Self Publishing Your Book… What I’ve Learned

 

Ever Dream of Being a Published Writer?

Is writing a book something you’ve always wanted to do, but because of funds, or the lack thereof, you just sit by the window staring out at the world wondering and wishing what it would be like to be able to write a book and have it published?

You’ve started it a hundred times – in your head, on paper or maybe on your computer. You can see the story unfold before your eyes, and you want desperately to share it with the world. Maybe you’ve written long posts on social media of funny, odd or even sad events in your everyday life, and you’d like to publish a collection of those posts.

Have you thought of self publishing?

Self publishing is easier now more than ever. The cost? Depending on the size of your book, it just might be less than lunch. Of course, that is just the actual publishing of the book. Getting the word out about your book is also on you. That, of course, will cost you more money if you purchase advertising, but at the very least, it will cost you time. The most popular advertising is sharing on social media.

What do you need to self publish?

Really, you only need two things, well, maybe three…

  1. A word processing program, preferably Word, as from what I have read from others, most self publishers accept Word docs.
  2. Access to a graphics program. I, personally, have Photoshop Elements, but from what I understand from others, there are several free programs on the internet you can use.
  3. An idea to write about.

You’ve made your decision to sit down and write your book. You’ve got it all typed up in your word processor. What do you do now?

An internet search for self publishing will give you several websites that will allow you to self publish. Each one is different. The one I use and will cover here is CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon. CreateSpace is a print-on-demand publisher/printing service, which means they don’t print unless the book is ordered.

CreateSpace allows you to download templates using Word for the inside text, as well as your photo editor program for the book cover. There are a variety of popular book sizes for you to choose from. I took a book I had and measured it to get an idea of what size I was interested in. The size I’ve found I like for the two short stories I’ve written is 5.06 inches x 7.81 inches. I wrote an historical book about my 2x great grandparents recently and chose the 8-1/2 inches x 11 inches because I had documents I wanted to include. I wanted them to be easily read. For the two grayscale coloring books I published, I chose the 8-12 x 11 size as well.

Once you have your book size chosen, you’ll need to copy your text and paste it into the template. I strongly suggest you paste chapter by chapter. Be extremely careful NOT to change the format of the template. Be careful inserting pages, as this can mess with your formatting. You may need to adjust font and font size; so, be careful. Keep in mind, not all fonts are made equal. Try to stay away from weird fonts that are not easily legible. The letters in some fonts are too close and may need adjusting. Unless you know how to format your fonts with kerning and spacing, I’d stay away from narrow fonts. If you’re adding images, depending on the book size you have chosen, you may need to resize them. Try to keep the images in line with the text. Note the text is set up as right side and left side; so, the bound book prints centered. The text and images will not appear centered on the template. If you want an image on a specific page by itself opposite specific text, you will need to click print preview to see which page is the opposing page to the text. Print preview is the only way you can see the two facing pages as they will appear in your book.

The template gives you all the pages that go in the front of the book as well.

Copyright/ISBN page: You will need to complete your copyright page. It should have your copyright. Mine is: “©2017 Paws4Critters Publishing.” It should have your copyright statement: “All rights reserved…” Your copyright statement should have something saying it’s prohibited to use, copy in any form known or in the future unless permission is requested in writing. It also contains your ISBN placement. You will need to fill in your 10-digit and 13-digit ISBN numbers. You can either purchase these from an ISBN seller like Bowker or obtain them from CreateSpace. If you decide to purchase your own, they can be very expensive. About $99 each. On a limited budget, this is usually out of my price range. CreateSpace’s ISBNs are sort of free. Free in the sense you do not have to put out any cash for them; however, CreateSpace owns them. This can limit what you can do with publishing your book; so, you may want to read CreateSpace’s info on their issuing ISBNs. I use CreateSpace to get ISBNs because my budget does not allow me to purchase them myself.

Dedication page: self explanatory. This is the page you write who your book is dedicated to. Someone who inspired you, someone you wrote it for, etc.

Acknowledgements page: self explanatory. This is the page you write if you wish to acknowledge anyone. When I did the story of my 2x great grandparents, this page had a few acknowledgments. I wanted to bring attention to my dad who got me interested in genealogy and several other family members including my 2x great grandparents each for specific reasons which I pointed out in my acknowledgments.

Table of Contents page: If your book is separated by chapters, do not forget to go back and check what page your chapters start on. You will need to come back to the table of contents to edit the chapter titles and page numbers. Remember when editing your book to check the table of contents to make sure the table of contents matches the actual chapter pages you have. If you do edits after you have set the table of contents, be sure to check your page numbers!

If you have access to a program that will convert your text to a .pdf, use it. My experience is it uploads easier to CreateSpace in .pdf format than in .doc format; however, if you do not have access to a converting program, you can upload your document in the .doc format. CreateSpace will convert it to .pdf format.

