Self-Publishing Adventure, Part 2

Wise words from the cat.

I hope you read yesterday’s introduction to my recent self-publishing journey.  

Lessons learned include: pay a professional editor to edit your work; you have decided to purchase your book’s ISBN, probably through Bowker; you decided to copyright your work through the U.S. Copyright Office; you have a barcode for the back of your book (if your pricing is yet to be determined, you can leave that information off your book’s barcode); and if like me, you decide that Amazon KDP is your best bet (and you don’t mind putting another few bucks into J. Bezos’s pocket), you are ready for the next steps.  

  1. Take 10 deep breaths. It is exciting to think that your book might be up and ready to sell within the next few days. My lesson was to stay calm and collected because a train of details was ahead.
  2. Register with Amazon KDP.  If you are already an Amazon customer, the registration is easy.
  3. Determine your book’s genre.
  4. Have an idea of how you want your book to look, to include the cover, book size, and print. I suggest making a mock-up. For me, the details were many, I started making mistakes (like unwanted deletions) and my desk went from organized to absolute chaos.
  5. Think ahead on formatting details. Art placement? Are your pages continuous, or must they be tightly defined?
  6. Is your book strictly for Kindle? Print? Or both. Hint: There are people who will format all the details on KDP for you. For me, I couldn’t justify the cost based on my limited budget and understanding that neither of my books would hit the top ten sellers on Amazon. I mean, my books are far from “50 Shades of Grey,” a runaway self-published wonder book.
  7. KDP will take you through a series of questions about genre, key words, ISBN (Amazon can arrange your ISBN for you), rights, and so on.
  8. It’s a good idea to download the KDP formatter to your computer or Kindle device. It took me some time to figure it out, but that’s not news.

My Errors

I work on a Mac with Word capacity. I’m essentially lazy and so use to Pages, that I stuck with that, then converted to Word. 

Pages is not as efficient as Word, in my opinion. 

My manuscript was naturally formatted on 8.5 x 11 pages and double spaced. 

Single space your manuscript.

Don’t assume the 8.5 x 11 size page will convert to your 5 x 8 book, or any of the other size options.

When I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon, it said something like, Nope. This won’t fit. Would you like us to convert for you?

I said yes. BIG MISTAKE. What KDP did was reduce my 8.5 x 11 page to a 5×8 via photo. Here’s the result:

The print size is so tiny that my reading glass required the boost of a magnifying glass. The corrected page is now readable.

I didn’t catch this one until I had it published and had a proof sent to me afterwards. My skin turned scarlet, as people had already purchased the teeny-tiny print copy. I am sending them, free of charge, the corrected book.

LESSON LEARNED: Remember that 10 deep breaths thing? Keep doing it. AND get your proof first before “published” even if you reviewed your copy on the computer. 

The good news is that I could easily halt publication, correct the copy formatting and publish again within a 24-hour period.

There were many other mistakes on my part, mostly with formatting. Some had to do with using Pages. I’m stubborn, and assumed I could push through this. I did, but not without some primal screams and a dictionary’s worth of new blue words.

THE CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK.

This time I applied what I learned. This was easier to format because a long time ago I had made a layout, so I knew where I wanted copy on each page.  Unfortunately my layout was for a horizontal book. For the life of me, I have yet to figure out how to get the KDP formatting to horizontal (because 90% of my photos were horizontal—the nature of the subject matter).

Fortunately, I can manipulate my photos and adjust for vertical formatting. This time I ordered a proof first.  There was way too much “air” on each page. I made the essential changes, mostly adding more photos, and I’m rather pleased with the book. Here’s a sample of 1st layout and final layout:

The first version as per the proof.
A much improved version.

There’s more to learn. My objective here is to simply share some silly errors on my part because I probably, no, I did fail to take 10 deep breaths.

The next adventure: Marketing and selling these books.

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