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Becoming an Independent Author

You have an idea for a story, but what do you do with it? Do you leave it in the back of your mind or in a journal? Do you sit down and make the first attempt at writing a book?

If it is the latter, then you may be wondering what you need to do to publish a book. Now, you could attempt to go through a publishing company, but there are a lot of steps and it is not always guaranteed that you will get a deal. The next idea is independently publishing.

There are a ton of ways you can publish your own book. I usually do it through Kindle Direct Publishing. First, let’s start with the steps of writing and getting a book ready to publish.

Write a First Draft

You cannot publish a book if there is no book. First step to becoming an independent author is to write your first draft.

Do not worry about editing it right away. It is important to get all of your ideas down into the layout you want and to start writing your story.

I like having a title page and my chapters set up as I write my first draft. Do not worry about your copyright, about author, or acknowledgements page yet. This is the time when you develop your plot, characters, beginning, middle and end.

A key tip for this step is to not give up.


Now that you have done your first draft, it is important that you be the first one to edit the book. This will give you an opportunity to fix your grammar, spelling, plot holes or anything else that you want to change or may have forgotten to add.

You can do edit once, twice, or as many times as you think necessary. I recommend going through it page by page to edit completely looking for any errors or plot holes. Then you should read it again as a story, not looking for the minuscule errors.

If you read your book as a story you will be able to discover what other readers might feel about it and you may find some major errors that you missed before.

Ask Someone Else

Now that you have read and edited your book yourself, it is time to find a couple of people who will read it and give advice or reviews. Finding someone in the age range you are writing for will be most beneficial but anyone will do. It is important to have more than one person, of varying demographics, read it for a broader range of feedback.

Once they have given you their advice, it is time for you to jump back in and make edits.

Hire an Editor (optional)

I did not hire an editor for my first book. I was the one to edit it over and over again until I was satisfied. That is why this part is optional. If you are independently publishing and money is tight, this step is not necessary.

However, a professional editor could help turn a good book into a great one. It is highly recommended by other indie authors. The more people to look at your book, the better, especially if they are professionals. Editors know what they are doing and have most likely been doing it for a while. They will be able to give you all sorts of feedback and advice.

If you want to read my books and see how it turned out without an editor, you can click here.


Now that you have a complete and edited book, it is time to prepare it for the publishing process. Decide what length and width you want your book to be, then you will have to figure out the margins.

Kindle Direct Publishing provides a table to help independent publishers figure out the best margins.

Page count Inside (gutter) margins Outside margins (no bleed) Outside margins (with bleed)
24 to 150 pages 0.375 in (9.6 mm) at least 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at least 0.375 in (9.4 mm)
151 to 300 pages 0.5 in (12.7 mm) at least 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at least 0.375 in (9.4 mm)
301 to 500 pages 0.625 in (15.9 mm) at least 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at least 0.375 in (9.4 mm)
501 to 700 pages 0.75 in (19.1 mm) at least 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at least 0.375 in (9.4 mm)
701 to 828 pages 0.875 in (22.3 mm) at least 0.25 in (6.4 mm) at least 0.375 in (9.4 mm)

Book Cover Design

This is where you decide whether you want a professional design or to make one yourself. You may think making one yourself will help you save money, but people will see your design first when they look at your book and many will judge it by that alone.

If you have a talent in design then making your own cover could be worth it. However, if you are like me and do not have much of a talent in design, it may be worth it to invest in a professional.

Professional designers are fantastic at their job. Working with one can mean the difference between an alright/good cover to an amazing one. My first book Ancient Elements was not made by a professional designer and although I like the cover, working with a designer on my second book Pirates from Under, as well as my third and fourth books has been totally worth it and I already have received awesome design choices.

I am using a cool site called 99designs that allows me to look through designer portfolios, choose a specific designer to work with, or start a contest. The contest costs $299 but I get nearly a hundred design options by various designers and get to work with them to fine tune it. Click here to check out the site.

Find a Publishing Platform

There are tons of options for publishing sites. I use Kindle Direct Publishing which immediately puts your book on Amazon and has worldwide marketing options. There is also Lulu, Ingram spark, and Blurb but I have never used them, I just know they are popular.

Once you find and sign up for a platform that you like, add your manuscript, book cover, and pricing then press publish. At that point you should have a published book. Congrats!

Market Your Book

So, you finished a book, but do not stop now. Your work is not over!

You need to get the word out about your book. Creating a good social media presence and a website gives readers or interested people a place to go to learn more about your book and other works.

Book signings and posters would not hurt. Use Vistaprint to create bookmarks, stickers, and car decals. I like donating a book or two to libraries so that others can read it and get my author name out there.


I hope this helped you become an independent author! Feel free to talk about your book in the comments and I will check it out. Also, you can let me know about your new books on my Facebook page or Instagram account @kdunnauthor.



Published inWriting