As you lovely readers know because I’ve been inundating my social mediums with my news, I released a novella into the world. Now, granted, I’m only three days out from release, but these are some reflections I’ve had on the self-publishing process.
1. Thank God I Hired a Really Good Copyeditor.
No, really. I’ve been reading my own book on my Kindle (that feels so weird to say) and although some of my formatting is kind of making me cringe (more on that later), the actual story itself isn’t. Not saying it’s a perfect story–it definitely is not–but I know that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation is spot on because Jess checked this baby thoroughly.
The huge amount of commas, ellipses, and dashes is my fault.
2. I’m So Glad I Went With That Cover
I’d decided to look through the many, many sites of really talented designers to see if I could find a pre-made cover, because it would be quicker and cheaper than hiring a designer. The one I ended up going with absolutely caught my eye, but I wondered if it was really “historical enough.” I showed my writing group my two choices (they all resoundingly voted for The One) and after, on Saturday, I showed my best friend the two choices. She made a face at the other one I considered.
“Umm…no,” she said. I’ve gotten a few compliments on the cover, so clearly, just go with your gut if you’re looking at pre-mades.
3. Draft2Digital is Really Great.
Draft2Digital is a free self-publishing service, much in the way of Smashwords. Draft2Digital distributes to non-Amazon vendors, like Nook, Apple, etc. It also lets you convert your Word file into an epub or a mobi, the file types you need for an ebook. And it lets you preview it.
4. Oy with the Formatting.
So, I formatted the thing myself. It came out majority all right–there are only a couple of lines that I can see on my Kindle that weren’t indented properly (even though they so were in my file!). It’s the first time I formatted an ebook, so I’m thrilled that it didn’t come out totally garbled.
Of course, now that I’m looking at it, all I can see are the ridiculously large indents (the Kindle guide says .5″ is good; the Smashwords guide says .3″. I should’ve gone with the .3″.). Oh, yeah, and the fact that the chapter titles aren’t exactly centered on my Kindle–and that I should’ve left more space in between chapter headings and the text. And why are the Acknowledgements on the last page? They’re supposed to be on their own starting page…
Neuroticism, thy name is Writer.
5. Yeah, I Should’ve Looked At It On My Kindle First
I looked at my book on the Kindle Previewer, not my device. Hence the neurotic formatting bits. I can “unpublish” and upload a corrected file, if I want to. I’m not sure it really bothers me enough to do that, though. Or so I’m telling myself.
6. Load Up Those Keywords
Keywords are those things some readers type into the Amazon search engine. It’s how they find your book. You get seven of them on Amazon. Someone on AW mentioned that you can actually type in long phrases and Amazon will count them as one keyword as long as you don’t separate them by comma.
So marketing. Guest posts. Interviews. Ads. Social media. Marketing is an important factor in telling people about your story. I belong to two rather large writing networks–the AW forum and the IWSG, which has a Facebook group where I post semi-regularly, usually to answer questions or comments from other members. I started looking at Goodreads groups as well.
However, constant promotion of your work gets grating after a while, for the people who follow your tweets or read your Facebook posts or whatever. I’m conscious of that, being a naturally irritable type.