Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Thinking of self publishing?

So you've decided to go it alone. The next question is, print book or e-book? Well, Philippa has talked about her experiences of using print-on-demand services. And this may well be the way you want to go (there's no reason why you can't do both). But I chose to take the route of self-publishing on line.

The first thing you will need is a cover. It's important that this cover is one that will still look good reduced to a thumbprint, one that will stand out and mark your novel as professional. And I'm afraid that, for that, you will have to pay. The company I used was called 2h Design Consultancy www.nedof2h.net and the guy I dealt with was Ned Hoste. It was pricey, but the service was excellent. It didn't take more than a few days before six options were winging their way to me. The one I chose wasn't exactly one of the ones he sent, but had elements from several incorporated into the final result. I recommend them.

Now I'm no technophobe, and I guess I thought I would find the next part easy. I'd spent quite a bit of time on-line, investigating sites which gave you information on how to do it yourself, sites which offered to do it for you (for a fee) and sites which promoted themselves as e-publishers, and had gathered a considerable amount of information. Well it wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. For a start I was a bit bewildered by the information on the type of formatting that was required. It seemed that different e-book sellers required different formats, and so just reading the instructions put out by Amazon for Kindle would only go so far. And I didn't want to limit my market to just one seller. So in the end I chose the company that seemed to have the strongest reputation, which was Bookbaby.

Were they helpful? Well, yes and no. They claim that you can just send them a Word document and they will do the rest. So I sent them a Word document, along with the fee (which isn't extortionate). Not so fast. Apparently, I discovered, although this was indeed a Word doc., it had the wrong formatting. Well, I had thought (and to be honest, I still do think) that putting in the correct formatting was what I was paying them to do. Now I was lost. It wasn't that I couldn't understand what was needed. It was that I couldn't work out how to take out all the formatting I'd put in.

So, and I totally advise this to anyone who is struggling with technology, I went to a geek forum, and I asked the question. As it happened I'd been chatting on this forum for a while, ever since I developed my own website, and so I wasn't just a newbie asking for favours. That can get right up people's noses. And there I found a Good Samaritan who DID IT FOR ME! She even reformatted the book correctly and said it only took her about twenty minutes.(Of course I now needed to learn to do it myself, and when I've mastered it I'll post the details).

Once it was in the correct format, the new, smart cover attached, I re-sent it to Bookbaby and soon it was on all the e-book retailers' lists.

Wow! Now everybody's flocking to buy it, yes? Well, er, no, actually. Because here's the rub. Whether you choose to self-publish through print on demand, or through e-sellers, the marketing and publicity is all down to you. It can feel really heady initially, when friends and acquaintances are reading it, they're recommending it to their friends, you're getting some fab reviews on Amazon. Philippa even got her book taken up by a reading group. But once that's over, you need to be thinking of how to get your book out there, and noticed (and bought and read, obviously). So how?

Well, the standard response is: Social Media. Of which there are many forms. I'll have a look at them, and what's worked for me, in the next post, but let me tell you this much: it's a long, slow haul.

Paula K. Randall


  1. Thanks for the highly practical approach taken here, which provides a really useful introduction to a complicated and (for me)mystifying field of activity.

  2. Yes , I agree, this is a very helpful, practical post. I think the cover and the labels are the most important factors in catching the eye of readers and indeed bloggers. Incidentally I love your striking cover for Hangman's Wood - a book that deserves a greater readership.

    As far as Social Media is concerned I have now given 'There's No Sea in Salford' its very own facebook page at www.facebook.com/philippabookpage or There's No Sea in Salford bookpage. It'll be interesting to see if that takes it beyond just family and friends. I will be posting more about my Social Media experiences(which inevitably are not straight forward)in due course.