Self Publishing 101: Part One

Since I began self-publishing, I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask to pick my brain about “how to” go about self-publishing. The truth is that it is all at once WAY easier than I thought it would be, and daunting all at the same time. There is a lot to learn, and while this post is not going to be all-encompassing, it’s a start-so buckle up, you’re in for a journey.

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*this was going to be a You-Tube video. But I’m sick. The kind of sick where you can’t sleep at night because you can’t breathe and you can’t say more than ten words without taking a sip of water.*

Step One: If it isn’t obvious enough. WRITE A BOOK! While you’re at it, write a damn good book.

Nothing is more cringe-worthy to me as a self-published author than reading book reviews of other self-published authors and the reviewers make remarks about the bad writing and poor editing – noting specifically that they are self-published.

Around this time you should also start looking into a cover for your book.  It’s a big decision and an important one, so it shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. We all say we don’t judge a book by its cover, but in the literal sense, we do. A good cover will make someone click on your book to read the blurb or move on to the next one. (More on covers and blurbs later)

Step Two: Edit your book. You have a choice here, after all, you are self-publishing so the world is your proverbial oyster. You can edit your manuscript yourself, or you can hire a professional editor.

Editors can get expensive. Really expensive and the prices go up based on what kind of editing you want done. But they also kind of know what the fuck they are doing. You can pay someone to just go in and fix your grammar, misspelled words and poor punctuation – all the way to basically rewriting, reorganizing and deleting sections of your work – all to make your book baby shine like a diamond.

Be prepared for the editing process to take some time. Possibly even longer than it took you to write your book. Start contacting editors and establishing a rapport with one BEFORE your book is done, and get on their calendar. (You aren’t their only client)

You can go the route of DIY, but it’s also hard to be objective about your own work. It’s also easy to glaze over words you’ve read hundreds of times. For budget reasons, sometimes this is the choice you have to make. If you go the route of self-editing I would suggest buying a subscription to Grammarly and using the Word plugin, sending your manuscript off to trusted (and smart) friends and relatives and asking your beta readers some tough questions – and using their advice!

Basically, if you aren’t so sick of your book that the idea of reading it one more time doesn’t make you want to vomit-it’s not ready. I STILL can’t read The Island.

Step Three: ISBN’s. International Standard Book Number. Again, you have a choice to make here. ISBN’s are yet another expense you need to plan for BEFORE your book is even released.

So now you need to figure out what forms your book is going to be published in, because you will need a different ISBN for each one. That’s right. If you have an e-book, a paperback, and a hardcover, you need a different ISBN for each one. Then to complicate matters further – you need different ISBN’s for each e-book version you offer. So if you plan to sell your ebook at more stores than just Amazon – yep, more ISBN’s. And lemme tell ya, ISBN’s aren’t cheap – but you do get a “deal” if you buy them in bulk. In the US Bowker is who you purchase them from.

Now. Amazon, Nook, Kobo and CreateSpace (probably more, but I’m not 100% familiar with those platforms, so I can’t speak to them) do offer free ISBN’s. Great on the budget, for sure.

The drawback to a free ISBN is that YOU are not the publisher. You’re self-published, but the publisher is the platform who gave you the ISBN. Now let’s say your book makes it BIG. Everyone is talking about it, and a brick and mortar store wants to carry your book. Do you really think they are going to purchase bulk books from Amazon? Hell no. What if, by some crazy chance someone wants to make a movie based on YOUR book. Well who owns a little piece of your book by giving you a free ISBN?

A likely scenario? No. But it is something to consider, especially if you want your books to be sold in an actual, physical store someday.

Step Four: Set up an account at your publishing platform(s). Do some research here and figure out what is going to work best for you. Amazon, SmashWords, Bookbaby, Ingram Spark, Create Space, iBooks – there are so many and each one is different.

