Self-publishing my debut novel

Self-publishing my debut novel

Written on 07/07/2021
E.E. Gillies

Overcoming procrastination, doubt, and discerning my calling

Written by E.E. Gillies

Once, I stayed at a mansion in Ottawa owned by Trinity Western University. The place sparked my writer’s brain with ideas for many stories. One day, a novel idea came to me all at once. I knew the beginning, middle, and end. It was a profound, God-guided moment, and I continued to feel Him guide me as I wrote the story. This is what prompted me to publish a novel.

In October 2020, I self-published Friendly Foe on Amazon. It’s a romantic thriller about Kyle Troy, a student who wants to leave his small town and pursue his dream to play on a major league baseball team. But his present holds him back. His best friend of seven years has an obsessive, dangerous secret that threatens Kyle and his loved ones.

I went through many struggles as I wrote this book. I had to overcome procrastination, doubt, and uncertainty about my novel’s purpose.

It was hard to write on my computer because there were so many distractions clawing at me like Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram. To combat this, I disconnected my laptop from Wi-fi to remove some of the distractions. Five-minute walking breaks were often a big help. 

I also second-guessed my writing, like many writers. When I hired an editor, I thought the process would be quick, and that I could self-publish within a month. I was very wrong. The editing process took half a year.

When I reread my writing, I was left with many questions: Am I a good writer? Will people like my story? I was anxious and confused. I also questioned whether God wanted me to publish this story. My novel is not a Christian story. It may seem weird to credit a horror story to God, yet God knows all our strengths. But despite being a good horror writer, I still felt weird about publishing the story.

Many times, I wanted to give up. But I believed God gave me this story for a reason and that it needed to be shared with others.

This motivated me to keep going. I wrote on a local prayer wall, asking others to pray for me. Then I waited for His guidance. When He spoke to me, He encouraged me to finish the novel.

When I first started thinking about self-publishing, I wasn’t sure where to begin. So, for fellow writers who are interested in pursuing this route, here’s what the process looked like for me. 

The editing process

Once I polished up my manuscript’s second draft, I found my editor, Magdalene Friesen, through a family friend. We agreed to look through one chapter at a time. When she sent back comments, I made changes based on her recommendations. Depending on the editing agreement, the editor will re-read the story a second time to make sure it flows well based on the changes.

Copyright and formatting

When I was ready to publish, I registered for copyright for the novel. I chose to register with WGA West Registry because it’s valid in both Canada and the United States. Then, I hired a talented artist friend, Farnaz Del, to design the book cover.

Choosing a self-publishing platform

I published with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. They offered good royalties, allowed me to set the book price, and made the book available in different countries. Amazon is also a popular website and I found it easy to navigate. Of course, there are many other self-publishing sites to choose from.

Promoting the book

Once Friendly Foe was published, I began marketing and advertising on social media sites. I chose to promote the book on Instagram and Facebook because the book is targeted at young adults. I contacted book reviewers through their Instagram pages and I sent my novel to book influencers. I also asked friends if they could write reviews on Amazon. This step is vital because reviews are one of the best ways to convince readers to buy a book.

Cost of self-publishing

There are many different costs involved in self-publishing. I needed a good editor. I knew this would be expensive, but I also knew the better the editor, the better my writing would be. Graphic design costs can also be expensive. However, I was able to make an agreement with my friend that was beneficial for both of us. I sent influencers the book for free in exchange for promotions, which lowered my advertising costs. I also saved money by making ads using a free Canva account and posting them on my social media pages.

There were many ups and downs during this journey, but I have grown immensely. This experience has strengthened my dependence, trust, and faith in God. Whenever I faced difficulty, I turned to God. He always helped me because He is always there for me. 

Friendly Foe is available on Amazon.