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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » How Did You Self-Publish?

   
Author Topic: How Did You Self-Publish?
ArmadonRK
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As someone looking into potentially self-publishing my upcoming project, I'm curious as to how others before me have done it. I've read the books, and the online articles, and the websites, but I want to hear more personal stories and recommendations from self-published authors.

What service did you use to publish? CreateSpace, LightningSource, Lulu? Did you go electronic only, or did you print? Did you go print-on-demand, or with a local or offset printer?

Did you have it proofread solely by friends and family? If you looked for a professional, what resources did you use? Who did you end up going with? How many editors did you hire?

Who designed your book cover? The interior of your book? Did you format the final product yourself?

Did you fund the entire project yourself? Did you try something like Kickstarter? Did you secure private funding? Dipped into the "friends and family" coffers? Or did you decide not to spend a dime on the whole thing?

If you could go back and do anything differently, would you? How satisfied were you with how things turned out?

I hope you take the time to answer at least a few of these questions, for an aspiring author. Thanks!

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rcmann
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quote:
Originally posted by ArmadonRK:
As someone looking into potentially self-publishing my upcoming project, I'm curious as to how others before me have done it. I've read the books, and the online articles, and the websites, but I want to hear more personal stories and recommendations from self-published authors.

What service did you use to publish? CreateSpace, LightningSource, Lulu? Did you go electronic only, or did you print? Did you go print-on-demand, or with a local or offset printer?

Did you have it proofread solely by friends and family? If you looked for a professional, what resources did you use? Who did you end up going with? How many editors did you hire?

Who designed your book cover? The interior of your book? Did you format the final product yourself?

Did you fund the entire project yourself? Did you try something like Kickstarter? Did you secure private funding? Dipped into the "friends and family" coffers? Or did you decide not to spend a dime on the whole thing?

If you could go back and do anything differently, would you? How satisfied were you with how things turned out?

I hope you take the time to answer at least a few of these questions, for an aspiring author. Thanks!

Well, to start with there is no such thing as a right or wrong way to do it. Much depends on what you are publishing. Is it fiction or non-fiction? Is it a short story? A novella? A novel? If non-fiction is it a how-to manual, or a picture book, or a technical manual full of detailed illustrations? Much depends on what you are putting out and your intended audience.

Since you are posting the question on this forum, I will figure that you are putting out fiction. For me, I publish my short stories through both Smashwords and on Amazon directly. Smashwords because all i have to do is post it once, and Smashwords takes care of formatting it in kindle, epub, pdf, html, and other formats as well as distributing it to major retailers. Smashwords also handles library distribution. I handle posting my short stories to Amazon directly simply because Amazon and Smashwords are having friction at the moment (competition).

Some people also use print on demand for their short stories. For my purposes, I don't bother. It's a matter of your intended audience and your marketing plan. My novels will be print on demand eventually. But I am in no hurry about it.

I don't use lightning source because they are more oriented toward commercial projects. Lulu just didn't seem as user friendly to me as Createspace. Also, Createspace is part of Amazon, which gives you the advantage of direct connection with your Amazon account and simplifies marketing as well.

Layout depends on your background. I have several years experience in both tech writing and tech illustration. As a result I don't find formatting to be much of a challenge. For a newcomer it can be a pain in the rump. Again, much depends on your personal choices. Are you willing to put in the time to climb the learning curve?

I would not advise paying anyone to print your books, but that's just my personal opinion. Frankly, i don't see any practical reason to spend the money. If you want a professional cover, hire a free-lance artist. They work for anywhere from $50-$5000. You can look anywhere on the net. Nowadays you can't surf a book related page without tripping on them.

Editing is worth what you pay for it. If your family and friends are well read professionals with experience doing that kind of work, by all means use them. But whatever you do, DO NOT depend on editing and proofing your own work.

Just like the lawyer who represents himself, the writer who proofs his own work has a fool for a client. The same mental blind spot that caused the mistake in the first place will prevent you from finding it. You need outside help of some kind, no matter where it comes from. Most people need several kinds. You need beta readers/structural editors to tell you "this sucks". Then you need copyeditors to find all those homonyms that the spell checker so helpfully inserted, and remind you that when it comes to commas, less is more.

Finally you need to lay it aside for awhile and let it cool for a few days or even weeks. Then go back and look at it now that your mind is clear and you can be critical. If it still looks good, go ahead and publish. The single biggest pitfall for a self-publisher is the temptation to rush things. Don't. Take the time to do it right. You'll be glad you did later. Otherwise you will be re-uploading version 9.22 when you find yet another place where something that should have been corrected slipped through the cracks.

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Owasm
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I agree with everything that RCMann said.

I've published seven novels. The only money that I've spent is the printed proof copies that I use to do copy edits from Createspace.

