I was probably twenty-one when I first decided that someday I would be an author. I spent my entire teenage years writing short stories and poems as an outlet to my extreme circumstances. At twenty-one, the idea of writing a book as exciting as it looked in my head, was a far off distant dream I had no sweet clue how to begin. I asked peers, called publishers, even read books about writing a book, all of these at that time in my life, made the process sound more complicated than I was willing to take on. The idea of taking my voice, putting it to written word and then sending thousands of letters to potential publishers was probably a feared activity, and so I paused.
Fast forward fourteen years later, and I have finally finished my first book. Not the book I had originally set out to write all those years ago, but a book nonetheless. As with most things I do in my life, I had to become extremely resourceful throughout this process. I had never written a book before, wasn’t trained in writing, editing or grammar for that matter. I didn’t have the first clue on how to publish, market or format a book. So I did what any resourceful entrepreneur would do, I called peers yet again, ones that had done it before me. I googled the sh*t outta ‘How to write a book’, ‘How to self-publish your own book’, and so on and so forth. The problem was, there was way more information still, than I had room in my head. Anyone with even the highest of intelligence would be overwhelmed with the magnitude of information in front of them.
The process of A: deciding I would write a book to Z: publishing the darn book, well let’s just say the in-between was complicated. Most folks I called had written years ago, so some of their advice was out-dated. Others wanted me to hire them so they could teach me the process, and while this sounded like a great idea, my bank account had a different opinion. I landed on a few local peers that were able to point me to the path of least resistance of self-publishing. These awesome folks connected me with my dream team of experts all in the areas it took to complete my published book.
So, with that being said. I am writing this blog for all of you. All you fear-less folks, you lady lionesses who have a story to tell, but don’t know what questions to ask. Or maybe you are scared that the costs to self-publish are too high. Or whether you should try to get published by a professional publisher. I know in the few conversations I have had with some of you, fear of the unknown has quite frankly stopped you right on your path. While I am not an expert by any means in this category, I felt the urge to share my learning with all of you.
Word, Google Docs and Scrivener
When embarking down this path to write my first book, I needed some sort of structure. I am a squirrelly individual, and rarely follow straight lines. I was most definitely born in the wrong era (gifted hippies anyone?). A friend of mine had mentioned a software called Scrivener, and how it had helped him compartmentalize the various chapters he intended to write. At that time, I knew I needed something more than what a Google Doc or Word Doc could offer. So I purchased it. It was definitely a good purchasing decision. The ability to add in sourced sites, switch visually from one chapter to another, and compile a formal manuscript, was exactly what someone like me needed. However, once the book was done, I uploaded it to Google Docs for my editor to make their comments and change suggestions. My advice to you is to know yourself well enough, to know what format works for you. You can download a free trial of the software before you buy to see if it is something you truly want.
To Get Published or Self-Publish: That is the question!
In my case I chose to self-publish, more so because I was inpatient to the process of getting published by publisher. Previous to choosing to self-publish, I had intended to get published. In my mid-twenties I invested in some remarkable content called ‘Your BIG Beautiful Book Plan‘ by Daniel LaPorte and Linda Silversten. This massive digital program is for folks that are looking to get their written words published by legit publishers from around the globe. Both Danielle and Linda are the authors of this and also award winning PUBLISHED authors, so their content is on point. While I did read this information, and felt the content was perfect, the timing for me this year just wasn’t right. The process of writing my darn book was daunting enough, then to add to that process the writing of query letters, I just couldn’t bring myself to it. Waiting for either an acceptance or refusal letter just wasn’t in my wheel house for 2018. I do however have in my vision of the future being a published author, so I will be utilizing this information for a book in the future.
