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Self-publishing Is It For You
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If you've paid any attention to the rumblings from the ever-changing publishing industry, you have heard that many writers are now self-publishing. You may have wondered what's involved in that and how hard (or easy) it is to do. Here's a nuts and bolts overview of the process.
· Write your book. If you have a story in you that's clamoring to be told, write it down! You may think (1) it's hard to do or (2) no one will want to read it, but you might be pleasantly surprised. There are several companies that will self-publish your book; Create Space and Lulu are just two of them.
· Edit your book. You may do this yourself if you have a good grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar, or you may contract it out. Whichever way you go, be as meticulous as possible. No one enjoys reading a book filled with spelling errors or punctuation that makes them guess what the author is trying to say. Enlist friends to read your book and give you feedback. If editing is not a strong area for you or if you don't feel confident about it, hire it out. The self-publishing companies mentioned above both offer editing help for a fee, and there are many professionals online as well.
· Format your book. When you've got it just the way you want it, figure out what size book you want. Most trade paperbacks are 6"x9"; slimmer books may be 5.5"x8.5". Both Create Space and Lulu also offer hardback options and other, less standard sizes. Decide what size you want and format your document to that size.
· Detail your book. This involves putting in the front material (title page, publication page, any table of contents or acknowledgements) and headers and footers. You have several options on headers and footers: page numbers, either top or bottom, centered or set to the outside of the page; and book title and/or your name in the header, again centered or justified to the outside of the page. There are no hard and fast rules about this; it's pretty much personal preference. If you're unsure, check out some books on your own bookshelf and see how it's done. When you're happy with the way your book looks, upload the file for publication.
· Create your cover. Create Space has a Cover Creator with about 20 templates that make it easy to create a custom cover. You can upload photos, experiment with different design styles, fonts and colors to get the exact look you want. If you are adept at design work, there is also a blank template into which you can upload your own fully-developed graphics for the front and back cover. You also have the option of hiring someone to do your book cover, and that can be uploaded as well.
· Set your price and distribution options. Create Space offers several distribution options and will tell you how much it will cost them to create your book. At that point, you can set your retail price based on that. Since the books are print-on-demand (POD), they will be paid for when they are ordered and you will receive the difference between the cost and your retail price.
· Pull the trigger. Create Space will review your project and make sure there are no issues with it and let you know when it's ready to be proofed. You will have the option of proofing an electronic copy on your computer but for at least the first proof, it would be wise to have them ship you a physical copy. This way you will hold the physical book in your hand and see exactly what a reader will see. If you need to make any changes, just upload your corrected document or change your cover to suit, and submit the book for publication again. You may go through as many proofs as you desire, paying only a discounted cost for the book and shipping each time. Once you're happy with the book, you can approve the final proof and your book will be available on Amazon within a day or two.
· Promote your book. Obviously you'll want to e-mail all your friends to announce your book. If you're on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), make announcements there, as well. If your book is of general interest, send a copy to your local newspaper and ask for a review. You can also donate a copy to your local library. If you're ready to meet your reading public, petition your local book stores about having a signing event. There are many promotional packages available on the web, but be careful there; many are shady and will do less than they promise for a hefty price. Check out the company carefully before you sign on. There are many forums online that discuss these kinds of offers; if you don't see a particular company discussed, ask about it! Finally, search online for book reviewers and offer to send a copy of your book for review. Reviews are extremely important in getting the word out. Encourage your friends to leave reviews, as well.
With the never-ending promotion activities, there really isn't much time to sit back and relax, but make sure you give yourself time enough to start on your next opus. Once you've gone through the process, it gets much easier the next time, and it's worth every ounce of work you've put into it.
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