How to get your first book self-published

Misbah Akhtar

Writing a book is an ambition for many people. Have you always dreamed of becoming a published author? They say everyone has a book in them, so if you’ve been thinking about writing a novel or a children’s book, your life story or a self-help book, what’s stopping you from actually doing it?

There can be a hundred reasons why the book that’s inside of you has never made it onto paper, never mind into the public domain. But if you’re anything like most would-be writers, it all comes down to two main obstacles that you will have to learn to overcome.

How to get your first book self-published

Understanding book publishing

The world of publishing can be a daunting place, especially if you have no prior industry knowledge or useful contact. Do you need a literary agent? How do you approach publishers with your manuscript? What are the chances of it being accepted? It’s a hugely competitive marketplace with the odds stacked heavily against new writers. Why would you even bother?

In recent years, self-publishing has become a viable alternative to traditional methods of book publishing. Self-publishing is widely accessible and lets you retain a far greater degree of control over your work, which includes time schedules, ownership rights and any money you make through sales.

Today, anyone with an internet connection can write an e-book and make it available to millions of readers through platforms such as Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the author platform that lets you upload your book and list it for free. Of course, there are many other platforms to consider too, as well as plenty of online help to guide you through the self-publishing process.

Alternatively, look for independent digital print suppliers who can run off short print runs of as little as 25 copies at affordable rates. If you want to see your book beautifully executed in print and distribute it yourself, this is a custom solution that may suit. As one book printing company puts it: “They say everyone has a novel in them. But not everyone manages to put pen to paper. If you’ve put in the hard work and long hours that come with writing a book, then you more than deserve to see it printed.”

Overcoming self-doubt as a writer

Of course, before you can publish your book, you have to write it first. And often, therein lies the rub. Many would-be writers are affected by self-doubt, that toxic mixture of fear, lack of confidence and sometimes a lack of self-love too.

This is the inner voice that tells you that you’re not good enough and that you’re writing will never get published, so you may as well not waste your time on lofty pipe dreams. It’s what stops you from taking yourself seriously as a creative writer or even prioritising time to practice your craft.

Not only can self-doubt seriously jeopardise your creative potential, but it can also lead to procrastination and self-sabotage, cause writer’s block and exacerbate low self-esteem. Unless you recognise the negative influence of self-doubt on your writing ambitions and take positive actions to overcome this potentially huge issue, it is possible that your book may never get written.

Here are some strategies you could try to silence your inner critic and build up your self-confidence as a writer:

  •   Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on playing to your own strengths. Everyone’s path to success is different. Recognise your unique voice and believe in the value of your contribution to the world of the written word.
  •   Keep a thought journal to catch negative patterns of thinking. By observing your own internal dialogue, you will become more aware of your inner critic’s narrative and how this affects your behaviour and can take action to reverse it.
  •   Surround yourself with positive people who will support you in your ambition. A solid support network of colleagues, friends and family is a big comfort, especially at times when you’re feeling low and need help to believe in yourself.
  •   Take setbacks in your stride. Failures are lessons to be learnt from – they are your stepping stones to success. Work through the bad and focus on the good. Ensure that you celebrate your wins.
  •   The more you practice, the better and more confident your writing will become. Create a sustainable writing habit and make it a regular, non-negotiable routine that you can build into your schedule.

If you really want to write a book but are struggling to make it happen, ask yourself whether you are treating this ambition as your wish or as your goal. A wish is a heartfelt desire, something you hope to have in your life but that you don’t have complete control over. A goal is something you plan for – it is manageable and attainable and something that you have the power to accomplish. Perhaps now is the right time to turn your wish to be a writer into your goal for 2021 and fulfil a long-held dream?

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