How I became a self-published author

Alice Okunowo is a current English Language and Communication student here at Herts and a self-published author. Alice released her first book ‘When I reminisce and reflect’ in 2020, and has now launched her second book, ‘Sensitive Souls’. Read on to find out more about how Alice became a self-published author.

I’m with a self-publishing company, New Generation Publishing, who have published both of my books including my new book, ‘Sensitive Souls’ which talks about love, loss and grief. In detail, the book explores the following ideas and feelings:

  • Going through the motions – poetry that focuses on depression and grief and how it can affect a person.
  • To love and be loved – poems which are focused on what love is, how someone can be loved and my ideas about romance.
  • Through vulnerability comes strength - these poems are focused on recovery, how there is light at the end of the tunnel, how you don’t have to stay in the same spot, how there are ways to move forward and how there is room to grow and blossom.

I found my publishers, New Generation Publishing, when I searched on the internet for self-publishing companies. I emailed them to enquire about their services and said what I wanted in return. I told them that I wanted to publish my book with the company, and they just told me to send my manuscript and which package I wanted to choose to promote the book and it just went from there.

In terms of the publication process, it is quite simple - I compiled my manuscript, which included all my poems in the order I wanted them and how many poems I wanted in the book, as well as the chapter names. I also attached the front cover and blurb and sent all these components over to the company’s production team. The cover of my book was illustrated by my friend Shanaz, who I met at Herts, and another friend I met through Instagram, Sadgi.

Once I sent everything to the production team, there were emails back and forth for a couple months, discussing any changes I wanted such as tweaks to the poem stanzas. The production team converted the manuscript, cover and blurb to a PDF file and then sent it to print. This meant my book became physical so it could be sent to various stores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones etc. 

I’m still learning when it comes to marketing and how self-publishing works so I can’t give any professional advice, but I’d say that as long as you’re happy with your book, how it looks and the content inside of it, then that’s all that matters.

My top tips

  1. If you have a dream, go for it! You are capable of achieving great things!
  2. Writer’s block can happen to anyone, big or small. It happens to me a lot. Learn to take a step back and prioritise your mental health and come back to practicing your writing when you feel ready and take it day by day, little by little, don’t rush.
  3. Have trusted friends, family, mentors, and teachers to look at your work and give you feedback on what can be improved.

The Cure vs the Pain – a poem from ‘Sensitive Souls’

dear old notebook, 

you are the cure.

my penned words burned deep with smeared ink. 

from the sweet notes of autumn to the elation of summer, 

to the melodies of autumn, to the freezing cold of winter. you are my freedom.

you are my escape from reality amongst the field of wildflowers.

my innermost thoughts and emotions spilled out all 

over you.

without you, i would have no outlet.

i would instead hold my feelings under lock and key for nobody to see,

for me to sink into nothingness.

but with you, i have hope and faith - both in sunshine and in shadow.

i am a supernova of beautiful moments, thanks to you. 

i keep holding on, with love and light, because of you.

dear old depression,

you are the pain, 

you give me hell.

you cripple me at times. 

you stifle me at times.

you make it hard for me to stop the overflowing tears 

at times.

you rub salt into the wounds and make it unbearable for me to stand back up.

you try your very hardest to put me down.

but i will make sure you will not have a permanent hold over me.

and soon you will no longer cling to me like moths to honeysuckle in the night-time.

Written by Alice Okunowo, current BA (Hons) English Language and Communication student.

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed here, please contact the Student Wellbeing team or call our free 24/7 wellbeing helpline.


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