If your are considering self-publishing, the doors are wide opening. But . . . are you ready to become a publisher? As a newly self-published author, I hope to share what happened to me.
I did it!
My debut novel Cursed by Athena is now an eBook and in print, available on Amazon. Ingram Spark is distributing the eBook version to everywhere else. Doesn’t that sound good?
“What do I need to know?” you ask. “What can I expect when I self-publish?”
I went to all the workshops, seminars, and how-to talks about self-publishing. But, going through the process, I didn’t feel ready. It was exciting and scary at the same time. I thought, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. You mean, I have to learn about publishing? I want to be a writer, not a publisher.” I guarantee you will at some point think or say that. That’s okay. You’ll get over it.
All the anxiety I went through—the pulling of hair, fear of failure to publish because of ineptitude, sleepless nights worrying about how to do a copyright page etc.—was worth it. To help you enjoy the self-publishing experience, here are several things to keep in mind.
You will conduct all your business online.
Most of you are breathing a sigh of relief because this is how you work and communicate. Great! If conducting business online scares you, then remember me. If I can do it—never having done more than ordering online or friendly emailing—you can do it. Take it one step at a time. Don’t fret like I did about everything still to come or agonize whether you will know how to do it. It doesn’t help. The more you conduct your business online, the easier it gets.
Be prepared to learn and be open to change.
Embrace it! Like me you will become the newest self-published expert! The biggest change for me was conducting all the business of publishing online. Sometimes I was frustrated I couldn’t pick up the phone and just talk to someone. One company I worked with didn’t even offer a phone number. You know what? I managed! I learned to navigate their website. A couple of times my frustration became overwhelming when I needed an answer—until I found the answer clearly spelled out on a page I eventually found. After that, I began to trust the process. I liked the photos on the websites of the people working with me. It helped that I could visualize the individuals behind the emails. Until I published my book, all my business has been conducted in person or by talking on the phone. Now, I’m proud I didn’t get to use the phone! It’s proof I can conduct business online.
There are companies out there that will edit your manuscript, format it, and design the book cover.
Before you start self-publishing, research various companies, read their reviews, and carefully consider the cost. The technical aspects of publishing can be daunting. For example, I felt like I was lost in the weeds when it came to formatting. I learned there are separate formats for everything: print; eBooks; different book cover formats for print, eBooks, and Audible; and different formats for different retailers (Mobi, Epub, POD using KDP specs). See what I mean. To me, that was the worst of it. Now when you encounter these alien-sounding terms, it won’t be so scary. Also, start thinking about trim sizes. Take a ruler and measure different books in your library. That’s all there is to it. My trim size is 9 x 6. Both the companies I used advised me to use this size because of the number of pages (390). You select the trim size for the print cover after the formatting, based on number of pages.
A separate company built my website.
Retailers and reviewers expect you to have a website for marketing. Maybe you’ve built a website before and this is no big deal. Guess what? I was once more in totally foreign territory Initially, the company I used contacted me by phone. I liked that! The good people who built my website brought my stress level down by advising me about the publishing process as well. I chose a company that specifically designs websites for authors. I love my website. (Visit at sherrycerrano.com). I’m currently learning how to maintain it! Back to pulling of hair, sleepless nights, and fear of failure, but I’ve decided I can and will do it!
Yes, this all costs money.
The more you can do for yourself, the less it will cost. If you’re like me and need to hire people, I fretted about my book not selling and worried about the expense. No matter how you choose to publish, there will be expenses. One thing that helped me was what my spouse said, “Think about how much people spend on hobbies.” He also said, “Think of the money you spend to publish and market your book as startup costs for a new business.”
Designing the cover was exciting and distressing.
Did I make the right choice? Is the cover attractive and inviting? I worried endlessly about the revolver on the cover, but I was the one who wanted it. It helped that I spent an hour in Barnes and Noble looking at covers before I gave the final approval. To me the cover was as important as my writing, but since I’m artistically challenged, I felt at the mercy of anyone with an opinion.
Here are some additional things to think about.
Do you want head shots for marketing, your website, or the back of your book? Self-publishing workshops do help. I wholly recommend you file for a copyright. It’s added protection against plagiarism, and your manuscript will be placed in the Library of Congress, which to me is the coolest thing ever! Do the filing as soon as the copy editing and proofreading are finalized. The government’s website states it can take up to six months. Mine took a little over a month.
There is more I could discuss, but I think this is enough for now. Even though I experienced a lot of stress self-publishing, that says more about me than self-publishing in general or the companies I worked with. I truly felt I had entered an alternative universe with all the business in the Internet ether. Nothing there is tangible. Until!
Wait for it!
I held my book in my hand!!!