How many books are inside of you? Whether you are an expert in your field, an avid scribbler, or the family storyteller, you should put your thoughts into print. Although there may be numerous books on your topic, many people will only have that ah-ha moment from the way you pen your experience. Write a book about your personal experience, professional skills or philosophical beliefs to help others with their life's journey.

Let's start out by asking the hard questions....Why do you want to self-publish? Do you want fame and fortune with countless book sales and a huge following for your newsletter? Or would you call simply one book an accomplishment?

While you think about that, let me share my story....

I knew I would publish a book for many years. Stashed in my mother's basement, I stored a stack of love letters, which I saved for that purpose. But, I had no idea on how or when I would to put them in a book. In 2002, I had the opportunity to transcribe the letters from words written in Pig Latin, or backwards. Big profits didn't concern me. I simply wanted to complete the goal of a published book. So excited, I entered the publishing arena, lacking a lot of research.

Now, why did I self-publish, instead of pursing a traditional publisher?

The reasons are four-fold:

One: I didn't have a lot of money.

At my job, I was closest to the bottom of the totem pole, than to the top. That translated into a low salary, and I already have a family, mortgage, and car payment. I needed to find the cheapest way to publish - one which I could pay for goods or services in small increments, instead of one lump sum payment.

Self-publishing afforded me this opportunity. In one year, I took my time to buy the PageMaker software, a business license, and pay for the printing. Although I did not have to buy the software, I figured I would use it to publish another book, if things worked out well for me. I didn't need the business license either. The business license inspired me to think like a businessperson.

Two: I called the shots.

Once again, on my job I was close to the bottom of the totem pole. That meant there are a lot of people who had more tenure than I do, and they basically tell me what to do. Even if I have a good idea, they would throw their seniority over me, and whatever the job, it's done their way.

That's when I started writing book reviews. I called the shots on how I wanted to write them. There are basic book review criteria, but for the most part, I could use my creativity to write whatever I had on my mind. So what if someone did say, "Ah, I don't like the way you phrased that." Then I could say, "Ah, thank you very much for your opinion," and leave it like that. I didn't have to change my words. I expressed my written opinions the way I wanted, and if the reader didn't like it, they could simply stop reading.
Three: I knew I could do it.

My parents raised me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to. My thoughts about myself were the only obstacles in my path. Since I decided to self-publish, I went full steam ahead on the project. Okay, I didn't do as much research as I should have done. But it turned out to be a good thing. Lately, I'm reading so much material on how people think it is hard to self-publish. This might have discouraged me.

After self-publishing two books, I am convinced self-publishing is only as hard as you want it to be. I personally wanted to succeed. Not succeed in making a huge profit, but succeed in finishing my goal of a published book. The desire to succeed did not allow me to look at any step along the way as hard. If it needed to get done in order to accomplish my goal, then I just did it. I attended evening courses toward a Bachelor's degree, continued to raise three kids, and published two books within two years.

Four: I needed managerial experience.

I am referring back to the way I was viewed at my 9 to 5 job. People at the bottom of the totem pole don't manage anyone. Some people at the bottom don't feel as if they manage themselves. This lack of experience gets in the way when you want to move up the pole.

As a self-publisher, I learned to manage my time, my resources, and my temper. I set up a system where I would spend time with the family on certain days, and work the business on other days. I budgeted my paycheck to pay the bills I already accumulated, with money for printer ink, copy services and postage. And, I learned to manage my email etiquette. Sometimes when I correspond with people by email, they can make me angry by their response, or whatever. Even if I didn't have to continue the relationship, I didn't want to burn a bridge. I learned to express my thoughts in a diplomatic way. This proved to be the greatest part of my success.

What if I had to do it all over again?
Let's say I had more money, and a job with more prestige, would I self-publish again? Definitely! Not only did I learn a new trade, but self-publishing created a wider horizon for other careers. Depending on what area I want to specialize in, I can be a publicist, an editor, a book producer or an on-line instructor. And here's the best value. Even if I only sold one book, the accomplishment is priceless.
ith my publishing experience combined with the on-line instruction, my job has given me more than one promotion, and I have the respect of a well-versed writer. It took time, but the rewards are paying off.

However, there could be pitfalls to self-publishing.

As a self-publisher, with very little cash flow, I became a self-marketer also. November 2004 became a very thought provoking month for me. For three years prior, I spent approximately $170 per month for my web site with the e-commerce feature. I could only make updates to the website at my home computer, which meant I didn't spend a whole lot of time with my family. They understood, because I had a new business, but my book coach, Andrew Morrison, made me realize I had allowed the computer to capture most of my free time.

With all of the free web services available, I learned to follow some of my own advice in my ebook, "Do-It-Yourself Publishing." I cancelled the bank card services for the e-commerce, and I switched servers from Pacific Web Works to Freeservers for the web site. I started the process of cancelling my home Internet service, and only spent one hour a day on the web at the public library.

What did this mean for me?

1. I had Internet withdrawals, but I needed to rebuild my family life. Also, I read if you spend too much time on the computer, you have a higher chance for glacoma. I was definitely in the high risk stage. Whatever I couldn't get done in one hour, had to wait for another day. My youngest daughter complained about not having any homemade cakes, for literally several years. I am now baking again.

2. Although I have a computer with Microsoft Word, I still can still sit in front of a screen, but I use my free time wisely. I used to write 4 book reviews a month, and worked on the website. Now, I've learned out to manage my time between the business and my family.

What does this mean for you?

Whatever you do, don't forget to pamper yourself, and spend time with your family. This is the main secret to publishing while living with passion, motivation and joy. Your book is important, however you have to take care of your personal, mental and spiritual needs. The path to becoming a successfull author is sometimes rocky, that's why you must remember to schedule time to rejuvenate yourself and your family by:

- Taking about 15 - 30 minutes each day to sit and do nothing;

- Reading motivational books, or;

- Scheduling a family night. Put the project aside for at least one day each week. The family might not complain about so much of your time spent at the computer, but the results will show up later in life.

Writing is 10% of your time, publishing 1% of your time, and marketing 89% of your time.

If you decide to expand your career as an author, marketing is the beginning of a longer road. If you choose to stop right here, that's okay too. Remember ...

No matter which path you decide to stroll, you are a success.
No matter the amount of time required to finish, you are a success.
No matter what kind of mistakes you make, you are a success.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Author's Bio: 

Judine is the Executive Director of the United Black Writers Association, Inc. For more information, visit