Riding the Roller Coaster of Self Publishing
Anyone who tells you self publishing is easy is a liar.
Anyone who tells you self publishing is a pain in the butt is your friend. If they offer to help you through the maze of fonts, formatters, cover design, and the myriad other questions that pop up, they’re your new best friend.
Since I was a kid, I dreamed of being traditionally published. I still have that dream, but after meeting Bella Andre in February of this year at my local RWA chapter, I was inspired to take my dreams and my future into my own hands.
Looking at the roller coaster ride I was about to attempt was terrifying! But I steadied my resolve and stepped up to the challenge.
First, I found a cover artist. This part was easy. Really! I had a friend whose novels I love and the covers are gorgeous. So, I asked him if I could use his artist. He said yes, she said yes, and it was a go from there. We set a timeline with the cover to be complete byJuly 31st.
Next, I edited my butt off. Content editor, line editor, you name it, I had it done. I wanted this book to be better than any New York produced book.
At some point I realized I needed a formatter because there was NO WAY I was going to attempt to format this beast myself. I am, at best, a technophobe. Thankfully, a friend of mine needed some work and since she formatted her own self-pubbed books (and they’re beautifully laid out), I hired her to format my books. We set a deadline of August 1st to have everything to her. Manuscript, cover art, the whole enchilada.
So far, the roller coaster is idling in the station, loading passengers, getting ready for lift off. I’m a little nervous, but excited, too.
Then the darn thing shoots out of the station onto the track and everything goes crazy!
The first drop came when my line editor decided to do a complete content edit of the book. Not cool. She changed things that didn’t need changing and put in hyphens everywhere. It set me back a week. No worries, my awesome content editor agreed to proof the book after I made changes. Whew! That dip wasn’t so bad.
Then my cover artist’s mom died. Double loop with a half twist!
Once my tummy settled, we kept on for a bit, wary, but not totally derailed.
Except, the double loop of death pushed back the date of the cover art being done. Which messed up the timeline for the formatter. Which might affect the date I had set for release.
I breathed through the next set of spins and dips, surviving, but not necessarily enjoying the ride anymore.
Then the giant hill of doom presented itself.
My formatter had to leave for a week for a family emergency.
The coaster chugged up that hill, puffing and huffing, gears grinding until I thought for sure we were going backward.
Still, we worked around the emergency. But dang! Did she have a ton of questions I wasn’t prepared to answer!
You know when, in high school or college, you arrived to class and there was a pop quiz and you all of a sudden felt like the biggest loser because you chose to go out the night before instead of studying? Yeah, that’s how I felt. Total loser. I should’ve known the answers, but I was clueless.
Here are a few of the doozies she tossed at me:
Do you have artwork for the title page? Title page? I need a title page? Crap.
How do you want the copyright page worded? Uhhh…
What size book do you want? Oh! I know this one! 8×5, yes! Got one right.
Have you set up your Smashwords account? What about Createspace or Amazon? Yes, yes, yes. Another one partly right. I hadn’t actually set them up as an author, with tax information and all that jazz.
Are you going to do KDP Select? Not sure. Next question, I’ll come back to this one.
What category is your book? Is awesome a choice?
What keywords do you want to use? Please buy this book because it’s awesome?
How do you want your Table of Contents to read? Content? Table of Contents? Contents? Um, is it okay if I answer, “I don’t care? No? Dang.”
Are you using the ISBN-10 as well as 13? 10? 13? Yes?
How do you want the headings on each page to read? Name on the right or left? What font do you want your type in? Name? Book title? A readable font? Help me!
Where do you want the page numbers? Top right? Top left? Bottom center?
At this point, I was so dizzy from the loop d’loops that I just mumbled my answers. I had a lot of research to do! Fortunately, my formatter kept amazing notes and if we needed to refer back to something, she would remind me what my answer had been at the time.
It was overwhelming, to say the least! Where to put the page number? Seriously? But yes, those were all valid questions. Mostly I would pull books off my shelf and scan them for what other authors did.
After all of that, including two deaths, a wedding, and a trip to Canada, we got the book uploaded in time. The cover art wasn’t complete until the end of August, and we didn’t get the print edition up at the same time as the epub, but that’s the beauty of self publishing.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, even though I went on the wild roller coaster ride of hades, it cruised into the station just fine. Sure, our hair was as frazzled as our nerves, but it was a thrilling ride, to say the least.
My advice to you before jumping onto that coaster ~ read up on everything you can about self publishing before you need to. Some of it won’t make sense, but it will once the questions get tossed your way.
My formatter and I have come up with a style sheet now, so the next book will go much smoother. Read the books, take notes, make a style guide for yourself.
But most of all, fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an awesome ride!
Here’s a handy list of some of the books that helped me muddle through:
Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran
Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran
Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl
Self-Publishing Manual vols 1 & 2 by Dan Poynter
Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant
The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing by The Indie Voice
What Tameri Etherton is writing:
More about Tameri Etherton:
Rocker of sparkly tiaras, friend of dragons, and lover of all things sexy, Tameri Etherton leaves a trail of glitter in her wake as she creates and conquers new worlds and the villains who inhabit them. When not masquerading as a mom and writer, rumor has it she travels to far off places, drinking tea and finding inspiration for her kickass heroines—and the rogues who steal their hearts—with her own Prince Charming by her side. Social Media Links: