Self-Publishing FAQs

What’s the difference between traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and self-publishing?

When a book is traditionally published, the author usually gets paid an advance and royalties. The publishing house pays for editing, design, publication, and distribution. That’s the good news. The bad news is that publishing houses are trying to make money and therefore are VERY particular about who and what they will publish. It is difficult to find an agent who then hopes to place your book with a publisher. Books are often published two years after acceptance and royalty payments are small comparatively.

Vanity publishers (often now called hybrid publishers) talk about the best of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Unfortunately, it’s the best of both worlds for them, not you. You will pay them to get your book edited, designed, and published and then they will give you a percentage of royalties or charge an inflated rate for author copies of your book. Don’t give up your money AND your rights.

Self-publishing is aptly named because you do it yourself, but you keep ALL of the rights and royalties when your book sells. Companies, like The Happy Self-Publisher, help writers who don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to edit, design, format, and publish a book. Yes, we charge a fee for what we do, but you control the timing, price, content, and set the goals you want to reach. Once your book is in print (or your ebook is online), everything you earn in royalties is yours. If you want to change or update your book, you can do it easily.

What's an ISBN?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. It is a 13-digit code that uniquely identifies your book. Each edition (first, second, etc.) and format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, etc.) of your book require a separate ISBN. Some self-publishing platforms require you to purchase an ISBN for your book while others offer ISBNs for free. A paid ISBN is great for authors who are looking for greater flexibility to distribute to a wider audience.  

What is print on demand publishing?

Print on demand publishing means that as one book is ordered (on Amazon, for example), one is printed. You benefit because you no longer needed to order a garage full of books. You can purchase 1, 10, 57, or 893 books to have inventory to sell at events and reorder as you need. That means you aren’t burdened with the upfront costs. Print on demand books are digitally printed and best for word-heavy books. Offset printing is best for photo/graphic-heavy books like picture or photo books. The quality of digital printing gets better every year and will undoubtedly catch up to offset sometime in the future.

Do I need a copyright?

No. And yes. According to the US Copyright Office, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” But if you want to file a lawsuit against someone for copyright infringement, you’ll need to register your work. Some writers do, and some don’t bother with the process.

How much money can I make writing a book?

It all starts with the quality of your writing. Learning and practicing the craft and getting a quality editor are keys to writing books readers want to read.

In general, fiction generates higher revenue than nonfiction. That isn’t true in all cases. If your book fills a void in the book market, you have a better chance of standing out.

The royalty amount of each book will play a role in how much you will make over the long run. For instance, deciding to print a book in color will either reduce your royalty or force you to increase your price to a level less attractive to buyers.

The time and effort you put into marketing your book will ultimately determine how much money you will make as an author. Nothing beats getting out there and getting to know and connect with readers in your niche.


What are the most important things to know if you want to write a book?

It’s really important to know why you are writing a book and what you hope to achieve as a result of writing it. Someone who wants to scale their business approaches a book quite differently than someone who is using it as a tool to help clients through a process without any intention of selling the book. For the creative writer, an author who hopes to make a living as a writer will approach it differently than someone writing a family history.

It is also important to determine your target audience. Knowing who will read it (hint: it’s not everyone) and what you hope they do or experience as a result of reading it sheds light on the entire writing process.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is just starting out on a writing journey?

Read. A lot. Read the best authors in your industry and other authors you admire. Write. Make writing a priority. Put time on your calendar each week dedicated to the craft. Whether it is 15 minutes or 5 hours, a scheduled writing time puts intention into action. Plan for tomorrow. Plan a weekend retreat to envision your business or life purpose and determine how writing a book brings life to your goals. Brainstorm ideas to flesh out the best ones and find new and exciting angles to explore. Organize your paper, scribbles, notes, websites, index cards, or random thoughts to be in one place. Arrange (and rearrange) all of it to make writing easier. Most of all, DARE to do something that takes time and effort and failure and sacrifice.

Who is most successful writing books?

Those who understand that writing a book is a business. They understand that successful authors work hard at developing their craft, sit down often to write and promote it with intention and vigor. The authors who succeed set out goals for the book and surround themselves with the best people to make their goals come to life.

How can a book coach help me write my book?

If you have ever struggled with getting started, getting stuck, or knowing what to say or how to say it, a book coach can help. A book coach will help you uncover why you are writing a book, who you are writing it for, and help you organize the material to have the most impact. A good coach will keep you motivated and focused on your goals for the book and set you on a path to successful publication and launch.

Some will specialize in fiction or nonfiction (my favorite) or a particular genre and will help you develop your unique voice and style regardless of the type of book you are writing. Ask a lot of questions and make sure your book coach is a good fit.

All of this information can be overwhelming. Writing, publishing, and then book marketing doesn’t have to feel that way when you find a partner to guide you through the process.

Service Designed to Meet Your Needs

The Happy Self-Publisher is small by design to give you the answers you need and attention you deserve. I want you to have a happy self-publishing experience! Want to find out more? Let’s talk!

Excellent speaker. Great knowledge. Infectious energy.

Excellent speaker. Great knowledge. Infectious energy.


With much appreciation

I want to offer many thanks and appreciation for working with me for a year to write Barriers, the legacy of my political and personal life. The book is something that gives me great pride and serves as wisdom I can impart upon current political leaders and a treasured keepsake for my family.


Tom Evans, Barriers: The life and legacy of Tom Evans

Excellent workshop. Clear and concise guidelines on the whole process of thoughts to publication.

Excellent workshop. Clear and concise guidelines on the whole process of thoughts to publication.

Jay Jackson

(302) 419-7289


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