Self Publishing How To’s – Tips on Self Publishing Success

self publishing best practicesSelf Publishing How To’s talk of a dream – want your book on Amazon or Barnes or Noble? Did you know you could pay some money you can sell your book on any online store worth its salt?Want to brand yourself as a published author? Impatient to get the world to hear you? Self Publishing today offers you tools and resources to do just that.

Self publishing seemed a natural next article for me. I usually write on life on H4 visa, and I often get the question on whether people can write a book on H4 visa or not, and how. So I did some research, and went through some of the experience myself to capture some of the key succcess factors for self publishing or how to self publish.

It used to be that self publishing was called vanity publishing – you have a book, your friends rave about it and you think the world should have a chance to look at it. But now, thanks to large companies actively marketing self publishing tools, and the slowness of the publishing industry to reach to technology changes, that stigma is gone. Plus, with tools available to pay for distribution and print on demand options, you dont have to hold inventory or spend too much resources to get your word out. So go ahead and self publish, if you think you have a talent or you think the world needs to hear your voice.

Here are some todo’s:

  1. Get the big publishers to work for you: Go to all the book stores you can find and sit down next  to the shelf you would want your book to be on. Large publishers do a lot of research on whats selling, how the market wants a book packaged etc. Use that research to your advantage by pulling out every competing book and looking at it. Note down how the front cover is formatted, the number of pages, the back cover format, the chapters. Then issue some of these from the library for later reference.
  2. Plan your book and then write it: If its a non fiction, plan the chapters, lay out, flow. If its fiction, plan a theme for short stories, number of pages for your novel, chapter titles etc. I am not spending time on this step this time, but I will in the future.
  3. Use the Self Publishing Websites: Theres Lulu, Booksurge and Createspace (both now owned by Amazon). Each has their own advantages but the premise is the same – you do the work, the writing, the formatting, the design. You do the proofing and editing. And then voila! You get a really professional looking book. If you are going in for an eBook, the process is even faster – you can have your book on Amazon in less than a day.
  4. Be Professional: Even though you are self publishing, dont skip the fine print. Put it everything from disclaimer to thanks to copyright information just like a publisher would. Acknowlege your photographer. If you are buying photos online, check the copyright. Review, review, review. Make sure it looks just like it would had it come from a large publisher. Just like in any industry, professionalism is important.
  5. Act like a Big Publisher: Your book should have everything a book from a big publisher does. And this means the ISBN and bar code. Get your ISBN -the International Standard Book Number – which is a unique number that idenfies each published book internationally. How to get an ISBN? Look at, the official agency for ISBNs. It will cost you about 200 – 300 to buy a block of 10 ISBNs. There are many spurious ISBN sellers, so avoid falling prey to those.  So here is where the acting like a big publisher comes in. Get your publisher name (preferably not your own name), register it as a company. Then when people look at your book, it will look like its from a stable of books and not a one off publication.
  6. Getting your bar code: You can buy a bar code once you have decided a price, but work with your print on demand service on this one.
  7. Get free help: Remeber all those friends who raved about your writing? Get them to proof your books, offer feedback and suggestions. This is part of your market research. All the self publishing sites also offer professional help but that may be costly.
  8. Buy Distribution: Your self publishing site will offer you options to sell at all the major book sellers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Get it, as that is where your buyers are.
  9. Make sure you retain all copyright thought this may sometimes be costlier
  10. Be prepared to sell yourself: I think it can safely be said that if you are not willing to self promote, self publishing is not for you. Be ready to put yourself out there – flaunt what youve got – degrees, expertise, looks. There is no shame to it, you are running a small business. Let all your friends know you have a book out. Tell them to sell it for you – easier said than done but this part of self publishing is often overlooked. If you are a private person, or cringe at self promotion – you may be in for  a rough road.

What do you think about self publishing? Write in your thoughts. I plan to continue this series as I get more experience. My next post will be on the more sweaty details as this one was a high level overview.

You can read some of my earlier posts on H4 visa here.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi


  1. Irsha

    Amrita, do you know if it is legal to publish books on H4 visa? What if I start making money – am I allowed to do that?

  2. Shahana

    Hi Amrita, This a fabulous list of tips and corroborates a lot of the research I’ve done. Please feel free to connect with me to exchange ideas – I have a few!

  3. Hepzibah

    Hi Amrita,
    Can we self-publish on Amazon via CreateSpace while we are on H4 visa?
    Thanks for the detailed article 🙂

  4. PP

    Nice article Amrita..Can we self-publish our books via Amazon if we are on a H-4 visa? The Amazon people say that there is no legal issue in that..But still wanted to cross verify..

  5. Vaishali

    Hi Amrita,
    Really nice blog.
    Is selling used personal items on ebay legal. I know you are not a lawyer but I am sure you know if we can do it or not

Leave a Reply