The going-it-alone (almost) self-publishing process

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Aside from the total panic I experienced this morning when my laptop refused to open (went to safe mode and did a restore, which fixed things), the going-it-alone (almost) in self-publishing for The Light Never Lies has entered a new stage.

The manuscript has gone off to Doug over at Lighthouse24 for e-book formatting. So far, I can’t say enough good things about Doug’s service. Reasonable prices, he’s easy to work with and he’s willing to share a lot of technical detail. He sent me the clearest instructions on creating a linked Table of Contents in a Word document. I also learned how to do a genuine ellipsis (who knew three periods separated by spaces wasn’t a proper ellipsis? If you have a separate number pad on your keyboard – alt, 0133 will create the real thing) … and a non-breaking space (control/shift/space bar). These are dynamite little formatting tricks, let me tell you.

I’ve also reached the stage, on CreateSpace, of submitting my entire book (cover and interior) for review. I must meet PDF submission guidelines for a print book before I move on to ordering a preview copy.

I still have some important decisions to make before the e-book goes on sale. Will I go with Kindle Select and have the e-book available only on Amazon for the first ninety days? That would give me time to figure out how to negotiate other venues like Barnes and Noble for Nook, the Kobo Store and iTunes. Or, alternately, go with Smashwords, a one stop site to have The Light Never Lies e-pub file put up in all of the above locations.

Top five going-it-on your own (almost) in self-publishing tips I’ve learned so far.

Figure out how to use the CreateSpace, pre-formatted, Word template before you begin pasting sections of your manuscript into it – that should help you avoid having to start over multiple times.

Check, check and double-check every single change – no matter how small – made in the Word document you plan to submit. I am convinced that the majority of errors we see in self-published books are due to something I’ll call, The Just One More Quick Change Syndrome. We’ve all been there – you zip in to remove a word, or substitute one word for another and you back space too far, or you forget to take out the original word, or you mess up your formatting. The list could go on and on.

If outside of the US and wanting to avoid the payment of US tax on book sales, it is easier to have a registered business name and apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) than it is to obtain the same kind of exemption as an individual. In the province of BC, where I live, getting a business name is relatively painless. I did a search to make sure the name I had chosen wasn’t already in use. Luckily, no one else was using Huckleberry Haven Publishing. Next, I registered my choice – cost approx. $70.00 and all done on-line.

A mobi-file (type of e-book file necessary for publishing through Amazon) does not require an ISBN number (though I chose to use my own) but the e-pub file must have an ISBN and it cannot be the same as the mobi-file ISBN. (By the way – the softcover and hardcover editions must also have their own individual ISBN number.) This is not a problem in Canada – ISBN numbers are free and distributed by the Canadian government. The process of obtaining your ISBN numbers is not difficult and can be done on the government of Canada website.

An assisted self-publisher not only charges a high price to produce your book (often these price tags are attached to packages that contain a number of services that are largely useless), they also take a good chunk of what you could make on the distribution end. I can get the unit price per book I plan to sell (by acting as my own vendor) down 40% by going-it-alone. The amount paid to me when a softcover book sells on Amazon will yield me close to 70% more than when I was with an assisted self-publisher. When you are working on a limited budget and hoping to be out of the red someday as a self-published author, these figures mean a lot.

The point of sharing this information is to get feedback, field some questions, and hear how others have experienced similar processes – so please, let the comments flow!

I’ll leave you today with another shot from our trip out to a Winter Harbour a couple of weeks ago. This is the Cape Scott Wind Farm.

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11 comments on “The going-it-alone (almost) self-publishing process

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    It’s getting to that exciting time again for you Francis, most of the hard work done. I think the wind farm looks dreadful – I hate the way those things intrude on the landscape. Not only there of course.

    • There are certainly mixed reactions to the sight of a wind farm! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder on this one. Yes, indeed – the hard work of producing this book is coming down the home stretch. Can’t wait to feel free to move on to other projects.

  2. Terrific advice, Fran! I’ll keep Doug in mind for my next project. I’ve never done the Createspace thing yet, but I might have to go that way in the future.

    This is all very daunting, but I’ve found the main thing is to be patient and methodical. This is a business, and you’re the CEO. Better be sure you’ll be proud to have your name on the final product! (The general you, that is… not YOU.)

    Thanks for the info.

  3. Ack! The dreaded “safe mode” message…I’m happy to hear everything was restored, Francis.
    You’re so kind to share your experiences with the ups and down of self-publishing.
    My Kindle is fired up and ready for The Light Never Lies. Congratulations!

  4. Gwen Stephens says:

    Holy cow, a lot goes into going it alone. Sounds as if you have no regrets, though. I look forward to its release!

    • You’re right about that, Gwen – no regrets, so far. The process of proofing over and over is gruelling but I had to do the same using an assisted self-publisher. Watch for a shout out on this blog in the next week or so when The Light Never Lies becomes available on Amazon. I look forward to launching this baby into the world and getting on with another. Sounds cold, right? But there you go. You know that old saying – familiarity breeds contempt.

      • Gwen Stephens says:

        You have a way with words that I absolutely love. Doesn’t sound cold to me; sounds like a prolific writer. Will this new project be more of the Crater Lake gang, or something in a new direction?

        Looking forward to the shout-out. My new Kindle stands at the ready.

  5. Congrats Francis! I’m new to Smashwords – not sure that I like the look of the way my print ended up yet – but I think it might be really good with all the other sites they send it to. Thanks especially for the tax tips! 🙂

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