On Self-Publishing

Over the past six years I have self-published seven books.  I got fed up waiting for publishers or agents to even reply and those that did usually said things like “worthy,” but the implication was “I can’t make money out of this.”   Of course, there is a price to be paid using this route, because few media will review self-published books on their merits and selling them is more difficult.  But, be that as it may, it has the distinct advantage of publishing your work as you like it and as fast as you like.  And I personally am more interested in spending my precious time writing than marketing.

But, don’t think that self-publishing is easy, it’s not.  I have developed a convenient step-wise procedure whereby I publish my books:

  1. First, write the book: This is the easy part.  I use MS Word for this.  Then get feedback from friends and edit the text.
  2. Then format the book:  Some prefer a supposedly user-friendly program like Scrivener, that is designed to do the formatting automatically.  However, I have found it difficult and time consuming to learn how to use this program when I already know how to do essentially everything I want in Word.  There are several things to remember when using Word: 1. Always insert a “page break” at the end of each page where you want a new page to start, do not use spaces or new paragraphs to go to the next page, because if you do and you change the size of the pages, the new pages will not start where you want them to. 2. Never use indents to center items such as titles, always use the center command.  3. When the book is complete, switch to the desired book size, usually the US standard pocket book (8″ x 5.25″) and use mirrored pages with the inside margin slightly wider than the outside.
  3. Print the book: I have a friendly printer here named ABC, and I send two pdf files to him by e-mail, the cover and the text.  There are also complications such as getting an ISBN no. and applying for copyright. The printer modifies the cover so that the spine width is correct for the number of pages in the book and he adds the ISBN no. bar-code on the back. Then he prints a proof copy for me and I check it.  It’s important to see that the cover is centered properly and the color is what you want and that the text is correct, and the table of contents matches the page numbering.
  4. Send the files to an on-line publisher:  I use Createspace, not only because its simple to use, but also because it is a subsidiary of Amazon and after being accepted in Createspace the books are then listed in Amazon.com. Createspace also requires two pdf files, so I submit the final versions, including any modifications made to the cover by the printer (he sends me the final pdf file).  They then process the files and find any problems with them.  If none then they require you to proof the book (using their on-line previewer) and then give your final consent to make the book available on-line on a print on demand basis.  I also order a few proof copies just in case (you can hold off approving publication until you receive the proof copies).
  5. Publish an e-book version:  I do this thru Kindle, that is also an Amazon subsidiary.  However, although you can publish on Kindle thru the Createspace site, I have found that this is not a good idea, since the files required by Kindle are not pdf files, they prefer doc or another kind of file.  So I discovered that its better to use Kindle Direct (https://kdp.amazon.com).  But, to publish on Kindle you must have an active Table of Contents (TOC).  You prepare this in Word under References, you select each title and subtitle in the book  and then you enter them into the active TOC.   Also, some figures are not processed properly by the Kindle software, so you must check the output in the Preview before approving the book for publication.  If you have several figures and they don’t look right, then you can use the Kindle Kids Book Creator, that you can download and that handles books with many figures (don’t worry about the “Kid” designator).  This produces a mobi file that you then have to submit to Kindle.

So if you have a story to tell, after you have written it and you are feeling brave enough, you can publish it yourself thru one of the means described here, or thru many other sites.  I will be talking about my latest book, “Of Gods and Lemurs,” at AACI Netanya on Sun Jan 24 at 10.30 am.


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