Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reflections on My Summer Self-Publishing Blitz

It started May 30th when I received a reminder from NaNoWriMo that I needed to use my Winner Goodies before they expired. Last November I did the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge in November and wrote Medea in 18 days.  So, I decided to get my two free copies courtesy of, which sent me to where I could create my book.

Knowing absolutely nothing about self-publishing, on May 31, 2015, I selected the guided process and followed the steps.  I got a free ISBN number from CreateSpace, uploaded my story file, created a cover from resources on their site (pictures, book cover designs, etc.), wrote the back cover blurb, wrote the Amazon site book blurb, author bio, gave my book a category, etc. In the end, I ordered my two free copies on June 4th when I had time to go back in because I'd started late n Sunday then had to work.

I figured that since I went through the trouble of doing all that I should get copies for my friends, just so they could have something I'd written, because I have been writing all my life, and saying, well, maybe this year I'll get something published, but every year, nothing's gotten done. So, I ordered 25 copies and handed them out.

I wasn't happy with the cover- the color was too dark, you couldn't read my name. Then, I wasn't happy with the interior because I really just uploaded the book file and did nothing else but a title page, in a different font that the cover font. I didn't write an author bio for inside the book. I didn't put headers or footers. I just uploaded the file.

Then Kelly said, "You know, you can make this better."

We went back in and explored more, figuring out how to change cover background and text colors and sometimes fonts. We redesigned the cover for Medea, then uploaded a revised interior with some corrections and a closer matching interior title page font.

Meanwhile, I wanted to explore another project, so I began putting together a number of our favorite Halloween stories that I'd begun writing annually in 2013. Having looked through some books I realized there should be more stuff added- like the rights, copyright, edition and disclaimers, a dedication page, table of contents if needed and the about the author page, and even a list of other titles by the author when and if it ever got to that point where I had more than one book out there.

In a mater of weeks, I had grown more self-publishing savvy...but it was the editing and proofreading that was killing me this time around. No matter how many times you read your stories and 'fix' them- there are still issues. Microsoft Word sabotages you with its self-correcting feature, trying to second guess what you mean to write by filling in words you start to type with similar words you've used before! I HATE it! It is the bane of my existence.

I really loved creating my books and then actually holding them in my hands and reading them in book form, rather than on the computer or printed out and stuck in binders. It was awesome!

My self-publishing snowballed from story collections to novels. In 3.5 months I self-published 5 novels, one children's story and 7 story collections. Each book was a little better than the previous one. Putting the books together got to be a piece of cake- follow the formula. All the books are available on I've sold some- not many, but a few.

I'm not really promoting them yet. I would prefer to have the Library of Congress copyright protection rather than just the author copyright.

In early September, I began applying for my copyrights.  I've applied for 6, I have seven more to go. I have to catch up on those before I do anything further. It's a $35 application fee if you have an account, an $85 apiece application fee if you don't. That can get expensive, but it's also been a learning experience filling out the form, packaging two best copies, attaching the check and mailing the packages to the Registrar of Copyrights at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Generally, I think that aspect of the real publishing world is handled by the publisher, not the author. It gives one a sense of satisfaction to accomplish all this single-handedly.

Basically, in self-publishing, the author wears all the hats and does everything. If there are mistakes and errors, well, you have no one to blame but yourself and you try harder the next time.

My friends are enjoying their books. One friend of nearly 20 years who kind of pooh-poohed my writing for two decades now grabs books out of my hands- maybe I needed to have my stories and books in this format for her to finally realize that I am a writer, not just a hobbyist. Another friend of only 8 years has been faithfully reading my stories and novels in computer printed form on 8x11 inch paper- not an easy size to handle a novel in, but she's been happy to read them and always enjoys them. She now has book form everything I self-publish for her personal library. My daughter also has to have a copy of every book for her library, signed of course.

I've even held a small contest to name my three volumes of collected Christmas stories. My office manager named volume 1, my niece named volume 2 and a Physician's Assistant in the office I work at named volume 3. They each won a set of the three books, and each was acknowledged in the book that they named as winner of the contest.

With ARCs (the books I ordered before realizing there were typos, and in one novel a minor continuity issue), I have taken them to work and my co-workers have taken them off my hands.

I have fixes to make in a few books, but in later books I have been much more diligent about having the text as perfect as it can be before uploading and ordering copies.

It has been a rapid learning experience that I have enjoyed. I will probably keep putting collections of short stories together and self-publishing them. I haven't done any on Kindle yet. I need to do further research because I have no clue what my international rights are as the author.

I'm basically happy and having fun doing this while accomplishing a goal I set for myself a long, long time ago. The sad part is that neither of my parents lived long enough to see my books in print. And two of my dearest friends who loved to read my printed out stories also passed before I had my stories in book form, although they both firmly believed that it would happen one day.

Overall-self-publishing has been a satisfying achievement.

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