Gentle Advice from a Newly Self-Published Author. | Resources | Getting Published | More Publishing Options

Sheena Lambert

Ok.  So I considered it, pooh-poohed it, reconsidered it, researched it, mulled over it, and finally, I’ve done it.

I’ve self-published a novel.

It’s out.  It’s there.  My mother can buy it.  People I’ve never met who live on the Outer Hebrides can buy it.  YOU can buy it. (Please do.)  It’s a real, live, book.

It’s been some journey.  From nopus to opus it’s been almost two years.  What started as an attempt at a TV script to amuse my weekly writing class colleagues, morphed into a novel about two troubled people who happen to work in the same bank in Dublin.  And how they…well, you’re going to have to get your own copy to find out what happens to them!  It’s a contemporary love story of modern people with modern problems, a story with lots of humour and some dramatic twists – a bit like the process of getting it onto the pages of a real book!

Whether your novel is destined for self-publication or the traditional publication route, the first half of your journey will likely be the same – plotting, writing, editing, setting aside (the hardest part!), re-reading, editing and proofing.  It’s here the two paths separate, and while a writer intent on a traditional publishing deal can submit her work to potential agents or publishers and take a well-earned siesta, the self-publishing author has to get busy.

In my own case, having fallen at the last hurdle with a couple of publishing houses, I set about the process of self-publishing ALBERTA CLIPPER 18 months after I had first thought about what it might be like to be a female meteorologist with a dark secret, working in an investment bank in Dublin.  Deciding to self-publish is a lot like bringing your first-born home from the hospital.  You’re clueless.  You’re scared.  Your back aches (ok, so possibly less relevant, but true nonetheless).  You’ve spent nine months creating this thing, and now you don’t really know what the hell to do with it.  But, thankfully, the similarities don’t end there.  Just as there are hundreds of websites and blogs full of experienced parents advising, reassuring and generally being generous with their knowledge, so too are there a few excellent websites and blogs for the newbie self-publisher.

Two of the most helpful in my opinion are Catherine Ryan Howard’s and David Gaughran’s

Catherine’s site in particular is such a wealth of self-publishing advice and information, that it is hard to fathom how she finds time to write her own books.  But she does.  Very successfully.  Her blog walks you through every step of the quagmire that is the self-publishing process with a guiding hand and a giggle.  She does all but turn up on your doorstep with a casserole to heat up for your dinner.

It is possible that I liked these two sites more than the hundreds of others out there because both David and Catherine are Irish, and learning from them is a bit like chatting with a pal over a pint (or a venti latte hold-the-foam in Catherine’s case).  There are many other good self-publishing websites out there.  But I found these two blogs particularly current, and relevant, and the links and guest blogs they host often led me to other useful self-publishing sites I might never have otherwise found.  Both Catherine and David have excellent self-publishing books available also.

There is some necessary outlay in the self-publishing game – an edit, a proof-read and a proper cover are the three main areas requiring some upfront cash.  For the average 300 page novel, this investment is likely to cost €500+ depending on how much work is required at each stage.  After that, the only other expense I had was ordering proofs of the paperback.  But if you want a career as a writer, not just one unpolished tome gathering dust on your shelf, these are steps you cannot afford to skip.  For finding cover designers, copy-editors and proofreaders etc. there is no better site for the Irish writer than  But really, it’s personal recommendations you need here.  This self-publishing industry is still all quite new, and there are lots of ways for the rookie self-pubber to unnecessarily spend their prospective profits – proofreaders’ and editors’ charges can vary wildly.  And you need to find a editor you can work with, one that has edited other books of a similar genre.  The same goes for the cover design.  I had Alberta Clipper’s cover designed by Andrew Brown of and although the process was more challenging than I had imagined it might be, it was always fun because Andrew is such a nice guy.

Other websites to keep an eye on are those of book festivals.  It’s hard to leave the house these days without stumbling onto a book festival, and many of those I attended over recent months, including and, had excellent talks on publishing and self-publishing.  Not only are you getting, first hand, the opinions of those at the coalface of this changing industry, it’s also reassuring to hear about other writers’ experiences and see that in this lonely business of writing books that you are, actually, not alone at all.

And after the hard slog that is getting your novel published, enjoy the necessity that is your new social-media self.  It is highly unlikely that you will get to the Amazon stage without a handle (@sheewithonee if you were wondering), so have fun with it.  Follow Brad Pitt.  Tweet recipes to Amy Huberman.  Post funnies from youtube about people’s pets, or better still, make your own short funny book trailers and share them (see mine here  Have fun with what is going to be a part of your new life as a bestselling, blockbusting, self-published author.

Self-publishing your novel is scary.  It’s hard work.  But if I can do it, so can you.  Good luck.


About the author

Sheena Lambert is a writer from Dublin.  Her articles have been published by both the Irish Times and Irish Independent newspapers.  Her first novel, Alberta Clipper, is out now on paperback and as an ebook on Amazon

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