Written by A Guest Author June 6th, 2024

From the Blank Page to a Self-Published Novel

By Amy Glin

The road to seeing my novel, G.O.D., self-published on Amazon (and other sites), was long and worth it. It began in 2008. I hit the publish button in 2024. 

It took nine years to write and edit. I threw out the first 80 pages and the second 35, and then I found my point of view and went from there. I joined an online Scrabble game with four players to combat the difficulty of sitting at the computer and writing for lengths of time. I had to be there to take my turn, so I couldn’t leave. It helped me not jump around. And a bonus? Sometimes, words on the board sparked some good ideas! Another tactic was setting a timer, writing for 25 or 50 minutes, then taking a 10-minute break. 

Not only did I need help staying seated, but I also didn’t stay in one place. During the novel’s creation, I lived in Los Angeles, New Mexico, Buffalo and Cleveland and completed the final edit in Boulder, Colorado. 

When it comes to completion, a professional editor is vital. You need a fresh eye to review the story. You know it so well that it’s easy to believe something is being conveyed when it may not be. Or are you repeating yourself? We cut over 30 pages. The editing process lasted over a year, and at one point, we brought in another editor to make sure the story was clear. 

At first, I was dead set against self-publishing. I wanted to go the traditional route, get an agent, or find a publisher that accepted submissions without one. I sent out queries here and there when I felt like it, with no schedule or discipline. It was not the best road to accomplishment.

I took The Manuscript Publishing for Novelists class in 2019 and finished with an enthusiasm usually reserved for trips to hot springs and gourmet meals hand-fed to me by Greek Gods. That waned quickly with my short attention span for dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s just right to potentially have my manuscript rejected, not due to merit, but to what I considered pomp and circumstance. I received some nice notes, but the desire to wade in the pool of tradional publishers became shallow after a couple months. 

So, my manuscript sat in a folder on my computer, gathering virtual dust. Here and there, friends asked me what I was doing with my novel. I didn’t have an answer, aside from not much. 

In the summer of 2023, I attended a writer’s conference on Denman Island and took a class on self-publishing. I hoped learning the steps from A to Z would light a fire inside me to birth this baby.

It didn’t. Starting with what to put on the cover and going from there felt daunting, and thinking about it made me tired. It sounded like a lot of work, and it could run into thousands of dollars or leave me pulling out my hair while trying to figure it all out. 

In October 2023, things changed. During a pet-sitting gig for a tortoise in Los Angeles, I happened upon a little library down the street. In it, I found a thin, sweet book that changed the course of my novel. The author thanked a company that makes predesigned customizable book covers. I went to the website. Within seconds, I found the perfect cover for less than $200, including the back, spine, and banner ads. Finding a cover I loved piqued my interest in moving forward. 

Learning the ins and outs of self-publishing was very useful. I knew what I needed to do next: figure out how to lay out the manuscript. I contacted my editor and asked if she could take care of that piece or recommend someone while I looked for options to do it myself. I am grateful beyond time and space that she agreed to do it. 

After all those years, I pulled out a printed copy of the manuscript and reread it to see if I wanted to change anything. Little tweaks happened. Fortunately, I was still in love with the story. And here’s where my stomach knotted up—I wanted to be sure I was making good decisions. Those knots lasted for three months, all the way through receiving the final manuscript back, ready to publish. There were so many decisions to make, each one impacting the outcome. Now that G.O.D. is published, I look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. But that’s the nature of hindsight. It was worth it.

These are the things I want to tell you about self-publishing. 

1) Hire a professional editor. 

2) Have your cover done professionally. Or use one of the predesigned cover sites, like I did. They are customizable, and you are the only person who can use them once you purchase them.

3) Be prepared to make many decisions including but not limited to: 

  • the size of the book
  • the cover
  • your bio and back cover text
  • your author bio for inside the book
  • do the chapters all start on the right side or either?
  • the font
  • the chapter headings – style and justification (left, right, center)
  • where you want the page numbers, title and author name 
  • hyphenation on the pages
  • whether to purchase an ISBN or use the ones offered by Amazon, IngramSpark, etc. (and the implications of your decision)

4) You need separate ISBNs for each book format: soft-cover, hard-cover, ebook, and audio. ISBNs aren’t required for ebooks but are recommended. 

At first, I just wanted to publish it as quickly as possible, so I got an ISBN from Amazon. As I got more involved and learned about the available distribution channels for bookstores and libraries, I decided to purchase my own from Bowker.

5) Remember, while self-publishing your book, you must make many decisions and learn many things, and there is no landing spot. Once you finish your book, the next step is publishing it. Once you publish it, you have to market it. Once you get momentum on this book, it’s time to write your next while still selling your last.

If it all sounds daunting, I understand. It is, and it isn’t. I am here to tell you that it is doable and worth it. You can take small steps for as long as you need. If you keep on the path, you will see your name on a book cover on Amazon. I can see you smiling now.

Bio: Amy Nanette Glin has lived an unconventional life that includes managing comedians, cooking for celebrities and priests, and telling stories on stages. Aside from being an author, she’s a life coach, assisting people in unraveling belief systems that don’t serve them. Her first novel, G.O.D., is now available on Amazon.


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