03 April 2013

My Journey into Self-Publishing

Yeah, okay, so I self-published a book. For the record, I have no problem with self-publishing, EXCEPT when people do it half-assed and expect to make millions. First of all, historically that's not been the case. You have your one or two exceptions, but overall many self-published books are flops. And those that DID make a boat load of money will tell you that they did it RIGHT, and that means they spent a lot of money and paid people to help them get it out right.

So why did I do it? A list:

1. This is not my first book. I've been through the commercial publishing process before, so I KNOW what's supposed to happen.
2. This book is made of two republished short stories. There is a novel that goes with them, and the original publisher never did anything with them, but they are part of a shared universe, so I can't submit them to any other publishers. I have permission to put them out myself, or else they'd never see the light of day, and that would kind of be a shame.  
3. Along with #2, these works have been edited. By myself, by the original series editor, by me again. They may not be perfect, but they're not fresh off the word processor, either. I am not one of those authors who thinks that the publishers 'just don't understand my voice' , nor do I have Golden Word Syndrome. I think there are a good number of self-published authors who turn to self-publishing for these two reasons. And then they get mad when the reviews trash their books. 
4. I'm not planning on making a lot of money with them. I'm not pushing these books. They are mostly for fans to have something else of mine to read, and for me to buy a few copies to take to events, and to even give away free on Kindle once in awhile. It's for FUN. 

IF I were to ever self-publish a work that I really wanted to push, there are several things I would do differently. I would:

a) Hire an editor. Not that these haven't been edited, but if I were publishing a story NOT in a shared universe, I would definitely find a good editor and PAY them. I would also have them help me write back cover copy.
b) BUY an ISBN myself, and give myself a publisher name. I got a free one from Amazon for this one, and they get to be the publisher of record. No biggie for this book, but if I were putting out an original work that I really wanted to push, I would.
c) HIRE a cover artist. I chose Amazon stock art for this first book, and paid a modest fee to iStockphoto for the cover art for the novel (which is almost ready, I just have to finish writing the back cover copy).  I used their flat template too, and would have the artist design one specifically for my book. 
d) I would fill out all the forms for the Library of Congress and register the copyright. I didn't do either this time, because, like I said, these books are pretty much for fun.
You can see that all of these things cost money.  And that's always my point about self-publishing -- if you're gonna do it (and not just for fun), you need to PAY for the things a publisher pays for.  And if you don't have any idea what a commercial publisher does, then you'd better LEARN before you get started.

Now, myself, I have managed to figure out how to format the book for both print and Kindle (which was an ordeal, but now that I've done it, I can do it again and faster), but if you're not tech savvy or don't have the time (and it WAS time consuming), then you're going to need to HIRE someone to do that for you as well. 
On the up side, now that I've done it, I kind of have some insight into what it takes.  CreateSpace/Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing is a good way to go. 

There are some things they don't tell you about Kindle formatting (which I had to find out through the forums), but once you figure them out, it's a piece of cake.

By the way, here's the link to the new book: Wizard Academies: The Kingsbridge Chronicles (paperback) and Wizard Academies: The Kingsbridge Chronicles (Kindle Edition).  You can download a sample from the Kindle edition and check it out! 

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