Publishing a Novel on a Shoestring Budget

It’s been both exciting and stressful, creating my first fictional novel and deciding to publish it. I looked at different ways to self-publish, most requiring a bigger investment than I could even consider. I knew editing was important, but paying hundreds of dollars to have it done professionally, just wasn’t something I could do. I had no illusions that my first novel was going to become a major hit overnight. I had no justification for taking such a big risk.

I know I’m a pretty good editor. I often catch typos, or grammar errors when I read. I belonged to an online writing group where my editing tips were appreciated and I received many good tips for improving my own writing, including errors I’d missed.

So I began the first major edit of Being Grace by printing out all those useful tips, along with a paper copy of my draft, and spent several hours going through it to make all the fixes. My adult children all offered to do a read through for me, but they all live miles away from me, and they are very busy in their own lives, so it never happened.

I decided if I really wanted to get this published, I’d have to trust my own abilities and whatever other help came my way.

I spent a month editing, re-reading, editing some more, but alas, I became too anxious to get it published. I couldn’t read it one more time and see any more issues. I decided on a publisher.

Eleven years ago I’d self-published my second non-fiction book using Lulu Press, online. That book was only 124 pages, but it contained numerous pictures. My first one, published four years earlier, using the same program had been only 105 pages, with pictures. I remember at the time it was a bit daunting to figure out the application for submitting my work and it took a few tries to get a nearly perfect book that I could be proud to share with family and friends. We ended up giving many away as gifts, but, fortunately,  the cost wasn’t prohibitive.

Now, with this new book, a novel I hoped would find a larger audience, and contained three times as many pages, there was more money on the line. I again chose Lulu Press and I worried over getting it right. There were no pictures this time, other than the cover, but there were thousands of words of text.

The program had changed in twelve years. There were new options and ways to get things done, which were great, but required a new understanding.  Adding a link into the book content box was simple. Creating the cover was more complicated than I’d remembered, and I had a difficult time finding that eye-catching picture for the front.

The self-imposed deadline I’d set for myself, my birthday, was looming. Finally, I felt confident enough to send the completed project to Publish. I ordered a proof copy and waited. When it arrived, I gave it another quick perusal and then ordered a dozen copies. I was pleased to see shipping charges were considerably lower when ordered in bulk. I sold my first half dozen quickly, to friends from our Ukulele Band, and Pickleball Players. I got an offer from a local store owner to put some copies there for sale. She also offered to host a book signing! I was floating on cloud-nine.

I’d like to say it all went well from there on, but I have to admit, after several typos were pointed out to me, I felt more like a failure. It wasn’t perfect, and that’s always what I strive for. Knowing there were many great books published that weren’t perfectly without errors didn’t help. When I went back to compare the third proof copy with the first, which I’d marked up with changes, I still found things nobody had mentioned, this time with layout. It weighed on my mind that there were many copies already out there with errors, but, at last I’m now satisfied with the final result. I’ve had some great reviews and encouragement from those who have read it.

The final version is now available online, including at Amazon, in both paperback and e-book. I hope some of you will find it and read it. I’d love to hear what you think.

It takes a lot of learning, hard work and determination, but you can publish a good book on a shoestring budget if you put your mind to it. Marketing may be a little more challenging. 🙂