This is my first post and I am so excited about having this site up and running! I thought I’d just say a bit about my experience with self-publishing my novels. The process is quite fresh in my mind, as I’m still in almost daily contact with my project team as we work through The Sound of Caissons. I can only speak of how this works when you use Amazon’s Createspace as that’s where I published The Lees of Menokin and soon, the Caissons novel. There are more and more presses that offer this service, and I seriously considered Outskirts Press this time. But I went back to Amazon because that’s where most people go to buy their books and ebooks. And you can set the price for your book and determine when and if to lower it. The royalty is good, the service prompt and reasonably uncomplicated. And I was familiar with them.
Back to the process itself. Even though it was the same with the Menokin novel, I was once again surprised at the amount of work required of the author. In the beginning you decide what services you require—one of the services includes complete editing—I passed that up but chose help with both cover and interior—you can do all this very inexpensively if you do these things on your own. But I prefer the professional touch, because I want the finished product to look as good as a book published anywhere. One big difference between self-publishing and regular publishing houses, is that you are the boss, you are in the driver’s seat. There is no editor telling you what will be on the cover, or insisting on a rewrite of chapter three when you’ve already done that four times and really like it the way it is. At Createspace the process will move along at your pace, not theirs. You say when it still needs work, when something isn’t right, and when it’s ready to go. Even after that, you can make a change easily because it’s a print-on-demand book. It will cost you, but it’s possible.
For starters, a project team, consisting of about ten people is assigned to your book. They ask that you to produce a one-word sentence describing the book, a short and a long description, a blurb for the cover, and an author bio. These are pored over by a member or members of the team. This might not sound like much of a challenge, but there are word and space restraints put on each of those requirements, and it begins to feel a lot like an exercise in 7th grade English class. It’s similar to writing a query or a synopsis for an agent, in that it takes time to get it right.
When finished, you copy and paste all this into a form they provide on line. You are also asked to upload your novel so they can compare it to the way you have attempted to describe it. (At this stage, you don’t have to worry about sending a finished copy, as the one you send is considered a work in progress and will not be used in the final printing). Then you wait five days while the team again pours over your words and refines, rewords, and polishes your carefully chosen text and turns it into something closer to marketing copy. You might not recognize it when you get it back for review, but at least some of it will probably be better.
You are now about two weeks into the process. When they send the finished version of the above pieces back to you for review, you may accept them, or you may revise again and upload your revision. I recommend taking your time and thinking about every word. Especially what will be on the cover and in your bio. My cover went back and forth at least four times until I approved it, and I actually substituted revised text for the back cover at the last minute after having approved the cover details the week before. They were using a 1920s photo I sent and incorporating it into the cover. I think it took five versions before I was satisfied with the font sizes and colors, and the various other aspects. I have to say they are very accommodating at Createspace. You may call your team at any time and they answer immediately. I’ve called more than a dozen times and I’ve never had to wait. I’ve asked for the team coordinator, and she’s been put right on the line.
The entire process, interior and custom cover design, takes quite a long time, up to six months. I signed a contract in mid-May; it is now August first and I haven’t yet received the first full proof copy. I don’t mean to infer they are slow, far from it, but because of the author’s involvement in everything, it takes time. And proofing a 600-page novel to make sure all the formatting is correct is going to take time because I’ll also be looking for that one last typo! I might mention in case you’re thinking of self-publishing, the book is printed from the copy you send them—there is no one resetting the type. What comes out of your computer, once the formatting is done, is what goes into the book.
A new service Createspace now offers will set you up with several social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and a web/blog with WordPress. Initially, I signed on for that, but changed my mind, got a refund, and have done these things on my own, and with help from the blogtechguy.com. There are lots of other services available from most self-publishing presses, including marketing help and news releases, etc.
There are many on-line resources that have archived articles helpful to writers. Three that I like are Joel Freidlander, The Book Designer, Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn, and Dana Lynn Smith at The Savvy Book Marketer. So, for now, those are a few of my experiences with self-publishing. If you’ve had an experience with this service and would like to share it, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below and I’ll respond.