How to Self-Publish a Historical Fiction Book: A Step-by-Step Guide


Writing a book can be a daunting task, but publishing it can seem even more daunting. The good news is that self-publishing is now more accessible than ever before, and it’s a great option for historical fiction writers looking to share their stories with readers. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about self-publishing your historical fiction book.

Understanding the Historical Fiction Genre

Before you start writing your historical fiction book, it’s important to understand the genre and what it encompasses. Historical fiction is a genre that blends fact with fiction, using real historical events, people, and places to create a story. While the characters and plot may be entirely fictional, they exist within a real historical context, transporting readers to another time and place.

Defining Historical Fiction

One of the defining features of historical fiction is its emphasis on historical accuracy. Historians and history enthusiasts will be quick to pick up on any inaccuracies, so it’s important to do your research and get your facts straight. However, historical accuracy shouldn’t come at the expense of storytelling. As a writer, your job is to balance factual accuracy with creating a compelling narrative that will keep readers engaged.

Historical fiction also provides a unique opportunity to explore the human experience throughout history. By placing fictional characters in real historical events, authors can offer a new perspective on the past and shed light on the struggles and triumphs of people from different time periods.

Popular Themes and Settings

Historical fiction can be set in any time period, but some are more popular than others. For example, many historical fiction novels are set during World War II or the Victorian era. These time periods offer rich opportunities for storytelling, with their distinct social norms, technological advancements, and political upheavals.

Themes in historical fiction can range from romance to mystery, adventure to drama, but they all share a common thread – they take readers on a journey through history. Some authors choose to focus on well-known historical figures, while others prefer to explore the lives of ordinary people during important historical events.

Researching Your Chosen Time Period

Before you start writing, you’ll need to research the time period you’ve chosen for your book. This can involve reading historical texts, visiting museums, or even traveling to historical sites. You’ll need to gain a deep understanding of the social, cultural, and political contexts of the time period, as well as details like fashion, technology, and language usage.

For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction novel set during the American Civil War, you’ll need to research the causes and effects of the war, as well as the daily life of soldiers and civilians during that time. You might read letters and diaries from the period, study photographs and artwork, or visit historical sites like battlefields and museums.

By immersing yourself in the time period you’re writing about, you’ll be able to create a more authentic and engaging story. Readers will appreciate the attention to detail and historical accuracy, and you’ll be able to bring the past to life in a way that’s both informative and entertaining.

Planning and Writing Your Historical Fiction Book

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start planning and writing your book. Here are some key elements to consider:

Creating Compelling Characters

The characters in your book are the heart of your story, and it’s important to give them enough depth and complexity to keep readers engaged. Think about their motivations, goals, and flaws. What is driving them to act the way they do? You’ll also want to think about the relationships between characters and how they change over the course of the book.

For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction book set during World War II, you might create a character who is a young nurse working in a field hospital. She is driven by her desire to help others and make a difference in the war effort, but she also has a fear of losing the people she cares about. As the story progresses, she forms a bond with a wounded soldier and must navigate the challenges of falling in love during wartime.

Developing an Engaging Plot

The plot is the backbone of your story, and it needs to be engaging enough to keep readers turning the pages. Think about the conflicts and challenges your characters will face, and how they will overcome them. Consider incorporating historical events into your plot to add depth and authenticity to your story.

For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction book set during the American Civil War, your plot might revolve around a family torn apart by the conflict. One brother joins the Union army, while the other joins the Confederacy. The family must navigate the challenges of divided loyalties and the dangers of war, all while trying to stay together.

Balancing Historical Accuracy with Storytelling

As we mentioned earlier, historical accuracy is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of storytelling. Strive to strike a balance between accuracy and creative license. Remember, you’re telling a story, not writing a history textbook.

For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction book set during the French Revolution, you might take some creative liberties with the timeline of events in order to create a more dramatic story. However, you should still strive to accurately portray the social and political climate of the time period.

