Having been in the “game” of self-publishing for five years, I have acquired insight into the highs, the lows, the easy parts, and the portions that are nothing but a slog in the entire process. The following are some of my observations on what makes the ride so enjoyable much of the time, yet bumpy at others.
The personnel side of Carrick Publishing is my wife Donna, myself, and my cousin, Sara, who is the creative force behind most of our cover designs. Donna and Sara are the artists. I am not sure what I am. Does it matter? I have four paperbacks and 16 digital books for sale, so I must be doing something.
I am committed, and that is a big part of the experience. Commitment is both easy and hard. It is a concept that is a breeze to imagine. It is a whole other state of affairs living up to it.
When one chooses to self-publish, the first hurdle has already been passed.
It is not hard to self-publish. There is no fussing around with agents and publishers, nor a waiting period of up to three years for acceptance and scheduling.
There are services that will guide you faithfully through the journey, for a fee of course.
Donna and I have used CreateSpace for our paperbacks. The support staff and the system are both excellent. A step-by-step process is clearly laid out at the web site.
I am constitutionally unable to understand or follow directions on web sites. That is not a problem. CreateSpace has a phone number prominently displayed. You touch a button, and the help desk is immediately accessible. At the other end of the line, you will find one the nicest people you will ever meet. She or he will “take you by the hand” exactly where you need to go to achieve whatever it is you are trying to do.
They will help in other areas as well, such as cover design. If you do not have a Sara Carrick providing backup, I recommend using the artists on staff. They are very talented and clever.
Once you have written your magnum opus, or even a modest opus, there is little stopping you from presenting it for public consumption. Many people are now skipping the whole “paper thing” and going directly to digital.
Excellent idea, although there are pros and cons to that approach as well. It is nice to have something tactile, a physical book, to hand out to friends, acquaintances, and reviewers.
But is it necessary? Probably not. Readership is moving to Kindles, Nooks, cell phones, and other forms of e-readers. Whenever I fly these days, I look up and down the aisle to check out the proportion of e-readers to traditional books in the laps of fellow passengers. It is becoming more equitable.
If you are at a hotel swimming pool or on the beach this summer, have a gander at how many people are reading in a new way.
So what about e-publishing? Is it hard? Not if your wife is a formatting genius.
I am able to say this, because I have been fortunate in being married to Donna. We both recognized at an early stage that digital books were the way to go. She has been a pioneer in learning how to format for Kindle and Smashwords. (I abandoned the effort when my eyes crossed and what was left of my hair fell out faster.)
I will not pretend it has not been difficult. Many are the times Donna’s struggled with how to modify a word document so that, once uploaded, chapter titles will appear with appropriate spacing, the text will be right-justified, and paragraphs will have proper indents.
If I say so myself (and I must, since she won’t), I have been a rock of support. Otherwise, I am not sure she would have made it through the “tech” storms, especially given that the rules keep changing.
That is another one of the hard things about e-publishing. You have to keep up with the technology. Or at least, be aware of what is happening. For example, a next phase for e-books is almost sure to involve more graphics and video. That will require development of a new set of skills.
The most attractive option is to pay someone to undertake the work on your behalf. The charge is likely to be a relatively modest amount.
I am going to stop here and continue next time with a discourse on perhaps the hardest thing for self-published authors to do – promote themselves and their material.
~ Alex Carrick