Self-Publishing: A Pathway to Sharing Your Story

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Compiled by Maribel Steel


Editor’s note: This is part one of a series of posts by VisionAware peers who want to share their experience and advice on the topic of self-publishing. We begin the series with Dave Steele, who has discovered his "voice" through writing poetry. He offers tips on what he has found to be keys to success on his pathway to self-publishing as a person who is visually impaired as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

Self-Publishing Offers the Potential to Be Heard

by Dave Steele

They say that everyone has one good book in them, but it wasn't until I lost the majority of my sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) that I discovered mine. In fact, now, I'm on the verge of releasing my third book of poetry that deals with all aspects of living with a visual impairment. Book three will be my final book in the series and will be released for RP awareness month in February. If I hadn't discovered self-publishing through Amazon's CreateSpace website, then none of it would have been possible.

From Despair to Discovery

As I lost vision, I went through things that will be familiar to many. I lost my independence, my confidence, and my purpose. I became a victim of a flawed support system and felt isolated due to the many misconceptions about visually impaired people. It was then that I discovered my new purpose: a talent for explaining how living with vision loss is for many people in my situation—through poetry!

Dave Steele holding his book, Stand with Me RP

Stand by Me RP

Every day I found new poems spilling out of me, so I created my own Facebook page, Stand By Me RP, as a platform to post them and reach others. The page grew quickly to become one of the largest RP groups in the world. After a year or so, I began receiving requests from the followers of my page to have my poems published in a book.

Impossible Dream to Reality

They told me that the poems had become tools of support. They made them feel like they weren't alone, and my poems helped them explain to others how they felt about their own journey into blindness. Yet, I had no clue whatsoever how I could become a published author to reach others—it seemed like an impossible dream.

The process turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined. Through a recommendation, I was put in touch with a company that specializes in self-publishing. For a flat fee, the publishers could edit, format, and upload my poetry on to the CreateSpace website.

Once uploaded and edited, we set to designing the cover for the book. After I was happy with everything, we submitted all of the poetry to Amazon to be checked. Once that was finished, the book was released via their website. The whole process took only around two weeks. All of a sudden I found myself as a published author!

Print on Demand

There were many benefits to the CreateSpace format, and the way it worked was pretty simple. There were no printing costs, as Amazon supplies an option called "Print on Demand," a service where Amazon takes a commission from the book price to advertise a book via their website. They have an international audience, and they can make the product continuously available.

Words of Advice

Self-publishing websites like Amazon’s CreateSpace certainly offer an easy route to the book market, but my advice is that unless you have an audience or a way of promoting your book yourself, it won't sell.

Also, you don't have the marketing advantages that you would have with a major publisher. For me, however, my audience was growing within the RP and Usher community through word of mouth. In my opinion, that's the key to success with self-publishing.

For me, it’s been incredible. I work every day to help get my poetry discovered by new people, inspired by their daily messages, telling me of the impact my poetry books have made on their lives. Without taking that leap into self-publishing, I wouldn't have realized my outreach and new life purpose.

Tell Us Your Story!

Do you have an experience in self-publishing? Please leave your comment here.

Read Dave's Poetry

Stand by Me RP Volume 1

Stand by Me RP Volume 2

Personal Reflections
Retinitis Pigmentosa

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