Tips for Writing Authentic Dialogue

Writing dialogue that captures the essence of a historical period can be challenging, but it’s an important element in making your story feel authentic. Consider reading letters or diaries from the time period, and analyze how people spoke and what their slang was. Avoid using modern speech patterns or language.

For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction book set during the Roaring Twenties, you might research the slang and colloquialisms of the time period. You might also read books or watch movies from the era to get a better sense of how people spoke and interacted with one another.

By incorporating these elements into your planning and writing process, you can create a historical fiction book that is both engaging and authentic.

Editing and Revising Your Manuscript

Writing a book is a challenging task, but editing and revising is equally important to make it polished and ready for publication. Editing and revising are essential steps in the writing process that can help you refine your ideas, clarify your message, and improve the overall quality of your work. Here are some tips to help you edit and revise your manuscript:

Self-Editing Techniques

Before you enlist the help of a professional editor, it’s important to do some self-editing. Self-editing can help you identify plot holes, inconsistencies, and anything that needs to be clarified or expanded upon. Here are some self-editing techniques:

  • Set your manuscript aside for a few days or weeks to gain a fresh perspective
  • Read your manuscript out loud to catch errors and awkward phrasing
  • Use a checklist to ensure you’ve covered all the necessary elements in your manuscript
  • Check for consistency in character development, dialogue, and plot

Working with Beta Readers

Beta readers are people who read your manuscript and provide feedback. They can be valuable resources for identifying areas that need improvement and providing constructive criticism. Here are some tips for working with beta readers:

  • Choose readers who are familiar with historical fiction and can provide honest feedback
  • Provide specific questions for your beta readers to answer
  • Consider using a beta reader questionnaire to gather feedback
  • Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve your manuscript

Hiring a Professional Editor

A professional editor can provide objective feedback and help you catch mistakes or inconsistencies you might have missed. Here are some tips for hiring a professional editor:

  • Look for an editor who specializes in historical fiction
  • Check their credentials and experience
  • Ask for references and samples of their work
  • Discuss your expectations and budget upfront

Editing and revising can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but it’s worth the effort to ensure your manuscript is the best it can be. By using self-editing techniques, working with beta readers, and hiring a professional editor, you can improve the quality of your manuscript and increase your chances of success.

Designing an Eye-Catching Book Cover

Once your manuscript is edited and polished, it’s time to design a book cover that will grab readers’ attention. A book cover is an essential part of the book’s marketing strategy. It’s the first thing that a reader sees, and it’s what draws them in. A well-designed book cover can make a huge difference in whether or not your book gets noticed.

Importance of a Professional Cover Design

Your book cover is often the first impression readers will have of your book, so it’s important to make it count. A professional cover design will help your book stand out from the competition. A professional designer knows how to create a cover that not only looks good but also communicates the essence of your book. They can help you create a cover that is both visually appealing and relevant to your book’s content.

Finding a Cover Designer

There are many talented cover designers out there who specialize in creating book covers. You can find them on freelance websites or by asking for recommendations from other authors. When choosing a designer, it’s important to look at their portfolio and see if their style matches your vision for your book cover.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can also use design software to create your own cover. However, keep in mind that creating a professional-looking cover takes time and skill. If you’re not confident in your design abilities, it may be worth investing in a professional designer.

Tips for Creating an Effective Cover

When designing your cover, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. Who are you trying to appeal to? What genre is your book? Choose a color scheme that complements your book’s genre and content. For example, if you’re writing a romance novel, you may want to use soft pastel colors. If you’re writing a thriller, you may want to use darker, more intense colors.

Another important aspect of your cover design is the font you choose for your title. Your title should be easy to read and stand out on the cover. Consider using a bold font that is easy to read from a distance.

Finally, consider incorporating images or symbols that relate to your book’s setting or themes. For example, if your book is set in a small town, you may want to include an image of a small town on the cover. If your book is about a journey of self-discovery, you may want to include a symbol that represents that theme.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a book cover that not only looks great but also effectively communicates the essence of your book. Remember, your book cover is an important marketing tool, so take the time to get it right.