Self-publishing tips

Hello my fellow aspiring authors,

First let me give you a quick background. I’m a freelance writer/author/photographer, and this is my second career after I freed myself from the bondage of corporate Hell. I returned to college when my children were in high school and finished my degree from Tulane University in New Orleans with a BA in Media Arts. That was 2003, and now 12 years later I have a good 1,000 articles published with twice as many photographs gracing the pages of local, regional and national pubs.

Two years ago when the magazine market began to shrink I turned to books releasing my first book Hallowed Halls of New Orleans: Churches, Cathedrals and Sanctuaries in 2013. It was published by History Press, an appropriate publishing house for a book that was born from a historic church column and ten years of research and photographs. However, my corporate career taught me I should only dedicate my resources to projects that yield profit. Working with a publishing house does have some benefits but marketing and sales isn’t one of them. I had to resolve that part of the equation on my own.

That brings me to my reason for this new series of blog posts. On January 8 2014, I sat teary eyed in the pews of Trinity Episcopal Church on Jackson Avenue in New Orleans. My mentor, Mary Fitzpatrick, a renowned preservationist, astute cultural activist, and editor of Preservation in Print magazine, died suddenly at the age of 64 on New Years Eve 2013 while visiting family in Hendersonville, NC. I was devastated!

Mary saw a budding writer in me, and in my senior year at Tulane she published my first article in the December 2002 issue of Preservation in Print. She continued to support me and sing my praises over the next decade. It was there studying the stained glass windows in a church filled with faithful mourners, my doubts in publishing were answered. Yes Mary’s spirit, karma, whatever it was, reached to me, in an astounding, “What are you waiting for?”

In October 2014 I published my first book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Churches, Cemeteries and Voodoo dedicated to the memory of Mary Fitzpatrick. It was both a nightmare and a dream come true. My book’s acknowledgement shares the laborious journey, from computer and internet crashes to firing my initial printer, I learned from my mistakes. I still have much more to learn, but like anything else, your knowledge grows with experience and in this case, book sales. The more books you sell, the more followers you gain, and the more your marketing strategy changes. Add to that the growing number of promotional tools, and it can be overwhelming.

This blog will be the beginning of a series of self-publishing tips dedicated to the first-time publisher, and with time I will transition to more advanced posts as I progress in this evolving craft of publishing.


Start educating yourself, reading books, following newsletters, signing up for free webcasts. Will your book be fiction or non-fiction. In determining your subject matter research the existing market. Go to the big box stores, what are on the shelves of your genre. Remember your book needs to be unique with a strong marketing base. Develop a timeline of your writing, both short and long range including an estimated publishing date. Document it in your planner or whatever you use to stay on track.


Will it be print, eBook or both? There are several options on print including the less costly On Demand Print used by Amazon Create Space and many other self-publishing websites. Bulk print gives you the opportunity to earn a higher royalty but there’s warehousing the books and moving the books to and from marketing events. Highly recommend not printing over 1,000 books when you are a first-time author. Some writers believe in publishing eBooks first earning enough money to print the books in bulk.

To get you started, I’ve listed some links below that I follow as valued resources in writing, self-publishing, marketing and entrepreneurial tasks.

I also provide a full speaking presentation designed for first time authors and/or self publishers in an online format. Great resource for conferences, book clubs, writing groups, libraries or book stores. Email me for more information or contact me via Facebook, 

Joanna Penn,

Joanna Penn also has several books available including How to Market a Book, which I have read, Public Speaking, Business for Authors, and Career Change. Tutorials: How to Publish a Book 101, 7 Worst Mistakes Indie Authors Make and How to Fix Them, Self-publishing checklist for new authors

Creating Books through blogs

Nina Amir

I’ll be back next week with another lesson in self-publishing. Meanwhile check out my photo galleries of both books and book descriptions. My books are available through Amazon with signed copies offered in sales direct from my website.

Happy Writing…