My Step by Step Journey
As promised, I will try to outline the steps I have taken to get my work out there. They are not necessarily the right steps, in the proper order, but simply what I did. As an explantion for my decision-making, I refer you to my post “E-pub and your Personal Quest” outlining the importance of understanding why you are writing and why you want to be published. I approached all aspects of my writing keeping this firmly in mind (well, firmly most of the time). I will try to give reasons for each decision based on my goals and philosphy. So……..here we go.
Why finally now?? A number of my novels have been completed for years but never published for a number of reasons: no one out there would publish them: I thought that they were unworthy and needed to be reworked again, and again and… you get the idea. To some extent this was true, but I also believe there was a certain safety in holding onto and re-working my “baby”. Especially that first one because somehow it was special. (Usually because it has a great deal of us in it and we write it with a certain passion) Working on the lastest novel, the light went on. What was the point in denying that I would like to see them published? Period. With the advent of e-publishing it was now possible. It would be a pleasant change in direction from the solitude and self discipline of writing. Something fresh – and exciting! And whether I liked it or not, working on the same novel over again was getting a little old.
So where to start. Research of course. Thank goodness for the internet. I have mentioned JA Konrath before. He has a wealth of information and experience, most recently with e-publishing. He is a strong proponent of it and has much good to say about it. Keep in mind that he had acquired a base of followers through traditional publishing before embarking on e-publishing. Read and take in his cautions. He always focuses on the truths as he sees them – many of which underscore the need to write really GOOD books (he will say GREAT books), promote yourself, write more good books, offer value on your website and keep working and never give up. That’s it in a nutshell, but check him out for much more detail.
There are many other sages giving specific advice and I leave it to you to google them as I did. Suffice to say, what I present are my actions based on the many experiences and advice of others. You would do well to consider the opinions and advice of a variety of experienced authors.
December 7/12 : Everyone says you need internet prescence – ie a web site/facebook etc., so for a web site you need a Domain name – which needs to be registered. After researching the popular, well-reviewed ones, I chose Register.com. There are many others. Do your research. – Cost $26:00
December 8/12: Signed up with Bluehost as the provider that basically carries my website. Good reviews and I chose them not only because of that but they work closely with WordPress – the platform I chose to build a website. Lots of assistance on line or by phone – video tutorials to help non computer guys like me get started. – Cost – $158:00 for three years.
December 10/12: Started investigating a web site builder and e-book publisher, Smashwords. Advice (from Konrath) was to e-pub with Smashwords first because of their excellent, detailed assistance in getting started. He wasn’t wrong about them. More later. At the same time I researched covers – what they looked like, articles on characteristics of great covers, who does them, cost etc. Also started looking into business cards. I wanted to get on overview of all of the facets of the process before I got too far. One reason was so that I had an idea of the time factor for each. Another was the cost and if I could afford it now, or if I would have to keep saving my pennies. All this takes time. Take the time. After all the time you put into writing the book, there really is no great hurry. Whether it comes out in the next two weeks or the next two months is really not critical – unless, perhaps, you have promised a date for the next book on your site.
Christmas and all that it entails took over – just like lots of other life events often do. Keep that in mind and remember to keep balance in your life and your family’s.
February, 2013: Signed up for WordPress. WordPress is pretty sophisticated, (I think) popular and FREE (one of the important details I kept in mind – cause remember it’s a hobby for me). There are other simpler website builders out there, but they cost, or, if you want someon to build it for you, well, it COSTS. (Must admit, even with all the help – and watching some of the videos from Bluehost a dozen times or more, it still took me days just to figure out some basics and get started. Cost – free – if you don’t count the aggravation and frustration of doing it yourself.
I worked on a number of pages, a “home” page and an “about” page, trying to learn how to build the web site while working on a book cover and the business cards. I went into one of my old schools and took photos for the book cover and the cards.
March 6/13: Book Cover: Almost everyone advises getting your book cover done by an experienced person or professional. I used someone from a list provided by Smashwords who was quite reasonable. Again, not being a tech person and having spent the last two months wrestling with creating a business card and the website, I felt that adding the book cover to my challenges would overwhelm me. (If I followed my own advice here, (hindsight being 100%) I would have taken my time and figured it out. But there is a limit to that amount of frustration I can endure with the tech stuff so I opted for help. I was pleased with what Rita Toews produced for me, but in reality I supplied the picture and she added my name and a colour and sized the image. If money is an issue, there are many programmes out there that, depending on your skill level and patience, you could use to produce a suitable cover. Study the characteristics of a good cover, and go with your gut feelings. Having said that, because Rita came recommended and because her price was very reasonable, I felt that I would employ her. Cost – $45:00.
March 10/13: Business cards: finally, after attempting to use “free” on-line business card sites (I found them never to be free and very limited as they want you to opt in for a better programme that costs) I went with Staples, using their on-line service. A store was just down the road I found them very helpful. I didn’t want to run them off myself on my computer because I didn’t feel the product would be very professional looking. I basically used the book cover design, adding my website to the cover to lead customers there and hence to the Smashwords site where my book is sold. Cost – $62:13.
At the same time I was working on formatting my book to meet the requirements for Smashwords. Mark Coker and company have done a great job at supplying a site that assists and answers all the questions you might have in getting your novel ready. I printed out the formatting guide so I had a hardcopy in front of me. So many others on the site had said to make sure your follow the guide faithfully – and your won’t have any problems. I took that advice to heart and made absolutely sure that I followed the advice in the guide and ta da! my novel had no formatted errors and was accepted for the premiere edition the first time I submitted it.
More to come!!
More Has Come
So – within a day there it was on the Smashwords’ site in all its glory, advertised for sale for $2.99 – the best price or so my research told me. Within a half hour I had my first sale! Yes, in response to an e-mail sent out to family and friends my son had purchased one.
By the next day if you went looking for it on their site it was on page 51! Yes, in little less than 24 hours, so many other books had been launched on their site that mine was now on page 51 – fifty-one – FIFTY-ONE!!!! That is the reality of e-publishing. It allows us to get our work out there – it allows all of us to get it out there – good or bad- it piles up faster than you can say 51.
So, we can see the importance of marketing yourself and your work – if you want to make some money at this. More about this and where I am with this later.
Smashwords gives you a free copy of your work to download onto your i-pad or e-reader. Boy it does look good – nice black Times New Roman on beige antiquey-looking (new word I made up) background. Satisfaction.