Each one of us is shaped by the experiences of our lives, which is what book writing is: sharing our experiences. In fiction, the writer is sharing a story, and in nonfiction, the writer is sharing information they have learned about a particular subject, to improve the reader’s life.
In 2006, I began to consider writing a book about special education for parents, for three reasons:
- I have a lot of experience with the special education system.
- I am the parent of two adults with developmental disabilities who received special education services while they were in school.
- I have been an educational advocate for over 20 years, helping other parents successfully navigate the system for their child.
At that time (2006), both of my children had graduated from high school, and I found myself at loose ends. I decided that I wanted to pass on to other parents all the knowledge and experience I had developed over the years. I began writing my book Disability Deception in July 2006, and quickly became overwhelmed by the task before me. Over a year later, with a lot of hard work and determination, the book was self-published. Since that time, I have been enjoying the journey. I hope this article will increase your knowledge about self-publishing and motivate you to join me on the self-publishing journey—it will change your life!
Below is a countdown of the 10 things I learned from self-publishing my first book:
10. Writing a book takes a lot of concentration and persistence, but marketing the book is the most difficult part of the journey. Using the Internet, developing a website, writing articles, and starting a blog constituted most of my marketing plan. Disability groups put many of my articles on their websites, and encouraged parents to purchase my book. Parents discussed my book and my viewpoint on many blogs, which also helped increase my visibility within the special education field, and increase book sales. I am still learning about marketing, and it is a continual journey!
9. Set a deadline to finish the book, but be flexible and willing to increase the deadline, if you need to. For nonfiction, all facts in the book must be correct, and checking all the facts may take longer than you anticipate. Also, things such as waiting for ISBN numbers and copy editing may affect your deadline.
8. Check all Web addresses that you include in the book to make sure they work and are accurate before the book is published.
7. There are no awards for doing everything yourself; it is acceptable to get help from people in the self-publishing field. I sought help from selfpublishing.com for a few things. Many writers hire a professional to produce their book cover for them because of the importance of the book cover in selling the book. Every writer and self-publisher has different strengths and weaknesses, so the amount of help needed may vary from person to person.
6. Pricing the book is the second most difficult part of the self-publishing journey. I kept picking a price and changing it because I was ambivalent about what to charge (if you charge too much people may not buy the book; if you charge too little people may not take the book seriously). When you price the book, keep in mind the cost of publishing and marketing.
5. Books require an index so that the reader may find specific topics in the book. I did not put an index in my first book and realized how important it is to include one. Indexing software can be used, or indexing services can be purchased; SelfPublishing.com offers both of these services.
4. Try to find several people in your field to read chapters of the book and give feedback and testimonials. I had difficulty with this when I was working on my first book, but I have been collecting names and contact information of parents and others in the field who has expressed a willingness to read and give feedback on my second book. The feedback that you receive can be invaluable in including information that people would like to learn about.
3. Take the time to find a qualified and experienced person to edit the book before printing and after people in the field have read it. Ask for references and be sure and check them out. A good editing job can elevate the quality of the book.
2. Right before the book heads to the printer, ask a few people who are able to focus on minute details to read the book cover to cover to make sure that everything is correct. Have them go page to page and make sure the format is consistent throughout the book, grammar and punctuation are correct, make sure that no sentences end on one page and do not finish on the next page. Accuracy is another part of the self-publishing journey!
1. Writing and self-publishing a book is an awesome experience. You will have opportunities to do things that may not have come if you did not write a book. I have met parents from all over the United States who have shared my special education journey; I have spoken to groups of parents about my book, and given several interviews since my book was released. Life is good and I wish I had written the book sooner!
I wish you success on your-self publishing journey; keep focused and keep your eyes on the prize—self-publishing your own book!