Welcome Trish Milburn to the convertible! I’ve asked Trish to tell us about a topic that has gained tremendous traction lately among published authors as well as those who hope to publish their work. The news this week that sales of digital books have now officially outstripped paper and hardcover combined at Amazon.com makes the issue timely as all get out. So get in the car and chat with Trish!
Since I announced that I was going to try my hand at self-publishing one of my books that had never (sniff, sniff) found a home, lots of people have been asking me how I went about doing it. Well, first thing was to do my research, just like I’ve done for every other new step I’ve taken in my career. I didn’t just leap in when people first started talking about it. I waited and watched the conversations, learning from what other authors had done right and what they hadn’t. I read online discussions, blogs and Zoe Winters’ book Becoming an Indie Author, taking copious notes along the way.
Once I made the decision to make the leap, I picked a book that had missed its chance a few years ago because the line I was targeting it toward ceased to exist. But I still felt like it was a strong story that could find an audience. Even though I’d read it a million times, I went back through it with a fine-toothed comb, making sure I’d done everything I could to make sure it was a clean, strong story. After thinking about it a good bit, I decided to change the title to something I thought was more appropriate and commercial. Thus, the book became known as Living in Colorbecause one of the characters has lived a life devoid of happiness and exposure to the wider world – color – and her journey toward creating a new life rich with a variety of colors.
I also started researching cover artists because I knew that was one thing I couldn’t do myself. I’m a firm believer in having a strong, professional-looking cover. It is, after all, what gives potential readers their first impression of my book. I didn’t want it to look any different from a cover designed by a big New York publishing house. If I was going to self-publish a book, I wanted to take every step in a professional way to give the book the best shot at success.
Once the manuscript and cover were ready, I read through all of the pages related to the self-publishing programs on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords sites, including the terms of service (aka those things you often click “yes” to and never read). I wanted to make sure there was nothing I was overlooking that would make this a bad step.
After all of that was done, I set aside an entire Saturday for formatting the book for online distribution. I printed out the Smashwords Style Guide, which I’d read was very useful for formatting for e-publishing. That way I could have it at the ready as I went through my manuscript. It did take me all day to do the formatting and uploading, but I’m hopeful that I’ve undertaken the hardest part of the learning curve and if I decide to do this again, it’ll be easier next time. On that Saturday, I managed to get the book formatted and uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon. I also copyrighted the book with the U.S. Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov/ — using the Electronic Copyright Office link, and bought ISBNs from Bowker at https://www.myidentifiers.com/(they are cheaper per ISBN the more you buy, so I bought more than one). As for the latter, I think once I use up the ISBNs that I have, I will just buy them one at a time through Smashwords because they’re cheaper and you don’t need an ISBN for Amazon or B&N. You really just need them to get into some of the outlets through which Smashwords distributes, like Apple. By the time I did all this, I was way tired and waited to upload to B&N until Sunday. That didn’t take very long at all, so then it was just waiting until the book cleared through the three systems and went on sale. Now I just try not to compulsively check my sales at each site. J
Though I know some authors have decided to go all self-published, that is not my intent. It’s just one prong of a multi-pronged business plan. I love writing for Harlequin and love my editor, so I plan to keep writing romances for them. That’s big company publishing. I’m in the midst of signing a contract with a small publisher for a paranormal young adult series. That’s small press publishing. I keep adding to my journalism credits by doing freelance writing and editing. That’s the nonfiction side of things. So, the self-publishing is just another basket of eggs for a gal who doesn’t like having all of her business eggs in one basket.
Living in Coloris now available for download at the following outlets:
Amazon.com for Kindle:
Barnesandnoble.com for Nook:
Smashwords.com for Apple devices, Kobo, Sony eReader, etc.: