How to Make Money by Self-Publishing a Book – Part 1

laurieAs our family works to produce multiple streams of income, one of the ways we’ve chosen to go about that is to publish some books.  We didn’t start out publishing to make money, honestly.  The story goes like this:

When our oldest daughter was 11 years old, my husband got laid off from his job due to cutbacks in the slowly failing company.  As we had no clue at that time what a budget was, the financial implications were severe, and our oldest, being the oldest, really took it hard.  She had trouble completing her schoolwork (we homeschool), sleeping, etc., no matter how many times we tried to convince her that everything was fine, that we’d all be alright, etc. 

One day, out of desperation, I asked Maddie what it was she could do that made her feel peaceful and calm.  “Writing”, she answered.  “Then write”, I said.  So for the next couple of months, all Maddie did was write.  It calmed her, and at least she was doing something in regards to schoolwork, right?

Running Free EbookAs I was perusing her writings one day, I realized that the girl had some real talent.  One of her writing assignments was to taken a short story she’d written earlier, at the age of 10, and make it into a real book, editing and expanding the story.  When I read her finished product, a fiction book for kids 8-12 entitled Running Free, I really was impressed.  As a fiction writer, she had a great way of inviting emotion into her readers and making her characters feel “real”.

It was then that the thought occurred to me that this really could be a money-making avenue for her down the road.  At the same time as Maddie was working on her book, I’d gotten a nudge in my heart to write a book on prayer.  Prayer is one of my biggest passions, and I’ve seen the tremendous impact it can make on situations and troubles.  However, I also knew that there were a lot of questions out there about prayer and how it works, so at the Lord’s leading, I committed to writing a book on prayer.

Finding the Time

Knowing that I’m a “morning person”, I committed to getting up early every morning.  I’d spend my first minutes in prayer and reading the Bible, as I always do, and then I got to work, spending the first couple of hours on my prayer book, and the third hour on editing and spell-checking Maddie’s fiction book.

Note: If you want something done, you’ve got to set aside the time to do it.  Don’t just say “If I have time today” or it’ll never get done. 

Seven weeks later both books were finished.  However, I knew nothing about the world of book publishing, except for that it was nearly impossible to publish with a “traditional” publisher, most of whom received hundreds of thousands of potential book solicitations each and every year.  So I got to work and started googling terms like “How to publish a book”.

If you are looking to publish a book, there are many, many options out there.  There’s the traditional publishing route, in which you submit your book idea, along with a chapter or two, to a traditional publishing company who then looks over the book and decides whether or not you’ll be among their published works.  This route has a low chance of success for two reasons:

  1. Traditional publishers get hundreds of thousands of entries each year, and it takes months and months to wade through all of them.
  2. Traditional publishers usually have a list of authors they work with who have proven themselves and have plenty of books in the works to keep publishing houses busy.

Then there are the companies that you can pay to publish your book.  Some people call these “vanity publishers”.    For a usually hefty fee, they’ll agree to publish your book, and help you with a few publicity events and advertising options.  Beware of these types of companies, there are both good and bad out there, I’m sure, but based on my personal research, the majority of them don’t produce great results.

Last but not least, there is the option to self-publish, which is the option we went with.  There are many, many self-publishing companies available to consumers, based on a variety of factors, like how much you know about the publishing industry, and how much you have to spend on your book.  Whereas an e-book can be published for as little as $100 or less, if you want your book in print form as well as e-book form, you’re going to spend more money, even in the self-publishing world, but it can still be done for cheap.

In the end, we chose CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, to publish our books.  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. CreateSpace gave us a number of publishing options.  Ranging in price from $300 to roughly $1000, Creatspace allowed us to choose what type of package worked best for us.  The lower end packages included a pick-one type of cover from a short list of cover designs, and minimal help with interior formatting.  The largest package, which is what we ended up choosing, allowed us to have CreateSpace designers create original covers for our books, format the interior based on our basic Word document, and allowed us to choose from several different fonts and designs, both interior and exterior.  Because we didn’t have a clue about how to publish a book, we liked this package, complete with hand-holding through every step, from seasoned publishing professionals.
  2. By using CreateSpace, we had immediate and automatic access to Amazon’s vast audience.  Yep, if you use CreateSpace to publish your book, you automatically get listed on Amazon’s shopping website.  As we had little to no interest in the hard work of promoting the book, this was a great way to at least have the books “out there” in Internet land.

moving-mountainsRoughly three months later, Maddie’s Running Free and my Moving Mountains: Keys to Prayer That Works, were born, paperback copies in hand.  It’s been two and a half years since we published our books, and although the money isn’t supporting our family by any stretch of the imagination, it does provide us with a nice little check each month that we do nothing to earn – true passive income.

Self-publishing a book really is a viable option for anyone who has the talent to write.   In fact, it’s worked out so well for us that my daughter, at the age of 13, published two more books this year, Running Free 2 and Running Free 3.  I also have two more books in the works, for which we will likely use Createspace again.

If you’re a budding writer, publishing your own book can be done at a price that is affordable.  I would encourage you to start your own search into the world of self-publishing today and start pursuing your dream of becoming an author.  You can do it!

Coming up: Tips for Successful Self-Publishing of Your Book

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  1. Thank you for your post. I wrote a book but have been stuck on how to publish. Your post is inspiring.

    Your daughter I congratulate maybe her books will become a movie one day. Thanks again for your post.

    • Ms. Writer – look for my follow-up post this week with more tips on how to self-publish. You can do it!

  2. Gladly, Stefanie! I’m going to have a follow-up post soon with more tips and suggestions for those interested in writing/publishing a book.

  3. Thanks, Laurie, for sharing your story. I say AMEN to Ruser’s comments. I’m glad that it was such a great success for you and Maddie…you sound like a wonderful mom! I’m sure others will
    be encouraged by your story to write their own.

    • Thank you so much, Judy, and I hope and pray that it will indeed encourage others. There are so many wonderful stories out there waiting to be told.

  4. Great article Laurie! I know what you are saying about finding time to write! You just have to sit down and do it. I make myself lists of what I need to do everyday but writing ends up at the bottom and I never get to it! I’m just going to have to jump it up to the top (one of these days)!

    • Yes you are, my friend! Not only is writing a great emotional outlet, it may well make you money someday! :-)

  5. Wow, that’s great for both you and Maddie! I don’t usually write any comments but felt moved today to congratulate you.

    Maybe I’ll try this some time. I’ve always liked writing. Just not sure what I’d write about.

    • Thanks, Lori – we really appreciate the encouragement. Lori, if it’s in your heart, you really should consider writing a book – it’s so fun. If we can do it, you can too. :-)

  6. Thanks, Ruser!! Yes, it certainly did work out well in the end. She’s a very gifted author, so it will be fun to see where this leads for her. :-)

  7. I’m glad that Maddie was able to find something to help her through that difficult period and love how it blossomed into something even bigger. I think it’s great how nurturing and encouraging you were/are, too!

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