e-Publishing Adventures, Part II

It’s been a strange few weeks.   Since first hearing and appreciating the buzz about Indie e-publishing I’ve been immersed in exploration, in more reading, writing, and learning.  I’m writing this to share tidbits gathered in my own fledgling effort.

Initially I wondered – could I publish on my own, at no cost?  A simple goal.  Success would motivate.  It would propel me forward with my longer works.  In Mary Stella’s words, it would empower me.

I chose my collection of blog musings about writing because it was relatively short (14,800 words). Also, with some enrichment and organizing, the essays were ready.  Musings or poetry are often too personal to sell more than a few to family and friends, but in this trial run at publication my goal wasn’t money.  I simply wanted to see, could I do it?

We all know that with anything published, traditional or indie, the writing must be the best the author can make it.  It must be complete and well-edited, not just by you as writer but by those whose opinion you value.  Polish, polish, polish.

To counteract this, I’ve also learned that if you’re a procrastinator (guilty!) or a perfectionist (ditto), you may never publish.   At some point, your work will be as shiny as it’s going to be.  An advantage in e-publishing is that you can pull it back for corrections in a week or even a year.  That won’t fix the sold versions but anything going forward will be correct.  Understanding that has helped.

A title should be fresh and appropriate for the genre.  Also, not too long.  It should fit on a thumbnail size cover and be readable.

Separating the hype of Indie Publishing from the hard facts isn’t easy.   Before you start, I wholeheartedly recommend  reading Zoe Winters e-book –  Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author.  Winters offers common sense answers to the whys and hows of Indie publishing.  No million dollar hype, just sound and solid practical information.  Another book I recently downloaded is called Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should by David Gaughran.  I’m about a third of the way through Gaughran’s book and am finding it incredibly helpful.

There are also a multitude bloggers on the topic and their numbers are growing daily.  The classic, the guy who started it all, is Joe Konrath’s Newbies Guide to Self-Publishing.  I’ve also discovered and enjoy the practicality of Lindsay Buroker’s E-book Endeavers.  Both are now on my sidebar of blogs.

As you approach your big step, you must read through the Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble PubIt guides, at least twice.  The Smashwords Style Guide is particularly helpful. Then keep them available as you prepare to publish.

Earlier version of cover

You can publish your e-book without a cover but it won’t appear complete.  Your cover, product description (start with a blurb then expand), and reviews all help your sales, so make your cover the most professional looking one you can afford, or design.  You can hire a pro, or a friend with skills, or you can do it yourself for free.  As mentioned, this was a trial run learning curve for me.  I wanted to see if I could do everything myself, at no cost.  So how did I make my cover?

First I read the style guides from Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble PubIt to learn their requirements.  I’m not a graphic artist.  Far from it, but I know what I like.  So I studied other covers – hundreds of them.  I wanted simple.  To me simple is easier on the eye.  You can get away with more, if it’s simple.

I was drawn to two best-selling novel covers.  Inspired by them and by my new profile photo (by Photographer Marti Corn), I created my own.   A green beaded necklace  lays over a piece of red fabric.  Actually the fabric is a vest from my closet.  I liked the color combination.  I’ve used clothing before as backdrops for photos in my blogs.   Depending on the material used, it can work well in close-ups.

Final copy

I shot several photos of the beads then pulled them into Photoshop Elements.  I’ve read that GIMP is also a user-friendly program (and free) but I have Elements on my computer, and sort of understood it.  Once I adjusted the photo to  the correct size,  based on cover specs and dimensions from the style guides, in a layer above the photo I added the title and my name.  I used the Papyrus font and made it white to stand out.   As stated earlier, covers appear small in the catalog so the font needs to be readable.

After preparing the cover, the final step before formatting preparation was to write a brief product description, and an author bio.  I learn best by example then doing.  Reading dozens of others on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble helped me get a feel for what seemed to work and what was right for me and my work.

