Whatever time I lost working on my books in August, I’m making up for now. I spent a number of hours on a binge-formatting streak last night, knocking out 481 pages and 41 chapters of The Lion Vrie; my Proofies should be receiving it in less than 14 hours as I finish up my “From the Author” segment.
I wanted to share some of my self-publishing experiences with you in those hopes that other would-be authors will be inspired at publishing their own books.
As most of my readers know, I have cordially parted ways with my legacy (or traditional) publishers for the frontier of self-publishing. Reasons being: maintain 100% creative control, faster turn-around time of books, higher royalties on both print and ebooks, ease and feasibility of restriction-free social marketing, and the fact that it’s the author who generates and maintains a fan base – not the publisher (ie marketing).
In prepping Rise of the Dibor, Book 1 of The White Lion Chronicles, I made a list of most of the major tasks I encountered along the way:
1.) Resurrected the original Word.doc manuscript, made sure it was as clean and presentable as I could make it.
2.) Scouted and secured a freelance editor, Sue Kenney, negotiating a contract for all three books based upon my satisfaction of a sample editing of 5 chapters. (She’s fantastic).
3.) Researched the present field of POD (Print On Demand) and ebook formatting businesses; settled on Amazon’s CreateSpace as offering the most consistent and professional services, as well as being the giant in print and ebook distribution. Setting up an account is free, and there are no upfront costs. Aside from electing a few of their services (2 of which I describe below), you could easily upload your interior and exterior PDFs and publish a book completely free.
4.) Began work on cover design. Developed numerous covers myself, and asked a few friends to submit ideas, too. Finally settled on a design submitted by Christopher & Allan Miller. Gave them permission to go ahead and do the full spreads of all three books. It’s been a fun collaborative process. The stellar series logo was done by Jason Clement.
5.) Once the corrected manuscript was returned (using Track Changes feature in Word), I forwarded a PDF version to my Proofies. I sent them a fun introductory email, and gave them 7 days to send me edits via email.
6.) Realizing that having 10+ people send you corrections and suggestions – a large portion overlapping – is a lot of data to process, my friend Nathan Reimer suggested I set up a GoogleDoc spreadsheet for Proofies to submit changes to in real-time, not bothering to post duplicates, and allowing me to post questions if need be. It’s worked like a charm and saved many hours of work for me.
7.) Midway through this process, it became apparent that Adobe’s InDesign would be a better application to format a novel in. The control is far greater, but as a result, so is the learning curve. Allan and Jason both helped a great deal with tutoring me.
8.) I used CreateSpace’s handy “help” features to get the exact specs for my book (I chose a fairly standard 6″x9″), which included template generators for the cover (takes into account the estimated number of pages for the width of the spine), and a sample interior Word template (which I obviously did without once we went with creating an InDesign template).
9.) The brand new (and super cool) interior PDF was then resubmitted to my Proofies for a read through, mostly focusing on formatting issues. Again, the GoogleDoc spreadsheet helped facilitate this very smoothly.
10.) I made finishing touches to the final cover spread, and uploaded a CMYK jpeg to CreateSpace’s step-by-step processing path.
11.) A number of final improvements were made to the general formatting of the manuscript, including a quick phone call to CreateSpace’s outstanding customer support line, and it was officially submitted earlier today.
12.) I set up the “marketing channel” selections in CreateSpace, which included creating your own eStore for your books. I was able to design and upload a custom header and background with some trial and error (shown above). You easily set the price of the print book (based on figures they calculate on how much your book will be to produce), and then select what venues you want the book published to, from Amazon.com to retail stores to schools and non-profits. I’ll be rolling out the eStore announcement as soon as the print version of ROTD is proofed and put into production by CreateSpace.
13.) The two services I’ve decide pay for are CreateSpace’s Pro Plan (one time $39/title, $5/per year) which gives you a higher percentage, lower book cost when ordering your own copies, and gets it into more retail stores. I’m also paying $69 to have CreateSpace do all the Kindle formatting for me (as that’s another learning curve I just don’t have the time for; plus, they are Kindle, so they’re going to get it right the first time). I anticipate the ebook version to come about 2 weeks after the print version is ready.
Feel free to ask me any specific questions below; I’ll be sure to answer you as best I can.
Last but not least, the formation of Spearhead Books transpired somewhere in this creative mess. Lots of phone calls, Skyping, emails, and tweets were exchanged by who are now the founding members of Spearhead: Christopher & Allan Miller, Wayne Thomas Batson, and yours truly. We prefer to think of ourselves as a post-publisher.
Now off to write that section from the author. ch: