Back in 2019, my historical mystery, A Death at Tippitt Pond, came out in ebook and print copy from a small publisher who later added an audiobook. Recently, I had the rights to the ebook and print copy reverted to me. What does that mean? While I own the copyright and always will, I signed a contract to have that company publish the book, distribute, and sell it. Now, however, I’ve decided to publish, distribute, and sell it myself. The publisher reverted all rights to me except for the audiobook contract, which continues. So, I’m free now to self-publish this title.

Over the past thirteen years, I’ve become what’s called a hybrid author. Some of my books are published by contract with publishers. For instance, Level Best Books publishes my Art Center Mysteries. However, my Endurance Mysteries are all self-published. They began with Five Star Publishing, who eventually closed its doors. Then they reverted the rights to me for the two books they’d published.

A Death at Tippitt Pond began its road to self-published status a couple of months ago. Self-publishing involves collaboration—which I love—money changing hands, and a sense of accomplishment. It also means I make the decisions about my own work.

First, I went through the entire manuscript, polishing here and there, and fixed a few spots that could use a bit of refurbishment. Once I was satisfied with the book, I began the steps to make re-publishing happen.

Next, I needed ISBN numbers for both the print and ebook copies. I could let Amazon use their own ASIN numbers, but that would mean those numbers would only be good on Amazon. And I’d like to keep track of the ID for the book so if I sell it in other places or in bookstores where they scan the ISBN number, I’m good. You can buy ten ISBN numbers from Bowker for $295. They are the international standard to identify books. So, I filled out the lengthy information for Bowker, they approved, and we’re good to go.

Next, it was time to have a new cover made for my book. It would be the same cover for both ebook and print copy. I hired a fantastic cover artist, Karen Phillips, of Phillips Covers. I’ve collaborated with her before, and her covers are inspirational, perfect for the story, and intriguing. She read my brief summary of the book and called me so we could chat about ideas. Then she produced several covers, and I asked for some small modifications on the one I liked best. No problem.

She added the back cover with my text and the logo of my self-publishing company. The State of Illinois recognizes me “doing business as” Prairie Lights Publishing. This way, they can keep track of me and get their pound of flesh in the form of sales taxes each January. Karen has never disappointed me with her artistic talent. She’s brilliant.

The formatting came next. You can’t simply type a manuscript and have it look like a final book. Someone must format it so it will work in both a print copy and ebook. Tarra Thomas’s Indie Publishing Services is my formatter and, again, I’ve been delighted to work with her in the past and present. She has a sense of humor that makes me laugh throughout the process. She asked questions, designed the final book with the spine measured by the number of pages, and uploaded it to Amazon for me. The latter job saves me a great deal of swearing.

An example of a glyph

She’s amazingly professional. I love her formatting and the elegant glyphs she uses to begin and end chapters. Tarra sent me a formatted copy, which I proofread. It’s always perfect on her end. My end, well, not as much. Once we agreed that it was ready, Tarra sent it off to Amazon and set up the page where you see the book cover and the description. Then I received an email from Amazon saying we are good to go. Fantastic. The link to find it is

This is the process. When I began writing books, I literally knew nothing about the business of publishing a mystery. I’ve learned so much over this past decade, and people like Karen and Tarra have helped me explore the intricacies of putting out a polished product. I’m so excited to see this book have new life.