I Self-Published My Poetry Book

Photo by XOXO Sarai Photography

I cannot remember when exactly I decided I wanted to publish a poetry book; however, it’s been a dream of mine for quite some time. And that’s how these things go, it starts with an idea, then you look for how to do it, you do the work, and BOOM, you’re an overnight success. Haha, just kidding, not in this industry; I’ll explain a little later.

I knew I wanted to self-publish over traditional because I wanted more control over the book. Nonetheless, I researched traditional publishers who accept poetry submissions, and I was going to choose one, but when I returned, the website wasn’t working anymore. Not sure what happened with that.

The process took about five years, from the time I started writing these poems to publication. I believe I started writing in late 2016 or maybe early 2017. During this time, I was going through a difficult period in my life, and writing was therapeutic for me. While writing, I was drawing closer to God and going to therapy, which is why the start of the book is dark and sad. But the book goes through the hurt, healing, and overcoming process.


You can say that I haven’t stopped writing because I still write poetry, but when I finally sat down and decided to organize the poems in the order I wanted them to appear, it was 2020. Not all the poems made it to the book; once I hit page 200, I felt the book was long enough. I then asked my aunt, who is an artist, if she would do the pictures for the poems. She said yes!

It took over a year to organize all the poems and send them to my aunt. Her part took about a year too. So, that brings us to 2022. I decided to go with the self-publishing company IngramSpark because, from my research, I saw they had a worldwide book distribution option to retailers.

IngramSpark has the option to design your whole book with them. You upload your manuscript in PDF format, and they have a book cover design tool. I didn’t use the book cover option with them, but since the book cover I submitted didn’t align with the dimensions needed, they sent a template for me to use, which I forwarded to my aunt, who fixed it. I liked that they responded quickly to any edits made to the book. They then send you a PDF version of the book for you to review and approve.

Once you approve the PDF version, you can order an author’s copy to see how the book will look. One thing I forgot, I didn’t know that the fonts had to be embedded, so I received an error when I first submitted my manuscript, and I had to figure out how to embed the fonts. Thank God for YouTube and my husband because I was getting frustrated.

While setting up your book, you set up your pricing, and IngramSparks will calculate everything for you to see how much your return will be. Because IngramSparks is the distributor, they take their cut, and of course, the retailers take their cut too, and you’re left with the rest. I didn’t want to set the price too expensive, but the prices I was putting in gave me a negative return. I settled for $19.99, and the return is not much back. I am not in this for money, which is why I said earlier this industry is not a get-rich industry, unless you’re famous because you already have a following. This has to be a passion of yours, a love for the art of writing, and wanting to share your story/words because the amount of work, time, and investment you put into it isn’t compensated with money. To me, as long as people enjoy my work, can connect with it, and it helps at least one person, it’s all worth it.

The publication date I set was July 22nd, about a month after I approved the book. This gave me time to develop a marketing plan, and if I had to make any changes, I could. I did end up having to make edits, and each edit you submit after you approve is $25. I didn’t announce the book until after July 22nd because I wasn’t sure which retailers were going to pick the book up. And I had my book photoshoot scheduled for July 23rd, and I wanted to use those pictures for marketing.


On July 22nd, at around five in the morning, I googled my book, and three retailers had it, Barnes and Noble, Target, and Book Depository. I wanted to scream with excitement, but my son had finally gone back to sleep, and I didn’t want to wake him up, but I couldn’t believe that Barnes and Noble had it for sale.

I’ve had a few people ask me how the process was because they, too, want to publish a book. I am willing to help anyone interested or answer questions they may have. I’m no expert; I can only go based on my experience; however, if I did it, you can too!

With Love, Heidy

This post was originally published on Medium.com

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