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Guided Self-Publishing – The Joy of Helping Others

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

One of the things I love about the work I do through Words Matter Creative Writing is that I am often in a position to help people accomplish their writing and creative goals. Guided self-publishing is only one of several ways that I am privileged to interact in the creative lives of others.

Each of the various aspects of the business I’ve developed over the last several years has its own way to help writers, would-be writers, and other creatives. Teaching classes, providing editing and critique services, creativity coaching, blogging, and podcasting all reach different writers in different ways.

Sometimes I am able to work one-on-one or in person. Other times, the writer is in another state, or even another country.

It’s a great thrill to be able to share the creativity and craft lessons I’ve learned with others.

Guided Self-Publishing

Sometimes, though, I’m privileged to help another writer see their life-long dream come to fruition.

That sounds a little “dramatic,” I know. But, in some cases, it’s true. Below, I’ll share three brief stories with you, to help illustrate the point. First, let me quickly acknowledge that we live in a wonderful time to see these creative and literary goals come to life.

This is the self-publishing age. I won’t go too deeply into the cons of self-publishing (and, there are plenty!). But, I do want to say that having the ability to see creative works printed, distributed, and (sometimes) even sold without involving the gate-keepers of publishing houses and PR-inclined, bottom-line-is-king decision makers who care more about celebrity than literary merit…well, that can be a beautiful thing.

Guided self-publishing is the term I use for helping other writers with the details of publishing their work. I assist with things like cover creation, interior book design, editorial work, proofreading, and error correction. I take care of purchasing ISBN numbers and arranging for distribution options, if the book is going to be sold via retail outlets.

The following three authors are examples of creatives who have utilized the guided self-publishing options available via Words Matter Creative Writing.

June Estep Fiorelli – Stuck Toast and Mud Pies (Poems for kids)

June Estep Fiorelli signs copies of her book, Stuck Toast and Mud Pies, at Bookstore One in Sarasota, Florida.
June signing copies of her book.

Several years ago, I was approached by June. She had been working with a vanity publisher to create a book to celebrate a lifetime of writing poems for children.

The problem was, the vanity publisher wanted to charge her three arms and a half-dozen legs to produce a book. And, it would have been a book June would be unable to sell because of the high per-unit price.

Now, June wasn’t looking to become a multi-millionaire by selling her book. But she didn’t want to go broke and have a garage full of pre-printed books that she couldn’t expect anyone to buy because of the high price.

We were able to talk and devise a strategy for addressing June’s wish list:

  1. She wanted a book that contained all of the poems she’d written (several of which had been published, through the years) for children,

  2. June wanted the book to be heavily illustrated so that children would be drawn to the book, and

  3. She wanted the per-unit price to be reasonable for parents, educators, and gift-givers.

  4. (And, as a bonus, utilizing print-on-demand technology allowed her to skip the minimum order demands of the vanity publishing model.)

It took some time, and a lot of wrangling with contract illustrators, but we were able to produce a lovely book that is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through other booksellers. The book is packed full of fun illustrations and poems that delight readers. June has been able to sell books person-to-person, as well. She has a small personal inventory that doesn’t displace her car from the garage.

Just look at some of the Amazon reviews of Stuck Toast and Mud Pies

Linda Gibson Ress – Crying Days (Historical fiction)

Linda Ress has met many fans of her novel, Crying Days.
Linda meets some of her fans.

Linda’s story is a little different than June’s. Linda came to me, first, with a novel manuscript and we worked to refine and restructure the story.

The novel, Crying Days, was Linda’s first completed manuscript. She worked incredibly hard to make the book stronger through multiple revisions and rounds of editorial feedback. (You can find more information about editing and critique options for writers on my website.)

Once the manuscript was refined, Linda and I worked to make her dream of publishing Crying Days a reality. We carefully crafted the interior design to best compliment the story. Then we were able to utilize a cover photo taken by Linda’s daughter to highlight the Appalachian Mountains setting of the book.

The result was a beautiful and well-received novel.

Linda has been able to speak to book groups and sign copies of her books in several states. Her novel has also received high praise from readers on Amazon…check it out at the link.

Louis Pavloff – Second Choice (Personal History/Autobiography)

Lou Pavloff’s guided self-publishing project, Second Choice, was a personal legacy gift to his family and friends.
Lou gave his book to family and friends.

Lou had a slightly different end goal in mind: He wanted to create a book he could give to his children, grandchildren, and other friends and family members. He began working on his family history more than five years ago.

Second Choice tells the life story of Lou’s immigrant father. It follows the family into the new world, then continues through Lou’s birth, childhood, and early life. It concludes with the events of the last few years.

This book was a labor of love. It was never meant to be sold as a commercial product, but Lou wanted the book to look like a professionally printed book. And in the end, it did.

Second Choice was designed to be shelved along side the other literature in the family library. Lou had 25 copies printed, and he has begun gifting them to family members and friends.

What a wonderful legacy project! Second Choice was a long time coming. Lou worked for years to see his dream project come to fruition. It is clear from his smiling face just how happy he was to see the box of books printed and shipped to his door.

Guided Self-Publishing for My Clients Brings Me Joy

My autographed copies of Second Choice, Crying Days, and Stuck Toast are among my most satisfying artifacts from these last few years of Words Matter Creative Writing. It is an honor to help writers, in so many ways. It is especially fun to see a book (a real live book!) in print which symbolizes so many years of hard work.

As the new year begins, you may find yourself looking to complete (or even, begin) your own life-long dream project. If I can be of help, I hope you’ll contact me. I’d love to help you make progress toward your creative goals.

Who knows: Some day soon, you too may be featured in a blog post much like this one, celebrating literary achievements.

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