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Self-Publishing. Where to Start

My friend Wendi sent me this message. I decided to blog the answer since these are the most common things someone considering self-publishing wants to know.


Drag Link/Files HereDrop Files HereDrop Link HereJennifer! Are you currently writing? working on writing projects? publishing? From what I remember, you are a ghost writer?

I am hoping you could give me some pointers. I have a children's book (possible series and chapter book) that is ready to edit, one story is ready, many are partially written. I don't really know where to go from here. I don't believe I will be self-publishing as it seems VERY expensive. What have you learned with regards to self-publishing and having someone else publish for you?

Please tell me about Phoenix Cry Publishing.

Thanks for letting me pop by and pick your brain and wisdom. Thanks for paving the way for those to follow.



 Hi Wendi,

I’ll be specific but try not to overwhelm with answers. Don’t hesitate to ask away. Writing/publishing is my passion and I love to talk about it!

About me and where I’m at right now…

     Phoenix Cry Publishing is my own little LLC I started this year. I plan on putting my first book out by the end of the summer. Since I have a lot of books in the works, and this is my career (part-time now with taking care of kiddos) I wanted an LLC. The main benefit is I don’t have to put my personal bank information on Amazon when I publish. I haven’t done it yet so I can let you know how it goes once I have. I also started it to look more legitimate. But the majority of self-published authors I listen to on podcasts/read blogs say just to publish under your name until you have a lot of books out. I agree that is the best advice for most people.

     I am not doing any ghostwriting right now. I am working on a young adult fiction book I’ve been chewing on for a decade, Drug Virgin Hypocrite. It’s about a girl in Washington D.C. who is in a high school anti-drug and alcohol group. The big secret she’s keeping is that she gets her lunch money from her drug dealing father. It’s probably going to be for fourteen-year-olds and up.

     Once that’s out my goal is to put out two young adult fiction books a year. Since I’m all over the place and like to genre hop I also work on one non-fiction book at the same time as I work on my primary fiction book. I get bored if I only have one project I have to stay on.

     Right now the non-fiction book is in my Military Life Musings division/imprint of Phoenix Cry Publishing. It’s the first book for military spouses, Our Battle Cry. I have the foreword by Mrs. Betty Welsh, Spouse of the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. I wrote the introduction, final thoughts and the back cover content. I am slowly collecting submissions from military spouses. It’s like Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Souls merged with Steal Like an Artist, part personal stories, part quote book, part simple pictures.

     Again, I don’t necessarily recommend starting an imprint just because the book is in another genre. I’m doing it because this book is going to be interactive with links for additional content. Also, because I am trying to create a community around Our Battle Cry. The focus is on encouraging military spouses. I plan on making the Military Life Musings division its own website because sending people to title for each link in the book is not only too long, I just don’t like it.

Back to your questions/specific areas of writing…

     Does your books relate to your beautiful musical talents and passions? I love that you are working on children’s books. My graduate school thesis was a chapter book called Maddie and the Prayer Closet Warriors. It was terrible, but I learned a lot from it. Maybe one day I’ll rewrite it.

     Even though I don’t have a ton of time to write right now with taking care of the kiddos I spend every possible second devouring everything on self-publishing. I’ll give you a breakdown of what to do, where to go, etc.

I’ll try to go in order of what I recommend you check out.

First, Joanna Penn.

     You can download her free book Author 2.0 Blueprint. It’s not only free, but full of links to companies she recommends. I started using Canva to design my Brag Board photos after reading about it in this book (I think this one or one of her others) and love it.

After that I read her book you can download for free on Amazon (and maybe other sites too):

Successful Self-Publishing.

 Here is the next book by Joanna I plan on reading. Business for Authors. I'll post a blog about it once I'm done.

She also has a wonderful podcast at Joanna Penn / The Creative Penn. I listen to an episode a day while driving or doing housework.

Second, Simon Whistler

     You can self-publish for a minimal cost. The book to check out for that is:

Bootstrapping for Indies by Simon Whistler

 Besides being in expensive it’s great and easy to read.

     If you aren’t too overwhelmed at everything you learn you can also check out

Write. Publish. Repeat.

The guys might be a little crass in this, but their thoughts are great.

Next is David Gaughran

The last main book I recommend once everything is ready to be published is:

Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

Honestly, reading this while also finishing up my first draft of my YA fiction is a bit overwhelming. You might want to wait on this until you are done your first draft or even final draft. It’s the best, though.

Lastly, for real this time - Helen Sedwick

     I need to throw this one in. I get overwhelmed if I read more than a few pages at a time, but it is very important.

Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick



If you want to spend some money on your book Joanna Penn’s website has lists of cover designers and editors to check out among other necessary people to potentially hire.

Great Book Cover

     The number one thing you need (after a great book) is a great cover. I hear a lot of good things about  It’s about $300 for a cover (or for an upgrade). You can use premade book covers that can be found for $30-$50. Joanna Penn and the Bootstrapping book discuss where to find these. You can probably google premade book covers though.


     You can get someone to check out the grammar and someone else (or the same person) to review the concept of the book. I’d ask around for someone you know who has an English degree. Offer to take them to coffee or buy them lunch or do something in exchange for them checking your grammar. It’ll be easier to get this done for free since you are working on a kid book. Or offer to pay and ask what they charge.

     I plan on go to Jeanine Blount at webvision graphics for some of my work. (They do probably everything needed for self-publishing as well).

     As for someone recommending plot changes or corrections along those lines, if you want to be thrifty ask a few friends who wouldn’t mind being test readers. There is a website where authors edit each other’s books for free, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Maybe it shut down.

Check out Joanna Penn’s site for ones to hire or Webvision graphics as well.

Layout Designer

     Most people who self-publish do this themselves. I plan on doing it for my YA fiction book Drug Virgin Hypocrite and will post how it goes. Most people start out publishing at Amazon. They have a pdf file/book you can download for free and lots of information.

     What I did (after watching a tutorial on Joanna Penn’s site) is buy the writing software Scrivener. You can convert to the necessary file (for Amazon or whatever company) in a couple of seconds using it. I still write in Microsoft Word then paste into Scrivener, but I’m getting more used to writing in Scrivener. It’s worth the $40 in just being able to convert your file alone. Again, check out Joanna Penn or Webvision graphics to find someone to hire if you don’t want to do it.

Promotional Content

You need a great tagline. This is the elevator pitch or the one sentence you put at the top of the back of the print cover or in the description on the ebook store. This deserves an entire blog all to itself, so I’ll have to come back to this another day.



     All of this relates to self-publishing and outsourcing the things you need someone else to do for you. If it seems like a lot, just take it one step and one book at a time. I recommend doing it this way, because you learn from each book and can build on what you learn. This is especially if you want to put out more than one book. You can hire a company to do most of this for you, but that would be a lot more expensive.

I'll post a blog with an author who worked with one company to get her book published. Check back soon!

     What questions pop up while reading this or others that might relate!

Happy writing J


P.S. This blog is my first attempt at using Amazon Affiliate links. It's not the prettiest, but I'm learning.

Book With Flying Text Stock Photo by DigitalArt



1 comment (Add your own)

1. Wen wrote:
Hey girl! Just wanted to let you know how thankful I am for your blog! Wow! I am definitely chewing, digesting and working on the things you suggested! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your thoughts are so helpful! I am so proud of you and all you're doing! You are amazing woman!

Wed, April 27, 2016 @ 1:10 PM

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