‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Start with the end in mind is the second habit of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Take time to imagine your finished book—in your hands, handing “thanks for your support” copies to relatives and friends, on the book shelf of someone you’ve just met, in your favorite book store and library, on an e-reader like a Kindle, as an audio book. How big is it? Is the cover a photo, an illustration, or just contain the title and your name, there in lights. Is the title large enough? What does the title and cover design convey to a potential reader?
There are many decisions for you to make as you build your book. Knowing where you’re headed will save you time later on.
Things like self-publishing start out simple, then they get complicated. But you have to start somewhere. Here’s a checklist for building an e-Book from scratch. Along the way, you will need:
A completed manuscript
The page count and pagination
Book design: font, margins, page numbers, header, footer
Copy editing per a particular style guide choice
Developmental editing, niche targeting
Chapter opener design and content
Title and sub-title
Decision on whether to use a pen name
Copyright notice, legalese, and marketing copy
An ISBN and perhaps a UPC and Library of Congress number
Table of Contents design: parts?, chapters by name or number?, front and back matter.
Chapter openers: design and content
Cover design: front, back, spine
Author bio and photo
Cover pitch, marketing content
Advertising strategy: organic, paid, affiliate
Key words, tags
Pricing strategies, prices, promotions
Channels: narrow or wide?
Author appearances, book tour?
Working Amazon marketing
Project planning and management
E-book format specifics
Paperback trim size, paper choice, and binding
Hardcover? Dust jacket?
Audio book specifics?
Someone to keep you on track as you work through this list.
Publishing a living, breathing book is a surmountable object. This is something you can do. But the sooner you get started, the better. Let us know if you’d like a little help. Or a lot. Email us.
The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn is, fair to say, the doyenne of self-publishing with no end of news and information to share in her books and podcast.
The Book Designer: now part of the SelfPublishing.com platform, Joel Friedlander has been doing book design and publishing a long time and has a warehouse of resources to help you out with your self-publishing life.
March 1, 2016 — Touchwood Press is pleased to announce the publication of its latest title, MountainVision: Lessons Beyond the Summit, 2nd Edition, by Jeff Evans. This updated and expanded edition of MountainVision has been published through an agreement between Touchwood Press and Mountain Vision, Inc. of Boulder, Colorado.
MountainVision is both a memoir and adventure tale compilation derived from Jeff Evans’ 25+ year career as a mountain guide, wilderness adventurer, and more recently, motivational speaker to leaders around the world.
Featuring prominently in MountainVision is the story of the amazing partnership between Jeff Evans and Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind man to summit Mount Everest, as they developed trust and confidence in each other and scaled the highest mountains on six continents.
Join Jeff Evans as he describes how to conquer the fears and perils that life’s challenges bring. In this updated and expanded edition of MountainVision, his suspenseful and inspiring memoir teaches critical lessons in leadership and life from beyond the summit, whatever your summit may be.
Lists like this (at least the good ones) are really helpful for internalizing the key principles about some new technology or process or behavior. This one is very good, although its emphasis on data-driven marketing has me thinking that while I accept that the information age we live in has given us an unprecented power to make data-based decisions, I just get bored at the thought. Anyway, glean what works from this great list via The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Publishing | Joomag Blog.
Your blog is your sketch book, note pad, diary (of sorts), op/ed column. Take advantage of the free and easy opportunity a blog affords to air out your prose or poetry if you’re really sincere about growing as a writer.
A self-published look may result from your selections of fonts, margins, justification, and other simple look-and-feel variables. Your objective is not to try and improve several hundred years of book formatting tradition, unless that is your objective. 🙂 Your deviations from what readers have come to expect will just be noise, loud or subtle, but noise nonetheless. It will distract them from the business of enjoying your writing.
Here are some simple things to monitor as you write and edit your book, assuming yours is a straight-text creation and your goal is to publish both soft cover and e-book versions.
Set your font to Garamond; this is a sure bet. Just this choice alone will make your book look like it came from a mainstream publisher.
Use right and left justification. Check it out; just about all books, regardless of genre, are fully justified. Yes, you may need to learn in Word how correct for a few widows and orphans (book talk for little bits of text that get hung out in space and need to be brought back together with their precedents and descendants…look it up), but it’s worth it.