I can do my own covers and have Adobe InDesign to design my own print-ready books.

I'm saving up for editing, which will cost about $500. RCMann is right about finding your own mistakes.

I publish three places, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Amazon. I'm considering going direct with Kobo. For print, I use Createspace and all of my books are POD. If you buy $10,000 worth of your own hardcopy books, you have to sell them somehow and with POD, it's a much less risky proposition.

I still have no clue how to market, though, so I just write on and build inventory.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by ArmadonRK:
As someone looking into potentially self-publishing my upcoming project, I'm curious as to how others before me have done it. I've read the books, and the online articles, and the websites, but I want to hear more personal stories and recommendations from self-published authors.

What service did you use to publish? CreateSpace, LightningSource, Lulu? Did you go electronic only, or did you print? Did you go print-on-demand, or with a local or offset printer?

So far, I've gone electronic only. At this point, that's one novel, one novella, and two short stories (novelettes). I use Amazon and Smashwords (which will distribute to just about everywhere else for you). If I ever decide to go POD, I'll almost certainly use CreateSpace.

quote:
Did you have it proofread solely by friends and family? If you looked for a professional, what resources did you use? Who did you end up going with? How many editors did you hire?
Friends and family are never going to be totally honest with you. So far, I haven't paid for professional editors, either. I also have never published anything that hasn't been well and truly vetted by critique partners. But my drafts tend to be fairly clean when it comes to grammar and spelling (although typos can and do happen to anyone).

Formatting for e-publishing is time consuming, but not too hard. I do Smashwords first, partly because it's much easier to correct errors on Smashwords and partly because they have an exhaustive checklist for preparing your ms. Once you've done Smashwords, Amazon is a piece of cake.

quote:
Who designed your book cover? The interior of your book? Did you format the final product yourself?
First lesson learned: Covers matter--a lot. So far, I've done my own with the help of images from services like Dreamstime . There are things I can't manage, however. If you're not comfortable with that, then hire someone.

quote:
Did you fund the entire project yourself? Did you try something like Kickstarter? Did you secure private funding? Dipped into the "friends and family" coffers? Or did you decide not to spend a dime on the whole thing?
Since the only thing I've paid for is images for the cover, at an average of about $14, I've funded it myself. [Smile]

quote:
If you could go back and do anything differently, would you? How satisfied were you with how things turned out?
Major lesson: Some kind of marketing or promotion is absolutely necessary. I'm still working on that one. This is one I'm definitely still working on, but I plan to do a much better job before I e-publish my next novel. Do take a look at the resources on the IndieReCon site. The "conference" is over, but everything's still available on the site. Also, there are a host of blogs of authors with more or less success in e-publishing, which are worth a look. This last week, Nathan Bransford did a post seeking useful resources. (He's planning to e-publish a writing guide.) The comments are well worth a look.

quote:
I hope you take the time to answer at least a few of these questions, for an aspiring author. Thanks!

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extrinsic
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I've run the publishing gauntlet, from full-dress reheasals to production outputs, from job shop printing as printer or hired to traditional publishing to online book manufacturers, from digital end product to folio and tabloid format newspaper digest to saddle-stitch to ring bound to perfect bound to hardbound casecover, from local marketing and distribution to regional to statewide to country-wide to international, from no marketplace identifier to ISBN to ISSN to copyright registration, from self-edited to personal acquaintance editing to professional editing services, from personal layout and graphic design to paid copyrighted material use to for-hire and hired design, from fiction to poetry to creative nonfiction to scholarly essay to journalism, from personal products to others' products to business publishing to consulting, from once-and-done vanity or memento publishing to for-profit publishing, from soaring successes to abysmal failures.

Publishing has become a many-splendored culture since IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter in 1966 for desktop publishing.

The several advices of most significance I'll offer are: do not expend any more time, effort, and finances than you can afford to lose without facing hardship; be bluntly realistic about the marketability of the product: family and acquaintances may be the only markets interested in a mediocre product; the experience is its own reward; and in the end, the return on investment will only be at best a reflection of the actual text's, the words' qualities and merits and virtues that appeal to a target audience niche.

That latter, that's the gold ticket to ride. No amount of marketing can do any more than notify a public audience about a product's availability through packaging, advertising, promotion, and publicity: the four corners of marketing.

The fifth corner, the one that does matter, the one that many enterprises overlook or give short-shrift, generating word-of-mouth buzz, is fickle and intangible and near impossible to quantify or qualify. A product's appeal matters most for generating buzz; when the audience sells the product, the product sells itself. After all, the point of public-ation is to appeal to the public all the while appealing to the self.

[ March 16, 2013, 12:16 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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LDWriter2
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Haven't been involved in this discussion but thought I would say that there is a self-publishing community on Google+ and/or one to help promote such books.
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