You might wonder why this post is titled, How Self-publishing Found Me. Well, it did. I had always enjoyed writing but never thought about publishing anything until I had to step away from my full-time job. That is when I returned to writing. In a small notebook, I had jotted down a few poems and started writing what was supposed to be a picture book, An Instrument for Florenda.
In 2021, while searching the internet, I found the #DVPit Twitter pitch day. #Dvpit is a Twitter event created to highlight pitches from unagented, marginalized voices that are underrepresented in publishing. Hoping to attract the interest of a traditional publisher, I joined by tweeting snippets from my book. Well, my pitch caught the eye of an editor. I emailed my entire manuscript the next day.
Knowing the process would take a few months for the editor to contact me, I read my manuscript again. But this time I was reading it with a new vision: I wanted to expand it into a chapter book. I ended up emailing the editor about my change, but they were not accepting any manuscripts for chapter books. That left me with self-publishing again, but I wanted to do it better this time. So, I started reading blogs of other writers, whether self or traditional, published to get the latest ideas from them.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
- EDIT, EDIT, and MORE EDITS: I had my final copy of my manuscript professionally proofread and edited. I started with sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Reedsy. They are excellent search tools when looking for freelancers.
- Copyright your work: It is easy to do. You pay a small fee, and you can complete it online through the US Copyright Office.
- Purchase an ISBN: I purchased Purchase an ISBN: I purchased both ISBN for my paperback and eBook through Bowker. They are the official ISBN agency for the U.S. It cost $125.00 to buy one, but if you sign up for their emails; they send out discounts. Plus, if you buy ISBNs in bulk, you get an added discount.
- Purchase a Barcode: I purchased one of these through Bowkerto link to my ISBN for my book. The cost is $25.00. You need one to market to major retailers. There is a discount on barcodes if you order in bulk.
- Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN): Once you get your ISBN, apply for an LCCN through the Library of Congress. This is FREE! It takes only a few days for them to email it to you. You must have your ISBN to get it.
- Cataloging in Publication (CIP): A bibliographic record for books that are likely to be widely acquired by U.S. libraries. I had a CIP block created for my book since my marketing plan included libraries. Plus, it helps your book to be professional, just like the traditionally published books. I used an agency I found through SCBWI member resources. The cost is $85.00.
- Advance Reader Copies (ARCs): ARCs are SO important. Send these out about three months or more in advance before launching your book to get those reviews. I had to play catch up on this.
- Canva: If you like to design and market your own materials, Canva is a great tool. I use it regularly. It has a paid monthly subscription at 12.99 a month for Canva Pro, but you can access the basis for free.
- IngramSpark: I use both IngramSpark and Amazon KDP as my distributors. Amazon for Amazon customers and IngramSpark for libraries, bookstores, and other major retailers. Just make sure NOT to select “Expanded Distribution” when setting up your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) book account. Also, you must own your own ISBN if you plan to use both. The Free ISBN through KDP or IngramSpark is Non-transferable from one platform to another. So, if you plan to use both, make sure you have your own ISBN.
- Lexile Measurements: This can be optional, but I had certified Lexile measurements done for the book through MetaMetrics, Inc. I did this because I am targeting libraries and schools in my marketing plan. The cost was $90.00.
It takes a lot of effort to self-publish a book, but it is fun and rewarding. It took me about two years to learn and develop our book, and I am still learning. An Instrument for Florenda which started out as a mother and son project has received some promising reviews along the way.
Tomeko is a native of North Carolina. While attending a school in her community, she learned to play the clarinet. Tomeko’s career has included working with kids in grades K-5 and middle school. An Instrument for Florenda is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient.