They want to know how I've done it. What sites do I go to, how do I prep the manuscripts, how do I do my covers, etc. These conversations are usually kind of lengthy because, well, I want to share all the information I've learned as I've gone. There is a lot of ground to cover. I will be working on a FAQ for my site really soon that will cover a lot of that information and answer a lot of basic e-publishing questions for you, but it all comes down to the nugget of wisdom I'm about to share with you right now. And that is this:
Just do it.
I am no expert on this topic. Not even by a long shot. When you consider the statistic that says it takes about 10,000 hours of work before one reaches expert status on something, I'm not even an expert at the craft of writing itself. So with self-publishing, I'm still trolling around in (MAYBE) intermediate newb territory. I've learned everything I have so far by simply DOING. Sure, you will make mistakes that way, but if you're crafty and diligent enough, you will learn from those mistakes.
|This is truth.|
Formatting was another learning process for me. My earliest books were spaced too wide, and their margins weren't great. I was about four ebooks in when I finally figured out how to properly format the Word document, and even now it isn't as perfect as I'd like, because I'm not a coder. However, I rest assured knowing that many ebooks from the Big 6 publishers look worse than my current titles up for sale. That's because there isn't a current industry standard on ebook formatting. Ebooks are just fugly right now, and there isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. So your book will be in good company that way.
But standards will come in time, so keep your eyes and ears open. Meanwhile, there is a great style guide at Smashwords that is free and is probably the best one you will find to date on how to format your document for epublishing.
|My first cover. Yeah, I know. It sucks.|
However, I've since learned a lot more about cover art from some artistic friends of mine, and I've also learned how to better use the program on which I create my cover art (GIMP). I didn't take classes, and I have ZERO visual arts background. I just kept using it and experimenting with it (youtube is a great teacher if you're looking to learn new techniques) in my spare time, and I feel comfortable with it. To the point where I feel like all of my covers have a similar aesthetic, and reflect what I want them to reflect. Are my covers as good as a professional graphic designer's covers? Oh gawd no. I look forward to the day when the commission I pay for professional cover art will be easily covered by my book sales. But I think they're definitely passable, and I'm enjoying learning the process. I now consider making a cover a form of relaxation.
|One of my latest covers. Progress.|
|Hey, don't hate! These guys could be the next Nickelback! Er...|
When it comes to the crazy world of epub, your hands will get dirty. You have to stop worrying and fretting over every potential misstep. You have to be ready to have your pride stepped on a few times (or even more than a few) and question your sanity from time to time. You have to be ready to sacrifice at least a modicum of control over your work to the big corporations who are helping you sell it. You have to be ready for some people think you're not "legitimate" because you're self-publishing and not with a "real" publisher. You have to be prepared for the reality that your sales, at least at first, will be terrible. And then they will become a little less terrible, but they will still, ultimately, not even be enough to fill your gas tank every month. But every day that someone buys one of your books, it's a brighter day than it was before, and it's an awesome feeling.
But most importantly, if you really want to publish your own work, you have to get out there and JUST DO IT.
(The check's in the mail, Nike).