Help for Self-Published Authors

 Publishing takes lots of determination and a little luck, too.
Anyone who has read my February 2020 post knows that I had bad luck with a “vanity” publisher and closed my account. I’d been working with the publisher for two years. So, I suppose losing sleep only two nights fits. Two days isn’t that long for an author to think the world had come to an end. On the third day I began writing emails to my colleagues asking for advice. Immediately, I found the help I needed and haven’t looked back since.

First Concern: The Book Itself
In the throes of feeling like a swimmer lost at sea, I realized that I could quite possibly turn this experience of what seemed like an extreme case of bad luck—witnessed by the condolences I received from people who have been waiting for this book to be published for years—into a silver lining.

What better time to take advantage of a professional edit to get any kinks out of the book, if there were any. Ha! There were plenty. So, already I saw one big advantage of having my book cut loose from the publisher.

My professional editor: Chris Eboch, a prolific author and editor:

Kinks Out. What Next?
Viewing progress in stages, I thought the next feat would be to create a website that would shine. I had admired the website of an author who is in my Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators chapter, SCBWI-NM, Kit Rosewater. View Kit's website here:

I contacted Kit’s website designer, Danika Corrall, and the rest is history. It was great fun working with Danika. Fortunately, I already had artwork that had been created by the illustrator of my book, Tiffany Tutti. And I had created a website with the help of Karen Cioffi. Danika and I worked together to use what we already had and for her to create the look I wanted. She did a terrific job and was wonderful and fun to work with.

My website designer:
My website: 

Companies Willing and Able to Help
Now I was on my own. So, I turned to the self-publishing company I knew: KDP. Luckily, the files from my publishing company are my property and I have them all, front and back covers and interior illustrations. The first brick wall I encountered was not being able to use these files. I tried to fit the illustration files into the interior text pages. They didn’t fit! I needed a formatting company who could create the interior using my files.

My rescuer: Karen Cioffi, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Writers on the Move,
Children's Author, Ghostwriter, and Online Marketing Instructor.
How to get in touch with Karen:

Karen told me of two companies who could help: and

The team at Formatted Books has created files complete with the illustrations and front and back matter for the paperback and eBook. The team at 100 Covers has re-created the front and back covers and the spine. Both companies’ customer service is exceptional.

So, Who Will Publish My Book?
The book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, paperback/eBook, is not yet ready. But it will be soon. I’ve opened accounts with three self-publishing companies and as soon as the files are ready, I plan to get started:

Draft2Digital, a print-on-demand company, recommended to me by author and editor, Chris Eboch. D2D offers self-publishing with support. I’m very excited to begin working with this company. Any questions I’ve emailed to them have been answered immediately even though I haven’t sent them my files yet. D2D hosts a YouTube channel (among many other services they provide) that is chock-full of information.

IngramSpark, a print-on-demand self-publishing company that offers many benefits, including a large global reach.

Amazon’s KDP: From what I read it is a good idea to publish with KDP as well.

Since I haven’t started this last process of working with the self-publishing companies, I can’t speak to that. But I can tell you what I’ve learned so far.

ISBN Numbers: A Big Subject!
I spent an entire Friday evening studying what to do about obtaining an ISBN number for Secret in the Stars. Don’t worry, it was fun! KDP offers a free ISBN when you publish with them, however, author beware. From what I read this number is not transferable. In other words, KDP does not allow the number to be used with other publishing companies. So, I decided to purchase my own ISBN number, and went with the 10-number option, as these numbers never expire and can be used for different editions of your book, and for future books. Please note: ISBN numbers are not required for eBooks, and for books that will not be available in stores or libraries. Acquiring an ISBN number for your book is a study in itself. I opted to purchase my numbers from the ISBN source, Bowker.

While filling out my purchases with Bowker, I included with the ten ISBN numbers, one bar code, and one other item: a Book2Look Biblet. There are additional options you can purchase such as registration of a copyright, a QR code, and more.

Book2Look: Learning about this marketing tool was better than watching TV! I am very excited about creating my Biblet for Secret in the Stars. The caveat for me was that the children’s author who is featured on the YouTube video about Book2Look is Karen Inglis. I didn’t realize I knew her—she’s from England—until the Biblet for one of her books, The Secret Lake, was described. I have read that book and found it on my bookshelf. It truly is a small world!

Though the process for publishing my book took more time than if I had published with my original publisher, the time has been well spent. And it’s been a fun learning experience only to be matched, I would imagine, when my book is finally published!
Credit for introductory image:
Credit for the social media image: 100Covers
 Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, Linda's first book, will be out soon. Follow Linda on

Write It With Research

Write It With Research

We strengthen our writing by using descriptive details with specificity and authentic topics. Thus, we enter the zone of building our research and descriptive skills.

Observation skills are essential for every writer. Attentiveness leads to relatable writing.
Research assists observation gathering:

-Need to expand your topic with more details of interest?
-Lacking information for a particular project?
-Keep looking. Search books, magazines, articles and pose questions to a group of writers.
-Consistently qualify the sources you rely on.

Topical ideas can help guide your research and launch a story or essay:
1)    Current affairs compared to times and seasons of human history.
       a.    Transportation, information technology, art history
2)    Social issues to champion.
       a.    Children and music
       b.    Young and older exploring art through painting
3)    Present day hero’s—caring for others
       a.    A four-year-old boy that saves his Mom by dialing 911 for help
       b.    First Responders
4)    Unusual aspirations
       a.    A young girl dreams about auto racing and ultimately finds a way to do it
       b.    A hiker journeys the length of the Pacific Crest Trail

Have more Ideas? Please leave a comment.

