Self-Publishing – Next Steps

So Pete, what have you discovered about writing and publishing a novel?

Well, it’s bloody hard work!

But anyways, let’s start at the beginning.

First step – write a book.

To be honest, you can write a short story, use the steps I spell out below to get it published/ printed and you’re away. But I wrote a book. At the moment it’s 103,000 words or so – about 340 pages.

Let me be very clear, I would not have been able to do any self-publishing without the masses of excellent free things you can download and use on the net; otherwise I would have had to pay the thousands of dollars that some self-publishing companies charge. Actually, I think I would not have bothered… but I digress.

One of the first bits of advice I received was to get a blog. Here it is, you’re reading it now… Thanks to word press…!

My tools…

The cover of the book was done by a friend, John Simpson of Hobart Design. We met years ago through a mutual friend and I recently rang him out of the blue… he was only too happy to help! If he’d not done it for me, I would have tried to do a cover in Power Point, or a free version of Photoshop that I downloaded. Let’s just say that would have had to figure out who to use Photoshop first…! And the cover would not be as good as John’s. The base image is from iStock.

Outsider is primarily a fantasy novel – which means a new world that is not earth needed to be created. I used a very crappy drawing I did on a white board for ages – but then I found an awesome map here. I know it says ‘free to use’ but I asked permission from the artist first, just to make sure…!

Print on demand seems like such an awesome idea…! I mentioned I’m looking at CreateSpace or Lightning Source to publish. For me, Lightning Source are a more attractive option, mainly because they operate out of Australia. To do things their way, I need to do everything myself – which is cool. I’ve learned a lot. For example I had to get my own ISBN’s, which I did (in Australia) though Thorpe-Bowker.

I write in MS Word – I’ve used it at work since the very early 90’s, and still use it today. I’m comfortable with it. You have to create a .pdf of your manuscript to submit it, and have to make sure that you embed all of your fonts – this can be tricky if there’s an invisible font hidden in a header or footer that does not embed easily in a .pdf, like Arial or Times New Roman.

To edit I found a great program at Pro Writing Aid. It tells me loads about adverbs, verbs, past-participles and stuff. There is a free version & a paid version.

I have also had to learn how to create and edit an e-pub file. Not having done this before, I found two excellent programs. To create the e-pub I used Calibre and to edit it I’ve used Sigil. I also downloaded a heap of e-book readers to use on my iPad so I can see what the finished file will look like…!

Hopefully my next blog will be something along the lines of… ‘It’s finshed!

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Self-Publishing – First Step

So, back to now.

I’m almost finished Outsider. I know I said that earlier, but I’m closer to finishing now that I was then.

So, why am I self-publishing? I’m glad you asked.

I’m sure like every hopeful author I presumed I would write a blockbuster novel, get courted by a major publisher and then sign a book deal worth millions.

I should point out, that along the way I also thought I’d begin to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen too.

Ok, so I dreamt big – but hey, you have to aim high, right?

So anyway, I actually finished the first draft of Outsider in November 2013. 27 November 2013, according to the file saved date. Until then I had a collection of stories that eventually became a manuscript. I was so excited that I printed it all out! It’s sitting in a folder somewhere. I presumed that would be my ‘book’.

I sent it off to a publisher, one of the major ones – they have a ‘come and try day’ where anyone can e-mail an unsolicited submission and it will be considered. Sadly I never heard back from the publisher, so I lost interest and went back to playing bass with some mates.

 Anyways, about six months later I was chatting to a workmate who mentioned that her sister had written and self-published a book. I bought the book and was inspired to publish my work. So I began researching self-publishing online. There’s a massive amount of info out there – and a massive amount of traps for the unwary. I opened ‘free accounts’ with several companies, simply because I had no idea what was involved. Most wanted to charge large sums of money to put my work out there into the public domain. Sadly most of these companies seem to harass you into spending money with them. There are enough horror stories on the net – I’ll not add to them.

That’s ok I guess, but there are other (cheaper) ways of doing it yourself.

I’ve gone the ‘doing it yourself’ path – not because it’s easier, but I think more rewarding.

So on 5 May 2014 I finished the second draft. It was better than the first (like a lot of things!). After I finished the second draft, I began to chat to other authors who had experience with self-publishing, and the more traditional way. They seemed split 50/50 on whether to get an editor. I’ve compromised and am using my wife (using her in a nice way – see earlier blog).

Everyone I spoke to spoke very highly of two self-publishing pathways – Amazon’s CreateSpace, and Lightning Source’s Ingram Spark. I liked the sound of them, because you get to do most or all of the work yourself.

I’ve had to become a publisher, but I need to stress I’m just an enthusiastic amateur – not a professional. Same with being an author! A steep  learning curve, but good fun.

Enough for now – next time I’ll write about the steps in the process.

Cheers,

Pete

This book-writing has taken ages…

I began writing this book way back in 1991. I can’t remember exactly when. I do remember I was working at a bank; I was a teller. I had a small notebook in my pocket and made notes in quiet times.

I graduated to a ‘portable’ computer in 1992. An old Amstrad – it looked like this…

I must admit though… now that I’ve almost finished my first novel, I have a couple more ideas in the bank (pun intended!). I’ve already started work on two more novels!

Am I an author?

I have read a few blogs and online comments recently about self-published authors not really being ‘proper’ authors.

First Question:
Am I an author? As far as the Macquarie Dictionary is concerned – yes.

“author
/ˈɔθə/ (say ‘awthuh)
noun 1. a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist…”

I’ve written a book. I wrote it and did a fair bit of the editing myself. I’m the composer of a literary work. It’s not published yet; I’m going to self-publish. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

What’s that, not getting a ‘proper’ editor? Not being published by a ‘proper’ publisher? Well, let me explain using the following example: We all know that there is an awful lot of crap being published in music. It’s a given that everyone’s opinion will differ on what is ‘good’ or not. There’s an excellent saying that I have on the whiteboard in the study at home: “Music is what feelings sound like”.

The real beauty in music is with the listener and really has nothing to do with what is ‘proper’. Freddie Mercury was one of the world’s best singers, a peerless performer and gifted pianist. He didn’t have a ‘textbook’ piano-playing technique. But bloody hell, I listen to his music nearly every day of my life… Don’t get me wrong, I’m still amazed and in awe at musicians who sound good and display an awesome technique, but I don’t think that’s the most important part.

Having said that, we all know what crap is and what’s not. There is room for one more quote here: “You can’t polish a turd…”

I’ve used the editing tool found at http://prowritingaid.com/ for my own work and I think it’s a brilliant help. My wife is also reading through the story to edit it for me and she is doing a wonderful job. I have to say though, she does a fair bit of procedure writing and editing in her day job, so she has a fair bit of practical experience I can draw on.

One thing I noticed when running my work through the editing tool was the number of English issues that were highlighted. It caused me to stop for a few days and think my story was poorly-written. I think I’ve corrected all the erroneous commas, colons inverted commas and full stops, but I still got picked up on adverbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc. etc.

So what I’m getting at is – I think that a book (novel/ whatever) has to be a good story first.

To validate my opinion, I ran two samples of published novels through the editing tool. 3,000 word sections of two well-known and popular books.

I’m pleased to say that the editing tool returned a similar list of issues as my own work did: overused adverbs, passive verbs found lurking in the text and loads of repeat sentence starts.

I didn’t ask anyone else’s opinion if it was a good book or if it deserved to be published. But I’m going to publish it anyway. I know my book is not a masterpiece, I know it could be improved by a ‘normal’ publisher / editor but it never will. Nevertheless, I’ll keep writing because I love it!

I hope it’s a good story.