I have just self-published my first book. The process I went through is one I thought might be of interest to others who are at that stage of their writing career.
Last October, I decided it was time to publish a book. I had no idea where to begin. My first step was to look at the web sites for publishing companies. I had heard in the past about people submitting their manuscripts to publishing houses. Reading over the web pages, it soon became apparent these book publishers don’t want unsolicited manuscripts.
Turning to a magazine for writers, I found having an agent is the only way to get a manuscript to a book publisher. There are many lists of agents on the internet and in the magazines. Picking one at random, I emailed an agent who returned my email immediately. His instructions were to email him a description of my book along with information about myself and a sample chapter. At that point I thought this was going to be easy. However, when I emailed what he requested, his reply came back in a second. He didn’t handle my genre, but encouraged me to keep looking.
Knowing now that I needed to find an agent who represented my genre was a big help. I sent my book info to a number of agents who listed memoirs as one of their genres. Most of them didn’t even acknowledge receiving my email. The feeling after going through this for several months was frustration. However, with every small step I was learning something. Mostly I was learning where the doors were closed.
In January, I attended a writers’ conference in Cocoa Beach. This was my first experience rubbing elbows with real writers and authors. It was a pleasant surprise to find most of the conference attendees were in a situation similar to mine. Coming away from the conference, I was convinced more than ever that I would publish a book. I was also convinced that it would be self-published.
At that time, I had been writing stories about experiences as a missionary in Mexico. Many of these were being posted on this blog. My thinking then was to create a book using this writing. The other two books that are in progress are much longer, and will be more complicated with maps and photos.
A lot of the talk at the conference had to do with eBooks. I have had a Sony eBook reader for several years. Kindle eBook publishing was recommended by authors who had published eBooks.. Not only would I self-publish, but I made the decision to do it as an eBook.
Designing a book cover became a concern. I not only needed the copy for inside the book, but even as an eBook I need a cover to attract attention. Browsing the books at Amazon.com, I found a link to a self-publishing company called Create Space. This had been mentioned at the conference. As I perused Create Space, I found they had templates that could be used to design a book cover. My plan took a turn. Now I would publish first with Create Space. Then I can use the cover to publish with Kindle.
Another part of my plan was to publish without investing any money. The self-publishing companies that I had checked out all wanted hundreds and even thousands of dollars to publish the book. As far as I could tell, what you got for the money were boxes of your book. While these companies talk about distributing books to book sellers, I got the impression most, if not all, of the marketing was left to the author. Create Space uses what they call print on demand. When a book is ordered, it is printed, bound, and shipped. Having grown-up with a father who was a printer, this technology that can produce print on demand books is hard to picture.
The bottom line is that I have now published the book as a paperback with Create Space and as an eBook with Kindle. The downloading of the manuscript was easy, although I had to do some tweaking between the print and eBook formats. My goal of self-publishing without spending any money was achieved.
The cover of the book is at the top of this blog. If you want to get a copy you can buy it at Kindle, Amazon, or from Create Space at https://createspace.com/3866374. Going through this has been a good experience. I’ve learned a lot, and am now eager to move on to the more substantial books waiting in my computer.