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  • Chatequa Pinkston

Using Self-Publishing as an Advocacy Tool


A woman sitting in wheelchair using a computer.

Putting our stories in book form to educate and inform is a powerful form of advocacy that can extend beyond our personal reach. Self-publishing allows this to be accomplished without high up-front costs.


Sharing our personal experiences as people with disabilities is a form of advocacy. There are many platforms that can be used, including talking to legislators, community members, friends, and family. Another form of advocacy can include writing letters, articles, and books. This article will explore the power and process of self-publishing books.


I am a self-advocate and author who lives with cerebral palsy. I have self-published all of my books on Amazon. One of my most recent books titled “CP-Redefined” allowed me to share my faith and my experience of overcoming the challenges of CP. I have shared some of my other books in countries that I have never visited. This is the power of a book – you can reach people who you may never personally meet.


As an author there are three ways to advocate through self-publishing books:

1.      Tell others your story. Telling your story as an advocate is a powerful way to help readers understand the everyday experiences of someone with a disability. As people grow to understand your life then they better relate to the needs of the disability community.

2.      Teach others how to advocate. As an experienced advocate you can write about your successes and how you achieved your goals. How-to books on topics related to advocacy are a good way to empower other self-advocates.

3.      Tell a fictional story. This can be done in a children’s book, comic book, short story, or novel. Your story can highlight principles which are important to becoming an advocate in a creative way.   

            

Books can be any page length, format, and shape. Most of my books are short – under 100 pages. My first book was 32 pages. A book’s format can be mostly words and others can be picture based. Children’s books and comic books consist of mostly pictures and fewer words. Books come in different shapes and trim sizes. Click here for an article that explains how to choose the best size for your book.


Publishing a book can be done through publishers or through do-it-yourself self-publishing. Large publishers do the work of editing, designing, and printing your book for you. This often requires an upfront payment.


Self-publishing requires you to do the work or find people to help with the process. The biggest benefit of self-publishing is that you can distribute your book without having to purchase hundreds of books and shipping them yourself. These websites print on demand as customers order and do the shipping for you. Every few months you receive a royalty check in your account. While self-publishing overall is more economical than working with a publisher, there will be up-front costs if you pay for editing and help with illustrations.


The process of self-publishing a book has several steps. They are as follows:

1.      Write or draw your content. Most people type their content on a computer. Another option is to tell someone what you would like to write, and they will type it for you. An artist can help you draw the pictures for your book.

2.      Edit your content. This is when you correct the grammar, punctuation, and make sure your sentences make sense. It is always a good idea to get someone to help you with this.

3.      Design your book cover. This can be done using Canva, another graphics computer program, or the cover designer on the platform that you put your book on. Canva will give you room to be more creative.

4.      Format your book. The book format has to do with the way your inside content looks. This includes the chapter headers, page headers, page footers, and margins. It also relates to the size of your book. There are templates available on several publishing websites, including Microsoft Word. Consistency is important to having a professionally designed book. This is a sample video about book formatting in Microsoft Word.

5.      Submitting your book to the platform of your choice. More information on this is available in the next section.


If you do not personally know someone who can help you with any of the above steps, then you can hire someone at fiverr.com or other crowdsourcing sites. Thers are several platforms that can be used for self-publishing, including these well-known websites:

·         Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon. This is beneficial for Kindle format, paperbacks, and audiobooks. There are no upfront fees. Your book is automatically posted on the Amazon website.

·         LuLu.com. Lulu allows you to print different types of books at a low price. This platform posts your book on their website and allows you to connect to other online markets.


Launch My Book has a good comparison of these and other self-publishing options.


Writing is a way to advocate by sharing your story and teaching others how to become self-advocates. Your book can change someone’s life. Write your story because people are waiting to be educated and inspired by you.

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