publishing charge. Those are used by vanity publishers and scam artists to separate you from your money and give you nothing.

There is one small exception to this. If you complete the NaNoWriMo writing challenge and earn the 75% off coupon from FastPencil, that’s actually a pretty good value. For around a hundred dollars you get a fair amount of marketing help and wide distribution for your book, as well as a larger cut of the profits. Otherwise, don’t pay agent fees or publishing charges.

Also be cautious of anyone who says “you need to help us pay for a thousand books and you need to do all your own marketing.” Real agents don’t charge the author.

If you are an aspiring writer and want to be published traditionally, do not let your desire blind you to scam artists. Be particularly wary of any unsolicited emails from publishing companies with glowing testimonials, compliments about your work, and promises of big profits. I’m looking at you, SBPRA! Unless you are really well known, publishing houses don’t approach you unasked, and if you are well known, you won’t be needing these tips.
Carefully check any contracts to make sure you retain control over your work. Look for hidden fees. Read them. Reread them. If anyone objects or tries to get you to rush, don’t sign.

Before signing up with any agent or publishing company, check their online reputation. Several good authors groups, like the Science Fiction Writer’s Association, have lists of scammers. No reputation might not be a deal breaker but a bad reputation is.

When you self publish, and even if you don’t, use a beta reader. Have one or more people carefully read your work, looking for typos, misspelled words, awkward grammar, or anything else that will make your work look less than its best. The more eyes, the better!

Write what you love, write what you know, and never ever write something you don’t know about unless you have expert help. That is, talk it over with someone who knows the subject very well, and then listen to what they have to say!

Finally, any time emotion (especially love or fear) is involved, the market is ripe for scammers and they know it. You love your book, you love the idea of success. You fear failure. Scammers know that and they play to your emotions. This is your work, hopefully your best work, and you owe it to your future to let reason rule over emotion. You’ll be thankful later.

If you have any comments or tips, comment here and I’ll add them with attribution.

Art Exploration “Kitsune”

Cover final painting small

This is the second version of a cover painting I did for a novel I wrote.  I usually try to paint things that tell some kind of a story, but this was meant to be representational of some of the book content and hopefully somewhat intriguing to the casual viewer.

The novel was “The Dice of Fate,” a story about a young woman who was suddenly transported directly from her day job to a place that was like something from one of her roleplaying campaigns.  Early in the story, a little white Kitsune with three tails comes and helps her, and the theme of dice features prominently in the story.  Therefore, I chose to depict the kitsune, the ten sided die, and a hint of the long road she had to walk on foot to get to civilization.

I started (as usual) with the sky gradient.  The better the sky gradient, the better the foundation of the work.  Since this was acrylic, I could dispense any worry about the transparency of my layers.  With the trees I worked from dark to light, always keeping in mind that most trees have gray bark, not brown.  For highlighting, I used chalks and pencils in the final steps.

I was fairly pleased with the work.  If anyone wants to see it on the cover, feel free to click through to the link – and if anyone wants to buy it, it’s free for Kindle subscribers.  Just search the title “The Dice of Fate.”