My Personal Path to Self-Publishing by Lisa Kentgen, Ph.D.

When it comes to publishing, deciding which route to take can be a challenge.

For the traditional route, once an author writes a book, they sign on with an agent or publishing house. The author shares a hefty percentage of the sales, in exchange for the agent doing everything involved in getting attention and sales.

A self-publisher keeps all the money — but does everything, including possible hiring of an editor and book designer, buying advertising, etc.

New York City psychologist, Lisa Kentgen, Ph.D., debuted, “An Intentional Life: Five Foundations of Authenticity and Purpose,” June 2018. Here how she went about it…

Cover of, "An Intentional Life" by Lisa Kentgen

Turning down a book contract was a painful decision. My book emphasizes listening to your internal voice. My voice told me I wouldn’t be happy signing a contract that didn’t feel mutual. The morning after making this decision the idea for my next book came to me. I then knew self-publishing was the right path.

Two things were clear. 1) I would create a publishing imprint to house this and future books. 2) I would be intimately part of the process.

Creating a publishing imprint meant establishing an LLC. Its mission is broad enough to cover other professional activities, like public speaking, so that my writing will be an essential part of my professional life.

Photo of author Lisa Kentgen by Todd Estrin Photography
Photo of author Lisa Kentgen by Todd Estrin Photography

There are reputable companies, like Girl Friday Productions, that help authors from concept to final production. I believe they quoted me $16,000. I chose not to go with this sort of company because I had a manuscript that already was far along and, also, it means not taking the lead in creating my team. Establishing my team meant spending hours finding a top quality editor, cover designer, and interior designer.

I was fortunate enough to find a developmental editor who is the vice president of a publishing company. She had me reduce my manuscript by 30%. She told me that while I don’t like telling people what to do (I am a psychologist) – as a writer I needed to be more directive. After a major edit, I hired another editor to polish the final manuscript.

For book design, I chose Reedsy, an online company that has wonderful professionals for hire. Inexpensive cover designs cost around $500. For an experienced, artistic designer it is closer to $1000. My cover designer was so good that I persuaded him to do my interior design which cost about $2000.

I learned the hard way that what makes for a beautiful physical book creates complications for the ebook. (Suggestion: Make a copy of the interior before getting fancy!) Creating the ebook to look like the physical copy proved difficult. I had no way to assess the actual skill level of designers. The first person misrepresented their experience, and I paid $450 for something I couldn’t use. The next person charged $500 and what I wanted took more time than estimated–so we negotiated a higher price.

My experience creating the audiobook with Brickshop Audio in Brooklyn was a pleasure. The audiobook, with production help, costs $250 per finished hour. My 55,000-word book (on ACX) cost $1650.

I recommend my path to authors who enjoy creating a business and who have the time and desire to address countless creative details. It means a lot more work upfront, but having finished products closer to your vision. I am excited to take what I have learned to new ventures!

Quote by Lisa Kentgen: Living with intention you understand that your interests are intimately bound to the well-being of others.

What do you think of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

10 thoughts on “My Personal Path to Self-Publishing by Lisa Kentgen, Ph.D.”

  1. Excellent piece. Excellent advice. I took the same route — set up an imprint, McKeadlit LLC — and have never looked back. The hardest part is marketing, however, today most publishers expect authors to handle a lot of the marketing, so there you go. Self-publishing is the way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this post attentively, as I’m almost certainly going to end up self publishing my books. Lisa Kentgen’s experience and decisions will result in long term success, and I really hope that is her outcome.

    But it also points up the high up front costs of self pubbing, especially if done well, meaning professionally. I think I’m looking at Kentgen spending close to $3000 spent plus the legal costs of founding her publishing imprint LLC and the fees for editing that weren’t disclosed. So while she’ll get to keep the majority of her book’s sales, it well may be many books sold before she realizes profit.

    She’s looking at broad professional applications and long term commitment to her enterprise, likely based on a career already recognized in her industry. While this plan will work for someone as well organized and apparently already in the game with an established professional standing, this would be outsized financial investment for someone like me. I’m unknown and write novels.

    She also has the benefit of being able to find her audience – people who want to improve their lives by committing to intentional choices – and thus targeting the specific self-identified group. I don’t mean to imply that her job is easy, just that she knows who her audience is and can direct marketing to that group.

    Anyone can self publish. Doing it well, meaning creating a professional product, is an expensive undertaking and a long term commitment. Kentgen’s book is only a part of her strategy for a long term business plan. She’s done a great job of identifying exactly what she needs to achieve her goals and I wish her every success in her endeavors.

    Thanks, Daal, for this peek into what self publishing really looks like.

    Liked by 2 people

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