On the Nine Self-Publishing Skillsets



I’ve learned a few things about self-publishing while writing Homicidal Tendencies, my first published book. I had to wear many hats to complete the process. Except for writing and editing, many writers recommend hiring other people for each task. I couldn’t afford that. I needed to learn it all myself. This slowed down the work on my first book. Now that I have those skills, I should be able to increase my writing speed for the entire process when I write the next one. I thought I’d share an overview of the process. Deeper articles on some of these steps will follow here later.

It took about three years to write and edit the book. I was studying more about writing and editing while I wrote it. I would learn something new and need to use that in the next revision. There are normally three revisions when writing a book. I had four because I did a developmental edit after the second revision.

If you’re open to learning new things, you can develop any skill. Most of those listed below are related to writing so you already have some skill in those. Formatting and publishing both have low learning curves if you’re good at researching. The only two that may present a big challenge are cover design and marketing. I’ll talk briefly about each of the nine skills.

Planning / Plotting

This is an optional step. Some writers make a plan, usually in the form of an outline. Others make it up as they write. I made a couple of attempts at being a “pantser”. One became the short story Grun on the Run and the other became hopelessly complicated at around 30,000 words. I’ve settled on using an outline to avoid extra revisions.


The skill to develop here, beside learning to write well, is learning to write the first draft without editing. I have a perfectionist streak and edited my first draft as I wrote. That made the job take eight months. Each book is another chance to practice turning off our internal editor on the first draft.


I find editing one of the easier skills. Maybe it’s because I’ve had tons of practice; university papers, blog posts, technical writing, e-mails, and earlier novel attempts. You read your writing, see a problem, and fix it.

Developmental Editing

This is considered a specialized field, but isn’t that difficult if you have a good outline. The more concise your outline, the more quickly you can review the entire plot of your novel and find problems with the story’s development. Fixing those problems is what takes time.


This is another specialized field. You need to be able to read in a way that you notice every word. I notice mistakes in almost every book I read even though the print books went through a proofreader at a publishing house. I don’t know where I picked up the proofreading skills. I can’t even claim to be a slow reader.


This took me months to learn, but my research was effective. Amazon found no errors on my first submission. The guides I found were all over the place: too little info, too much info, missing info, and confusing or wrong info. I wrote my own guide and this step will only take a few hours on future books.

Cover Design

This skill is very different from writing. I used the free GIMP (Graphical Image Manipulation Program) and looked up a lot of tutorials to get this one done. The picture at the top of this article shows the second, third, and final versions of my cover. The first version was too embarrassingly crappy to show.


This is a minor skill compared to the other skills in the list. I had to review the rules of several governments and corporations. Once you know your own government’s requirements for publishers, it’s only a matter of reviewing booksellers’ policies.


This is another specialized field. I’ve read a bit on blog marketing, have three blogs, and use Twitter, but that’s about it. I’ll be studying and practicing this while I write my next book, a novella.

Marketing can be one of the biggest challenges for self-published authors. While all of the other skillsets are solitary activities, this one is extremely social. Normally it starts before a book is up for sale. All I’ve done is blog and tweet. On the other hand, sales are best with multiple books. By the time I have multiple books for sale, I should also have marketing figured out.

The novella will give me some practice at writing faster and I’ll find out if I really learned the lessons I think I did from the first book. The strategy behind writing a novella is that I will then have two books. Readers who like one may buy the other.

I’m planning a science fiction thriller for my next full-length novel. The plot / outline is a work in progress, so it’s barely started. My goal will be to write it in half the time it took for the first novel. I’m also working on a non-fiction book on how to write faster.

Did you say you want to know more about Homicidal Tendencies? It’s about 318 pages long and is a stand-alone thriller. The main characters are a group of gamers who are sinking deeper into trouble with Richmond’s dark criminal elements no matter what they try to do to get out. Will they learn to stand up for themselves before someone knocks them down for good?

Writing Articles?

Definitely. There will be more writing articles, especially about manuscript writing.

Thanks for visiting. Now that my book is on Amazon, I seem to have a constantly growing to-do list. It’s time for me to-do the next item.

Article by Ivan Izo.


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