Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

Have you self-published a book? If so, through which company did you self-publish? I’d like to post some reviews of self-publishing companies on my blog to help everyone out there who is in the process of picking a company for his or her book. Let’s help other writers avoid the scammers and have an enjoyable self-publishing experience! Personally, I’ve only self-published through Mill City Press, so I’m curious what everyone has to say about other companies. Even if you also chose Mill City Press, go ahead and send me a review. Please send any reviews of self-publishing companies (positive or negative) to Please also send me the title of your book and your website (if you have a website), and I will post those things along with your review to help you advertise your book! Here’s an example of a review of Mill City Press that I wrote a few months ago if you’d like an idea to get you started: Please do not include foul language in your review. If I feel that the content of your review is inappropriate, I will not post it.

Writing Challenge Update #1: I completed my five hours of writing the first week of 2014 but have completely failed at the challenge this week. I have all kinds of excuses I could give, but I won’t post them, haha. This next week, which begins today (Wednesday), I am going to try to write ten hours to catch up. We’ll see how this goes. 🙂 If you’re doing your own writing challenge, how has it been going for you? If you haven’t started a writing challenge for this year, start one now!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and that your new year is off to a fantastic start! If you’re still deciding which New Year’s resolutions to pick for 2014, you should consider joining me in the following challenge: Write new material for five hours per week this year. It could be fiction or nonfiction, but it does not include the time that you spend editing your work. You are producing NEW MATERIAL during this time. You could break it up into one hour five days per week or do it all in one five-hour chunk or whatever works best for your schedule. In 2013, I spent a lot of time marketing Illegally Innocent and editing the eBook version of it, and although I did work on my next book project from time to time, I feel as though I don’t have much material to show for it. This year, in addition to the time I spend marketing and doing the other things that go along with self-publishing, I want to produce as much new work as possible. It’s so easy to get caught up in writing a page or two and then wanting to go back over it and edit it right away (that’s how it is for me at least–is anyone else this way, too?), but I’m learning more and more that not much actual writing is accomplished this way. Yes, editing is certainly important, but spending time writing is important, too. Get a LOT of your ideas onto paper and then go back and edit them. Once you have completed the first draft of your book, it will be much easier to edit because you’ll be more familiar with the overall layout of the book. You’ll have a better grasp of what’s important to include in the book and what’s not.

Maybe you don’t think you can fit in five hours per week, but what if you modify the challenge to something more manageable for your schedule, like one hour per week (if that’s more than you’re writing now)? Consider it, and let me know if you decide to take on this challenge.  🙂 I’ll share my progress on my writing goal from time to time, and I’d love it if you’d share your progress as well.

I am SOOOOOOOO excited to share that Illegally Innocent is now available to purchase as an eBook! It is just $2.99 and can be purchased in both the Amazon Kindle store and the Barnes and Noble Nook store. It’s coming soon to the iBookstore as well (Mill City Press has submitted it to the iBookstore, and now it is up to the iBookstore to actually post its availability)! Now that I have completed most of the tasks involved with my book at Mill City Press, I thought it would be good to post a review of Mill City Press to try to help out those of you who are in the middle of trying to pick a self-publishing company.

First of all, when picking any self-publishing company, you should not only look at the information on the self-publishing company’s website, but I’d also recommend doing a Google search to see what other people are saying about that company. Try to find blogs and discussion forums in which people post their opinions on that particular company. In the case of Mill City Press, before I’d ever signed a contract with them, I did come across some poor reviews of their company (not a lot, but a handful of them), and those definitely factored into whether or not I was going to choose Mill City. I’m so happy to be able to assure you that I did not have any of the bad experiences that I read about online! Here’s how the self-publishing process works with Mill City: There are several steps to the publishing process, and you receive one or more steps in your Mill City Press “Author Dashboard” at a time. Examples of steps are things like a questionnaire about what you want your cover to look like, a sample chapter of your print book to see if the format is how you want it to be, etc. In their self-publishing contract, Mill City outlines in detail the number of business days it will take them to get back with the author in between steps. They ALWAYS posted the next step in the amount of time they’d told me, or sometimes they posted the next step even quicker than what they’d originally told me. Whenever I emailed them to ask a question (which wasn’t often, because they cover their bases so well that there aren’t many questions to ask!), they always responded promptly and politely.

There was only ONE time that I hit a snag with Mill City Press (and I hesitate to even post this issue, because it was not a big deal to me…however, I want to provide a completely honest review), and that involved one of their publicists. I did not sign up for any of Mill City’s marketing packages, but something they included with my contract was one free phone call with a publicist. I signed the contract for Mill City Press in February 2012, and their publicist (who I’m just going to call John Doe, because I’m certainly not out to slander him) emailed me at the end of June 2012 to see if I would prefer to have that phone call or just exchange a few emails instead. I emailed him back the next day, expressing my preference for email rather than a phone call. Since I was not counting on Mill City Press to do my marketing and advertising anyway, I was already working on several marketing ideas (with some help from family and friends) that I could do with a limited budget. Several weeks passed, and I did NOT hear back from John Doe. I thought about trying to contact him again, but like I said earlier, I was busy putting my own marketing ideas into action; in addition, Mike and I got engaged in the middle of August 2012, and so I had wedding planning on top of book marketing. 🙂 About a week into September 2012, John Doe emailed me back and apologized that he had taken so long to get back to me–he said my June reply to his email had gotten filtered and did not end up in his email inbox until just that week. When I saw his email, I considered responding but was busy with a lot of other things at the time, and I ended up never responding to his email again. John Doe, if you’re reading this blog post, I want you to know that I was not angry, just busy.  🙂 Anyway, that was the ONLY time that anyone from Mill City Press took a ridiculously long time to respond back to me, and there was a good reason for it (the filter), so I certainly don’t count that against them.

