Thursday, March 24, 2011

Along the Self-Publishing Road

I know what Amanda Hocking means about dealing with cover art, page size, copy writing, etc. because I'm going through the first stages of putting my book out in print. It is a bit daunting, although there are plenty of companies and people available to make it easier -- for a price. It does tend to eat into the profits, and there are few profits just starting out. These are all the things that publishers do, or at least once did, before publishing went the way of medicine -- into specialization. Somehow that reminds me of a song done by Marilyn Monroe in a movie. Specialization, specialization.

It's easy for Joe Konrath with his sources and years in publishing and Barry Eisler, just sticking his toe into the self-publishing waters, to talk about how it's no big deal to get out there and publish your own books. They have all been in publishing for years and have made some contacts. It's different when you're just starting out with one or two books and deciding to go from self-publishing an e-book, which is somewhat less complicated, thanks to Smashwords, to publishing a book in print. There are book sizes and cover art (front, back and spine) and color of paper and type of paper and print fonts and all kinds of madness to wade through, at least for the first time. I'm in a quandary.

At least I have some help because I chose a really good cover artist, who is still finding his way as he graduates from college, and we are learning together. He's a Photoshop genius and he has no clue how to do a full book cover (back, front and spine) for a print book. Good thing I have some serious Google-foo and can find just about anything when I'm motivated, and I am very motivated right now.

Finding templates and sizes for print covers was easy, but it is less easy deciding between CreateSpace and BookLocker as publisher. I am leaning toward CreateSpace simply because it has a wide distribution channel and I am guaranteed to get into the right bookstores, although I've known about BookLocker for ages and they have the best prices -- as far as I can tell -- and they don't just take any book. It's almost as hard to pass BookLocker's vetting process as it is to find a good publisher. The only way to tell which will be the better choice is to keep exploring. At least I know I passed the BookLocker test and they'd welcome publishing my book. I guess that bodes well for reviews and positive blurbs. That's always a good thing.

In the meantime, I can continue to productively procrastinate on the next book since I do have some serious work to do with the current book shepherding it through the publication process. That makes me feel a little less uneasy. It isn't that I don't want to write, or at least finish Whitechapel, but that I need to get this first book out of the way and onto the shelves within the next couple of months, especially since I've decided to enter it into the self-publishing book awards this year -- if I get it done in time. I don't think they take e-books yet. Entering the WD Self-Publishing Book Contest is not about the money, but about the exposure and promotions that will result -- and the money would be nice. I do have a lot of expenses right now.

I have found out that not buying books (I put a moratorium on book buying for two years, of course with the occasional slip for a really necessary book) does make funding the current process that much easier, and I have plenty of review books to keep me company. Can't give up the day job that has kept food on the table for the past six or so years until I'm more of a household -- or at least of a book shelf -- name. That takes time.

I suppose this whole journey is meant to be more than just a learning experience. It is supposed to try my soul and test my patience, and I'm well down the road for that. Luckily, I do thrive on challenges and self-publishing has become quite the challenge. The up side is that I get to watch my book sales continue to climb and feel a certain sense of elation and excitement that should be enough to see me through those soul-trying and patience-wearing days ahead. I've no doubt they are up ahead and I'm ready for them.

So far.

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