Use life experiences?—add research:

    Can you pull a short period-of-time, like a move or relocation, or an event? Build on it by researching applicable situations of others.

•    Is the setting a place you have traveled or lived?

    Describe a scene in real time to bring your reader along for the ride, or use time-travel noting the differences of lighting, travel, rural or urban, and geography.

•    Is the scene at the shore of an ocean or lake resort? What are the sounds there? What did you buy for lunch, hot dogs smothered with chili? Describe how it tastes. Did you watch children chasing waves coming and going? Was it hot or rainy? How does the water feel? Slimy, muddy or clean?

Boost your descriptive writing with these elements:
•    Use detail to express areas of importance; big picture, specific purpose, or differentiation,
•    Use words that are vibrant, essential, and focused,
•    Use metaphors, similes, and comparisons to tell the story,
•    Use sense words to articulate a picture,
•    Stay on point and write with clarity and economy

Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
1)    Make it Personable & Tangible:
2)    Make it Realistic:
3)    Make it with Specificity:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her writer’s website at:  
Visit her caregiver’s website and read the Mom & Me memoir at:
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer

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Writers Need Simple Truths

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

With a world-wide pandemic and lockdowns, we are seeing a unique time in the history of the world. It has not been easy for anyone. For example, to stay out of the stores and at home, I've learned how to order almost anything online and have it delivered to my front door. It still feels strange to order items where I normally walk into a store and get it but it's possible and I've been doing it. Much has changed, yet there are many things which will remain the same way beyond this pandemic.

I read the publishing trade publications and know book sales are up--in many different categories--print and electronic book sales. Books are continuing to be released and promoted and published--as they will for years in the future. It's good news for writers. 

In this article, I want highlight something I wrote more than a dozen years ago, as a frustrated acquisitions editor. I wrote Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. In the back of that book, I included a series of simple statements for writers that I called Maxims.  Today I'm returning to these truths as reminders for every writer (including me). I hope they will be something important to you and help guide your writing life:

1. Never forget the impact of your words—positive or negative. Most days, I feel the pressure of motivation to make money as a freelancer. I’ve got bills and obligations which demand payment. Yet if you are so money-driven that you never make any decisions about your writing except ones which are motivated from finances, it will be difficult for you to advance in nonfiction or whatever category you choose. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be fairly compensated for my work but I also want to enjoy my work and what I do day in and day out. You need to be conscious of your motivation behind your writing and let that drive your daily efforts. 

2. Never forget your writing is a privilege and a business—so seek to maintain balance. Too many writers hesitate to ask for their materials or for a decision about a query or proposal. They send it out once or twice, then it’s rejected and they don’t properly market. 

3. Celebrate your writing successes. Never lose the wonder of the opportunity. Years ago, at a general market writing conference in Southern California, I was fascinated listening to a well-known bestselling novelist and his message. While waiting to ask him a question after the session, I turned to another person and asked if she had taken this instructor’s writing class. The woman puffed up her face in disgust and replied, “No, I’m a published author.” Just because our material is printed in magazines or books, it should not build us up in pride. Believe me, sometimes it’s difficult but as writers we need to keep things in balance, especially when it comes to nonfiction books. 

4. Believe in the quality of your work and the value of your message. Surprises always happen. I work hard at my craft and perseverance is a key factor. Don’t get me wrong but I love to receive my material in print. It’s a surprise and a special blessing. It’s the new box of books hot off the press or the magazine article in a missionary publication. I marvel at the grace in my life. I’d encourage you to absorb the same attitude no matter how many books you publish. 

5. Expect to serve an apprenticeship. It’s a false expectation to go from nothing to book contracts. Everyone is expected to move through the ranks of this business. It takes diligence and perseverance to succeed. 

6. Learn all you can from every possible source. If you approach life in this fashion, you will find that you can learn from a multitude of sources. 

7. Act wisely and thoughtfully. Haste usually makes waste. 

8. Never resist rewriting. Your words are not etched in stone. 

9. Never resist editing. Again, your words are not etched in stone. 

10. When you receive advice about your writing, learn to evaluate it critically. Sometimes you will get advice from a fellow writer or a family member and it doesn’t “feel” like something you should take. Follow that instinct. 

11. Treat editors as the coach on your team. They know their audience, so respect their counsel and only reject it with good reason. 

12. Never rest on your laurels. Be looking for your next opportunity. I’ve discovered that writing opportunities abound—particularly when I’m actively looking for them. As I read through these truths which I wrote many years ago, they still ring true. In fact, I've based much of my writing career on following these statements. I hope they will encourage you and help your writing life.

If you haven't read Book Proposals That $ell,  let me give you several reasons to get a copy: First, the book has over 130 Five Star reviews on Amazon. Second, many people have used this information to get an agent or snag a traditional book deal. Third, I have all of the remaining print copies (so don't buy it from Amazon). Finally I've reduced the price from $15 to $8 and added bonuses and other elements. I hope you will check it out and order a copy.

As you read through this article, which principles are important to you? Am  I missing something? I look forward to your comments and feedback in the comments below.


Read this article about Writers Need Simple Truths from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to SucceedOne of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers 

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