Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Annoying Process of Publishing a Book

So back in October and November I decided that I had enough photos, information, and creativity to start writing a book... and finish it this time! "Writing a Book" has been my answer to the question "So what are you doing?" for the past nine years or so. So it's great to finally start something and get it done to completing this time. That being said, I have some praise and complaints to dish out for the whole process.

If you go to, and scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll find something like "Self Publish With Us," and that takes you over to Create Space, which is what I used to self publish. My logic there was I wanted a physical copy of the book I wrote which was important to me. Barns & Nobel will only offer your book as a digital copy. Some other places are happy to publish your book too but you have to order your copies and sell them yourself.

So here's the process I went though.
Fill out all your author and title information, get an ISBN, pick a size you want and you're ready to roll.

Once you have all that settled, spend however long it takes to type your book. Learn about adding Table of Contents, Graphs, and Page Numbers, which should all be standard in whatever typing program you're using.  

Interior: Your file needs to be at least 24 pages (I think) in order to upload and preview. You'll probably be uploading and replacing the previous file a lot just to make sure things look right. This can take several minutes depending on how big your file is. You're then given a nice looking pdf preview with page turning animations that I really likes with Create Space. Here is where all the little flaws are pointed out. What was 4 by 6 inches in your typing program (Word, Office, etc...) might not be the same 4 by 6 in their format, and you may need to tweak things.

Something I got annoyed with was, I'd have a paragraph below my images, but because their format saw there was space after the image to fit a letter, they'd break up the first word in the sentance to put those letters beside the image and I don't know why. So "There are flowers..." would become

here are flowers..." 

So you want to look out for that kind of stuff. Adding an [Enter] or enlarging the photo slightly made this go away. 

Now here's the pain. You have to "fix" it in your file which might not have the same problem, and then upload it again. I would love to have been able to just fix it in their program so I wouldn't have to upload, but oh well. 

Cover: For the cover Create Space has you covered. They have a wonderful program that I really enjoyed playing with. You just upload the picture you want, pick a few colors, and fill in the text boxes. I actually found this really enjoyable and easy. However, if you need to upload your file again, it assumes you might have changed the size format, so you need to sift through your cover again. This was a minor annoyance but not really a problem in the grand scheme of things. 

File Review: So you think you're finished. You're all proofread, everything is the way you want it laid out, and it's "perfect". You're probably wrong, but that's where this step comes in. You submit your book to them, and they get back to you sometime a day later. One thing they caught with my book was for Author I had my middle initial in some places but not in others. Some things they fix for you but other things you're responsible for. 

Proof Your Book: So you've been approved, Great! You get the final say in whether or not to go forward. I highly recommend buying a proof copy (this is usually an at cost price) before moving forward. This is a dramatic difference between reading a paragraph on your computer and holding it in your hands. I found I was far more aware of the paragraph overall when holding a physical copy than when I read it on my screen. As soon as it arrives, Get the red pen out, and go to town giving it a final read through. I thought I was already done by this point, but I kept finding maybe one mistake every few pages.

Also get a few friends and people who's opinions you trust to read it too. English teachers are especially valuable as they tend to remember all the little rules to everything. And hopefully they can give you a short sentance or two long review for the back cover.

Channels and Pricing: This is self explanatory. My book is on Amazon for $29.99. Unfortunately I went a little overboard with photos and the 216 pages at an 8 by 11 size drove up the cost. Had I written a novel say 4 by 6 and used fewer photos or made them all black and white, it would be cheaper for them to produce. Not surprisingly I make more money from the $9.99 Kindle version because it doesn't really cost anything to produce. Enabling the preview for both is done just after it's available. Getting it on the Kindle is submitted after it's published and available on amazon, though you can enable on or the other as you like.