Due to time restrictions, I did not use Create Space for my last release, Rocking Autumn and instead I directly uploaded it to Amazon, Kobo and Nook. For my upcoming Spring book release, I will be using Create Space and possibly doubling up and using Ingram Spark as well. (we can go into the why’s another time) But basically, do your research.

To set up an account is a fairly simple process, you will need to enter in your tax information and banking information.

Step Five: Format your book! You will need to format your book for e-book and paperback. Myself, I did not use a template to format my books, instead I googled tutorials on the internet. THIS is a good one that I have saved in my bookmarks. For formatting templates DIYbookformats.com is another one I have saved in my bookmarks.

Recently I’ve been playing around with the Beta Version of Kindle Create, a Word plugin that formats your book. While it has some cool features, and I might re-install it when I am done writing – it made Word a little buggy and it kept crashing. *sigh* So much for easy.

Now that your book is ready to be uploaded, we will leave it here. I will pick this back up next week and dive into loading your book, setting categories and pricing and everything else that happens behind the scenes.

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Meet Jax – Character Interview

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Name: Jaxon Anthony West. Everyone calls me Jax.

Sex: Is this the set up for a cheesy fucking joke? I’m male.

Age: Twenty eight

Interesting physical characteristics: Define interesting. Like do I have a second head or three arms? I’m tall-if that’s interesting.

Background:

Where and when were you born? Twenty eight years ago in Walla Walla, Washington.

Where have you lived? Walla Walla and Chicago.

Interview:

1.    What do you carry in your pockets/purse/backpack, etc.? A notebook and tons of pens and pencils for writing. My iPad, phone charger, gym clothes-pretty basic shit really.

2.    How do you feel about your home/living space? It’s pretty small. It’s a six hundred square foot studio. But it works for me and Buzz, my cat.

3.    What early event shaped you the most? My uncle Kenny teaching me how to play guitar and introducing me to rock and roll. Led Zeppelin, The Stones. All the good shit.

4.    Where is your favorite place and why? I have a few. The gazebo at the park in Walla Walla is one of them. But nothing beats the stage, it’s a fucking rush.

5.    What are your most important values? I’ve never really thought about it. I guess that I never give up, and I give everything a hundred and fifty percent.

6.    What emotion/feeling are you afraid to experience? Failure. Is that a feeling? I’m my own worst critic so failure might mean something different to me.

Rocking Autumn is available now! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075KPTYMG

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Rocking Autumn Video Teaser

**I do NOT own this song nor the videos featured in this video. All rights belong to it’s rightful owner/owner’s. No copyright infringement intended. For entertainment purposes only!**

It’s really sad that this took me more than four hours to make. BUT, I had a blast doing it. Rocking Autumn hits the shelves this fall!

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The Island on SALE for 99 cents!

The Island is on sale now through July 7 for just 99 cents! FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Grab your copy today!

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THREE PEOPLE. ONE RELATIONSHIP.
For 31-year-old Amie Graham, life on the island was supposed to be simpler – simpler than the life and problems she left behind. Less complicated and less dramatic than life back home. That was the plan anyway.
But fate, it seems, has a sense of humor and it throws a complication or two right in her path.
Complication one, Michael.
If you could cross a model with a football player, you’d get Michael, at least how Amie sees him. Long dark blonde hair, packed with rounded muscles and well over six feet tall, he’s gorgeous, he’s funny, sweet and vulnerable. He’s her own Greek god among men, and she finds herself falling in love with him.
Complication two, Gabe. 
Gabe is beautiful, serene and intelligent, and Amie finds herself drawn to him. With his curly brown hair, soulful green eyes and olive skin decorated with tattoos and piercings – she finds herself falling in love with him also.
The other problem? They’re best friends – and they’re in love with her too. Can three people really love each other, or is the air of the island just messing with their hearts and minds?
WARNING. This is a MFM romance. While this book focuses heavily on the emotions and relationship(s) there is plenty of steam! If this is your cup of tea, you should know there is no MM action. It’s all about Amie, and her love of these two hot, loveable, sexy men.