Once you know how many pages you have in your book, you can go to the book cover template generator on CreateSpace. It will need to know how many pages are in your book. Once you fill that out and generate you template, you can download your template. The template can be used in a photo editing program. Remember when setting up your book cover to save it by turning off or deleting the template. If you don’t, it will show in your saved file, and it will kick out of the system when you submit it for approval. If you do not have or have access to a photo editing program similar to Photoshop, you can have it done by someone who does or by CreateSpace. Keep in mind anything CreateSpace does for you will cost you extra. There are groups on facebook for self publishers that have people that offer their services as well. Your book cover will need to be in .pdf format.

The upload process on CreateSpace is a very simple step-by-step process. Click through the steps filling out the information, uploading your files, selecting how you want your book to look and finally how much you want to charge for your book once it is published and goes live on Amazon. You will need to select black & white or color for your book’s internal pages. You will need to choose matte or glossy for your book cover. FYI: glossy is better than matte, in my opinion. I did my first short story with a matte finish and have since switched it to glossy. Once you have your text and cover uploaded, you will have to wait for CreateSpace to approve your files. The approval is technical. In other words, they check to see if there is anything that will stop it from printing. When it clears this technical printing approval, you can either order your proof or view it digitally. I always order the proof. I want to see the book in my hands to see how it will look in print. It also gives me another chance to read through it and proofread it as a book. It’s a lot better than just a digital computerized version. You can make notes and such on your printed proof copy, which you can use to go back to your files and correct or make changes. If you make changes, you will need to re-upload your text file and wait for approval again. Once it has been approved again, you can either order another proof or view it digitally. At this point, I just view it digitally unless I change something significantly like I did with my short story Brother Wolf. If it’s just text, punctuation, etc changes, I view it digitally and approve it. No sense in re-ordering the proof because I know what it will look like already. With Brother Wolf I redid the entire cover; so, I needed to see that in person.

Pricing is a tricky subject. Everyone probably has their own opinion as to how to price. This is what I have been told… if you price too low, people may think you’re book is not worth it. If you price too high, people may think it’s too expensive. You may need to do a search for books in your book’s genre to see what others are selling for. Things to keep in mind when comparing these other books to yours: number of pages, book size (5×8, 8-1/2×11, etc), whether or not you have illustrated your book. (If your book is illustrated and you are NOT the illustrator, be sure to make note of that on the cover with the author name: Written by ‑‑‑‑‑‑. Illustrated by _____. If you illustrate your own book, it’s your choice as to whether you put Written & Illustrated by ____ or include it in the text on the back of the book. I include it on the back of the book.) If the pricing ranges from a low $5 to a high $20, try to price your book somewhere in the middle. CreateSpace’s setup will tell you how much your base price has to be, such as $3.25. You will probably want to double this, at least, and then markup from there. The price they give you is the least you can charge. It covers printing. You will not get a profit if you set it at the base price. You need to set your price higher than the base price.

You will need to write a description for your book. I usually use the synopsis on the back of the book or close to it trying to use as many keywords as possible. You will need to choose keywords/phrases, etc when going through the set-up process of your book on CreateSpace. This will help your book be searchable on Amazon and the internet. Keywords are words or phrases people search the internet for. You want your book to come up in searches. For example: if someone is searching St Francis of Assisi, I want my book Brother Wolf to come up in the search returns; so, I have keyword tagged it “St Francis of Assisi” and “Saint Francis of Assisi.” You are only allowed a specific number of keywords or keyword phrases. Choose wisely. Think: if you were searching, what words would you use. If you can’t think of anything, ask a friend what they would search for.

Once you have gone through the steps, you’ve received your email telling you your book as met the criteria to print, you’ve ordered & received your proof, you’ve proofread it, made any changes if any and you’ve approved your book for print, CreateSpace will tell you how long before it goes live. I have had mine go live within 24 hours. Once it is live and searchable on Amazon, you can start sharing the link to its Amazon page on all your social media sites. You can also order copies at a special author’s price for, say, autographed copies you wish to sell or give away or whatever.

The final step will be to create buzz about your book. Share on social media. Write a blog about it including a link and a photo of the cover. You can include a photo of the interior pages as well. Be sure to place a copyright watermark over your images. Use something like “©2017 Paws4Critters Publishing” diagonally across the image in a light gray or other muted shade.

 

Here are some useful CreateSpace links:

(Note: you will need to be signed in to CreateSpace to access the pages.)

Interior text templates for Word
https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp

Book Cover template creator
https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

About saving your manuscript to pdf format
https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1331

Ordering your own books calculator with shipping
https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content7:BookOrderCalculator

 

Now, get to writing that book.

Books I currently have on CreateSpace can be searched by title or author: Robyn L Stacey or Robyn Lynne Stacey.
Please click the titles.

Mama, Where Do Strays Go

Colorful Cats Adult Grayscale Coloring Book

Classic Car Show Adult Grayscale Coloring Book

Orphaned By War: The Stacy Saga

Coming Soon, and I will update this blog when it goes on sale:
Brother Wolf The Wolf of Gubbio A Story of St Francis

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