Learn how to self-publish with a ‘tester book’

No doubt about it, self-publishing is a formidable task – you’re editing, designing book covers, laying out the text in both paperback and multiple ebook formats, and marketing yourself. And that’s after you’ve actually written the book! Among the best aspects of self-publishing, however, is that you can learn how to do all of this without ever putting a mistake-ridden book before the public.

My advice is to begin by penning a short book of 8000-10,000 words (It can be as a simple as a couple of short stories appearing in the same volume.) that will be easy to handle and inexpensive to work on. This is your “tester book” that you’ll have professionally edited, that you’ll learn how to format, that you’ll write a back cover blurb for, that you’ll create a cover for, that you’ll upload to CreateSpace, and for which you’ll do everything else that needs to be done. Should you make a mistake – odd page numbers appear on the left-handed page, background photo swallows your lettering on the cover, misspellings appear on the Amazon.com page – you always can fix them until the tester book is perfect. After all, no self-published book actually goes before the public until you click the button approving it for sale.

This process is stress-free, as the tester book won’t be judged by others. It’ll also make self-publishing the novel you really want to sell easier to do and of higher quality. Think of it as a walk-through practice before the actual game. The bonus is when done when the tester book, you actually may want to release it!

You would upload it but not actually publish it. so, granted, you’re not fully learning marketing, but part of marketing is writing that back cover blurb and perhaps giving potential readers info about the status of your book via social media (esp. tweeting). The idea is to learn editing, formatting a paperback and an ebook, book cover design, creating an Amazon.com page, and uploading – and failure at any of those steps can sabotage your book no matter how much marketing you do.

Should you decide to publish your tester book, try just one of the formats (such as a Kindle ebook) and master that, then move on to other formats and start marketing. Of course, whenever you publish a book, you want to put it into as many formats as possible, but as this is just a tester book for learning the process – think of it as the sample question at the beginning of the SAT that you answer before actually doing the timed test – don’t stress yourself by trying to do it all at once.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.