How to Be a (Self) Published Author


The boys were learning the word “author” the other day at the library.  Mommy told them that Daddy is an author.  It’s about the cutest thing to hear my sons say “author.”  The word is just funny from their mouths.

It’s true – I’m a published author.  A self-published author.  I’ve been asked before how to get a book published, and my response is – do it yourself.

I recently had an email from a friend wanting to know how to get started.  Thought I would share that info with you if you ever wanted to write something yourself.

Hey bud,

I would love to help you get your book published.  I’m not sure if you are aware or not, but I have self-published the books I have written.  As I started toying around with the idea of writing, I talked with two people to help me in the process.

One friend is a published author.  His few books have done fairly well in the evangelical world and, due to his position, he has a platform where publishers ask him to write books with them.  He was sought out to write.  He told me that so many book proposals are submitted these days that many, if not most, are never even read by someone in a publishing company.  It’s all about establishing a platform or knowing somebody.

The other buddy is an editor with a big Christian publishing company.  We have a relationship and so, if anyone should have a way to slide-in, it should have been me.  I know “somebody.”  He did ask me to submit a proposal to him once.  I was originally against the idea because I am aware that I don’t have a significant “platform” to ensure a good investment, but I did anyway.  While he was very gracious in his review of the book, he informed me that his company was having to scale back on their acceptance of book proposals and focus in on a few projects due to the economy, the rise of e-books, etc.

All that to be said, I decided with my first book to self-publish the material, and I haven’t regretted the decision.  I wrote Freshmen 15 out of a desire to equip college students with biblical knowledge in areas I kept seeing them mess-up.  Once I completed the draft, I began to look around to places to self-publish a book.

I found that Xulon Press was the place that many Christian authors were using.  I was very impressed by their services, which are very extensive, but there was a problem.  You would have to pay a significant fee at once and get a good number of books.  When you look at what they provide, it’s a great deal.  I had the money to go forward, but the only problem is I’m not a big self-promotion guy and so I knew I wasn’t going to be carrying a box of books everywhere I went.  I didn’t want to have boxes of unsold books in my garage and never break even on the investment.

That led me to  This company is a sister company with Amazon.  It has a print-on-demand feature with no upfront costs.  The only hard copies of the books in print are the ones that people have ordered.  No investment, no risk.

There are downfalls to working with Create Space.  First, the print-on-demand feature does not give a royalty rate that you might receive if you buy a load of books at once (once again, that is if you are doing this for financial gain).  Second, you are responsible for all facets of the book.  You can get them to do design and other services but they will charge you.  Third, customer service is intentionally minimal.  If you work through the glitches in the system, you can go far with them.

Using them, I have self-published 3 books – 2 Christian living and 1 children’s book.  I only have 1 copy of each of those books.  If someone wants to get one, they order it on Amazon or Create Space.  When I sell so many books, they send me a check for royalties.  For me, this was a great option.  I wasn’t in this for the money, and you have to sell a lot of books to even make a decent amount of money, but this direction didn’t require any real investment except my time.  Hope that makes sense!  Tell me if you have any questions.