Send to Print: Lessons from the Writing & Publishing Trenches

Marching Orders

Only 3% of writers finish their novel so get your butt in that chair and write every day. Read a variety of styles to help develop your own skills. Don't start editing until the first draft is done.


Writing Groups

  • Pros: Support group, writing challenges, Bouncing idea, potential beta readers

  • Cons: Drama, Cliquishness, Time Commitment, Different levels of commitment

  • Where to find them:

    • Social Media: Sometimes not as good as Face-to-face interactions (tone, interpretations, misunderstandings), but more options

    • Nanowrimo: Meetups

    • Local Libraries: Adverts on message boards; asks about guidelines, go to a trial meeting & see if it fits, you don’t have to bring your work the first time if nervous - just listen

    • If you can’t find one, start you own - if you build it they will come

Editing Advice

  • Don’t get discouraged by feedback: Learn to have thick skin, brutality can be a good thing

  • Discern between critique and opinion: Critique is helpful. It makes you a better writer (specific details you can improve upon). Opinion is usually biased and not meant to be helpful just bring you up or down. Critiques can improve your writing.

  • Stay true to your vision/story/characters

  • Have someone you trust read your story before publishing and get professional copy editor

  • Take a break from the story between edits

Publishing Paths

  • Traditional:

    • Agents can help get you a deal you want & resources are provided for you

    • Book deals, contracted amount of books, cover art, pricing, editing, book stores (more people have decisions over you and your work)

    • DIY marketing involves a team to get you started; the rest is up to you
You can do both. You can make different decisions for different projects (unless you have an agent contract which says differently)

Book Covers

  • DIY

    • Pros: Creative Control, Save $

    • Cons: Lots of Work, hard to perfect

  • Pre-made Cover

    • Pros: Easy to pick

    • Cons: Looks like everything, not personal, could cost $

  • Artist Commissioned

    • Pros: Creative Collaboration, Can also create logos, unique

    • Cons: Costs $$$, Schedules/time frames

    • When working with an artist:

      • Do's: Ask about their commission process, prices (flat rate vs. royalties), formatting, logos, and ask for their input in the creative process. Create a mutually agreeable contract and always give the artist credit for their work.

      • Don'ts: Be inflexible or expect to jump in-line through their commission process. Never disrespect their work or assume anything (ask lots of questions of your artists.


Check the amazing formatting guide created by Sidney Reetz:

Click here for Formatting Guide


Legal Stuff

Hire someone to help you set up all the legalities

  • Registering your Business (Sole Prop, LLC, Inc., etc)

  • Business Licenses for City, State, and sometimes county

  • Monthly Transaction Privilege Taxes per city and county

  • Copyrighting and Trademarking business name

Where & How to Sell

  • Author Website: Get a web-builder that allows you to not only sell through your website or links to where the book is available.

  • Etsy, store envy, etc.

  • Book Signing: Talk to local businesses. Help each other out

  • Conventions/Book Festivals: Talk to people. Don’t just try to force your book on them. Be sincere:

  • Consignment programs at indie bookstores: Check for consignment requirements, fees, and fine print (like sole distribution, shelf life, etc); Always follow-up on consignments

Marketing/Promotion - Advertise like crazy, Online contests and discussions/Conversation starters, Marketing in-person at cons and panels, NETWORK

Starting-Off Resources

Most important = fellow writers and publishers.


Nanowrimo - National Novel Writing Month has message boards, local workshops, and writing advice.

Writer's Digest - One of the most popular writing/publishing sources which includes writing advice, lists of agents/publishers, and writing contests to help get your name out there.

Tucson Festival of Books - A free weekend event in the spring. It gives you the chance to talk to a variety of writers, publishers, editors, and readers. Free panels give some of the best local and professional advice.                                                                              

On Writing by Stephen King - This book of advice will make you feel better every time you are trying to get through the editing process. You can find it at your local library or book store.

Ingram Spark - The easiest way to self-publish

Deviant Art - A great place to scout for commissioned artists

Art Station - A website for hiring professional artists

Reedsy - A resource for editors in your area for example Beth Lake based in Tucson

Also check out our Fish Pond for more local artists, authors, and businesses.


  • Self-publishing:

    • It’s your business, you have full control

    • Harder to break into the market

    • Create your own contacts/resources for editing, sales, etc.


  • What does your cover say about your book?
    • Stay true to your vision - don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t know what you want for your cover
    • Careful of headless torsos or symbols/covers that could end up as white noise

The formatting guide is colorful and easy to follow!

The formatting guide is colorful and easy to follow!


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