Saturday, September 23, 2023

The ABCs of Self-Publishing Jobs by SCARY-O-TYPED author, Susan Pless


Today I have a special treat for you. My long-time SCBWI-Carolinas friend, Susan Pless, recently self-published her debut picture book. I challenged Susan to create the ABCs of self-publishing and she rose to the task. Here's the book that her illustrator--her daughter Hannah Smith created. It really brings this unique Halloween book to life!

But first, a word about the story:

Scary-O-Typed!  (HOWLO HOUSE, 2023) is a rhyming, spooky story of kindness and friendship for children ages 3 to 8.  This children's picture book follows a brave trick-or-treater on Halloween night through the creaky doors of a house rumored to be haunted by monsters.  After she encounters a ghost, a witch, a vampire, and a mummy, the stereotypes are broken.To her surprise, they are not scary at all but instead, need her help. In a fun twist, at the end of the night, she receives a whole lot more than a SCARE!

Order a copy here for your favorite trick-or-treater.

A to Z Jobs of Self-Publishing: Suggestions for Success

Creating a successful self-publishing venture requires much more than a manuscript and the desire to publish on your own. A traditional publishing company has a dedicated team to cover a wide range of roles. When self-publishing, you make up most if not all of the team. Although I am still new on this self-publishing journey, here is a list of jobs that I have added to my writing resume.

A is for Author

Write, revise, and edit your manuscript and maintain creative control over the work you have crafted.

B is for Business Owner

Start your own publishing company to publish your book. The steps involve choosing a business structure (usually an LLC), registering the business, obtaining an EIN, and setting up a business account. It can add credibility, protect assets, and provide a means to publish books for others as well.

 C is for Copyright Filer

Although authors own the copyright to their work when written, register the copyright to your book in the United States to provide added protection against infringements.

D is for Designer

Before printing, decide what you want for your book: size, look, cover (soft or hard), colors. In a crowded market, you want your book to stand out and flow smoothly from page to page. Each page and spread needs to connect seamlessly to the next and create a sense of coherence. 

E is for Editor

In order to ensure clarity and coherence, refine your manuscript before printing. Beta readers can provide valuable feedback and professional editors are a must.

F is for Formatter

Format your book properly before it goes to print and enlist help if needed. Whether making decisions with the page bleeds, covers, or spine, formatting can be one of the most complicated jobs. I was lucky to have an illustrator who worked closely with me.

G is for Graphic Designer 

Beyond the cover, you will want to design marketing materials such as banners, business cards, social media graphics, and your website.

H is for Head of Editorial 

After all of the edits are done, ensure the quality and integrity of the published book as a whole.

I is for ISBN Purchaser

Purchase an ISBN from the United States ISBN Agency to simplify the distribution of your book to bookstores, online retailers, and libraries.

J is for Juggler

Sharpen your juggling skills. In the realm of your self-publishing journey, you will face multiple tasks and responsibilities while managing time and resources.

K is for Keywords Researcher 

Carefully select keywords. Book discoverability can be improved through search engines and algorithms. Someone at Wix helped me to improve my discoverability.

L is for Layout Designer

In addition to the written story, format interior items such as page breaks, copyright page, author/illustrator page, and end sheets. Again, ask for assistance from your illustrator and/or printer if needed.

M is for Marketing Manager 

Implement marketing strategies to promote your book to your target audience. In addition to your website, this can be done on social media sites, at events, at bookstores, through local newspapers or television, by entering reputable contests, and by writing online or print articles.

N is for Narrator

If you are venturing into storytelling or audiobooks, turn your story into an engaging listening experience as a dynamic narrator.

O is for Outreach Coordinator 

In order to generate buzz and reviews for your book, reach out to book reviewers, bloggers, and influencers. Book reviews prior to publishing can be used on the back cover or dust jacket.

P is for Proofreader

Review and correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors in your manuscript before publication.

Q is for Quality Assurance Inspector

Before the final print, inspect everything. What costs in time saves in the future.

R is for Researcher

Research all printing options before publishing. There are reputable companies but plenty of scammers. Be cautious of publishers or printing companies who may charge large fees in addition to your printing costs. There are many companies who are ready to take advantage of your desire to publish your book.  The print-on-demand option (such as Lulu, IngramSpark, and BookBaby) can make it easier to get into larger bookstores but may have quality and customer service issues. The printer-only option may limit you in bookstores to consignment but provides higher quality and more freedom with design. In order to make the best decision, request a sample book (if available), decide what is important to you, keep a spreadsheet of all information for comparison, and always read the fine print.

S is for Sales Representative

Be ready to pitch your book to bookstore owners, librarians, and shop owners to secure distribution and sales agreements. 

