Self-Publishing a book in a cost saver way does have a series of hiccoughs in the process, especially to those of us how are not trained and skilled in a multiplicity of areas. Below, I’d like to share some of the hurdles I have and am having faced in getting my Singles in the American Church on the market.
Hiccough 1: Formatting
So you’ve written your first book. Congrats! If you’re self-publishing and doing everything with a low budget, now you have to get your book into a format that can be printed. Most of you probably know that the default setting for most word processing programs is the standard 8.5″ X 11″ size. That means the average page will contain somewhere around 500 words. Thus a 100,000 word book will be about 200 pages. That’s in impressive feat. However, you would be hard-pressed to find any books on the market in 8.5″ X 11″ unless they are sheet music books or workbooks for classes and seminars. Most books come in a size around 6″X9″. Why does that matter? It matters because you’re perfectly spaced out, headings and subheadings, visually appealing paragraphed, manuscript is going to look terrible if all you do is change the page margins to 6″X9″. All of a sudden, most of your chapter headings start appearing in the middle of a page, blank pages appear between sections, paragraphs are all jacked up, and your bibliography is gibberish.
You’ll need to spend a good handful of hours smoothing out the formatting so that it looks good. When I scaled my books down to 6″X9″, my neatly spaced paragraphs became pages full of block text with no visual breaks. My neatly spaced out headings would feel like a marathon of pages before the next heading. Page after page was nothing but blocks of text. Daunting to most readers, and visually unappealing to the casual reader. I had to break my paragraphs up even more so that people had an easier time reading and finding good pause points.
Then there was the issue of text boxes. I decided to add text quotes from the body of the work into small text boxes in the margins. This threw off the text layout and often threw everything out of whack. I had to go through again and make sure the pages were visually appealing and that the text boxes didn’t run off the page.
After several go-arounds, my manuscript started looking a lot more printable as a 5″X7″ book (I chose a smaller size due to the length of the book (only 29K words). However, I still wasn’t finished. I had to then tackle the battle of headers and footers to get the page numbers and headings to look right. After that I had to format the bibliography to be in line with the Chicago Manual of Style. Then there was the issue of formatting the endnotes after each chapter and getting those to start on the top of pages.
To say the least, my options were either to do all this myself or pay several hundreds of dollars to have some else do it (which I will do once I gain traction with sales and generate enough income to afford it)
Hiccough 2: Cover Design
Here is one that I am still in the process of working on. Though my first 2 novels were graciously cover-designed by friends pro-bono, I decided to do my first non-fiction myself. The reason being that a decent professional cover design will cost somewhere in the area of $200-700. Still a bit out of budget for the moment. I did an alright job. However, the picture I initially chose was not the best picture. The image was a bit off-center. There were powerlines running through the top. It was not something that would catch the eyes of people younger than 50. From the advice of an artistic friend and the results of a design poll, I changed the cover to be a bit more appealing to younger audiences, since they are also part of my target audience. Fortunately, I have Adobe Photoshop at my work station and can do much of the spec designs myself. This leads to my next hiccough-vague responses to my submission rejections.
Hiccough 3: Vague Responses to Submission Inadequacies
So I redesigned the cover. It looked good. So I submitted it to the self-publishing company (I use Createspace). Note: Their site says they’ll get back with you about your submission within 24 hours. It is actually closer to 36 hours now. I must have submitted the cover 5-7 times, only to have it rejected each time. It is a very frustrating thing. Their initial reasons for rejecting were a bit vague. They’d say I have words going into the bleed area and they may be cut off. Well, considering that a book cover consists of the front, spine, and back–each w/ 4 bleed areas, how was I to know which bleed area was being violated. I had to send in an email asking them to specify which area was in violation.
After they got back with me, I fixed the area and resubmitted it, only to get it rejected on the premise that my spine text was slightly off-centered. It looked centered to me. What was an author to do? Fortunately, createspace has a downloadable to-scale template we can use to line things up. I downloaded the proper size and ran it as a layer on my book cover in Photoshop, with a transparency setting. I lined everything up within the parameters and resubmitted it. Today it was rejected again siting the spine being off-centered. Grrr! So what did I do? I went back to the file and took the spine text out. I re-entered it as one large text box instead of 3 separates that I had been trying to align as best I could. I resubmitted this (note: You’ll need to upload it as a pdf to createspace (not jpeg)). I am confident that this go around will result in a success. Then I can move onto my next stage of work, namely a marketing campaign.
So as of right now, only the kindle version of the book is available. But hopefully by tomorrow evening, the physical copy with new cover will be available again on amazon.com and my author site tmwilliamsauthor.com
I know this blog post sounds more like a rant. However, the little details that hang up our process can become very frustrating and prevent us from investing our energy in what really matters–writing. So if you’re planning on self-publishing and taking the low-budget route, keep in mind, there is a diversity of skills you’ll need to get the finished product in the hands of your audience.
But now that all the work is done. “Welcome Home Christian Singles” is now available in both print and digital formats. You can order a kindle version here. You can get the ePub version here. You can get a physical copy here.
Was this post insightful? Does it shed any light on your writing process? Or do you feel it is merely a rant? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe for more in terms of the journey of writing and topics related to my writing and research.
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