WELCOME one of our RWTTD originals and longtime reader favorite, Candace Schuler!
When Kathy Eagle asked me to hop in the convertible and write a blog post on my journey to self-publishing my backlist, my first question was, “Where do I begin?” Actually, that’s the very same question I asked myself after I finally succeeded in getting the rights back to 16 of my early Harlequin titles and wanted to do… well… something with them. Where do I begin? What’s the first thing I should do? What can I logically do? What’s the minimum I need to do? It was all so confusing.
My very first step was to do what I always do when starting a new project. I researched it. And what I found out was; if you’re interested in publishing your backlist as ebooks there are a whole lot of options available. All the way from doing absolutely everything yourself—scanning, formatting, covers, uploading and so on—to turning the whole mess over to someone else to worry about.
The thing is, I really don’t have the time or the skill to do it all myself. And, yet, the whole point of getting the rights to my backlist and self-publishing them was to retain as much control as possible because… well, just because.
So, with the first book, WILDCAT, I decided to just dive in and do it all myself. Well, after I paid someone to tear the book apart and scan it. I have a day job (business and grant writing) and didn’t have time to do that part. But once the scanning was done, I would definitely do the formatting myself.
But, damn, formatting is hard (have you seen Amazon’s formatting guide for e-books!?) and it’s not a one-time thing and you’re done. You have to format differently for Kindle and the Nook. After a couple of days of false starts and hair-tearing frustration, I decided the wisest course was to hire someone to do the formatting.
And then there was the cover. I had ideas for the cover—great ideas—but I’m not an artist and I didn’t have the first clue as to where to look for cover art that wouldn’t get me slapped with a fine (or worse) for copyright violation. Plus, there was the lack of time element (hello, day job), so I needed someone to help me with the cover, too.
So I contracted with Nina Paules at eBook Prep to do the formatting and cover design. And it turned out beautifully. I was (and am) thrilled with the cover.
Once that was done, though, I was determined to do the uploading to the various e-book platforms myself, because, hey, I am the captain of my ship, right? And I need to maintain some control. And, really, how hard can it be?
It took me about two hours to just to figure out how to set up an author account at Amazon.com. And then there was additional time spent figuring out what to write in the author bio. And the sales blurb. Mustn’t forget the sales blurb. And reviews because, well, you need to include reviews, right? And then I had to do it all again to upload it to the Barnes and Noble ebook site.
And I hadn’t even begun to think about publicity. Well, except for the fact that I knew I was supposed to actually do some. Tweeting was a recurring theme in the research I’d done. And Facebooking–that’s actually a verb now! I’ve never tweeted (twittered?) and I’ve never “liked” anyone electronically because I don’t have a Facebook account.
And that’s when I decided control is way overrated, and called Nina at eBook Prep again. For my next three backlist books—PASSION & SCANDAL, SEDUCED & BETRAYED, and LOVERS & STRANGERS—Nina was involved from the beginning. She did the scanning and formatting. She helped design the covers. She provided guidance in deciding on a sales concept. She told me what had to go in the excerpts and blurbs and author bio. She uploaded everything to all the various e-book sites. And she (or her minions) will do the bulk of the publicity.
And the nice thing is, I really didn’t give up any control at all. I picked out the cover photos and had the final say on the cover design. I worked with Nina in designing the sales concept and developing the sales copy. I selected the excerpts. And, now, instead of still being mired in trying to get my second book up for sale as an e-book, I have four books up for sale and am in the process of getting three more up within the next month or two. And all while still doing my day job and having a life.
I know there are those more stalwart and tech-savvy writers out there who will insist that doing it all by yourself is the way to go. And there are those who will swear that turning the whole process over to someone else is the best road to take. For me, the middle ground has turned out to be the best of both worlds.
So, what route did you decide to take on the journey to publication of your backlist? And for those of you who are primarily readers and not writers, do you have a preference as far as what electronic devise you read on? And how important is formatting or, rather, at what point does bad formatting start to interfere with your reading enjoyment? And covers! How important are covers in e-books? Do you ever buy an ebook (or check out a sample) just because you like the cover?
Everyone gets a free e-copy of Lovers and Strangers today at Amazon! Tell your friends. And please hit “like” while you’re there.