The Plight of the Self Published Author

I wish I had made my Kickstarter goal $10,000 so I could have hired an agent and pitched my book to publishers and have let them do all the work.  I’d still have had to market it myself, but then all the logistics of actually being able to eventually hold my book in my hands and sign it like a real author would have been done for me.  But I didn’t – my goal was $5500 which was just enough money to pay an editor, hire a formatting expert to put it into the appropriate digital editions, work with a graphic artist to design the cover, buy some ISBN numbers, and have 330 copies printed.  It takes a lot of money and time to bring a book to physical life.

So many of my writer friends have gone with Createspace (an Amazon company) which holds your hand to make the self publishing process a little bit easier.  But I like to make things difficult and I also love supporting local businesses.  I put a variety of friends and referrals to work on my book to make it the beautiful piece that it is today.  I really wish I hadn’t kept my book such a “secret” from so many in hopes it would be a great big release and that I had given it a few more week or months to simmer on the fine details that are so important to a book.  But we all make mistakes and I’ve learned from them as a first time self published author.

My friend Susan graciously donated her time and skills to tell me exactly what I needed to do to self publish and a few other key people, like Mike at the H&H Group in Lancaster, held my hand as I formatted my book to get it ready for print.  People were really patient and understanding with all of my questions and inquiries as I attempted to piece the book together on my own, without Createspace to guide me.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  In a heartbeat.  I’d change a few things though, so in hopes you have an even better book than my own, here’s what happened and here’s what I’d do differently:

  • As you write your book, format it immediately for print layout.  Call up a local book printer (like the H&H Group here in Lancaster) and get the exact dimensions for how your book needs to be submitted for the size you would want printed.  This will help you exponentially so the book is formatted as you write it.  There’s no need to number your book pages-your printer is able to do this for you.  I didn’t set my margins correctly so in my first edition print book, you’ll notice the text goes a little too close the edge; things I will fix on print run #2.
  • Purchase a track of 10 ISBN numbers.  Susan told me to do this and I’m so grateful I did-you use a lot of ISBN numbers (1 for each digital edition plus your printed book) and will continue using them for however many editions you decide to publish.
  • Before you send your finished manuscript to a paid editor send it to 2-3 of your most trusted family, friends, teachers, mentors.  Get their initial edits and opinions.  Then, after you receive the manuscript back from your editor, send it to those trusted readers again.  Errors happen-things got missed and hopefully these things won’t hurt your end result: telling a good story.
  • Use a paid font.  My cousin told me about the spacing issues my book originally had since I was using a generic MS Word text. I was amazed at the difference when I switched to a paid font.  I recommend doing this BEFORE you format your book or as you being writing the manuscript.
  • I really enjoyed working with a local printer so I could have a hands on look at my book before it went to press and could be assured I was getting a solid product.  Out of all the steps along this self publishing journey, I was happiest with the look of the final pront product-it’s legit!
  • Send your book to a few reviewers BEFORE it is released to the public.  Many reviewers will not review your book if it’s already been released. Find trusted writers/reputable folk to read your book and write a review. You may even be able to include their recommendations in the printed edition.
  • Final word of advice?  Slow down.  As a self publisher, you are in charge of your release date.  Take the time to go through all the steps and make sure your product is as near to perfection as possible.  The great thing is, if it’s messed up, you can always do a re-print down the road, but ultimately, you want to be able to show off your words and be proud of what you’re putting forth.

My book won an award, and I am so grateful for that, but it’s far from perfect.  It’s a powerful, hopeful love story and like love, it has its flaws.  With a few more reads and some smoothing over, print number 2 will be even better.  But book #2?  That book is gonna be sweet and I can’t wait to delve into writing it.

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Comments 1

  1. No option is perfect Brenda. Each one has its drawbacks .The most important thing is that you remain true to your story, which is what you did. Bravo!

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