Want to write a book? Want to know what it’s like trying to self publish? Well I just finished my second one so here’s my thoughts on the whole thing…
Step 1. Write a book.
Simple right. Well actually it is if you’re self publishing because you can publish a big old steaming bag of dog poo if you so wish. That is the beauty of it. I did mine in Microsoft word. I wrote words, I added pictures, I buggered around with fonts and layouts. Voila, book done.
Now, there are all sorts of programmes you can use if youre really wanting to go to town with planning and building your creation, such as Scrivener. For a small fee it will let you plan and detail your work to the most detailed degree – allowing you all the
This time round I decided to write a children’s book so I created 12 tales that revolve around animals in Africa and a waterhole and some such. I grew up in South Africa so that was part of the inspiration. Some of it also came from my blog where I did a load of animal stories a few years ago. Mostly it is a mish mash of all of that.
Step 2. Find an artist
I originally contacted someone from the blogging world to see if they fancied collaborating and doing the artwork because I loved her stuff and thought it would be a great fit – but unfortunately, we managed to both get confused over the whole matter and I thought she didn’t want to do it when she did and then I ended up going with someone else. I still want to work with her, but for this project I ended up going to Fiverr.
I found a fabulous artist on there, Naya Kirichenko, and she was just getting started and I loved some of her stuff and sent her a synopsis and said what do you think? She was keen and gave me a price and we were good to go. I sent her money, and in about a month or so she sent me 13 full pictures and some other wee bits and pieces. And I bloody loved them! She was just a pleasure to work with and nailed the brief perfectly. In fact, I’m still not sure my writing is up to the quality of her art…
You want to know what I paid right? I think it was about £25 a picture. Seriously cheap – though I didn’t know this at the time. Oh and I own the copyright to them all – definitely something you need to ensure you consider. Are you buying the work, are you collaborating and sharing profit, will they get (or even want) credit, etc. Fiverr really helps you work through this though as it helps you put together the contract of sale – and all the money goes through them also.
So by now I reckon I had sunk about £350 into the project.
Step 3. Buy your fonts because you couldn’t embed them.
Not all fonts are free to use as you see fit. Some are, but many are actually owned by people so if you want to use them in publicly published work sometimes you need to own rights to them. I used one that I ended up having to buy because I could not embed it in my word document when I wanted to prepare the document for upload to the printing service. I used LULU and Amazon KDP to create my books, and both needed the fonts embedding.
Okay, so I could find dubious ways around this, which involved just stealing the font off of the web, but I decided against it. Cost me about £60 as I recall.
Step 4. Get an editor when you hadn’t even thought about that.
One day I put a post on my blog saying I was working on the book and I was contacted by M from Her Writing Haven who offered her services as an editor,. Until now I thought I was doing okay and didn’t need one,. Turns out I could not have been more wrong. M was wanting to set herself up in the world of editing and so I gratefully accepted the offer to do it for gratis, and sent the manuscript. A few days later I received my first revision.
Turns out I really have no idea when it comes to punctuation and had I sent out what I thought was close to my finished version it really would have been a shoddy bag of words indeed. A few revisions later we were both happy that it was what it needed to be and I was good to progress! Without her help it would certainly not have been the book I am rather proud of…Thanks M!
I learned so much during this process and know now the value of the editor. Find one! Seriously…it can make such a difference! There are quite a few I’ve seen during my time on WordPress, and a number of the indie publishing houses will provide a service too. Cage Dunn, River at Potters Grove and Tara at Raw Earth ink spring immediately to mind.
Step 5. Spend what seems to be months tweaking the layout.
Oh sweet baby Jesus this was painful. Days and days and days of buggering around with margins, covers, layouts – all to get it to look spot on when you upload it. This nearly nmade me give up and I actually ended up taking 4 days off work to dedicate to it. I probably pent most of that tweaking and uploading to get it spot on. Oh and I then paid £16 a month for the ADOBE suite to really be able to do what I wanted with my PDF and cover because it was so hard. I shit you not, this bit was a mare!
So now I’m somewhere close to £400 to create this thing.
Save your word file with fonts embedded, save it as a pdf, check PDF text boxes, save it as a press ready PDF, upload it, view it, scream with frustration as the uploader doesn’t quite like your layout or picture DPI or spine spacing or some other such fuckery then do it over and over until you lose the will to live!
I got there eventually and now I am not sure what all the fuss was about. Or maybe I just pressed publish and no longer gave a monkeys toss about it. You decide.
Oh wait, I had to do this on LULU (because I wanted a hardback copy and at the time KDP didn’t do hardback), for KDP paper back, hardback and then a whole other process to create the Ebook. Did I not mention that? No ? Well you do . Treat each version like a completely different product and scream into the void four different time. Repeatedly.
And just a note on the E Book. I hate it. I get it has to be optimised for readers, but it loses all the beauty of the physical copy. It reads and looks different too as the fonts are limited and there are not many layout options. I priced it hoping no one would buy it to be honest.
Step 6 Tell people about it and make no money at all.
So ‘Im telling you lot, and Mrs Afterwards put it on Facebook and I told a few friends. But that is about it. I did consider traditional publishing, but that is another long road I am not prepared to go down yet. I wrote this for me and my kids and for the future grandkids maybe, not to make money.
How much money do I make I bet you’re wondering right?
Well I put them all for sale at cost with a slight rounding up so for paperbacks I think I make about £0.16p and for the hardback I think I make £0.01p. Seriously. You split profits 60/40 with Amazon so that’s ok., But then all printing costs come out of your cut. So yes, I literally get pennies for each book – but its not about the £. Unless you buy the E Book, I make about £5 on that as there is no printing cost – but as I said, it looks like old pants and just isn’t the product I really wanted it to be.
Really, It’s about creating my own thing and I bloody loved doing it, despite the frustration!
So would I recommend it? Yes, absolutely. You might want to try the likes of Potters Press or Raw Earth though if you can affordd it as they will take a lot of the frustration out it. I like to think im pretty computer literate but art time I felt like I had only just discovered fire…
Anyway, it is there forever and ever now, and I made that. Out of nothing! And now Mrs Afterwards is proud of something I did – unlike the filthy limerick book which just brought shame on the family.
Oh and I still intend to do an audio book of it too. Maybe next month. 😊
You can find it on Amazon USA here
And you can find it on Amazon UK here
Or you can buy it on LULU here – and I think this is the nicer version though it cost a bit more with postage…and it is only hard cover on there.