Self-publishing requires many hats.

Self-publishing requires many hats.

Man writing

Photo courtesy of

By David Joel Miller.

Self-publishers must fill many roles.

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Bumps on the Road of Life.
By David Joel Miller

Self-published authors need many hats. Even if you pay someone to do some of these functions; you still need to spend time on that role. I continue to feel like I’m just at the beginning of my self-publishing career, but when I look back over my shoulder and see how far I have come, it’s incredible.

My first blog post was in May 2011. I continue to learn about blogging. The transition from blogger to published author has been a steep uphill climb. My first book, Bumps on the Road of Life, a nonfiction book about recovery when life knocks you down, was published in late October 2017. Bumps was followed a week later by my first novel Casino Robbery. My second novel, Sasquatch Attacks, was released in September 2018.

Through this process have learned a great many things but I have many things yet to learn. To be successful as an indie author, however you define success, requires learning and practicing a great many skills. Here are some of the skills I’ve been working on developing.

Self-published, indie authors, must become researchers.

Photo of Casino Robbery book

Casino Robbery.

Writing a nonfiction book requires a lot of research. I thought there would be less research needed when I started writing fiction. I have learned that if I didn’t do the research before I began to write, I was likely to have to stop in the middle of writing and do that research.

Whatever you put in your book you need to describe accurately. I have had to research locations for my settings, weather patterns, clothing, and a great many other details. I’m tempted to write a fantasy novel set somewhere in my imagination. But a preliminary outline for my fantasy already tells me I will need to spend a lot of time creating this world in minute detail, so I don’t have my characters doing things that aren’t consistent with that setting.

I continue to learn about how to research effectively and plan to write another blog post about the lessons I’ve learned about how to be an effective researcher.

Self-publishers need to be creative authors.

Sasquatch Attacks - cover On Amazon

Sasquatch Attacks – cover
On Amazon

You would think making things up, that would be easy. Lots of people lie every day. Creating fictional characters doing fictional actions turns out to be harder than I had imagined. My creative process continues to change. I started primarily by imagining my protagonists, putting them in a setting, and then creating obstacles for them to overcome.

For me, this process of “writing into the dark” involved a lot of stopping and starting. I get my character to a setting, and then I must describe the location. Next, I set my protagonist to interact with other people. But who are these people?

Over the last year, I’ve written several additional novels which I hope to get published in 2019. I found that the most creative part for me now is writing the outline. For each chapter I plan to write, I think about where the action will take place, who will be there, and what the action will be. As I work my way through the outline ideas for other possibilities pop into my head. This requires going back and inserting the helper who will come to the protagonist aid in chapter 12 into earlier sections, so the reader won’t be surprised when this character appears.

Independent authors need to be extreme editor’s.

Sasquatch - cover On other platforms

Sasquatch – cover
On other platforms

I continue to learn about the process of editing. Editing is a lot more than running the manuscript through spellcheck and Grammarly, as valuable as those tools are. Editing also involves looking for the things that been left out and cutting out the unnecessary, boring parts. One challenge I encounter, when editing, is balancing the need for correct grammar with establishing authentic voices for my characters and the narrator.

You may decide that you need to hire an editor. I read a lot of self-published books, and some of them are so full of typos and errors that it makes them hard to read. Paying an editor to weed out all those typos can be expensive. Whether you elect to pay an editor or do the editing yourself the more errors you find and correct the better the final product will be.

Indie authors are also their own publishers.

The publishing function includes several tasks starting with formatting the manuscript for submission. The requirements for an e-book are enormously different from those from a paperback. E-books can contain links while the paperback edition requires complete information, including the URL.

In publishing your book, you need to decide whether to go exclusively with Amazon or “publish wide” so that your books will be available on other platforms such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and so on. If you “publish wide” you will need multiple formatted manuscripts. You can’t include links to your books on one platform in a manuscript published on another platform.

My nonfiction book is currently available exclusively on Amazon. The two novels I published wide. One of those novels has sold predominantly on Amazon, while the other novel has sold almost entirely on the other platforms. I learned a lot of lessons by attempting to publish wide. The decision to publish exclusively on Amazon, or to go wide on other platforms is a complicated one. That decision requires a full blog post all on its own.

Self-published authors need covers for their books.

Many indie authors pay someone to design their covers. A good cover can help sell your book. I feel like I’m just in the “kindergarten” of learning book cover design. I have used Amazon’s cover creator and found it very helpful. I’ve also tried designing my own covers. Creating a good cover is a lot harder than it looks. I continue to learn about creating covers.

Indie authors need to be their own Promotions and Publicist person.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful once having written your book and uploaded it to a platform, if that book suddenly started selling? With so many books on the market, the challenge is to make your book discoverable. Promoting sales of your book is an ongoing challenge.

There’s a short description of some of the various skills I’ve been learning in my process of writing and publishing my own books. I’m sure I have a great deal more to learn. If you have questions for me about my writing and publishing journey feel free to ask.

Part of the promotion process is getting reviews for your book. Securing more reviews for the books I have published is one of the things on my “to do” list. Honest reviews help other people decide whether to purchase a book. If you have read one of my books and have not yet left a review, I would appreciate one.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

5 thoughts on “Self-publishing requires many hats.

  1. I have some questions. I’ve written a lot of garbage but I wrote a piece called “Attempt to Evade Love” there’s a poem/prose after that piece that takes up where the other left off. If you had time, I’d like your honest opinion. Please keep in mind that I’m a Southern writer. You know we’re different. Someone told me my story felt like I was just telling them and no one else. He suggested more detail. I need criticism. Did you know that John Irving and Margret Mitchell both started with the last chapter and wrote forward. I’m not sure why Irving did it but Mitchell wanted to make sure she got all the battles, dates etc. In perfect order. Then she wrote the love story around that. I don’t know anything about self publishing but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Seems like more work than collecting rejection letters. Lol. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?
    Next, I will go back and read some more of your writings. Thank you, in advance, for any help you could give me.


    • Thanks for the questions, you really got me thinking. Your questions all deserve longer responses that I can put here. One question an author needs to decide is why they are writing that particular piece. A post on that topic will appear January 9, 2019. The question about writing by beginning with the last chapter is about process. I think each author has to come up with a process that works for themselves. Sometime in the coming year, I want to write some posts about the process I use and how I’ve come to do things that way. I know, however, my process is still changing. Your comment about being a “Southern writer” goes to developing a writers voice. There are some similarities in the way people from the South write, the way women write, and so on, but I doubt if any two southern women writers have precisely the same voice. I find I have different voices depending on whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, and also depending on the point of view in the piece. Writing about voice sounds like another post I need to do. An interesting comment that you don’t know anything about self-publishing but that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. My belief is we can’t judge the taste until we’ve eaten the meal. In my lifetime I’ve known far too many aspiring writers who died unpublished and their writings were consigned to the garbage. For me, the freedom to publish what I write rather than needing the approval of the gatekeeper has a sweet taste. Though as others have said, I’m willing to sell out if the price is right. I don’t think I can help you with critiquing poetry. I haven’t written poetry since I was a teenager. I think every student needs to find the right teacher for the lesson they need to learn. You may want to seek out someone who can spend the time with you to help you perfect what you are doing.


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