My Publishing Journey: A tidy mind!

I’m embarking into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End, following the lives of Logan and his group of friends as civilisation falls apart around them. Here I document my honest journey, describing what I find as research and try my hand, steering this way and that I my WordPress friends add their guidance. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new, useful or uncover important information in the hope that those who follow me in their own journey can learn from my experiences.

This is the fifth update after a week of activity on the project and I’ve taken the time to tidy up the post, refocus the words as I seen fit, but if you want to follow my journey how I got here then check out my previous update.

For those of you already following these updates, as always, any new content has been added in blue, but you’ll not see that if you’re using the WordPress Reader.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book

DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing

Originally under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, I didn’t want to have any development editing of the work. I planned to just to read and re-read, taking in pointers from my beta readers. However because of these posts and some great advice from commenters who’ve been there, successfully and otherwise, through this movie, I decided to get the manuscript professionally evaluated. It costs a descent amount of money, but I’m invested in this project and I’ll only regret it if I missed some silly mistakes, or a major plot hole which I could have easily fixed. I know those who paid good money would let me and my potential buyers know and it would be too late.

So now it’s off being evaluated and I just have to wait until around mid-August to see how much work I need to put in to get it up to scratch. With my fingers and toes crossed I’ll do what I can in the meantime to support the publishing process without knowing what the final manuscript will look like. It was the right choice, I’m sure of that now.


Step Four

The Publishing Process

This section is all about figuring out where the hell and how the hell I’m going to get the work published. I’ve already decided I’ll self-publish. I decided long ago I won’t be even trying to go the traditional route with its long lead times and giving away control even if the lottery of a process ends with me as the winner.

After all my research the are the key decisions to make:

  • Publishing format: Paperback or E-book – I decided both. I want to hold it in my hands, even if I’m the only one who ever does!
  • Outlets:
    • Amazon – CreateSpace or KDP
      • CreateSpace is the original service from Amazon for generating E-books and print on demand paperbacks. It is somewhat a legacy service and will be fully replaced by KDP.
      • Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP – This is the latest Amazon service for E-book and print-on-demand publishing. It has many advantages for those authors in the UK who wish to get low cost proof paperbacks because they ship from the UK, whereas CreateSpace ship from the US. CreateSpace still has more features, but even since I’ve been writing these posts more and more of the CreateSpace features are being added to KDP. I’ve chosen to use KDP.
    • Other Outlets – There are tens of other outlets for print-on-demand and E-books and there is a handy service called SmashWords which will allow you to publish your E-book to pretty much all of them by preparing your manuscript once on their platform.
    • Kindle Select / Kindle Unlimited – When deciding which avenue to take, it is important to decide if you are going to enrol in Kindle Select in order to make your E-book available to the Kindle Unlimited Audience. Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s lending library where users pay a subscription and can read as many books as they want. The author gets paid a fee per page. The amount per page is dependant on the value of the Kindle Select Global Fund. The catch is, and there’s always a catch, in joining Kindle Select you are providing the E-book for sale only in Amazon’s outlets. This only effects the E-books, but you can’t even offer it for free or otherwise on your own website. You sign up for limited periods and you can always withdraw from the programme. Following comments from other authors I know people often make money on the Kindle Unlimited programme, despite not selling many books.
  • Book title: Does it fit the content? Does it provoke a reaction in the potential buyers mind?
  • Strap line: Same for the above.
  • Blurb: The few paragraphs which site on the back cover of the book and act as your description on the e-retailer’s shelves. This was a daunting task!! Amazon recommend around 150 words which are easy to scan. You can find what I can up with at the bottom of this post.
  • Keywords & Categories: Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Choose the category first as you don’t want to repeat the words in your categories.
    • Categories – Research other books of the same genre. You can only pick two.
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. I was surprised at what I found!
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect.
      • I’m leaning towards:
        • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
        • Fiction > Thrillers > Supernatural
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up the ranking. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
        • Here’s what I got:
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication: Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result, but you’ll have to wait for release to see what I’ve written!
  • Acknowledgements: Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • ISBN: You can either pay hundreds for an ISBN range (you can’t buy just one) and use it across all outlets, or use the free ones from each outlet but they’ll be different. I chose to use the ones from the provider, in my case Amazon. How exciting!
  • Rear Pages Content: Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image: Until I started going through the dry run of the KDP publishing process I hadn’t thought of a back cover, but it turns out you need to supply the entire sleeve, including the spine, as one image, in a PDF document. Seems obvious now, but it wasn’t something I thought about. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I had to send it back to my artist friend to work it up. A tip of his was to print out the finished product and wrap it around of book of similar trim size to get a better feel for how it will look. Wow I’m pleased with what he’s done!36425816_1144418829031857_6231572611021668352_n
  • Style Guidelines: Some outlets, like SmashWords, provide style guides which you need to stick to. This includes how to space the text, which characters to use for speech etc.
  • Look and Feel of the Text: Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • Trim: How big is the paperback going to be. The advice seems to be to stick closely to industry norms if you ever want to see your book on a bookstore shelf, albeit your local friendly store. I chose 5×8 inches.

