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


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.


I Go Public with Disappearing in Plain Sight


Yesterday, I partnered up with my wonderfully extroverted friend, Marion, at the mall in the nearby community of Port Hardy. We rented adjacent tables, and she sold her beautiful, handcrafted scarfs and hats, and I sold my book.

What an experience. I wish you could meet Marion. She knows everyone there is to know197577_18156494096_8734_n[1] in Port Hardy. She called people over to the table and introduced, “her writer friend, Fran.” She told everyone she was reading the book, and it was fantastic. People she regularly has coffee with at a local diner, gathered around to talk and even buy a book.


I heard all about a new phenomenon in Port Hardy – wind mill guys (but there are also gals). A large wind farm is being installed on Knob Hill, near Cape Scott on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. The project employs a lot of people from far and wide. Marion’s friend pointed a few of them out to me as they cruised through the mall on their way to the local grocery store. She nodded knowingly and said, “Wind mill guys”. She told of a fellow who showed up at the local Legion’s turkey dinner wearing a pair of $3000.00 shoes. She gave another sage nod. “A wind mill guy.”


(One of the windmill blades being moved across the highway outside of Port Hardy on route to the site)

My writer’s imagination went wild with thoughts of a book about what happens to a small community when an influx of wind mill guys blow into town.

I chatted with a woman who is writing her own book with surprisingly similar themes. Thank the stars I have read widely because I was able to talk knowledgeably about various books people mentioned that they were currently reading. I had a chance to catch up with a woman I have known forever. She was in the mall with her oldest daughter and two adorable grandchildren. She bought a book and then her daughter bought one, as well.

People stopped and talked about health concerns, the local council, and the previous night’s very wild and crazy event at a local pub that featured a Newfoundland band.

I also heard a captivating story about some guys someone had once met who had been hauling a load of bathtubs across the prairies. They had some engine trouble and ended up stranded in a small town waiting for a part. One thing led to the other, and they were still there three days later. There was a heat wave going on, and a local blues festival had the camp grounds overloaded. The enterprising men had unloaded the bathtubs and set them up in a row by the river. They were filling them up and selling baths. According to the storyteller, people had lined up around the bend, dropping their towels by the open-air tubs and hopping right in. Only on the Canadians prairies, you might well conclude that. Once again my imagination was working overtime thinking about how I could work that story into a book sometime.

For my first public appearance to promote and sell my book, it went exceptionally well. I wasP1060756 thrilled with the way the book looked, copies of it stacked on the table. I enjoyed talking about the fact that I had written a novel and what it was about. I loved watching and interacting with “the locals” – remembering that I am a North Islander, too. It was delightful to ask people, “Did you want me to sign your copy?” And having them respond, “Of course.”


One comment about my photos for the event – I brought my camera with every intention of getting all kinds of terrific candid shots. I only took two pictures, and those were when we were setting up. If you want pictures of any event, don’t imagine you will have the time to take them yourself. Make sure you assign the task of taking photos to someone else. Lesson learned and noted.

Thank you, Marion and thank you Port Hardy for a great day!


(Photo of me on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, enjoying the best ever Margarita. I felt this happy last night. I offer up a toast to everyone who made me first book outing so great.)