A little bit about self-publishing

French Food for Everyone le goûter (after schooll snacks) front cover by Mardi MichelsYou probably already know –  French Food for Everyone: le goûter (after school snacks) is available for purchase as a Kindle book or a print-on-demand paperback NOW! You can find French Food for Everyone on Amazon and don’t forget that this September and October I’ll be donating $1 per copy sold to Community Food Centres Canada!

As many of you know, I’ve self-published this first chapter of what will (eventually) be a complete collection of five chapters. And I’ve had a number of questions (and misunderstandings) about the “what” and “why” of self-publishing so I figured I’d address them here!

Didn’t you publish traditionally last time?

Well, yes I did publish In the French kitchen with kids with a traditional publisher (Penguin Random House). But yes, I am self-publishing this time. Why? Well, it’s simple:

I have (what I think is) a great book idea (maybe it’s not LOL! We shall see!)

For this book, I don’t have a publisher.

I don’t have an agent (never have had one).

So, I know that un-agented manuscripts aren’t typically accepted by publishing houses so I’d need to get an agent, then write a proposal (it can take months for a proposal to be approved by an agent – i.e. one they would be happy to shop around) and then have the agent shop that manuscript around to the various publishing houses. Which can take months and with no guarantee you’ll get a book deal at the end of it all. And if I did, it might be 3-4  years before the book would be published. I’m not getting any younger, so…..

So, when I realised that I really wanted to move ahead with this idea ( January 31st 2021), I decided I was going to go the self-publishing route. On August 31st 2021, I published the first chapter. So much faster than the traditional publishing route and so great to get recipes into people’s hands much sooner! And we’ll just see how it goes!

So, what – you just write your recipes up in Word, add some pictures and do some pretty formatting then make a PDF?

Errr, no. The process for self-publishing is very similar to that of the traditional publishing route. I developed the recipes, shot the images (yup, I did all the photography myself this time), sent the recipes out for testing, re-shot some of the images, shot more (step-by-step) images, commissioned some illustrations and then turned the project over to the wonderful LeAnna Weller Smith of Weller Smith Design.

Design isn’t my thing and I decided from the outset that I would invest some money (I’m lucky to still be receiving royalties from my first book!) into the design piece and I couldn’t have made a better decision. LeAnna walked me through the process that I was somewhat familiar with from the first time around – choosing a “look” (colour palette, fonts and other design features) and then worked her magic. We met for 30-45 minutes once a week between June and the end of August on Zoom and worked together to shape the book until it was *just right*. LeAnna’s agency also took care of formatting the book for Kindle (nope, it’s not just a PDF you upload there) and she walked me through the basics of Kindle Direct Publishing where my self-published books will live. She’s also *there* for me if I have revisions/ updates or other questions.

So, self-publishing vs traditional publishing – any thoughts?

Well, it’s too early to tell in terms of the question people really want to ask (am I earning more per book this way?) but I can tell you that unless you are a whiz at all aspects of publishing, you’re going to have to invest some money in any area of the self-publishing piece that you find a challenge (design, photography, edits etc…) and that you don’t want to spend time learning. So no, self-publishing is NOT free unless you are a Jack/ Jill of all trades (or have the time to learn) and no, I’m not earning the equivalent of the sale price per book (my students think this, so I’m always quick to correct them!). It must be said that with traditional publishing, many authors (me included) invest their own money too (those advances are not always enough to cover the costs of producing a book – photographer/ stylist/ ingredients etc… and you don’t get it all upfront either) so I am interested to see how it all shakes out long-term in terms of the financials.

With self-publishing, I set the prices and I can tell you from the soul-searching I did to set the prices that it’s a delicate balance between wanting something to be a reasonable price and making any money (and hopefully making back what I’ve invested). I hope I got it right this time (but welcome feedback!).

In terms of the process, because this was just one chapter (12 recipes as opposed to nearly 70), this felt so much less stressful (it must be said that I did most of this work over the summer and/ or when I was teaching from home with a much less busy schedule…Covid silver linings!). The chapter-by-chapter approach is definitely more do-able in this sense too.

“I want to wait until you have all the chapters published and buy the whole book.”

Please, don’t! Each chapter that is published is supposed to help fund the next chapter (this might be a pipe dream but hey…). Since each chapter will take 6-9 months to release you will be waiting years and if everyone waits, it won’t be possible to publish each chapter individually (and therefore, no book at all!). My goal is to have recipes in people’s hands sooner so they can get cooking and hey, it might be fun to have a whole collection of books rather than just one big one, right? In any case, please help me get the next chapters out in the world by purchasing them as they release 🙂

How else can I help support the self-publishing journey?

Well thanks for asking! It’s a little daunting to have published a book and then realize that the hard work is JUST starting (i.e. selling the book!).

Search for my book!

It’s super helpful for people to go to the Amazon website in their country and search my name + the title of the book or something similar. So, “Mardi Michels French Food for Everyone” or “Mardi Michels French Food snacks”. Once you see my book in the list, click on it to tell Amazon that this is what you are looking for with that search term! It helps others find the book too.

Leave a review!

If you purchase a book and enjoy it, don’t forget to leave a review. You can review the book on Amazon (where you bought it) or on GoodReads!

Share the love!

If you’ve bought your copy of the book already, tell a friend! Share the book on social media! Like my posts about the book (and save and share them).

Share your photos!

Share your images of what you make from the book on social media, tagging me on Instagram (@eatlivtravwrite), Twitter (@eatlivtravwrite) or Facebook (eat live travel write). Use #frenchfoodforeveryone too!


Thanks so much for reading, I hope you learned a little something about my decision to self-publish and are excited to bake from the book! I hope you love it as much as I loved making it!


Buy my books! In the French kitchen with kids and French Food for Everyone: le goûter are out now! Click here for details and how to order!

Books by Mardi Michels

Like this post? Get blog posts delivered to your inbox! Sign up here!


Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.