Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thinking of Self-Publishing?


Not too long ago Avalon was sold to Amazon and whether we were ready or not, many of us went digital.  Some people want a publisher to take care of all the other work while they just concentrate on the writing.  Others embrace the Do-It-Yourself freedom.  But it’s easy to be confused with the technology and requirements involved in self-publishing.  The knowledgeable and talented Amanda Church of Nytshadow Designs has kindly offered to answer some of the basic questions over the next weeks.

Q: Let’s suppose a writer has completed a novel and wants to publish it herself. What’s the first thing an author should do before starting the process of self-publishing?

A: You should have a clean, proofed, edited copy of your book. After you’ve done the final edits and made a last pass through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb for typos, punctuation, grammar, etc., go through it again. Print it out and look at it. So many things can be missed by looking at a manuscript on a computer screen. The first book I published I thought was squeaky clean. I initially published a print version through CreateSpace (Amazon). When I got the proof copy, I nearly died. There were broken sentences, or indents that didn't belong where they were and some were missing elsewhere. I never noticed any of these things on the computer screen.

If you don’t have the critical eye for detail, spend the money to hire an editor or find a friend who can read meticulously. As long as it’s someone who can be objective, not necessarily of the content, but of the way it is presented. By the time you finish a book, you’ve been living with it for so long, you often can’t see the forest for the trees. Your mind tells you what it should say rather than what it does say. If you don’t have anyone to look at it and can’t afford an editor, put the manuscript away for a few weeks then come back to it fresh. I often trick my mind by pretending to read it as if I’m someone else.

Q: With a clean copy of the manuscript, what's next?

A: Once you’ve made the decision to self-publish digitally, it should be converted from your word processing program into a format that's appropriate for a reading device.  Some sites will do this for you.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo do convert a doc file into a format they want. There are other sites, termed distributors, like Smashwords or Draft to Digital who will convert your manuscript into the formats required by the sites where you would like to sell your book and submit the book to those sites.  You need not do anything else.  Go to these sites and read their FAQ.  That will help you make up your mind.

This is a popular choice for many.  Some people want to be in full control and do it themselves or they may find someone who will provide the formatting service for a relatively small price.

The goal is to have a sharp, well-formatted ebook.  Readers are paying to enjoy your book, not deal with formatting issues such as scene breaks that seem like the end of a chapter but aren't.  

Q: Please explain the different formats.  Can a book purchased on Amazon be read on a Nook?  

A: Amazon uses the proprietary MOBI format. All other eReaders (Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc.) use the more generic EPUB format. While an EPUB file can be read across multiple eReader devices, it cannot be read on Kindle, nor can a MOBI file be read on other eReader devices unless you have an application installed that will enable you to do so.

Thank you, Amanda.  The next installment will provide even more information about the journey to publishing in the digital world.



Sandy Cody said...

Great information. There's so much "noise" out there about self-publishing, I'm sure a lot of people will find this helpful. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

The Hostess with the Mostest said...

It is very easy to get confused!