The Gross National Debt

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Of interest to self-publishing authors and wannabe

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Having gotten a couple more of my books up and running, I'm here to share some experiences with the self publishing process. Jump to the end if you want to see why I'm qualified to say what I say.

Step 1 - Write the book already.

Step 2 - Get someone to edit it. By edit, I mean the person needs to lay the book on a table, get a razor, cut a wrist and bleed heavily across the pages. If you are a writer you know what this means.

If you are not a writer it means you need to get someone who will be honest to the point of causing you incredible pain. I mean it. A friend who reads it and says "Wow, that's great!" is not an editor. You need someone to really rip the MS apart and hand you confetti. Yes. You do.

Step 3 - Publish. This is the meat of this blog.

My chops established, I tell you, unless you are REALLY lost where layout and design is concerned, do not hire someone to do this for you. CreateSpace (Amazon and Kindle) and Lulu each have layout programs you may use. They can even help with covers, but skip that.

COVER

Get someone to design you a decent book cover. Here's some really bad covers. You will have convert the cover to a PDF to upload. Needs to be 300 DPI or so. Simple enough. Be sure to leave a hole on the back bottom right for the ISBN. You want an ISBN. If that's not simple, get help from someone you can physically put your hands on (in case you need to strangle them later). Here's one of mine.
Photoshop and I put this together. I drew the toons.
If you MUST have someone do it for you, ask what experience they have in layout and design. Make sure you get a proof of the work before sending it to printer. If you go the Kindle (or other ebook) route, expect to have to make changes to make the MS fit the formatting for those. Yes.

In my two Dictionary books (See below), the Kindle formatting screwed the cartoons up, but I have yet to find a way to easily fix it. A difficult fix is in the works. (sigh) Print versions are OK.

WORKING THE SYSTEM

For me, Lulu.com was easier to navigate and get my book and up and running. I had to supply my own ISBN or buy one from them. I supplied my own. Their prices were a bit higher than CreateSpace as well. May be different now.

CreateSpace for me was FAR more difficult to maneuver through. I partly suspect this is because I am expert in layout and design. (I have the work, credits, awards, experience and teaching chops to back that statement up too). I found myself repeatedly frustrated with the instructions. No doubt part of my problem is that I don't have much patience with electronica.

I suspect someone (with more patience) more willing to pay close attention to the instructions and not just assume, as I do, will find CreateSpace's advanced settings easier. I have no experience with the basic setup guide. I suspect it can be just as frustrating, especially for people with no experience in L&D because of the need to make adjustments in the layout.

Specific instructions are best left to the appropriate POD website and getting ahold of me in person.

PROOF THE BOOK

Yes Lord! Download the free proof from Lulu. Use the CS online proof program. Pay close attention to the margins, spacing, etc. If that's too complicated, order a book and get it in your hands. With the ebooks, you'll have to use the electronic proofing cause a dead tree version ain't available.

Is also a good idea to let someone else look at it, someone who will tell you the truth.


WHY AMAZON

Kindle, free ISBN, expedited listing in Amazon and other distributors and cheaper. I have not checked recently, but three months after getting Nekkid up & running at Lulu, they had STILL not listed it with Amazon et al. I expect to soon work on the Barnes & Noble nook as soon as I can get Rebel (a fellow author) within arm's reach.

That said, I loaded some books first as a print edition. Then I told CS to convert to Kindle using the files already loaded. This process takes a WHILE. Even as I write, one of my books has spent 30 minutes in the conversion process. Fortunately, it's not tied my computer up.

Another drawback to Amazon is, at least in my case, the need to create an Amazon account and create a CS account. (shrugs) More passwords to forget...

I do not recommend using any POD firm other than CS or Lulu. The others want too much from the author.

MARKETING

I'm not going to discuss marketing here. So if you came looking for that, you're out of luck. Except, don't spend money on their marketing plans.

Th' EXPERT

25 years in newspapers doing everything that can be done on a paper. Hundreds and hundreds of magazine articles. Syndicated humor column. Conceited.

Lemme point out I have the following books in "print"

humor books at Lulu.com
A Dog Named Nekkid
Origins of Hawgin'
humor at Amazon and on the Kindle platform
A Golfer’s Dictionary
A Fisherman’s Dictionary

Philosophy at Amazon and possibly Kindle
Lessons I learned in State Prison - Freedom
Religious at Amazon and on the Kindle Platform
Old Testament Jesus
Forsaken
My Mountain Won’t move
A Christian Minister’s Take on Gay Marriage
- This one needs an update as I've modified something fairly important to this book

I have more comin' too.

I've also laid out a bunch of other books for other people. The work has ranged from traditional printing to Print on Demand. Some time back I abhorred POD. Now, I say this is the way to go. It's cheaper, faster, easier to fix something and now you can control the entire process while keeping all your rights. Used to not be that way.

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