Mill City Press’s contract (at the time I signed on with them) states that it takes about half a year to complete the self-publishing process–I think the official statement said 190 business days or something like that. So you may be wondering why my eBook is just now available, since I signed the contract in February 2012. I assure you that was NOT Mill City Press’s fault. I got really busy with book marketing, wedding planning, and other life things, and sometimes it took me a couple of months or more to get back to them on various steps of my book. The print version of Illegally Innocent was completed in 6-7 months, but it has taken me this long to complete the eBook.

The quality of the print version of Illegally Innocent is similar to that of a traditionally-published book. I attended a writer’s conference last fall and one of the editors I met with there confirmed my opinion when she told me that my book did NOT look self-published. On top of this, deliveries of my print books have been faster than expected, so that has been a pleasant surprise.

Will I choose Mill City Press for my second book? Yes and no. In order to publish with Mill City Press, I had to spend around $2500 for both print and eBook versions. When comparing what Mill City offers with what other self-publishing companies offer, that is a fair price, and I do not regret paying it. However, I realize that at this point in time, it might be slightly unrealistic to plan to spend that much on each and every book I hope to publish. Right now, I am planning to publish the sequel to Illegally Innocent through Mill City Press, but I have not signed a contract for that book with them yet, and it will probably be a while before I do. In the meantime, I am working on a different project that I plan to release through a different self-publishing company in just eBook format.

Let me know if you have any questions about Mill City Press–I’d be happy to answer them!

Thank you to Mill City Press for giving me a great self-publishing experience!

I am SO glad that I chose to self-publish my book, but unfortunately, there is more to self-publishing than just writing and editing. I want to give you some tips to help you with the not-so-fun side of self-publishing–the business side of it.

If you have self-published your book or are considering self-publishing a book, here are some things you should know:

1. You will need to get a sales tax license, and you will need to carry a copy of it with you when you go someplace to sell your books (for example, say you have a book table set up when you go to speak in a library…you are selling the books directly from YOU, so you need to charge sales tax. It is illegal to charge sales tax without having a sales tax license, so try to get your license BEFORE your book is released so that you will be ready to sell once the book is out!) If your book is being sold through someplace else (for example, Harding’s in Otsego, MI, carries my book, Illegally Innocent), that store will collect sales tax on the book for you. You can obtain a sales tax license through your state’s website (example: if you live in Michigan, go to

2. Once you have a sales tax license, every year you will receive paperwork in the mail that you have to fill out and send in with your collected sales tax money. I don’t know if the due date on this paperwork is the same in every state, but in Michigan you should send it in before the end of February.

3. This is optional but worth considering…You may want to get a P.O. box if you do not already have one. I don’t enjoy spending the extra money but feel like it’s necessary to protect my privacy. This way I can put a mailing address on my business cards without having it lead people directly to my house. I decided to choose the second largest size of P.O. box so that if I mail a book out to someone and it ends up getting returned to me, it will fit inside the P.O. box. For this size of P.O. box, I pay around $160 every six months.

4. Keep track of your writing expenses, including mileage when you are driving to and from a speaking engagement or other business-related travel. You can use these expenses as deductions on your taxes. Keep all receipts for your writing expenses because if you’re ever audited, you’ll need to be able to prove that you really spent money on these items.

5. Keep track of the number of books you sell as well as the number of books you give away. You will need to know this information in order to properly fill out your sales tax forms.

6. Make sure you take change with you when you are selling your books at a speaking engagement or someplace else. This tip may seem a bit like a no-brainer, but when you are trying to remember everything you need to take with you to speak, it can be easy to forget simple things like change. Most of the time people who are paying with cash will not have exact change. It is also helpful if you have a sign on your book table that states who your customers can make their checks out to.

7. Decide what course of action you are going to take with bad checks BEFORE you receive one from a customer. In just the few months that my book has been available, I have already received a bad check from a customer. Not only did I not receive the money from the check (which came from a closed account), but I was also hit with a $20 fee. Create a bad check policy and make sure you keep photocopies of previously received bad checks so that you do not accept one from the same person again. You may also wish to limit the number of books people can purchase with a personal check, just in case their checks end up being bad. As someone who has several years of experience working in retail, I can assure you that many times people who are knowingly writing bad checks will attempt to write the check for as much money as possible. It’s up to you how much you want to trust people, but I would recommend keeping your limit to five books or less purchased per person when he or she is paying with a personal check.

8. You may wish to study up on how to detect counterfeit money. Chances are high that you’ll never receive a counterfeit bill in exchange for one of your books, but it might be a good idea to know the important features of authentic money just in case you’re ever questioning a bill someone hands to you. I thought this was a pretty good article on tips for detecting fake bills:

Hope these tips help you! The business side of writing can be kind of boring and tedious but will be much easier if you keep yourself organized as much as possible.

You can now find me on Pinterest! Here is the link: I admit that most of what I’ve pinned so far is wedding-related, as I’m in the middle of trying to figure out wedding details, but I plan to expand and pin more book-related things as well.  🙂

Also, if you have any questions about self-publishing, email them to me at I’ll be answering self-publishing questions in this month’s e-newsletter. You can sign up for the e-newsletter on the homepage of my website,  🙂 Have a great Tuesday!