Insert page breaks (Ctrl-Enter in Word) after every page in your front and back matter and after the last character in every chapter. This will prevent text from getting up and moving to another page and other issues with maintaining your content in decent and good order.
Indent all paragraphs EXCEPT the first paragraph in every chapter. I use Word styles to manage this.
Use Word styles. Just a few, to make you more productive and help generate your table of contents. (This is a whole other topic, to be covered later.) If you can’t manage Word styles, you can do what you need to do manually and with the help of a downloaded template from Amazon or other free source.
Don’t copy and paste images, only Insert them.
I sense a new class and book on this topic. Long story short, take advantage of what Amazon, Word and free web resources give you about formatting your book and avoiding the self-published look.
There are many websites and services that self-publishers should know about. Here are my favorites:
There sure are! Here are my favorites:
The IBPA (International Book Publishers Association): everything the self-publisher could want in a trade association all about us. News, information, events and awards aimed at helping to build a community of self-publishers. There’s a lot to be learned from our peers.
The ALLI (Alliance for Independent Authors, pronounced like “ally”) is the professional association for authors who self-publish. They work to foster ethics and excellence in self-publishing — and run many campaigns and collaborations that benefit our members. If you feel your book will be interesting for English-speaking readers across the Commonwealth of Nations, this is the group for you!
These groups on LinkedIn represent a lot of diversity across the writing and publishing community. I’m not endorsing any of them necessarily, but I do think they’re worth a look for opportunities to connect with people like you, people and organizations you may want to target, or service providers you may want to work with. Search for each group on LinkedIn and click their About tab to get started:
Independent Book Publishers Association (3900 members). Private group. To request membership, click Join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager. The Independent Book Publishers Association, founded in 1983, is the leading professional trade association for independent book publishers. IBPA serves the needs and fosters the growth of emerging and established independent book publishers through education and professional development, cooperative marketing programs, advocacy, and collective buying power. Note above.
Self-Publishing and Book Marketing (550 members) is a networking and friendly LinkedIn Group for Self-Publishers, Authors and Book Business Professionals. In this group Self-Publishers and Authors will learn advanced promoting solutions as well as how to get real results and increase their sales. Book Business Professionals will teach and share their experiences in book business and book marketing – what works and what doesn’t.
Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books, and Digital Content Publishing (84,000 members). Book Publishing professionals interested in latest industry news and experiments on ebooks (e-books), ebook readers, digital books & content—creating/developing, marketing & sales: what’s working/not, what are you trying, expand your network, improve your resources, discuss business models and more.
Publishing Today (3100 members). With more than 25 years of literary experience, I am the owner of a writing/editing/indie publishing service. I have the knowledge and expertise to direct newcomers to the world of publishing. Note: Obviously, this is one person’s project.
Books and Writers (88,000 members). Private group. To request membership, click Join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager. Book, Writer and Publisher group to network around writing and publishing, marketing and selling your books. Become a better writer and sell more of your books. Learn and network to get more of your books sold into book stores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, direct sales and even international rights sales. This group is for authors, publishers, editors, book literary agents and even future writers. If you like to write articles, blogs, books, or will write in the future this blog is for you.
Western Publishing Association (453 members, Western USA). Offers education and professional resources to 250+ media/publishing companies and their partners in the western U.S. WPA is renown for its innovative publishing conference in Los Angeles and its prestigious Maggie Awards program. Our LinkedIn Group is now open to WPA members other qualified publishing professionals.
Ebooks, E-learning, Epub 3, HTML5, Fixed layout ebook, Children eBook Apps and Digital Publishing (Phew!, A long title makes their name show up in more key word searches. 12K members.) Book Publishing professionals interested in latest industry news and experiments on ebooks (e-books), ebook readers, digital books & content—creating/developing, marketing & sales: what’s working/not, what are you trying, expand your network, improve your resources, discuss business models and more.
Authors, Writers, Publishers, Editors, & Writing Professionals (No religion or politics, 18,000 members). A moderated group and is open to publishing professionals via an application process. A professional is an individual who is paid for their work(s), who is already published, who has edited manuscripts, or as a publisher, has published works that receive royalty benefits.
Publishing Business (8300 members). Private group. To request membership, click Join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager. Executives in magazine, book and online publishing worldwide, hosted by Publishing Executive magazine, Book Business magazine and the Publishing Business Conference & Expo (NYC in September). Note: Don’t be put off if you’re not accepted as a member in groups intended for “publishing professionals.” You may find the occasional anti-self-publisher bias from those who think they have something to protect, but don’t take it personally.
