Self-Publishing 101


Lots of self-published books to browse at the recent “Self-publishing 101” workshop I conducted

The world of self-publishing has opened up a world of possibility, especially for those of us who simply want to share family stories with our loved ones, or have an idea, but are not willing to jump through the hoops to convince a more traditional publisher of the worth of that idea. I started out learning about self-publishing as a way to help others easily share their family stories.

bookcover screenshot 2012-04-24

My first self-published book, my dad’s family stories, including pictures, family recipes, courtship letters, and so much more

And I received the blessing of gathering a substantial number of our own family stories in the process of creating that first book, the book I wanted to have, to be able to show others what they could do.

In the years since that finishing that first book, I’ve read a lot, met many colleagues who are also involved in self-publishing, and have created a number of books, both for clients, and for myself.

08Blackstone Gorge 2

Cover photo for my first “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” self-published book

But it was when I realized that there was a market for extremely local books about Easy Walks right around the corner from where I live, that the “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” trail guide series was born.

On this journey of self-publishing, I have made life-long friends, gained a new perspective on visiting new places, and had more fun than I could have imagined. Sold a few books along the way as well.

I’ve wondered what the connection was, this self-publishing of local walking books, and my personal history work. And what about my life as a professional storyteller before that?


On our brainstorming Easy Walk at Goat Hill, with Kathryn

And then I had a brainstorming walk (an Easy Walk, of course!) with Kathryn Parent, staff  member at Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge. She and I came up with a program to invite families to come for an easy walk, then return to the Visitor’s Center to create story books about something each person saw, heard, thought about, or imagined. Kathryn was so helpful in providing a place to host the program and was resourceful in preparing the supplies she had ready for the participants. I mostly acted as cheerleader and photographer.


Heading out on our adventure before returning to create our own books

With the structure of the program we suggested, no age limit was needed. Children who could speak coherently could dictate their story to adults (or others) who could write their story down.


Parents and kids worked together to create their own story books

What a joy to see pairs of people working on their stories after our hike. We’ve planned a series of these events, and I expect the experience will be different each time, since weather, trail conditions, and participants are likely to all be different as well.

And this has what to do with self-publishing? Perhaps mostly that you never know the path your life will take if you step out into the world with an idea for a book that you bring to reality and then share.

group pic

Checking out the multiple examples of self-published books at the workshop

During the self-publishing workshop I conducted, it was exciting to talk with a group of women who gathered in Mansfield to talk about this topic. Each person brought skills and experiences to the group that they shared. We had lots (and lots!) of self-published books for the group to check out, to see the possibilities that are available. And we had a lot of fun as well.

I’m working on yet another Easy Walks book right now, getting maps to trailheads sketched out, making sure the maps are as clear as possible, to be useful tools in helping readers learn about areas they might not have known about, right around the corner from where they live. And once this book is done, it will be a tool for opening doors, making friends, helping people realize the possibilities that are waiting for them, right around the corner from where they live.

Do you have a “Great Idea” just waiting to be turned into a book to share? If so, we really need to talk.


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

10 responses to “Self-Publishing 101

  1. Mary Chitty

    sounds like a great workshop=- fun to read about and will be good to share as well. love mg

    Mary Chitty MSLS Library Director & Taxonomist cell 617 861 7410 work 781 972 5416 Cambridge Healthtech, Needham MA

    On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 4:33 PM, Marjorie Turner Hollman wrote:

    > marjorie561 posted: ” The world of self-publishing has opened up a world > of possibility, especially for those of us who simply want to share family > stories with our loved ones, or have an idea, but are not willing to jump > through the hoops to convince a more traditional publ” >

  2. Always a great read! I can’t wait to check out the book. If & when you’re get to this point in reading I would love more info self-publishing!

  3. Emily Raper

    Excellent post. I can definitely use a few of these tips as I am trying to self publish in the future.

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