Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Tess M Garfield, a friend of the blog and a terrific author.
I enjoy the passion and humor Tess brings to everything, so I wanted her as one of our first guest bloggers, and luckily for me, she agreed. Watch for her interview here next week!
When I started writing my first book, I had read that anyone can publish a book on the internet, so I knew it couldn’t be that hard. There really is nothing quite like looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses. Having planned to write a book for many years, I had carried out some brief research, like maybe as much as five minutes, so I knew that KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) existed. Nothing more, but knowing I had the option to self publish was enough motivation to get me writing. I honestly didn’t think any more about it until I had something ready to publish. Time spent researching would have been writing time wasted, and that would of course have been silly.
Eventually, having written those two final words, the end, I thought the hard part was over, but boy was I in for a shock! I handed the book over to the most honest critic I have, my husband, and whilst he picked holes in it, I set to work on thoroughly researching my publishing options. This was when I realised the true meaning of silly. The magic became a mystery, and I discovered how much more I had to do before my dream could come true. That said, had I entered the minefield of self-pub options before writing, I may have got scared and run away, and the whole future would have been completely different. I wouldn’t have been writing a guest blog for Dan Alatorre for a start, in fact, I have no idea what I would have been doing right now. How boring my life would have been.
The Internet can be a wonderful resource, except for when it throws so many options at you that you feel like your head might actually explode. It didn’t, but it could have done. I truly had no idea that there would be so much choice. I spent a week trawling from forum to forum, and blog to blog, reading about other peoples’ experiences, and losing the will to live. If I’d lived close enough to a cliff, I might have been tempted to jump. I suddenly had to make more decisions than I ever thought was possible. After all, it’s just a book, paper and ink. I had achieved this incredible thing, realised part of my dream, but I was on the verge of turning my back on it, just because I suck at making decisions.
Having originally planned to write for Kindle, with my limited knowledge of KDP, I suddenly discovered that I could have my book printed, a tangible object that I could hold up whilst shouting “look what I did”, but that gave me a whole host of other options. I filtered through some of the different print-on-demand companies, cost structures and royalties options, eventually returning to Amazon because it’s a brand I know and trust. The fact that their services have no upfront costs played no part in my decision, honestly, well okay, maybe a little. Okay, I didn’t have any spare cash, my decisions where purely driven by money, now give me a break.
Decision made, it’s free, if I mess it up, I lose nothing. I went for a paperback through Createspace, and an ebook through KDP. The best part of my plan was that Createspace would submit everything to KDP on my behalf. Simple, yes? Then the hard work began, again. There seems to be no end to the supply of hard parts in this process, but in the absence of that cliff I mentioned earlier, I persevered. I’ve now done this twice, and I felt so much more confident the second time because I knew the order that things needed to be done in. Next time will be even easier, I hope. My advice to anybody using Createspace is to take the process step by step. Don’t let all the options confuse you, read the help articles, but above all, persevere. Remember, step-by-step, it practically does it for you.
Createspace provides all the templates you need, even a personalised cover template based on the actual dimensions of your book. They provide you with a free ISBN, for use through them only, and they don’t charge for amendments. I can’t compare them to anybody else because I was too scared (and hard up) to try anybody else, but I have two more books in progress and I will be publishing them in the same way as my first two because I’m more than happy with my experience so far.
My only tiny complaint about Createspace, location specific, is about ordering my proof and further copies direct from them. I live in the UK, yes a dark and distant land filled with castles and long, straight roads that the Romans built, but I may as well live on Mars. I don’t want to wait for a month to get my books in my hands, and opting for express delivery would mean paying more per copy than I would if I just purchased them from Amazon UK. I’m slightly mad but not that crazy. I can just be a customer and order locally, taking delivery within two days, free with Prime, and I even get paid royalties for doing so. There is a downside though, a big ugly downside. I must approve an online proof and officially publish before I can place my order. Half a dozen other people had a physical copy of my first book over two weeks before I received my initial order from Createspace. Whereas, using the locally sourced method for my second book, I had a copy in my hands within a couple of days, but had to take it off sale for almost 48 hours after discovering a couple of irritating typos. The bonus is that those first eight copies, sold before the takedown, will be worth a mint in a few years time when I’m incredibly famous.
Createspace to KDP automatic transfer.
STOP! Never just accept that the files sent to KDP from your print version are free from issues. Consider it a starting point, but the formatting for print is likely to cause some issues due to extra carriage returns, tabs and, for some reason, not having a single carriage return before a page break. I had to tweak my latest release several times before I was happy with the layout. Besides, you have so much more scope to add extras to an ebook, such as extracts from your other works or bonus content, and that’s worth giving it individual attention for.
Now that all the hard work is done and dusted, it’s time to plough on with a much bigger, harder and more important stage. Advertising! Good luck.
Tess M. Garfield
Tess describes herself as: English. Slave to a husband, two children and two Labradors. In my mid-late thirties. Favourite colour (favorite color!) is purple, I expect that comes across in my writing. I work full-time in the higher education sector. Night-owl. I do everything on my iPad except for final formatting. I turned a negative (redundancy) into a positive by using the time to write the book I had wanted to write for years (Virtually Strangers). Now that I’m fully motivated in my writing and back at work, I enjoy balancing the two. I consider myself extremely lucky to have two jobs that I love.