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Self-Publishing Your Creative Writing

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December 2010
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In this post, I discuss self-publishing. There are two methods of self-publishing. First, you can use your own money to publish a manuscript for a book. Secondly, you can create a website or blog and publish your work on the Web. A blog is good for publishing shorter works of creative writing, such as your poetry, flash fiction, short fiction, personal essays, literary journalistic essays, book reviews.

Self-Publishing a Manuscript

Most new writers will have a difficult time publishing their manuscripts. There are several reasons why. First, the editor might not want to publish your book because he/she doesn’t like it.

Or, the editor might not want to publish your book because he/she believes there is insufficient interest in the genre you are writing about.

The editor will also be reluctant to publish your book because you don’t have a platform (website, blog, published work, teaching credentials, education, and writing portfolio). Essentially, you are an unknown commodity.

Sometimes the editor will enjoy your book but won’t publish the book because it won’t sell in the current book market. What does the aspiring writer do? You could do what Charles Dickens did with the Christmas Carol: Publish the book yourself.

Whatever the case, first time writers are going to have difficult time publishing their work.

If you really want to publish your work, you have a few options.

When to Consider Self-Publishing a Manuscript

When might you consider self-publishing? If you have the money to pay for the costs of publishing, you can consider self-publishing. If you just want to publish for the pleasure of it, you can consider self-publishing. If your book is written for a small audience, you might consider self-publishing. If you believe there is a larger market for you book, you might consider self-publishing. If you want to build your writing platform, you can consider self-publishing.

Drawbacks to Self-Publishing

The big drawback of self-publishing is that many in the book publishing industry see it as a form of self-promotion and shoddy way of getting published. Often you won’t be taken seriously as a writer.

The other major drawback is marketing. You need to be able to get the word out—to make the public aware of the fantastic book you have written. You need money to market your book. Most writers don’t have the money to pay the marketing costs. You also need a place to sell your book. Most retail book chains or independent stores will refuse to sell your work. So, you will be forced to sell your book at the Farmer’s Market, flea market, or book fair.

Tips for Self-Publishing a Manuscript

  1. Only consider self-publishing if you have the money.
  2. Only consider self-publishing if you have the time to market and sell your book.
  3. Before you print your book, be sure you have edited and proofread every page.
  4. Research the market to be sure that people will be interested in your book. Your book needs to be unique.
  5. Use a reputable publisher to print your manuscript.
  6. Be sure to find out the costs of publishing the book.
  7. As an option, check out e-publishing.

Self-Publishing on the Web

Many writers are now using the Web to market and promote their work. Established writers usually have websites that include a summary of the book, book reviews, and additional information related to the book.

More and more writers are also turning to the Web to blog or write about their passions on a Website. For instance, creating a blog is a very good way for the aspiring writer to self-publish poetry or short stories or personal essays or literary journalistic essays. The writer can do the same with a website.

Here are a few suggestions for self-publishing on the Web:

  1. Use free software to create your blog or website. The ideal tool for creating a blog is . Just follow the instructions, choose a theme, add your features, and start blogging.
  2. Learn how to write for the Web. Unlike the printed page, people scan or skim Web pages, looking for useful information. They don’t read for every word. That means you need to chunk your information in small paragraphs, use headings and subheadings, use bulleted lists, and link the reader to related content. (For more information, see my article on “Writing for the Web.”
  3. Post useful content. Don’t write about yourself, unless it will entertain or interest your audience. You can include your poetry, flash fiction, short stories, personal essays, and literary journalistic articles.
  4. Edit and proofread your work before posting it.
  5. Your website or blog should have a specific theme. Only post content that is related to the theme. For instance, this website is about creative writing. Only poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, digital media, and how-to information are posted to this blog. Nothing else.
  6. Provide links to related information. If there is a useful website, provide a link on your blog.
  7. Add content to your blog or website on a regular basis. If readers are aware that you are adding information to your blog on a regular basis, they are more likely to revisit.

At the very least, self-publishing is a way to build your writing platform and writing portfolio. But, there are drawbacks. Before you consider self-publishing, you must weigh the pros and cons.


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