A couple of my followers have inquired about my methods of self-publishing, so I thought I’d offer some information here for anyone’s interest. Please note, however, that I have no special knowledge or expertise beyond my own recent and still unfolding experience.
When I retired 10 years ago, I started writing poetry with some regularity. There came a point when I had lots of poems and wanted to attempt their publication, beyond my own blog. After forays into the frustratingly slow submission and declination routine, regarding the major conventional publishers, I ran out of patience and decided to try self-publishing.
Last year, I explored numerous indie and corporate platforms, including Lulu and Smashwords. I found the mere process of investigating these resources rather daunting, because there is a plethora of different services, costs, hooks and terms. So, too, appeared to be their varying rates of success and user satisfaction.
I opted for “CreateSpace, An Amazon Company” at createspace.com and successfully published my first book “City of Pawns” through their platform in September, 2013. They exceeded my expectations in all aspects, so I went on to publish my next 4 books through them as well. I have 2 more books in the works.
Reasons for selecting a service will necessarily be quite personalized. My loyalty to CreateSpace is because:
- I trust Amazon as a longtime customer and stockholder
- costs are modest – most basics are free, and that’s how I’ve composed my books – optional feed services are comprehensive and competitively priced
- platform is very user friendly, a vital feature for me because I have limited computer skills – simple steps with clear directions – available standard free templates so far satisfy all my needs
- competent and courteous help is INSTANTLY available 24/7 at any stage of the project – including by phone
- distribution channels cover the broad conventional gamut
- creation of print and e-book versions is easily bridged via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
- proofing is available in print and/or a high quality electronic proofing application – I use both
- printing and binding quality is excellent – they reproduce my template assisted cover designs, manuscript formats, fonts and images faithfully
I can’t offer much help on the marketing side, because I didn’t enter this process with the intent of trying to sell lots of books. CreateSpace has several professional service packages to assist in this regard, but I haven’t bought them. However, with 5 books now completed and more to come, I’m now preparing to do some self-marketing, with the hope of getting my work in front of more readers.
A few tips come to mind that may be of use to you:
- because my target products are 6 inch by 9 inch trade size paperback books, I compose my initial manuscripts in MS Word using a 6×9 page size template – that saves a whole lot of formatting headaches down the line
- convert the finished Word formatted manuscript document doc file to a pdf file – CreateSpace handles pdf files much more easily
- careful proofing is essential – I have found and fixed countless errors in the process – none of which were by CreateSpace, all of which were my own mistakes – I typically use their electronic reviewer tool first – when I have fixed any errors, I then secure a printed proof and again reread every line before going to print
- I donate copies of my books to local public and university libraries
- in preparing for self-marketing, I have submitted books for professional review to Kirkus Reviews and Indie Reader (2 of the largest and most widely respected reviewers of self-published works) – but they are somewhat expensive and may not yield the kudos you hope to receive
- I also have some free reviews in the works by WordPress reviewers
- while CreateSpace automatically makes your book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble internet sites, I am building a mailing list of independent booksellers throughout New England – I plan to compose informational flyers that I will send to them
- I’ve registered my own publishing company “Stonewood Press LLC” – at this point I use it only for my own books, but have ideas about offering publishing services to other authors – who knows where this might go?
I hope this post helps anyone considering self-publishing. No doubt, our WordPress community has any number of folks with real expertise on these matters and I would encourage you to seek them out. Platforms and services other than CreateSpace may be just as good, but for now, I’m staying with what I know. Good luck to my fellow WordPressers.
– Paul F. Lenzi at “Poesy plus Polemics”