Don’t go with traditional publishers, they said.
You can self-publish. It’s easy, they said.
It took me eight long, frustrating months to publish my book – and that’s after I finished writing it!
Yeah, it turns out that there are a ton of things that need doing in order to bring your book to the masses. That’s why I’m writing this post. I wanted to save YOU some of the hair-pulling, nail-biting frustration I faced.
You see… when you publish your book yourself, you need to consider…
1) Cover art
Remember that old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”?
Well, forget about it, because people DO! That’s why you need to put some money and thought into your cover art. If you have a cheap, cheesy-looking cover, it will turn people off from buying your book.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a cover artist or designer. Ask around. There are some author Facebook groups that are a great source of information – such as the Indie Author group.
2) Editing and Proofreading
Hire a real editor, because let me tell you…
…the grammar police are out there. And if someone finds too many mistakes in your book, you will hear about it in your reviews.
People can be brutal. To avoid public humiliation, hire an editor to catch spelling, grammatical, and even plotting errors.
Totally worth it.
To be on the safe side, I even brought on a proofreader – who just happened to be a teacher friend of mine. He was super nit-picky and caught some things both editor and I missed.
Again, worth it.
3) ISBN Number
You have a decision to make when you load your cover and manuscript into CreateSpace.
Do you use CreateSpace as your publisher and get a free ISBN? Or do you use your own publishing company and buy your own ISBN?
Let me warn you… they don’t come cheap. When I went to buy mine at the Bowkers website (https://www.myidentifiers.com/get-your-isbn-now), one ISBN cost $125 and ten cost $250. But, to me, it was worth it. And here’s why…
If you go with the freebie, you have to use CreateSpace as your publisher. And, frankly, that screams newbie.
Yeah, I know I technically am a newbie. But why would I want anyone to know that? Besides, bookstores hate Amazon. If they’re looking to order a book, they tend to avoid any books published by CreateSpace like the plague.
You do need to set up your own publishing company if you don’t go with CreateSpace, but that’s really quite easy. Mine is a simple sole proprietorship (for now).
So, it’s really up to you. With your first book, it just might be simpler – and definitely less expensive – to let CreateSpace be your publisher. But keep setting up your own publishing company and purchasing your own ISBNs in mind for the future.
For more information about ISBNs, check out this post.
3) Library of Congress Catalog Card Number
If you want your book to be available to libraries, you need a Library of Congress catalog card number.
Now, if CreateSpace is your publisher, they can get this number for you for a small fee. ($25 at the time of this post.) However, if you’re using your own publishing company, you need to get it for yourself – and it’s free. You begin the process at https://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/. Just select Open an Account to complete the Application to Participate. Then, you will be given the account number and password you need to access the appropriate form for requesting Library of Congress control numbers.
To be honest, you don’t NEED a Library of Congress catalog card number. If you don’t care if your book is in libraries, you can avoid the hassle. However, if you’ve written a children’s book like I have, you may want to consider it.
Be warned, though, that the process may take up to a week. First, you have to register your publishing company. Once it’s accepted, you can then register the book.
TIP: Get your Library of Congress Catalog Card Number before you upload your book to Amazon. I didn’t realize that I needed it until later, so I wasted time reloading the book after receiving it and waiting on another proof to come!
4) Formatting Your Book
The book file you upload into Kindle is a different format than the one you put up in CreateSpace. But that’s not all…
You need to create a Table of Contents for the Kindle version. The title pages need to look a certain way. You need page numbers for the CreateSpace version – but not for the Kindle.
Frankly, it can be overwhelming – especially if this is your first book. Besides, your book is competing with traditionally published ones, so you want it to look professional.
So I recommend hiring a formatter. The guy I worked with formatted both versions of my book to my satisfaction for just $95. Again, totally worth the cost.
5) Uploading Your Book to Amazon
There are many resources you can use to upload your book into Kindle and CreateSpace. Here are a few I have used and can wholeheartedly recommend:
- 9 Day Novel – Self Publishing: Publishing Your First Novel on KDP and CreateSpace by Steve Windsor and Lise Cartwright
- Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon’s free book)
- Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn
Expect to not get it right the first time. I had to reload the cover into Kindle several times before it was accepted.
Also expect it to take TIME. Once you get the files accepted in CreateSpace, you have to order a physical proof of the book. And it can take a week before it arrives in your mailbox.
6) Setting up your Author Central Account in Amazon.
When your book goes live on Amazon, you need to take a few minutes to set up your Author Central account.
Just go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ and follow the instructions. It’s really easy. In a nutshell, you just have to submit a brief biography (they give you a sample), upload a picture of yourself, and set up and author link. You’ll have it done in no time flat.
I talk more about Author Central here.
7) Applying for your Copyright.
After you’ve spent months – maybe years – writing your book, the last thing you want is for anyone to steal it.
Plagiarism is a real problem on the Web, so you need to make sure your work is protected. You do technically have copyright protection as the writer of the book. However, if you want something that will stand up in court, you need to register your book with the copyright office.
It will just cost you $35, and it will give you peace of mind that no one can steal your work and get away with it!
For more about copyrighting your book, just go here.
You see what I mean?
Self-publishing a book is so much more involved than writing a story and slapping it up on Amazon. I hope this list helps as you pursue your dream of becoming a best-selling author.