Late last year I published my first book. I felt at sea, most of the time. I knew a lot of people had done so, and done so effectively and if I’ve learnt one thing in my 58 years it is I can master most things that a large disparate group have also mastered. Except eating neatly. That defeats me every time. So at every stage when I felt ‘I can’t do this’ I gave myself a little kicking. And I moved forward.
Let me put it this way. Lesson one –
If you’ve set up a blog, you can self publish
Back then, having blogged for 4 months and read an enormous amount of useful blogs on the writing process, I did think about sharing my journey to the ‘press publish’ point but I was too confused and, frankly, I went down blind alleys a plenty that I couldn’t have extracted the coherent part from the confusion.
This time, though, I thought I’d try and take you with me. I’m not sure how many parts there will be to this.
First the plan.
I have finished my book. I’m currently happy with it but if I leave it much monger and then re-read it I’ll want to change it so publishing has become critical. It has been beta read. It has been proof read and edited by an editor as to which more anon.
This will not be about marketing your book, by the way. I am useless at that. All I will say is your marketing strategy should reflect why you are publishing. In my case I am publishing to stop tinkering and to get ‘out there’ the books I have laboured over for the last 9 years. If I do not publish I will tinker and that inhibits me writing the newer works I have in my head. If I make any money I will pay it over to my local youth charity where I am trustee and volunteer. My strategy, or lack of it, reflects that truth.
It might help if you know I use Word to type my books. I know a lot recommend Scrivener and I’ve no doubt there are are other platforms on which you can create your oeuvre. I tried Scrivener but my mistake was to try and transfer my book into it. Don’t. Maybe I will try and write something from scratch sometime but not yet. And since, despite people saying publishing from Word is difficult, I didn’t find it so (or at least I eventually got there) and no one has bad mouthed book one for layout and formatting so – lesson two –
If you use Word, that’s ok too
I prefer Arial as my font. Though Times New Roman seems to me to work just as well. You will have your preferences. Createspace use Garamond but that is not my choice at all. Lesson three-
You can use whatever font, pitch and line spacing you want but you decide if it looks like a heap of fossilized dodo’s do-dos or just the bizzo
Pausing there. For the basic ebook I’ve published on Amazon as well as Smashwords and Kobe. For Amazon you need Kindle (for which you will need something that is .mobi, but happily Kindle converts your Word book to it); on the others you will need to end up with .epub (but again conversion is possible from Word). As I understand it Scrivener’s charm is it formats to these for you so when you’ve finished your book, downloading should be easy and you should avoid Kindle (or whatever) telling you there are formatting issues you need to correct. Since the bulk of my sales have been Amazon I have started with Kindle and will sort out the other platforms afterwards. In these posts, the ebook publishing I will talk about is on Kindle and the lessons are about that.
For the paperback – print on demand or POD – I have used the Amazon platform too. There are others. Lulu.com is one I looked at. But again here I will be talking about Createspace.
So back to the prelims. I have been told 12 pitch is best, though 11 pitch is favoured on Createspace. So 12 pitch it is for Kindle and 11 for Createspace. Partly this is because cost is dependant on length for POD (understandably) so a smaller pitch makes sense, so long as it remains readable. As for line spacing I am using 1.5 for Kindle and single for POD – I’d prefer 1.5 and 12 pitch but I have compromised, partly for cost reasons and partly because I do not want a 400 plus page POD version. Why? It just feels too heavy for the subject matter. There is no rule here, just what you think looks and feels best for you. My book is 96,000 words. We will see what the page numbers are later for each version.
And the final preliminary.
I have used a young graphic designer called George Grey at Royalston design, here. He was at school with my son. He is brilliant. I highly recommend him. This is the cover
I think it is excellent. At the moment George is working on the wrap around I want for the POD version but what I have here will work for Kindle.
I’ll end today with some lessons on covers I have learnt
1. Think about thumbnail size: if the cover is too busy it can look a mess on a website.
2. Amazon is a white background so make sure the image isn’t surrounded by white or it will float online.
3. The image must be the right size for Kindle and it’s best if you or your designer bear this in mind before you create it. We had an issue with my first book because of this (which we corrected but it was a pain).
4. Leave a margin for the POD version or you might lose words in your title.
5. Do not be coy about your name. Have it big and bold.
So there we go. Next time we will open up Kindle and have a look at what you need to do.
Some of you may have published this way and have other thoughts. Feel free to comment, criticise and complain – every little will help others going through this for the first time.