Self-publishing is now a realistic alternative to traditional publishing. In this series, Antony Quinton looks at the challenges faced by any writer hoping to self-publish.


Let’s be honest, self-publishing used to be seen as an exercise in vanity. Faced with rejection after rejection, determined to see their name in print, an author would pay to have their literary masterpiece printed... and then end up with several hundred copies in their attic!

This is not the case today. In America, there are keen and successful self-publishers. It’s a viable and increasingly important branch of the book market. Children’s fiction is more difficult as you cannot easily find a potential audience. You have to be patient. Use your time to develop your craft, attend writers' meetings and talk to local teachers and booksellers.


What is the difference between traditional and self-publishing?


You have to treat publishing your own work like a business. Although your book is an artistic endeavour, and you may have many reasons for writing it, you must also treat it as a product.


Once you have written your book, you are then also responsible for the editing, design elements, formatting, distribution and the marketing.


If you have the financial resources you could outsource any or all of these activities. You can build a bespoke team to help you realise your publishing dream.


However, there are a plethora of self-publishing companies that will charge new authors an arm and a leg for things they can do themselves. As I discovered, you can do many of these tasks for free, if you’re willing to learn.



What was I thinking?


In 2023 – in the midst of a manic phase of my bipolar – I decided to self-publish under a pseudonym and started two blogs on WordPress. The self-belief was incredible. During a manic phase, you think you’re capable of anything!


I had no money to put into this project. I couldn’t afford editors, cover designers or marketing gurus. This severely limited my choices, but I was still able to publish my book with little cost. I discovered you don’t need to be a technical expert to self-publish – you just need to know which software to use.


Obviously, you can’t just send a word-processed manuscript out there. It needs to be formatted. I learned new terminology and compiled information documents about each aspect of the book publishing process.


Fortunately, there is a lot of good advice out there for self-publishers. I read widely and weeded out the sites that only want to sell you something. From this, I had several questions to consider:


Which platform shall I publish on?


This is a crucial question and the key is to get your book into as many different markets as possible. I’ve used Amazon, Draft2Digital and Google Play Books.


How do I get it all done?  

Workflow is a vital component of any project.

Everyone has family commitments, housework, gardening… There are only twenty-four hours in a day. When you have a butterfly mind, like mine, it’s easy to flit from one thing to another and achieve very little.


Organise your creative process so you have clear, achievable objectives and realistic deadlines. You need to set aside blocks in your day when you focus on each individual task.


Be realistic, work out a weekly schedule and if you miss something one week, don’t worry. Set target dates but be flexible, life is unpredictable. The beauty of being your own boss is that you have control of how and when you do things.



How can I get the most out of my story?


Find ways to use your work in different formats and marketplaces.


Don’t just stick to producing an eBook. Produce a printed version, too. You could even create an audiobook, which is particularly important for accessibility.


Supplemental material such as workbooks can also extend a book's impact in schools.



How do I keep motivated?


Self-publishing is like running your own business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You need to include time to recover after a busy period.



How do I reach an audience?


How can you reach out to find your readers who are going to seek out each new title you produce?



Should you embark on a voyage into the uncharted waters of self-publishing?


At first, it can seem like trying to eat the huge chocolate cake in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. 

The key is to take it one step at a time.

As a self-published writer, the biggest advantage over traditional publishing is flexibility. You have control over every aspect of the publishing process. The most important piece of advice is: do what works for you.


  • Ask yourself questions about your aims and be realistic about your goals.
  • Only do what you can cope with. As a bipolar individual, I’ve needed to be forgiving if things aren’t working.
  • Be solutions-oriented when you hit hurdles. Make an ideas list and research how others have overcome a similar obstacle.
  • Don’t be a Lone Ranger. Seek advice, talk to other writers, collaborate, find beta readers and critique groups. Join a writing community.


This series will focus on a different area in each article. Hopefully, my experiences will help you decide whether self-publishing is for you.


Next time: Get ready… What platforms are available for self-publishers?


*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.
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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or
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