A Self-Publishing Journey – Part 2 The Middle

“The publishing world is very timid. Readers are much braver.”

Kiran Desai

Welcome to the middle of my self-publishing journey. The first part really boiled down to lots of reading and research to gather the details I needed to set up my publishing armoury. The second part is about actually hitting the publish button.

I’ll talk you through some of the decisions I made regarding how and why I published Island Redemption the way I did.

After reading many comments on blogs, community forums, websites and such like, I decided to publish my ebook with Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP select) for the first three months of my new release. The main reason I did it this way was because this is my first book, I have no other books published yet to back up my first book sales, and have very little experience in marketing.

So what is KDP select? If you choose to put your book in KDP Select, it means you commit to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP for a certain period (three months to start with) Your book is than available to readers who use Kindle Unlimited, which is a subscription program for readers that allows them to read as many books as they want. Your book will still be available for anyone to buy in the Kindle Store, and you’ll continue to earn royalties from those sales. When a Kindle Unlimited reader reads your book, you are then awarded a share of the royalties from all the books that have been read that month.

This helps make you more discoverable, reaching a much larger audience, allowing readers who wouldn’t normally see your book better access, to determine if they like it. People on Kindle Unlimited are often voracious readers and because they don’t have to pay for each individual book they buy, they’re more likely to take a chance and read something they mightn’t normally read.

I’ll most probably un-enrol my eBook from KDP Select once my three months are up and then go on to publish on all the other platforms such as iBooks, Smashwords, Barnes and Nobel, etc. But for now, I’m happy to let KDP Select do some of the work for me. Self-publishing is such a big task, sometimes it’s easier to do it in a series of small jumps rather than one huge leap of faith.

I also very much wanted a print version of Island Redemption out there (mainly so I could hold a copy in my hands. The fourth best day of my life! (After my wedding day and the birth of my two kids.) There are a few options for creating a print on demand (POD) book. The three main ones are:

  • CreateSpace – is a part of the Amazon group of companies, and allows you to publish POD books directly onto Amazon. This is a completely free service (although they do have paid options as well, if you need help formatting, editing or creating your cover)
  • IngramSpark – is very similar to CreateSpace, although I hear it has better features and you can distribute to a wider audience. But IngramSpark does have a few fees associated with their service.
  • KDP beta – this is a relatively new initiative by Amazon, where you can create a POD book on your KDP platform. If you’ve already published an eBook through KDP, then the process of creating a POD book seems to be a fairly painless one, as you’ve already got most of the information required. BUT, I have been reading that KDP beta is not called beta without reason. It seems to have a few teething problems, very long shipping times, and doesn’t support some of the features that CreateSpace does. For this reason I stuck with CreateSpace. But I may move my POD book across to KDP beta at a later date, which is quite easy to do.

Once I decided to use CreateSpace and I uploaded my book, it all became very easy. CreateSpace publishes it on Amazon, and your POD book appears in around 24 hours time. The people at Amazon are even clever enough to link your eBook and print book, so they appear together on the same page.

The perfect book cover is another must have for a great book. There are myriads of websites and designers out there who’ll help you come up with the perfect cover.

To make sure they’re not shonky it pays to check out lists reliable mentors have come up with for good cover designers. For example, Joanna Penn over at TheCreativePenn has a list of book cover designers she knows and trusts.

But while all of these cover designers are probably very good at what they do, you can pay upwards of $300 to $500 to $1000 for a custom designed cover. A cost I couldn’t afford. So I found a wonderful, extremely helpful man called James, at GoOnWrite.com who primarily sells pre-made covers (which are actually really good, and start at $50 USD for a cover, a bargain price. While he doesn’t do romance covers per se, he does do couples, hearts, erotic and lots of things in between.) But he will also make up a custom cover for you as well, as long as you already know what you want your cover to look like and have an image in mind. Both of which I had. I’d already chosen my image for Island Redemption from iStock photos months ago. And I had a basic idea of how I wanted the fonts to look, and where I waned my tagline, all that kind of thing. This only cost me $100USD, which again I thought was a bargain, as I now have a beautiful cover to finish off my book. Once James has done an eBook cover for you, he will also make you a POD cover (wrap around) for only $80 USD. I’m really happy with his work, but you might find someone else who is equally good who produces the exact cover you need. Again, this takes lots of time and patience researching and searching the Internet.

Once you’ve made these decisions and got your shiny new cover ready to roll, then you can go ahead and hit the publish button. That part is actually really easy. In my next blog, part 3, I’ll cover the dreaded marketing and PR circus. Til then, keep smiling.

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