Is Self-Publishing For You?
Filed under: Writing

Have you dreamed of seeing your writing in book form?Does it seem so very far away? We’ve moved past the old stigma that said the only way to be a “real” author was to send out your manuscript endlessly until someone somewhere decided you were good enough to publish. Those days are gone as we’ve moved into the era of quick, quality digitally printed works.

This is my third self-published book in seven years so I figure I’ve learned a thing or two about the process. But let me tell you right off the bat: It’s NOT for the faint-at-heart or the uncommitted or the lazy. If this describes you, stick to writing for pleasure . . . nothing wrong with that. But if you’re willing to leap off the cliff of dreams coming true and have the faith you will grow your wings on the way down, then read on.

My first book “Lessons From the Potholes of Life”:I knew nothing about publishing and little about how to lay out a book so I hired a local desk-top publisher to do the whole thing. All I had to do was type and give him ideas and he made it look pretty. I didn’t know I needed an editor. I thought he did that . . . wrong! Although people loved the book, there are many errors in it and it wasn’t cheap to produce. But the worst was finding out he never kept the files. Now it’s out of print, I have no files from which to produce another printing . . .grrr!

Lesson #1: Always use an editor to clean it up after you’ve had several people read it for you. Always keep your files. You own them, not the person you hired.

Lesson #2: Shop around for the best publisher or print on demand company. Ask other authors for their experiences.

My second book “RV Canada On A Dime And A Dream:” By this time I decided I needed to learn how to format my own book , really self publish, which I did using onlyMicrosoft Word. I hired someone for the cover design and had the manuscript proof read before going to an editor. I produced a professional looking book that sold well in a niche market.

Lesson #3:Unless you have Photo shop or some other fancy program, hire a cover designer. It’s the first thing people see and can make or break a sale.

Lesson #4:Find your niche and work  it. Because I’m an RVer and speaker, I found my niche at RV shows and writing for RVers.

My latest book “RV Canada With Boo the Menopausal Van:”I’ve progressed to being able to layout photos in the book. I found a great editor, Lewis Mattox online because I joined Linkedin site. I networked with anyone I could talk to so I found an old school chum, Ole Neilson who does cover design.  In my writer’s group Susan Litke, a wonderful illustrator did the cartoon for the cover. Because I was looking for the best price for printing I met Craig at Island Blue Print who gave me a fabulous price, excellent service and quick turn around time.

Lesson #5: Network everywhere and all the time. Join a writer’s group. Go to writers’ festivals. You never know where your support or business link will come from. Hand out cards everywhere, and keep cards for referrals.

Lesson#6: Both RV books are 6×9″ , 240 pages and under 500 grams so they fit through the mail slot that keeps them under the parcel post rate. They ship for $2.78 anywhere in Canada. That would be closer to $8 if they were over. Besides it keeps the overall price down so I can sell them for $20, a breaking point where people don’t have to think too hard about purchasing.

Lesson #7:Once you start on the manuscript, set yourself a timeline with set dates to reach for. Without a goal date, you could wander around the forest of procrastination and fear forever. I set myself a time line that worked back from when we wanted to leave(June 1) on the book tour. I knew I had to have the rough draft of the book done before Christmas08 and I did. The result? My book will be launched Mar.19 at the Chilliwack RV Show, a full two months ahead of schedule. To be out from under the stress in a short period of time feels soo great!

Can you produce your own book? Of course you can if you really, really want to make your dream come true.

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