Do It Yourself: Self Publishing

July 08, 2020 Tom Season 1 Episode 3
Do It Yourself: Self Publishing
Show Notes Transcript

There's a whole industry that wants you to self publish your book but do your research and be patient. They ALL want your money.

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I wanted to give you my impressions of the three self-publishing platforms I've used. Self publishing is a do it yourselfer's dream, you know. You can do it all yourself for basically no money or in some cases very little money, and that's the allure for a lot of us self-published authors. The downside is that when it comes to the most difficult part, which is the formatting of Word documents, it can be tedious, it can be frustrating, and it can require a lot of trial and error.

So the first book I published was an E-book only. And I did that through Kindle through the Amazon platform. And it was completely free. It was all done through their cloud platform. And as with all the self, the Do It Yourself platforms, there is a learning curve. There's a lot of reading you need to do, there are tutorials you need to read. And there are templates that you need to download to make sure that you're formatting your document your manuscript correctly. I actually spent a couple bucks on a Kindle book on how to make Kindle books. It's definitely worth it. There are a lot of them out there. They all pretty much tell you the same thing. I think mine was about a 40 page book. It cost a buck or two bucks. And it gives you the step by step instructions on how to convert your your Word document into the right format. Doesn't sound like it ought to be that hard. But when you're writing for an ebook, they really discouraged things like multiple carriage returns, tab stops. They want the margins done a certain way. You need to start thinking in terms of paragraph breaks instead using tabs. Line spacing becomes important. Justification becomes important. And the way you save it, I think you think I had to save it as an HTML document instead of a regular Word document. All the instructions are there and it is important that you do it correctly so that the document displays correctly in the person's Kindle or in the person's e-reader. It takes a little patience and it can take some trial and error. The good news is that after you upload it, after you've formatted it and follow the directions, once you upload it, you can actually see it on the cloud platform see it the way it's going to look. And same with your your cover assuming that you do what I did which is design your own cover or have somebody design it for you. They give you instructions again on the exact size the exact resolution. They give you a little template on what the cover should look like in terms of the size, and then you can upload that too. I highly recommend that you have somebody design your cover for you or that you take a crack at doing yourself because the online cover design templates that they give you are elementary, they're basic, and they really look like a third grader did it. They look amateurish, and you can tell a mile away that this was a do it yourself Kindle cover. Find a friend who can do even basic graphic design and have somebody do that for you. So the process is fairly straightforward. As I said, it may take some trial and error and a couple of passes before you get the formatting correct. But doing an E-book through the Amazon Kindle method is straightforward and it's cheap, you know it costs nothing. And once you upload it and once you go with the Kindle exclusive deal, which I highly recommend, especially for first time authors, your royalties are higher and you have access to all of the Amazon Kindle promotional tools. You have to promise I think for the first 90 days that you're not going to place the E-book on any other platform. But so what. Most the vast majority of ebooks are sold through Amazon anyway. So my experience with that was was okay.

I've also used Lulu.com and Ingram Spark.com. Lulu has been around for a really long time. I used Lulu to publish both the e-book and paperback version of Budland, my first novel. A gain, Lulu does, you can do everything completely free for both versions. They have a fairly painstaking process for doing both the E-book and the paperback book. The paperback and formatting printed pages is much more complicated because the word document has to be exactly right. You have to have the exact size of the page correct. You have to set things like the gutter, you have to set the margins correctly. You have to have for chapter headings if you're going to do a table of contents, you have to use the heading styles that come in Word. So you have to kind of teach yourself that. And again, they strongly discourage the use of things like carriage returns to make spaces between lines, and they discourage tabs. You have to learn to use paragraph setups and spacing. There are recommended fonts and font sizes to use that are kind of universal towards the printed page that most people are accustomed to reading. That's all stuff that is available again, in their tutorials and on their downloads. They have a lot of downloads and advice and tips and templates depending on the size printed book you're making. They actually do have templates that you can download for Word. You can dump your your manuscript right into it. And it kind of automatically formats that according to the template. The downside comes when you try to alter the template at all. The template that I downloaded for my six-by-nine paperback had a line at the bottom of each page that's separated the text from the page number. I wanted the line to go away. So I tried to make the line go away and screwed up the formatting of the entire the entire template. And I tried to recover and I had to make it go away and start all over again. So I think I ended up living with the line. So once you commit to a template, you're kind of committed to it unless you're a genius of Word and you can go into the hood and figure out how to change the template but I think I ended up living with it.

Once you upload it, you'll then see it on the screen. Same goes for your cover. But as as I've learned over the years as a graphic designer, what you see on the screen never totally matches what the final printed outcome will be. So it becomes very important for you to purchase a proof copy. And you can certainly do that through both Ingram Spark and Lulu. You purchase a proof copy for five or six bucks. They send it to you, and you'll then see exactly how that book will look before you have he put it up for sale. In the case of both the books, I printed both of my novels, I went through five or six proof copies before I finally got the formatting correct, before I finally found multiple typos and before I was finally happy with the layout of the pages. Laying out the pages correctly, getting the gutter correct, getting the spacing and getting the chapter breaks correct is something that I had to work on multiple times. It's as I said, it's trial and error. If you're not a professional and you want it to look good it takes a number of a number of tries. So Lulu.com The process was totally free. Ingram Spark the process is not free. The e-book I believe was free the printed book cost basically 40 bucks 39 or $49. I forget, there's an initial setup fee. And then for each change you make they charge you, I think another $25. So when you add up the setup fee, the change fees and your proof copies, it's going to end up probably costing you about 100 bucks to do a self publish a complete self published through Ingram Spark. Both Lulu and Ingram they handle your distribution. They do worldwide distribution through all the usual channels. You set your pricing through them, they keep track of your sales, they pay you the royalties, and they do all of that. I don't know that I liked one platform over the other. Lulu has a bookstore which I don't think anybody actually shops at. Ingram is the largest book publisher in the world. But I can't say that particularly helped sales of my book.

If you want to do it yourself and do it for either no cost or minimal cost, you can certainly do it through any of those three venues. But I think going forward if you need help and you want it to look better and save yourself, you know, some hair pulling, you might want to consider going with one of the publishing packages which start $1,000 and I'm probably going to do that with my next book, and I'll let you know how that goes.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai