How to self publish a book

self-publish a book

I never dreamed that I would be able to take what lived in my head, organize it so it made sense, transfer it on paper, and then find a way to share it with the world. I never dreamed I would actually self publish a book.
On January 15th, 2016 this dream came true and my book-  The Grace and Kindness of Words: A Book of Words, Positive Affirmations, and Happy Thoughts. became available to anyone interested and willing to share a piece of my heart, on, as well as online through 3000 websites.
My journey started with a goal in January 2015. I wanted to start writing again but the idea of publishing seemed like a far off impossible dream. How would I accomplish such a task? The first thing I told myself was that if I didn’t start writing again there would be no book to publish.


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Lesson number 1 – you must write and continue writing each day to be able to publish work you want to share with others. Over the course of my life I had packed away all of my short stories, my poems and all of my writing journals that I had poured my thoughts into. The idea of pulling those out, reading them, formatting them and making them available for the world to read seemed ridiculous. Thus, I decided that I would just start writing and I would write based on the present, not based on the past. Once step 1 was in full swing and I was writing each day I then had to understand the publishing process. Would I send my manuscript to a traditional publisher? That seemed like an impossible task and honestly I felt like it would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. What were the chances that a huge publisher would find my work appealing enough to invest in a writer who had no experience and had never published before?

Then I started thinking about the cost associated with publishing a book.

  • How would it all work?
  • Would I create my own publishing company?
  • How would I pick a printer to print copies of my books?
  • What about the editing and the formatting of each page?
  • What about the ISBN?

For me it seemed so overwhelming to tackle all of these tasks on my own. Where would I even start? I didn’t have any friends that had published a book in the past so I had no idea who to trust? I knew that the rational and logical thing to do was to look at all the costs but as I broke down the entire process I felt too overwhelmed. I almost stopped writing because I felt like the task of publishing on my own was too daunting. I also thought about the marketing aspect and worried that publishing a literary piece on my own would be difficult to market.

So with all of these concerns floating around in my head I remembered overhearing a friend of a friend talk about self-publishing.  So, I decided to search the internet for all the self-publishing options and companies available.  This too was an overwhelming task.  There were so many options.  Once again I found myself feeling like it might not be worth it to invest all this time sifting through all the options available because after all “who would be interested in what I had to say?”  I hate to share how much self-doubt I carried but because this journey has truly allowed me to discover a piece of myself that had been tucked away I vowed to be as honest and transparent with others whenever the opportunity arises.

So back to my quest in finding the perfect, most cost-effective publishing company out there. This is what most people do, but yet I seemed to not find what I was looking for. How could this be? It was so frustrating.
One day as I sat in my office deciding my next move I pulled out a fun deck of cards, actually they were fun divinity cards which carried inspirational messages, and as I pulled a message out and read it I thought about the author and referred to the back of the guide that was a part of a boxed gift set.
There I found Hay House Inc. Wow, Louise Hay, the queen of positive affirmations and an inspirational goddess, how could I ever work with such an amazing company? I decided to get online and search to see if Hay House had any options for self-publishing. There I found a link that took me to Balboa Press Publishing, a Division of Hay House. I discovered that Balboa Press had many packages that allowed writers whose genre encompassed self-help, motivation and inspiration, self-publish their work. They had multiple packages available, which varied based on cost and services included. Almost all the packages included a design team that would assist with the cover design of your book as well as creating the book layout.
Packages available also included:

    • unique book sizes
    • marketing options
    • Author support
    • a centralized system to track sales and royalties
    • obtaining my ISBN
    • exposure on Amazon

and many more options.

Most authors select an option based primarily on cost.  I decided to choose a publisher based on genre and based on the ease it provided me in knowing that as a first timer to self-publishing I would feel supported in the areas that felt overwhelming and my focus would remain on throwing all of my energy into writing.

When I was asked to share my journey in self-publishing I realized that the method I used in selecting a publishing company might not be the norm for many.  I chose the route of selecting a publisher based on the type of books I enjoyed reading.  I also chose a company that would assist with the layout design and with the cover design.  Editing options are available; however additional costs apply. 

Here are a few important facts I’d like to share with you:
I self-published using Balboa Press – A Division of Hay House – packages vary between $1100 – $14,000 – depending on package you choose and services offered.
Most package included ISBN number – Cover design – An Author Copy – Worldwide Online Distribution and 10 marketing bookmarks.  More elaborate packages include a Marketing plan – a Social Media Publicist – Author Website – Book Signing Kit and Event coordinator.
My Cost was approx. $1500.00 for the publishing package.  I chose this package because my book contained some color images therefore I needed a package that supported color print.
I didn’t want to worry about using a standard template – or doing the layout work myself– so I justified my decision of paying someone to do this for me so that I would get it done – vs delay the process another year or two.
I was responsible for submitting a manuscript that had inserts that instructed the design team on what I wanted the layout of each page to look like.  My image inserts allowed the design team to lay the images on the page exactly where I wanted them.

The process is clearly laid out and allows the author to follow a standardized process from 1st submission to final manuscript. Additional costs for me included approx. $299.00 for images purchased through This website sells images that can be used in your books design. My particular package allowed me to add 10 images to my book at no additional charge. Therefore I purchased these images separately.
Once I published my book I also decided I wanted some inventory – so I spent approx. $2400 purchasing 250 copies for myself. The process of self-publishing cost approx. $4000.00 – this included the self-publishing package, the additional images purchased and the inventory purchased. I did not purchase additional marketing tools. I created an Amazon Author link – which is free.
The publishing company suggested a retail price based on design, size, color. Royalties are paid quarterly based on the following:
Print/Audio: For each royalty-qualifying sale of work in a print or audio format, through one of your publisher’s online distribution channels, the author typically receives 10% of the Retail Price. Sales that are sold directly through your publishers website pay a slightly higher royalty, approximately 25% of the Retail Price.
Digital: For each royalty-qualifying sale in digital format, the royalty paid can be approximately 50% of the Digital Net Received, less any returns. It is important to note that any personal sales made entitle the author to 100% of the earnings.
Each self-publishing company will have a contract that is specific to their terms and conditions. It is important to read those terms to determine if they meet your needs as an author. There are many self-publishing options. It is important to research options that will suit your individual needs. Some authors choose to use companies like Balboa Press, as I did, however there are other options that allow authors to use standard templates and print on demand when it comes to managing inventory. An example would be CreateSpace – a self-publishing tool offered by Amazon. The information I’ve provided is an overview and cost of my self-publishing experience. I hope your journey brings joy to your heart and allows you to enjoy the process of sharing your special gift with the world.
Please feel free to connect with me via:
Facebook – Niki Nicoletti
Facebook – Live Strive Prosper
Amazon – Author Page
Youtube – The Word Advocate

About the author

Niki Nicoletti

Niki Nicoletti, The Word Advocate is a creative writer who enjoys simple statements and heartfelt quotes. She has always enjoyed writing short stories and poetry and was able to realize her dream of sharing her love of words when she published "The Grace and Kindness of Words." Niki lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and with her dog "Melon".

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