Self-publishing: Worth the effort?

I’ve spent the last week converting two of my books to Open Dyslexic Font for re-publication on Amazon. The conversion was a piece of cake. Getting them up and running made me mutter, “Whoever thought THIS was a good idea?” So glad the Amazon folks–and no one else, for that matter–heard me teach sailors new words! So, you may ask, why bother with self-publishing?

I didn’t rush into using CreateSpace and Kindle lightly. I’m a traditionalist and would rather have a publisher do all the design, printing, and marketing. But. I tried to get publishers interested in A Christmas Tale and Other Stories for several years, to no avail. I believed in the stories and that they would entertain and inspire readers, so when a friend offered to design the cover (for free!) I said, “Well, why not?”

The same story with The Centerville Code, my interactive mystery for middle-grade readers. I ran a cover contest for high school design students and then had a friend who taught middle school show them to her students to vote on. The cover that 49% of them loved wasn’t even on my radar, but hey, why do market research if you’re just going to ignore it? The most difficult part was converting all the ciphered messages into single image files instead of the cut and paste method I had used to create the first version.

I’ve published three short story collections on Kindle that would not have seen the light of day otherwise. Publishers want themed, “literary” stories, not random collections, and since I had only a dozen or so stories in each of three categories (strange happenings, relationships gone sideways, real life instead of rarified characters and settings) again no publisher wanted them.

Would I recommend self-publishing for everyone? Only if writers have the time, talent, and determination to do it themselves. First on the list: If you’re not a Grammar Nazi, hire an editor, or at least a proofreader. It’s money well spent to not look like a fool. People who spot spelling and grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in the story, probably won’t bother to buy anymore of your books, either fiction or nonfiction.

Second: You must have a good sense of design in order to create a cover, although with Cover Creator, an Amazon tool, it’s really easy to do step by step, so that’s not extremely critical. You will have to write the cover copy and make several design choices.

Third: It’s never going to be always easy. Be prepared to take your time, figure out what each step is asking for, and then do it. When it gets too frustrating, walk away for a day or two.

Most of all, believe in your writing and your story. If it’s worth sharing, it’s worth taking the time to do a good job on the publishing end of it.

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