The author Han-Son Lee writes about his self-publishing journey for a blog for the book PR agency, Palamedes PR

Learning, Failing and Learning Again: the trials and tribulations of a self-published author


Han-Son Lee is the founder and CEO of DaddiLife, a dedicated parenting hub that offers the UK’s largest online repository of informative articles to help fathers learn, grow and celebrate their roles. Its comprehensive guide for new dads and dads-to-be, You’re Going to Be A Dad! The New Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy and the First Year of Fatherhood (2021), won widespread media acclaim.

After now self-publishing his 10th book, Han-Son reflects on his experiences in this exclusive blog post for Palamedes. In it, he emphasizes the value of learning from failure, the importance of prioritising audience needs and product quality, and the enduring stigma against self-published authors in traditional publishing circles.

“I started self-publishing in May 2021, in the midst of the first lockdown, as a way to solver more modern-day dad problems in greater depth.

I had already been running a website for dads called DaddiLife, which in the eight years since launching has grown to be the UK’s largest content platform for modern day dads. However, it always struck me that there was only so much we could really get into on the site for dads in, say, 1,000 words (which was our typical article length). So self-publishing really felt like a very natural extension to the platform and a way for us to look at specific dad areas more purposefully.

We started small and released a couple of books that were really focussed on kids and dads. We then had the pleasure of working with Palamedes on You’re Going To Be A Dad! The New Dad’s Guide To Pregnancy and The First Year of Fatherhood. It was one of our most impactful books to date. It was the first ever pregnancy book for dads that drew on the experiences of a whole community of dads. To this day, it’s still the most comprehensive book on modern day fatherhood from pregnancy through to the first year. What really made the book stand out is that we worked with over 50 dads and dads-to-be to get their own stories which added a huge amount of reliability and diversity.

Pregnancy for dads is a growing space, and we knew that as more and more dads really leaned into wanting to know more about first time dad tips and related areas, DaddiLife needed to create a real resource for the depth of learning that dads wanted to have, beyond clichés like ‘just don’t forget to put the beers away.’

We’ve since followed it up with a number of books, including educational books like Growth Mindset for Kids, which we see as a vital skill area ahead for children and families in the modern age.

So what have I learned?

DaddiLife’s first book, published in mid-2021, provides the experience and in-depth knowledge needed for first time fathers. It addresses the real challenges that new dads and dads-to-be go through, and provides the answers at every step of the way – from conception and early scans, being ready for the delivery room and birth, and navigating life across the first full year with your baby.

1. I’ve failed…a lot

When you become a self-published author, you become CEO of your books brand – that is, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Editing Officer. You will need to prioritise time accordingly across every facet of publishing – and it’s something I failed at a lot initially.

Why? Because I didn’t give enough time to the key areas, book SEO in particular. This meant I didn’t really understand how I could get more reviews, which in turn impacted my first couple of book launches. But I learned from the experience and made sure I tried to keep refining the publishing process.

It’s still an area where everyday I learn more.

2. Always focus on the product and audience.

Before publishing anything new, the DaddiLife editorial team asks two straightforward questions: “Why does [insert subject here] need to be in book form?” and “Can our proposed audience find the information we intend to publish somewhere else?”

These are simple questions, but in a world of mass content across website, video, social, and just about every other format, the battle for attention is more competitive than ever. Writing a book for a specific audience and ensuring it contains unique content is crucial because it provides clarity, trust and value amidst the overwhelming amount of information available on the internet, much of which may be conflicting (or incorrect). By tailoring the book to a specific audience, authors can address their unique needs, interests, and challenges more effectively, offering targeted solutions and insights. Books like ours also incorporate unique perspectives, research, and personal stories, which distinguish our titles from existing resources.

3. How much are you prepared to change your book?

A book in the self-publishing realm takes an awful lot to get out there, and it’s always a huge sense of relief and joy when it is out and available to read. But that doesn’t mean the journey is over or that the book can’t be changed once it is published. We’ve changed book covers and content based following reader feedback – and we’ll undoubtedly do so again – because it improves the quality and relevance of our work. Feedback (including criticism) isn’t always easy to hear but it provides valuable insights into areas where a book may fall short or could be enhanced. By incorporating this feedback, rather than dismissing it, authors can address any issues, correct errors, clarify confusing points, or update information, ultimately enhancing the overall reader experience. What’s more, making retrospective changes demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement, which can in turn lead to more positive reviews.

This isn’t always an easy lesson to learn – it was something I struggled with myself – but authors must learn to take criticism on the chin and go again to make it better.

4. Equal Voices, Unequal Treatment: Self-Published Authors and the Struggle for Recognition

I’ve learned a lot about how self-published authors are viewed and treated compared to traditionally-published ones. In my experience, bookstores and others in the industry still look down on self-published authors. But in today’s digital world, self-published authors bring fresh ideas and energy that could benefit traditional outlets. Until the industry changes its attitude, it’ll stay stuck in its old ways.

Here’s hoping that can change in 2024 and beyond.

Just for Dad and Me, a Father & Daughter Keepsake Journal, by DaddiLife.

Han-Son Lee is the CEO of DaddiLife, the UK’s largest online community resource hub for dads.

It has published 10 books, including Just for Dad & Me, left, all of which are available on Amazon.

For further information about DaddiLife, visit its website:

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