Book Marketing (24,000 members). Book authors have to switch from being a writer to a marketer if they want to promote their book in the crowded book space. Book authors need to start with a call-to-action book author website whose URL can be used for all social media profiles. Then book authors need to conduct a book marketing campaign to promote their books.
No. E-books don’t need ISBN’s at all. Remember that ISBN’s are essentially universal (at least in the bookseller world) stock numbers. E-books won’t ever be inventoried or accounted by the copy, so no ISBN number is needed. Whoever you publish with, such as Kindle, will have their own internal project numbering system or other method of controlling their internal database. Your book will get assigned some sort of tracking number. But an ISBN? No.
Here’s an example of something authors can do now that was nearly unthinkable before digitization. E-books can turn on a dime, so authors can revise and re-publish as often as they like…up to the point where readers are annoyed if they must buy the update. For most books, it’s probably worth thinking ahead before pulling the trigger on an update.
If you’ve published a non-fiction, reference-type book, consider a companion website where readers can get updated resources and information. But if you do this, make sure and maintain the website (best to do this according to an announced schedule) or risk losing your audience.
R.R. Bowker Company was named exclusive provider of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) in the United States in 1968 (an awful year, otherwise). Today, the company (now just plain Bowker) is part of ProQuest and still pumping out ISBNs as well as standard bar codes for publisher/bookseller inventory management. And, it offers a range of other publishing services and more. A good company. Bowker does license others to help sell ISBNs, such as Publisher Services. But watch out for nefarious ISBN distributor wannabes.
Your books need ISBNs. Every version, edition, and format needs its own ISBN, which can be purchased one-at-a-time (very expensive) or in lots on a steep discount curve. E-Books don’t require ISBNs. If you are publishing using Amazon CreateSpace, you can get your one-off ISBN from them at no cost at all. Sweet deal.
Apparently, yes. I’ve done some quick research here and here, and it appears this is done frequently (Mark Twain, J.D. Robb, many others). Authors may use pen names without telling anyone except their publishers (or Amazon, or anyone who needs to send you checks!) and if you’re self-publishing, well, no-brainer. Talk to a lawyer if you have any lingering questions. I am not a lawyer, and anything I say about pen names should not be taken as authoritative.
A big part of the magic of any children’s book is the artwork. But if you’re not Beatrix Potter, you’re going to need to collaborate with an illustrator. If you don’t have one lined up, it can be daunting to try and find one whose style fits with what’s in your mind’s eye and who is affordable and congenial.
Make sure your illustrator has verifiable references, is willling to work under a written agreement (good ones will have their own), and that you have no lingering doubts before committing a lot of time and money to the partnership. Also make sure you retain all the rights you need to use the illustrator’s output in the ways you may need to, i.e. for further publication in other media, etc.
Is this your first project? Assuming it is, I say, “Keep it simple!” Lucky for us, we can start at the top, as it were, by starting our self-publishing journey in Amazon-land, using Amazon CreateSpace and/or Kindle Direct Publishing. (No promotional fees have been paid, or are likely to.) Why lucky? Because Amazon already sells 65% or so of all e-books and can give you access to just about any market or audience segment…everywhere. So, the tools/platforms I recommend, especially for starters, are CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.
This doesn’t really answer the question, though, does it? As you already have seen, there are dozens, at least, of tools, platforms, distribution channels, and publishing services providers to choose from. I’m just saying if the leading provider of just about everything is free/cheap and easy to use and you get all its massive marketing machine working for you, why not start there? There’s plenty of time to get deeper into the marketplace and engineer the perfect set of capabilities and resources for you. Whatever you decide, best of luck to ya’!
Publishing it yourself is just like do-it-yourself before computers. Back then, I spent many off-work hours doing it myself…to our household plumbing, our garage and basement, and to the backyard. I gave this up when I got hooked on computers because I discovered I was less likely to damage myself and others and because all those trips to the hardware store – to pick up what we forgot the last time or replace what we’d broken – got expensive.
Now, you can do your own book yourself, get your creative out, and dream of fame and fortune on the best seller list…or not. But the first step is getting inspired. Read on.