I was now ready to begin manuscript formatting and publication.  Please share your comments about your experience or your thoughts on Indie e-Publishing.  ♥

18 thoughts on “e-Publishing Adventures, Part II

  1. Hi Deb,
    Great blog. We are looking at creating epubs from InDesign at work and I am excited to try it with a collection of my work as well. Thanks for the links.

    • Epub Indie publishing offers so much to writers doesn’t it? So glad you’re going to join in the fun. Keep me informed of your progress.

  2. Deb – I was eager to see Part II and was not disappointed! Thanks for taking the time to share what you’ve learned and the tools that you found most helpful. I agree – sometimes just jumping in and doing it is the best way.

    • You’re welcome! So glad you liked it and hopefully gained some more insight. It’s all about sharing what we learn, don’t you think? Yes, jumping in. That’s part of why I started this blog a few years ago. It forces me to “jump in” head first. Watch for Part 3. 🙂

  3. MJ & Misty, so glad you both like the links. I found them all incredibly helpful.

    Lindsay, you’re one of the links! Thank you for offering a great blog to us newbies. The e-book has already done what I’d hoped. It’s taught me I can handle the process. Now it’s on to bigger and better. 😉

  4. Hi there Deb. I’ve already got one back list book on Amazon and Smashwords along with my books published by Samhain, Ellora’s Cave and Liquid Silver Books. Since I’ve always been epublished a lot of this is old hat to me. The self-publishing part is a learning curve and hard work. But that’s okay. 🙂 I’ll have two more self published back list books out this fall and perhaps more in the future. My webmaster is a fantastic editor/line editor/copy editor as well as makes covers and formats for ebook. So I’m very lucky indeed! Best of luck on all your publishing journeys.

    • Thanks for the info about your books, Denise. It seems so logical for epub authors to begin self-publishing at least some books. Yes, it is more work, more responsibility, but more $$ too, I would think. Keep me informed of your progress. I wish you all the best.

    • Caroline,

      Congratulations on getting your backlist onto SW and Kindle and good luck with the mystery! Looking forward to seeing the cover on it. Please keep in touch when it’s up, will you? I love mysteries! Thanks for stopping in.

  5. Very interesting – thanks for sharing this. It is not really something I had considered and yet the idea of self-publishing gives me a whole new motivation to get more words on the page.

  6. Pingback: How to Write a Review for Amazon « alchemyofscrawl

  7. Hi Deb,

    I was led to your site after reading your comments on David Gaughran’s Reaching Out to Indie Writers. I have toyed with the idea of self-publishing my book about a traumatic brain injury my husband suffered and survived after three brain surgeries in less than two weeks in 2005. Though David was left physically disabled, his cognitive brain is perfect, and he returned to his position at Columbia University as a Professor of Microbiology a year later. No easy fete.

    Your post e-Publishing Adventures, Part II has me thinking. It was chock full of information. Obviously, you have done a lot of work in learning this business. I have a lot of work to do, but you have set the syllabus – E-Publishing 101. Thank you for proposing so many good books, including yours, to get started with my learning process.

    I am also a jewelry designer and your description of how you photographed your string of beads on cloth was enlightening. I must try it.

    I’ve learned a lot from you on this sunny morning just sitting at my computer. The internet has a wealth of information at our fingertips and sometimes we just stumble upon it. I am glad I stumbled on your site today through David Gaughran, via Mocha Mind Communications by Gioya McRae. (I’m in a writing group monitored by Gioya.)

    Feel free to check out my blog on WordPress, too. All contact information is in my signature.

    Again thank you so much for all of your words of wisdom and good luck with your writing.


    Donna O’Donnell Figurski
    Donna’s Website: donnaodonnellfigurski.com
    Book Reviewer: http://www.smartwriters.com/content/blogsection/4/52/
    Jewelry-crafter: diemodijewelry.wordpress.com
    Donna’s Blog: donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com

    Don’t forget to check out my blog for some funny, some poignant, and some insightful stories.

    To subscribe to my blog, click on donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com. Then click on the Email Subscription button next to the Archives. It’s easy! My blog post will automatically be delivered to your email box.

    “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” John Wooden

    “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.” John Wooden

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