Can Self-Publishing Be a Path to Independence?
There wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a writer. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to make my own opportunities. No one would knock on my door and ask me to write the next great American novel.
My tiny house journey was necessary for exploring my new life as a writer. Building the tiny house gave me a chance to work toward something unexpected and the freedom to quit a corporate job and go out on my own.
Today, I mostly write online content for businesses. And while I love the creative process of getting into the company’s voice and researching the topics to create the narrative, I still want to work on my projects.
That was why I started the Life in 120 Square Feet blog in 2010.
I had been writing about our building experience on an online journaling platform meant to be more of a social community than just a blog. But, it was a closed community with very little outside interaction. I started the blog to tell my story to anyone who would listen. And listen they did.
From that experience, after we moved into the house, I thought I would try my hand at writing a book. I knew others who self-published, and it seemed like it might be a suitable method for me. That project became 120 Ideas for Tiny Living. It was my experimental book, to be honest. When I look back at it, it isn’t spectacular. But I am still generally happy with it because I learned a lot about putting together a book and how to publish online.
In 2017, I published my second tiny house book, Life in 120 Square Feet: The Essays. By then, I was much more comfortable with the process and had even self-published two non-tiny-house-related books.
So, can self-publishing be a moneymaker for tiny house dwellers? My answer is, “Maybe?”
There are several platforms, including Amazon, where you can publish your book. Each has different requirements, but the process before publishing is essentially the same. Here’s what worked for me.
- Create content. You can only self-publish if you have something to publish. That means the real work is in the creation. Write. Write every day. Write until there is simply no more to say on the subject.
- Edit content. The next step is to edit. I’ll be frank; I didn’t edit my first book well enough. I could have spent much more time on it, and I didn’t. Live and learn.
- Edit it again. Don’t settle for just one pass. Edit it again and again. I also hired a professional editor to help me with a couple of my projects. Writers are their own worst editors. This isn’t a flaw; it’s just how things work in our brains. So go ahead and ask someone to help.
- Choose a platform. Many people choose Kindle publishing from Amazon. It allows you to create both digital and print-on-demand copies of your book. The pricing and distribution channels will be flexible. Explore all of your options before making a decision.
- Cover art. For my first tiny house book, I used an online cover generator. I did the same for my two non-tiny-house-related books. When I was ready to publish The Essays, I decided to work with a designer to create an original cover. Why? Because if lots of writers use boilerplate cover creators, there ends up being a lot of similar covers. They say don’t judge a book by the cover, but let’s face it—we all do. Your cover needs to catch the reader’s attention, especially as a tiny thumbnail on an extensive list of books. Invest in a good design.
- Marketing. Finally, you need to market your book. I suggest researching other sources to find your right marketing plan. Know that marketing is a full-time job for a self-published author. Writers who publish through traditional methods have some support from their publishing company, but self-published writers must make that happen for themselves.
I’ll be honest; I’m not all that great about marketing my books. I sell a few monthly, but not enough to make a living off them. If I put more effort into the process, it could be an additional moneymaker for me.
Here’s my take: there is no such thing as passive income.
If you want to make money by writing a book, becoming an influencer, or creating content, it’s a constant hustle. You can make a lot of money if you work hard at it, but it’s just like any other career. You get out what you put in.
But whether you want to write for the love of the craft or you want to earn some extra income, I will always encourage others to share their stories.
Article By Laura LaVoie for the Tiny House Magazine Issue 121