Self-Publishing Part 2

ereader2Now your book is edited and ready for print or ebook formatting. If you are new to this, I highly recommend starting with an ebook. You can always follow with a print edition, but ebooks are easier to correct if you need to make adjustments and it’s a good way to get your feet wet. Self-publishing in places like Amazon or Smashwords is easy. Both have excellent guides in place to help you every step of the way. Formatting is everything at this point so pay attention to all the recommendations.

Amazon allows you to upload your book in several formats including Mobi (Kindle format) which I like. You can ensure the formatting will not be adjusted in some magical and unfortunate way during the conversion. Amazon also supplies a Kindle Previewer so you can check your formatting. With Smashwords, you must upload as a Word document and they do the conversion to Mobi if you select that option. Formatting with block paragraphs was an issue at first but Smashwords were kind enough to point me in the right direction. The trick is to create a custom style that defines a paragraph indent of .01 inches which is barely perceptible. As for using Microsoft Office, it didn’t work well for me but it should be noted that I work on a Mac and was using that version. The construction was fine but it added invisible page numbers that I caught only by switching to OpenOffice so that’s what I use now. Smashwords can do conversions to ePub and several other formats and they offer a premium section for inclusion in Apple iBooks and other retail outlets. Amazon offers only Kindle books so converts to Mobi only but the company is huge and your book will be available at Amazon US, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. You can have your book in both Smashwords and Amazon as long as you abide by the terms of service.

Let’s go back to the problem mentioned in part one

Since nobody is going to beat a path to your door, who is going to read your book and how are they going to find it?

Well, before you upload your book, you need a great cover. Your book cover is what initially attracts the buyer and with ebooks, the design and the type need to be readable in a thumbnail size image. Hire a designer if you can. For print editions, this is especially critical and doing it yourself is very risky. This is where the major publishers put most of their money so it is not a place to ‘cheap out’.

Having said that…

If you are doing it yourself, stand back and squint often. If the overall design holds up, you are on the right track. When you are happy with the design, the easy way is to save a copy as a JPG and upload it. If there is any possibility that you will be publishing your book as a printed edition and want to use the same cover, create your ebook design for print at the proper size and resolution. Just make a copy and resize for web for your ebook.

Your book is now on Amazon and Smashwords.

That’s wonderful! Now you need to tell people about it. Use Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media you can think of to get the word out. Be excited about it! Let the reader know what to expect.

There are sites that review books and one that I found, Simon Royle, also has a list of reviewers where you can submit your book. Guidelines for submissions are on each recommended site. Check some out and decide if you are brave enough and where you might want to submit yours.

Yays: There are places like Author’s Den where you can get your name out by establishing a bio page and adding a couple of books. More is available with their premium services. There are lots of ways to get the word around that you have new books.

Nays: Where some new authors run into trouble is using forums or comment boxes as marketing tools. This is not a good idea and will work against you.

Maybes: Independent sites are popping up inviting authors to be interviewed about their new books. Check out the site first to be sure it is the kind of place you want to have your name included. Read through the site and if there are mistakes in spelling and grammar or the overall feel is unprofessional or overly self-promotional, run. We are known by the company we keep. Some are better than others and that is an understatement. Remember, this increases traffic to the site and adds quality content so it is not an altruistic gesture on their part. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. It’s just good business and a win-win situation with the right site. Ultimately, working together is what it’s all about.

Some places to start:

Smashwords – Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) – Author’s Den – The IndieView – Goodreads – Digital Book Today – Self-Publishing Review – Indie Reader – Indie B.R.A.G.

Final thoughts

Don’t be discouraged if the sales aren’t flooding in. There are millions of self-published books out there of every description and yours is just one. It may take months before things pick up. Meanwhile, keep promoting your work every way you can. And good luck!

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