As I set forth to be a self-published author the platform I used, which is the most world renown was Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) to both publish a paperback version of my book AND an ebook on Kindle. The intuitive interface is super easy to use, and the help sections certainly point you in the right direction if you get a little turned upside-down. In just a few clicks, you can publish you book world-wide, pricing appropriately for each market. You’ll need to understand graphic design OR as I did hire a killer graphic designer to follow the specs for you book front and back cover, including spine. Basically in a nut shell, the # of pages your book has, dictates the overall size required for your book design. Inside KDP once you upload your manuscript and your newly designed book cover, you have the ability to flip through the book virtually. KDP will let you know of any errors, and you can see if the formatting is lining up the way you envisioned. If not, go back to the drawing board, tweak, re-upload and review again. (I had to do this a few times, lol).
I highly recommend hiring an editor, even if you are the Queen of Grammar. Having a second set of eyes on your content allows you not only to have your grammar checked, however, it also allows someone to check for consistency of dates, names, and use of certain terminology. The costs for editors definitely does vary, and there are great resources to locate one if you don’t have someone in your personal network. The PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) is a great resource, as is organizations and online freelance sites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, and Upwork. My advice to you is this, if you do choose a online freelance site, ensure to choose someone with more than 100 jobs under their belt, that they are fluent in the language you have written AND that there star rating is not under 4. You get what you pay for people!
OMG! So they say you are to work to your strengths and delegate to your weaknesses. However, I at times am more stubborn that I care to admit. In my case, I spent nine hours in one day to format my book. Sufficed to say, the end result was that of a four-year old child version of a formatted book. Nothing like I had imagined in my head. After ordering my ‘authors proof’ from KDP, at wholesale pricing, I realized my skill was not formatting. So, I yet again ventured out into this big vast world, and found a book formatting pro on Fiverr. He was absolutely amazing to work with and the end result is my book has book pages where I want them, imagery where it is supposed to be, and drop-case lettering for a beautiful effect. Now, I later learned that you need your book formatted once for Paperback and then in a separate format for Kindle. So, keep that in mind when you are hiring a book formatting pro. Overall I paid about $170 to have my 186 page book formatted.
Book Cover Design
At least I knew upfront that I should not be designing my own book cover. I was blessed enough that my coach at the time connected me with the designer of her book. A woman I had worked with in the past, and admired her design flare. I went into the meeting knowing ‘sort of’ what I wanted, I had books I owned that I admired their cover design. From there, she took my vision, my love of other book cover designs, and brought to life my cover design. The benefit here was that she knew and understood the specs behind a KDP book cover. The # of pages you have, dictates the size of the spine and overall book cover spec needs. I highly encourage you to hire a designer locally or via one of the above mentioned freelancing sites, and get a designer with KDP experience. It just made the process so much easier.
The amount of days I sat in front of my computer with my finger hoovering over the mouse, well, let’s just say there were many! Once the book was written, the editor made their editing comments, I tweaked, we re-edited, tweaked, re-edited, then hired the book formatting pro, consulted my book cover designer, well, she was done! Ready for the world to see! Or so I thought. My coach reminded me to order another authors proof, just to ensure I was good with all that was in front of me. I mean, the world was about to see all of my efforts, (or lack thereof), so I better proof my work. I ordered the 2nd authors proof, and she was a beauty! I clicked publish, and well, the rest is history!
In just two short weeks I made it to Amazon’s top 20 for my category!! Become a top author is fun, rewarding, and sort of like getting your first tattoo. It hurt a little, now you forget the work required, and you are ready for your next!
The process of writing a book is definitely a challenging one, yet, so very rewarding. I encourage you to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and write whatever it is that you feel is within. Your words will empower, encourage, inspire or possibly entertain hundreds to millions of readers worldwide. Your gift is that of all your past experiences, all your teachings, and all your mistakes. Wrap that in a tight little bow, in a book – and remember to send me the link when you are done!
PS: If you want the contact of my editor, coach or my graphic designer, hit me up [HERE].Also, if you are inclined to learn how to have an awesome relationship with your intimate partner, whilst learning through my own personal mistakes. Purchase my first book ‘Why I Divorced My Husband’ [HERE].
Happy Writing! XOX ,TA