Book Publishing: From Self-Published to Best-Selling Author

entrepreneurship Dec 24, 2021
How to publish your first book

BOOKS. Let's talk about them. There are so many amazing books on creativity and creative business, but what if you have an amazing idea that you want to share with the world? It could be something unique, a new perspective on an old subject or just your interpretation of the said thing. Writing, let alone publishing a book, can be a truly daunting task that sucks a lot of your time, energy and desire to finish what you started. To break down the barriers and share how I went from self-published to best-selling author, I spoke to Ilana from Loomier to provide a glimpse of what it could be like for you.




If you prefer, you can also watch (listen to?) the interview below!



Ilana: Peggy, why don't you introduce yourself and all the books you have?

Peggy: I'm a self-thought artist and passionate educator, and that is what drove me to write some books. Hurdles? YES. Successes? DEFINITELY. I have seven books, one on the way.

Ilana: Seven books is a lot! So, you self-published your first book, and obviously that took you down the long path where you have almost seven books now. What drove you to create your first book? 

Peggy: I don't know what it is but everyone has a bucket list, right? And it's SO up my alley to do that. I love vision boards, I love scrap books, and the idea of a bucket list. I kid you not, but the only thing, to this day, that has been on my bucket list has only been "publish a book". That's it.  I don't know if you're going to ask this later, but I'll answer now, or just tell you a story. At the time, I was doing hair and make up, and also working at a salon. I had time in between clients and thought, I'm just going to do it. I had already started teaching by then and was having SOO much fun teaching brush lettering, modern calligraphy and creating practice guides. And I thought that all of this could go in a book. At the time, there wasn't anything mainstream other than traditional calligraphy. 

So, I started writing this book - and was very pleased with myself! And I'll tell you one thing, while I was pleased with myself, I was also making a lot of mistakes. A LOT. And I didn't find out until later! 

When I finished the book, I started pitching it to publishers. And I thought I did a pretty good job - I'm naturally a bold person so it came pretty easy. And I got quite a bit of interest, but all the publishers wanted me to write something a bit different. Being the stubborn Peggy that I am, I was married to the idea of this specific book. After getting a lot of no-s and no responses, I started looking into doing it myself. 

Ilana: I think it's so important for people to realise what you just said - "no" is going to happen and you either need to be prepared to change your idea or stand up for it, and that self-publishing is such a great option and does not reduce the value of your book by any means.

Peggy: But the end this story is not so fun. I didn't announce my book until right before it was due to release, which drove a ton of interest and traffic. All great so far! However, it was around that time that we got hit with a horrible snowstorm and I didn't get my physical copy of the book early, and when I finally did, my heart dropped. It was horrible quality, and I knew that other people had been getting the book at the same time, too, and it was too late to do anything about it. So, those initial complaints about the book quality, those initial pictures - all of it is still on Amazon. And for a book like this, I needed great quality, which is not what I ended up getting. 

The mistake here, and something to consider if you're choosing to self-publish, is to not rush and make sure the quality is what you want it to be first. There are so many avenues when it comes to self-publishing, and cost is a huge factor. The profit you can make is huge, and is way bigger than if you were to choose a publisher, but editing, marketing, packaging, quality control - it all comes at a cost.

So where am I going with this story? Well, after just a week of my book being published, having received so many no-s, I was inundated with queries from various publishers that wanted to pick up my book and distribute it. 

Ilana: I love this part of your story! At this point, you would have also seen the profit and not really needed a publisher. Your book did well and was so well-received that it made those publishers think. When I pitched my book, I approached a literary agent and they basically told me that I'm not famous enough, that I don't have enough followers, that I'm not an industry leader. But I was determined and my book became an Amazon Best Seller and I'm super proud of it. Still not famous though!

So to anyone out there who wants to write a book and has a story to tell: you're going to get no-s, but you have to stay true to yourself and find a way to put your book out there if you truly believe in it. You will get rejected, but you need to wait to find that right person to come on this journey with you, and it takes time.

Peggy: Right! So after a year and a half of my book being out there, I got approached by a boutique publisher who was working under the umbrella of a publishing house that I really wanted to work with. But they, at least at the time, don't take unsolicited pitches. So I was really excited for this opportunity, it was also a great chance to re-package two of my books and I also ended up writing another one, Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor. This book was my baby and I was sure I would not write another book after that. But here we are...


To anyone out there that wants to publish their first book: remember that you don't need validation, stay true to yourself and your ideas and remember that you have so much to share. Seeing others benefit from what you have to share is the best part of this process! If you want to learn more about self-publishing, working with publishers and literary agents AND listen to the leading industry experts, you simply MUST join the Artist to Author seminar running from January 10 2022 to January 14 2022. It's an event you won't want to miss and an amazing opportunity to hear stories of the most amazing authors and their experience in the publishing world.

See you there!