Thursday, August 25, 2011

The proofs are here! The proofs are here :(

Lulu Proof
I received the proof really quickly - it was shipped from France, so I wonder if it was published there? I do know that they have European printing sources in addition to the ones in Pennsylvania. In any case, it felt great to hold a paper version of my book, with the cover I created. It's a real book, something I've been waiting for all my life. I may have been more excited if someone else had done all the work and made it perfect, but then I would have had to wait two years or so for it, or so I understand. There was some ink bleen on the interior, but the print quality was otherwise clear and professional. The problem with Lulu is that it's very expensive, otherwise I'd have gone with them exclusively because of the ease of use of their website and interface.

CreateSpace Proof
The CreateSpace (company owned by Amazon) proof finally arrived yesterday. It took about 2 weeks to get here. I somehow expected it to be perfect. Why would it be perfect on the first try? It was definitely wishful thinking. If it had been perfect, I could have approved the proof and then distribute it on Amazon. I could start my marketing campaign. I could make my book known to the world! But it was not to be, not this week. The formatting of the CreateSpace version was wrong, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized that that problem is likely that I didn't embed the fonts into the PDF. You see, Lulu had allowed me to submit a .doc, but CreateSpace requires a .pdf with embedded fonts. I submitted a .pdf, but I didn't embed the fonts (because I don't have Adobe Acrobat X). Bad idea. Now I understand why they tell you to do it. If you don't, it can default to another font, which is a slightly different size and has different spacing. This can throw off your formatting big-time. Of course, indents and so forth will be the same, but different fonts produce different wordcounts on a page. What this means is that my carefully-formatted document (I had gone through all 300-some-odd pages to make sure I didn't have pages with just one line on them, etc...) looked like a wreck. Completely unacceptable.

Copyright Page
Another thing that became clear when I reviewed the copies is that books look really silly without copyright pages. My book is automatically copyrighted without my having to sign any papers or register it anywhere, but books need copyright pages or they feel wrong. So I added one into the new versions.

Thinking impatiently, I thought I'd forfeit the copyright page on the Lulu version in order to have a copy on the market. After all, the formatting and printing of the Lulu version were excellent. I went onto the website to buy the global distribution package (which makes it available on,,, etc...), and it wasn't an option. What could be wrong? Fine print, that's what. Somehow, I had neglected to ask for an ISBN number from Lulu, which is (of course) necessary to sell the book anywhere other than on the Lulu website. And once you get an ISBN number, they tell you the other requirements for market distribution - there must be certain margins, the text on the cover has to be x centimeters from the edge, and you need a copyright page.

I have my work cut out for me. It's been an excellent learning experience, but I think I'm ready to move on to the marketing step!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Waiting for the proofs

As you will notice as you read through previous posts, there is a lot of waiting involved in publishing. Waiting isn't easy for anyone - and I hear that when you're published by a publishing house rather than self-publishing, there's MUCH more waiting involved. Another reason I'm glad I'm self-publishing.

My book is now available for Kindle, and has only been purchased by friends and family thus far. Of course, nobody else knows it exists because I have done zero promotion whatsoever, unless you count Facebook and e-mail (read: friends and family). And many of them don't own a Kindle. I don't own a Kindle. So I understand the low sales.

As we speak, I am waiting for proof copies of the paper version from and, my two POD publishers. I hope they come FAST because I am so curious how they turned out. And I hope that they're perfect and require no changes because the faster they are ready, the faster I can start promoting my book. I will not do any promotion until a paper version is available. The media says that paper books are on their way out, but judging by how few of my friends and family own Kindles (which are the #1 e-readers, I understand), paper books will not die soon.

Long live paper!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Now Available for Kindle

A big thing happened last night - the digital version of my book finally showed up on Amazon! It felt great. I was checking the Kindle Direct Publishing site about every half-hour, and it continually showed it as "publishing" (it takes about 24 hours from the time you click "publish" to the time they publish it). And then I got an e-mail from a friend who had bought it for her brand-new Kindle! She bought it before I even knew it was up. Thank you, Bechert family! So even though I have been writing my whole life, I am now going to call myself a writer. The next step is to get it on Apple iBooks and (the latter is a bit more complicated). Once it's up everwhere AND the paper version is available, I'll start the real publicity campaign with newspapers, etc...

There may be an element of mild disgrace in the eyes of the major publishing houses and agents, but I am already glad that I self-published this book because, as a writer, I really just want people to read my book. It will not make me rich or famous. But it's always fun to learn new things, and to feel like I'm not just writing for myself. If you buy a copy, let me know, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Not so fast

Bismillah. I have sent the necessary files to Amazon for publication on Kindle! Next up, and Apple iBooks. Paper versions will follow.

In the back of my mind, I've been thinking that this is way too easy. That anyone can and will start putting up random books that they write, and that Amazon will be inundated with bizarre, unedited, spontaneous "books".

I really don't think that's going to happen. Even with all of the technological advances that have been made, it's not as simple as uploading a Word file and there you go, you have an e-book. And maybe that's intentional - because Amazon doesn't want an avalanche of random e-books.

Getting a book up there takes quite a lot of work. Allow me to elaborate:

  1. Write a book in your "spare" time.
  2. Reread, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit until you can't take it anymore.
  3. Torture your friends and loved ones with your manuscript, at which point you think you hope they're honest.
  4. Take the honest feedback and edit some more, until you're fed up.
  5. Take a break. A year is good.
  6. Revisit your manuscript and edit some more until you want to give up.
  7. You think you're done? Read it through one more time. Believe me, you'll find changes that need to be made.
  8. Decide that it will never be perfect, and decide it's ready to publish.
  9. Save file as .HTML
  10. Convert file to Mobi using Mobipocket Creator
  11. View with Kindle Previewer.
  12. You thought you were done? No. Now you can see the strange formatting caused by a power struggle with MS Word, which takes the liberty of inserting weird formatting at random and where you don't want it. Make a note of all the odd stuff.
  13. Go back into Word document or into .HTML document and take the crazy MS stuff out.
  14. Repeat steps 10, 11, and 12. You won't find all the errors the first time.
  15. Repeat step 13.
  16. Repeat steps 10 and 11 as many times as necessary to get rid of as much weird stuff as you can before you are fed up with it.
  17. View your document with the Kindle Previewer and look carefully at every single page (all 300-something of them) to catch any last-minute errors. If you still find some, which you will, repeat steps 13 and 10. Decide that you have found enough errors and you want to publish this document before your head explodes.
  18. Fill out all the required information and upload .prc file and cover art to Amazon. (This is after spending days creating and perfecting the cover art, with the help of your sweet husband).
  19. Hold your breath and click "Save and Publish".

I am not by any means good at computer stuff, but self-publishing requires you to stretch the computer-scientist part of your brain. It is an interesting exercise. You will gain some appreciation for people who work with computers behind-the-scenes.

Now, I will have to do slightly different processes to post on BN, Apple, and on-demand publishing sites. I guess I'd better get some rest...