Advice to New Writers Part 9: Self Publish or Perish One (The Prep Work)


            Let’s see where we are shall we? Here is a quick list of the steps we have taken to get to this point. We will be brief, but be patient the rundown is needed to advance the project.

  1. You identified, stalked, and successfully trapped your idea in a bulletproof cage
  2. You grew the idea, allowed it to blow like some kind of mental yeast demon
  3. You committed the idea and expanded tale to the page, or the electronic cloud if you aren’t a complete luddite
  4. You allowed the rough draft to marinate and then proceeded to revise the work, wielding your pen (or delete button) like a machete as opposed to a scalpel
  5. After finishing your revision you sent the still bleeding and stitched work to editors or v beta readers and allowed them to give you their unbiased blue copies … and you actually LISTENED to what they had to say
  6. Upon getting all of the edited copies back you incorporated suggestions and edits into your final draft
  7. You gave the entire work one last polish. Please for the love of all the gods who may exist stop after this step, over editing is as bad as no editing … if not worse!

            Now what you have in your hands, or on your screen you non Luddite, is a finished book. You should definitely be proud of yourself, for every hundred people who set out to write a book I am willing to bet no more than 5 or 6 actually make it to the final hard polish stage.

            WOO HOO!!!

            Now you are faced with a hard choice. Or maybe, considering you have slogged through the write and rewrite process it’s an easy choice. You have to decide whether or not you are going to publish your work … HAHAHAHA!!!

            Of course you are going to publish. If you have gone through all of this and have been reading these essays from the beginning and you are NOT planning to publish your work that would be crazy and you would also be wasting my time which I could have spent writing something that would make me some money and isn’t just an exercise in mental masturbation.  And since you are NOT crazy and you have desire for me to travel cross country and burn down your childhood clubhouse with all of your baby pictures and your great grandmothers recipe for pie inside we have nothing to worry about.


            So now you have a few things you need to do before you publish your work. I am going to state right here and now that I am not an advocate for traditional publishing (Agent, Editor, and Publishing Company) for new writers. Five years ago I had a different opinion but the resources available online and the rise of the digital book has changed the publishing world forever.

            Why in the name of Zod would anyone without a guaranteed contract and substantial amount of money up front would a writer sign away the rights to his/her book to a publisher who will only give you pennies on the dollar? I am not kidding kids. A traditional publisher (usually) tries their damndest to strip as much of the profit as they can away from the author, especially a new author. Unless you are very lucky you WILL be fucked by a traditional publisher. Accept it, stop whining about people like EL James and Stephanie Meyer, and move the fuck on. They are the exception not the rule.

            When I say traditional I mean the classic Big 6 and the large secondary publishers. I am NOT talking about the quickly growing field of feisty and hungry Indie Publishers out there. Many of these amazing companies were founded by scrappy Selfie Publishers who were tired of seeing the new kids gets fucked over by the established acts. My only advice to you in regards to signing with one of the Indies is to talk to writers who have moved on from the company and not the writers who are still under contract. If a former writer recommends them as a good company to work with then it may be a good indication that they are a reputable outfit. But still have a lawyer look over anything you don’t easily understand in any contract you are asked to sign.

            Now we are proceeding with the theory that you are self publishing. With that in mind here is a short list of things I have found necessary to do before my writing makes it into circulation.

  • You need a cover. Seriously a good cover can make a major difference in selling a few copies and selling a few hundred copies. Go to the art sites, such as deviant art, and find a freelance artist whose style you like and ask them if they are interested in working with you. Make sure to pay them and give them proper credit in the book.
  • Practice laying out a book and cover. There are plenty of templates out there for the various self publishing sites (Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords … etc) try them all out and search YouTube for walk through videos. Once you have acquainted yourself with how to upload a book and cover do it. It really is that simple.
  • Once the book is uploaded proof it thoroughly. Either order a physical proof when available or read the digital proof. Make the needed changes (there will almost always need to be a changes) and re-upload it.
  • For the love of god follow the direction for each self publishing site. They all work different and you need to take your time. I have made more mistakes which later needed fixing because I was in too big of a hurry and fucked things up.
  • Wait as the company (Amazon, B & N, Kobo … etc) checks the book and publishes it. It usually takes less than 24 hours.
  • Celebrate.

            That’s it kids you have self published and can call yourself an author. Feels pretty fucking good doesn’t it? Well I have bad news for you, everything you have done up until this point was the easy part. I wish I could tell you that all you need to do now is wait for the cash and fame to roll in.

            But the world does not work that way.          

            Next time we talk about marketing, social media, and how to deal with all of the assholes on Amazon and Good Reads.


    - Josh


Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books ( and Third Eye Games ( before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press ( I also work for Fat Goblin Games ( In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!