T is for Trademark Expert

Before publishing your book, make sure that there are no trademark infringements. You can trademark logos or names to prevent future issues. 

U is for Underwriter

Assess the financial viability of publishing your book. You don’t want your dream to turn into a nightmare.

W is for Writer

Write. Write. Write.


My alphabet of jobs ends here for now but my work continues, not just with this book but the next. In the world of self-publishing, it takes dedication and hard work. Never hesitate to reach out for help with any job along the way. The true reward is seeing your story in the hands and hearts of the reader.

Susan Pless and Hannah Smith

Check out this article about this mother/daughter team!


I have an autographed copy of SCARY-O-TYPED for one of you. Leave me a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by September 27. If you share this on social media or sign up for my blog, I'll put your name in twice. U.S. addresses only. 


Danielle Hammelef won a hardcover copy of The Impossible Girl and Emily Weitz won the E-book from last week's giveaway. 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL: A Middle-Grade Fantasy reviewed by Guest Blogger, Georgie Bartlett and 2 Giveaways!

The Impossible Girl (Monarch Books, 2022) by Ashley White is a beautifully written middle-grade novel. Fans of Harry Potter and Narnia will adore this magical story about a young girl who accidentally finds her way into the whimsical world of Xarcadia.


Ava Marie Jones is what the citizens of Xarcadia call a Lost One, meaning her parents sent her out at birth into the mortal realm, where she was adopted by an uncharitable family. One stormy night, Ava decides she must get away, and flees to the comfort of her familiar haven: the Cathedral Tree. Ava climbs into the tree, when, unexpectedly, the old, tangled roots beneath her give way and she plummets down into darkness. She soon finds out that she has just landed in Xarcadia, a society filled with supernatural beings. There is so much mystery surrounding Ava’s birth and powers, that the entirety of Xarcadia is in an uproar over her sudden arrival.  

On top of the exhausting, constant speculation of the public and struggling to comprehend the inexplicable occurrences of the day, Ava finds out that her new school, Linhollow Academy, will be hosting an annual event called the Lost One’s Ball. Here she will have the opportunity to meet her birth parents for the first time in thirteen years. But, on the night of the ball, when a tragedy occurs, Ava must decide if she should investigate, or focus on her studies and her school’s upcoming annual Assembly Games.  

The friend group in this book was made up of extraordinary characters who were fun to read about. Characters are such an important part of a novel, and I can honestly say that everyone in this fantasy is wonderfully portrayed. Ava is so considerate; it is refreshing to see. Not since I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, have I found a middle-grade fantasy novel with such a lovable cast of characters.  

Ava makes a good role model for young readers ages ten and older and a relatable one for teens. I believe this will be a book that will spark a love for reading, as well as a fun adventure for anyone who loves middle-grade books.


Ashley White made Xarcadia feel real. This clean middle-grade book with friendship, and magic, has unique takes on the classic fantasy elements we know and love. For example, I loved reading and learning about the beautiful mythological creatures—especially the Kelpies. “For within the lake were large,  bronze boats attached to the backs of horse-like creatures. The creatures had the appearance of Clydesdales—if Clydesdales were fifty feet tall and had silver, scale-like skin that shimmered like diamonds in the sunlight.” These creatures were incredibly interesting and mystical, and the world-building was spectacular.  


The book starts out with a prologue that grabs your attention from the very start and keeps it until the epic climax. In the end, there were twists and turns, which made it an exciting conclusion to an excellent story. It would be a wonderful choice for a book club, and so fun for a discussion. I kept wanting to find out what was going to happen to Ava, and I highly recommend this book for all middle-grade fans. Going on this thrilling adventure with Ava was such a pleasure, and I hope others will enjoy reading it as much as I did.  

Click here to read a sample.

For another excellent review by teen reader, Georgie Bartlett, click here.



Georgie Bartlett is a teen living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her family and two mischievous rescue dogs. She enjoys writing, crocheting, journaling, gardening, playing the drums, and above all, reading. 


Monarch Educational Services is giving away a paperback copy and an E-book of The Impossible Girl to two readers. That means even if you don't live in the U.S., you can still win a book. Please leave a comment by September 20 along with your email address if you are new to my blog. Share this on social media and I'll put your name in twice--just let me know where you shared it.


Esther Bandy won When Mama Grows With Me from last week's blog.


Make sure you check out other great middle-grade books on Greg Pattridge's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday blog.


The ABCs of Self-Publishing Jobs by SCARY-O-TYPED author, Susan Pless

Introduction Today I have a special treat for you. My long-time SCBWI-Carolinas friend, Susan Pless , recently self-published her debut pict...