What I Learned Through Self-Publishing My Own Book

self-publishing

I have a banner hanging above my desk that says, “Anything is Possible.”

This year, I proved it. I wrote a book.* Specifically, a novel set in England in the 1950s. It is a whimsical Christmas tale about a little boy with complicated familial relationships called, Magnus the Magnificent.

Writing a book has been on my bucket list for many, many years and I usually found many, many reasons (ahem, excuses) not to do it. I was sick, or busy, or in school, or just plain lazy. I am proud to say that this year I stopped making excuses, and I did it.

And if I can do it, you can too.

If writing a book has always been on your bucket list, then I want to encourage you to take the steps to make it happen. Carpe Diem… Seize the day!

Here are seven things I learned while writing my book:

1. Trust the process.

I’m not going to lie. There are days when nothing will happen. There will be days that you won’t feel like it. There will be days that you spend five hours on Facebook and you don’t write a single word. There will also be days that you sit down to write, and the creativity will ooze out of you, and it will feel like pure magic.

“Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

2. Break it down.

Writing a book may seem daunting or unachievable, but it is 100% doable if you break it into small, manageable chunks. You may want to set small goals like writing the first chapter, or writing an outline to better understand the structure of your story. I found it helpful to map out my story from start to finish. Just like with real maps, if you know where you’re going, it is much easier to get there.

3. Get inspired.

Figure out what motivates you. I found it incredibly helpful to be a part of a writing group where we encouraged each other and gave honest, constructive feedback. If you would like to learn more about the practice of writing, there are online and in-person creative writing classes all over the world. You could also join a meet-up for writers or start your own group.

creative inspiration

4. Read.

If you want to understand and appreciate the connection that is possible with really great literature, read a book. A good book will affect you, excite you, and motivate you; a great book will make you pick up a pen and write.

“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” – Annie Proulx

5. Make time for yourself.

There are 52 weeks in a year. If you don’t write one week, try to find time to write the following week. If you don’t write the following week, don’t sweat it. Do not prioritize writing at the expense of all other areas of your life — it will suck the joy out of the experience. Take care of yourself. Visit with friends. Eat right. Exercise. Breathe. Write a little. You’ve got this.

6. Keep it up.

I will not say it’s easy. It’s definitely not easy. There were days when my self-doubt reared its ugly head, and I considered quitting. I was putting in huge amounts of time and energy, and I wondered if anyone would even bother to read my book. And then I realized, I wasn’t writing the book for anyone else, I was writing it for me.

7. Celebrate your successes.

You finished your first chapter? Yay! You finished the first paragraph? Hurray! You wrote down the title? Yes! You bought a notebook to write down all of your ideas? Congratulations! These are all great steps toward achieving your goal, and you should be proud of yourself. You may want to set milestones, and attach specific rewards. When I finished my book, I said I would book a trip to Hawaii. Hawaii, here I come.

We all have a story to tell, and I hope that this is the year that you will get to share yours.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

Recommended Reading:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Magnus the Magnificent by Kimberly Manky

*Author’s note: I am self-publishing my novel through Create Space, an on-demand publishing company that helps you design, print and distribute your book. This easy-to-use service also helps track sales, royalties, distribution channels, and makes your book available to millions of readers on Amazon.

Do you dream of writing a book? What’s holding you back from starting?

Images via Monica Friese

Kimberly is a writer for the screen (TV, movie, computer), and an "Ideas Machine" from Canada. Her hobbies include eating, drinking, laughing and dreaming dreams. Her weekly comedic musings can be viewed on her website.

20 COMMENTS
  • Joyel January 20, 2017

    Thanks for posting this! It’s on my bucket list and I aim to get that bucket kicked this year! ALL of this information is super helpful! Thank you so much AND I’ll have to check out that Create Space too.

  • Emily Wall January 7, 2017

    This couldn’t have been more timely to read! Thank you so much for letting us in on such a beautiful process!! I’m in the midst of writing a story AND my first screenplay. I’m half way through the screen play and terrified of finishing my story, due to the steps of self publishing. But this read was TRULY inspiring.

    xoxo

  • Sarah December 22, 2016

    That’s so cool! I’ve always wondered what it’s like to self-publish. I’m considering creating an e-book but I haven’t gotten around to it. This year, I’m definitely going to make an effort and start!

    Sarah
    SarahJaiheLee.com

  • Chloe December 18, 2016

    Oh boy, I definitely needed to read this!! Writing a book has been on my mind for nearly a year now, and it’s amazed me just how much my self doubt and criticism can hold me back. But really, there isn’t anything or anyone stopping me but myself! Thank you for this, Kimberly!

  • Rosie December 15, 2016

    Definitely needed to read this as I’ve thought about what it would mean to make my writing into a more formal tangible product. Really excited about adopting these approaches into writing!

  • lisa December 14, 2016

    Bravo on completing your book! It is a process for sure and your tips did not fall on deaf ears. I have written a cookbook (mini ebook) but ahve wanted to expand/revamp it as well possibly incorporate it into a memoir. Oiy! One step, one chapter (for me, one project) at a time. Thanks!

  • Sonia Primerano December 14, 2016

    This article was exactly everything I needed to read this morning on my journey towards self-empowerment and to writing all of the ideas I have had in my head for years! Now is the time and this was the perfectly simple motivator! Thank you for your work!

    • Kimberly Manky December 14, 2016

      Thank you for your comment Sonia! I’m so glad you are feeling motivated to pursue this. Good luck!

  • Melissa Maimone December 13, 2016

    Thank you so much for your encouragement! I literally just sent my final three chapters to my editor this afternoon, then your article dropped into my mailbox! I completely agree with everything you wrote, and you listed 3 of my top five books on writing. We have a lot in common! My book will be out in January. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. And yes, I’m using CreateSpace too. Thanks for encouraging all of us writers Kimberly! Anything truly is possible! -Melissa

  • Victoria Sowell December 13, 2016

    Thank you for writing this! Next year, I will be stepping out and writing my first book. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but have made way too many excuses! I’m excited to step out but also incredibly freaked out! Normal, I’m sure. Anyway, thanks for your example of bravery!

    • Kimberly Manky December 13, 2016

      Thank you Victoria! I am loving these messages, and I’m so excited to have played a tiny part in getting these balls rolling. 🙂

  • Anonymous December 13, 2016

    Thank you so much for this article! I have always wanted to write a book and have several ideas. I really don’t know where to start and this article is great because it gives me several great jumping off spots 🙂 I’ve already added your book and your suggested reading to my reading list!

  • Kimberly Manky December 13, 2016

    Thank you so much for your comment, Marie Therese! Yes, I now know what people are talking about when they refer to things as “journeys.” 😉 Please send a link to your book!

  • Sarah December 13, 2016

    This article is wonderfully inspirational. The list of things learned can be applied to so many creative processes and to life in general! Cannot wait to check out the recommended reading list too. Congrats Kimberly!

  • Marie Therese December 13, 2016

    I felt like I could relate to everything you said. This year was the year I self-published my first book, too (also on Createspace)! It was exhilarating, exciting, daunting and scary all at the same time. But it’s such an amazing experience. I want to check out your book now, too 🙂

    xx, Marie

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