2 Lessons From DIY Self-Publishing

Available at Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

I just published my first e-book entitled The Black Bag which is on Smashwords catalog now. But I had a limited budget on which to complete this project. Since it is a short story I decided to publish it entirely as a DIY project.

Now many people might gasp and say that I needed professional services to produce this e-book and I agree regarding larger projects. However, I wanted the experience of doing the whole publication myself.

So what did I learn? For starters, Mark Coker’s Style Guide is extremely helpful to authors. But there are two aspects of the process that taught me what to expect from hiring other people to do some of the work. Here’s what else I learned.

1. Formatting isn’t that hard. I would feel completely comfortable formatting a full novel based on what I learned from the Style Guide. I was able to create styles and clean up errors in my short story with ease. The only mistake I made was using a template title page. It ended up having a table embedded which was not friendly with Smashwords converter (The Meatgrinder). This was easily remedied by deleting the table along with the text and creating a style after which I re-created the title page so that the problem with conversion was cleared.

2. Coverart is tricky but doable. I used a photo purchased from iStockPhoto but I initially added the text onto it with PowerPoint. Even though my photo was initially large enough, PowerPoint compressed the size so Smashwords did not consider the cover large enough. In the end, I downloaded Gimp and got the text added after which Smashwords accepted the correct size.

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Conclusion: due to need I will hire and illustrator and commission my artwork but I may do my own formatting. For this size project it was worth my effort and time to do it myself. Now the question is whether the e-book is good enough. Well, take a look at the cover and the sample to see that all the internal links and formatting are correct. If it finally passes the litmus test with Smashwords and is distributed over the premium catalog then I’d say I did a pretty good job on this small project. NOTE: The e-book has passed muster for membership on the Smashwords premium catalog.

Have you every tried self-publishing as a DIY project? If so, what problems did you have and how did you rectify them? If you haven’t, what’s keeping you from trying?

Please leave comments.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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  1. I’ve gone both ways. I did both of my suspense thrillers DIY… and it probably shows in some regard. Formatting for Createspace paperbacks is the worst. So, when I decided to go whole hog and outsource EVERYTHING for my YA fantasy, I decided another $80 for paperback and mobi formatting was worth the aggravation.

    Coverart is so important in the grand scheme of things, so I always recommend putting out $ for that… or getting that friend who knows graphic design to crank one out for you. Of course, editing is a biggie too, but like you said, each project is different. Should you have each piece professionally edited? Probably. But, if you can’t, then just be sure to get as many eyes on it as possible before clicking “Publish.”

    Good luck! 🙂

    1. Thx for the . I agree that larger projects need more investment with editing, artwork and formatting. However, I’m not as concerned about the latter unless I’m also producing hard-copy too. Thx for visiting.

  2. Congratulations!

    For covers, have you tried Canva.com? They have a DIY section for book covers and as long as it’s for ebooks, it’s perfect. There are also some premade cover designers that I get my own covers from and some as low as $30 each especially when they’re running a sale.

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