For the KDP process, download the MS Word template from KDP and copy and past the work in. You’ll need to format the text in you font and size, add in chapter numbers, choose justification and page numbers. With mine it mostly went okay and is great to see the work in a format which is recognisable as a real book! Little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the page numbering to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.

  • Pricing:
    • With the cover uploaded and the proof approved (you can either check it online or download the proof to look at offline), I haven’t properly checked it yet as this is just a dry run, Amazon tells me the cost of printing each copy will be £3.58 on amazon.co.uk and $4.31 on amazon.com.
    • This cost is effected by the paper choice, the number of pages (determined again by font and font size and spacing used etc), colour choice, if any etc. The printing cost is then used to determine the minimum sales price.
    • The minimum list price for this book is £5.97, this is based on a royalty of 60% of the difference between the minimum list price and the cost of printing. If you set your sale price here you won’t earn any royalties.
    • This part is a bit confusing, but the tool guides you through. In order to get a royalty of £1 per book I would need to have a list price of £7.64. This also factors in any VAT or sales tax which Amazon handles for you.
    • My figures show in GBP because I chose the UK as my primary territory, but it also shows the prices for other territories too, in their own currency. You can independently alter each territory’s pricing.
  • Author Copy Proofs:
    • Now here is where you can order Author Copy proofs and where you’ll find the dreaded publish button!! We won’t be doing the latter yet. You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time and they charge you only the printing cost!
    • I’ve submitted a proof request, the proof will be minus your ISBN and have a watermarked front cover. Within four hours I had an email with a link to add the book to my Amazon basket, then I just checked out, paying £7 of P&P on top. Shame it won’t let me use my Prime Membership to get it free. Although it’s likely the text inside will change following the edit, I’ve ordered one anyway so I can check all the other aspects. I can make as many changes as I want later on and before I press the publish button! Another exciting time!

Step Five

Marketing

Continue to build the community and market the book, it doesn’t matter that it’s not ready to publish or doesn’t have a publish date yet. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and twitter details.
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Investigate other social media outlets
    • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few weeks. Feel free to follow (you could be my first!), but I’ve not got around to deciding how I will differentiate this from my other social media. For now I’ll experiment with flash fiction.
    • I’ve made updates to my blog settings to add sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook, plus a Twitter feed.
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Write Season Three and release on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers / Reviewers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review. It would seem a lot of reviewers will only accept paperbacks for review.
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

IMG_4117


Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m writing short stories to keep the itchy fiction fingers at bay and as a good promo material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

19 thoughts on “My Publishing Journey: A tidy mind!

  1. Hi Gareth, let me wish you enormous success with your project.

    I followed a similar process after doing a OU Creative Writing Degree and was in a rush to publish, which I did. No marketing , no social media at the beginning. I did what you have said ..””Publishing format: Paperback or E-book – I decided both. I want to hold it in my hands, even if I’m the only one who ever does!””
    I did exactly that and it was fantastic.

    My experience is that CreateSpace is a printer -you work for them, but they provide the ease to get to market on Amazon and Kindle. (I do my own Kindle upload – and the ability to change is easy).
    But there is nothing to stop you from using a local digital printer at the same time, once you are confident , edit/proof etc complete. You may find this is cheaper to provide you with paper copies to sell – always carry three to four copies with you, you’ll be surprise how much the personal contact works. I am not saying push the book, just a casual conversation does the trick. Should you decide to do a launch event you can collect the books without postage, then the profit margin may be better.

    I still sell a few of my books and get the occasional Kindle sell as well as the Kindle lending library penny.

    A note on wider distribution CreateSpace, basically you’ll be lucky if you get 10p from the US system. This is where the US shops buy through the CreateSpace distribution – Print on Demand only. Who do you work for?

    I sent the British Library five copies, they like you to do that, also added my information into ‘CIP, Catalogue in Publication Programme – UK Orientated. I then walked into the local library and gifted them two copies of each – It was a self smug feeling to see my books on their shelf and yes people take them out and read them. (People like books for free) I have not registered for the Library Lending system so might be due some coppers.

    I have published three more books for Writer Groups and have used a combination of Local Digital printer, CreateSpace and KDP – type Alibrasphere into Amazon to see them . All limited numbers for ‘Friends and Family’ was the brief and they were happy with the outcome.

    As an addition to your research into the world of books check out how Waterstones approach Self-Publishing.

    https://www.waterstones.com/help/independent-publishers/48

    I will finish on a high for you, if your book takes off – with your social media drive and hype so far – I am certain you will be successful and sell. (Best profit margin from Kindle – digital)
    But I mean take off big time, you maybe approached by Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer publishers, they are always scouting for new talent. a traditional publisher, yes but the have the Amazon clout and know the market.

    One author (there are many) who has been success this way is Mark Edwards.

    I have enjoyed keeping up with your progress, once again best wishes and have a Great Success.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so very generous of you to share your research, and as a librarian, seems very well researched. My goal too is to self- publish a children’s book and adding your information to mine will be helpful in the future. Thank you so much and the best of everything with your endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

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