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.
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. ♥