I recently joined the growing ranks of self-published authors with my novel Oktober Heat. Before taking the plunge I bought two books that covered the formatting and sign-up process and read blogs of publishing insiders. Here is my experience so far:
Cover design: Authors and readers agree that a compelling book cover is very important. Cover designers are often booked months in advance and it is crucial to book an artist even before hiring an editor. The advantage of self-publishing is that you get to choose your own cover. The disadvantage is that you have to decide what to put on the cover, including images and fonts! Music was a thread throughout my novel and I wanted a clean design that gave a feeling of the 1950s. My artist subscribed to a stock photo agency and I spent days looking at images, trying to find one that spoke to me. Finally, I saw a vector that I loved and the artist used it as a guideline.
Copy editor: I knew I needed a copy editor because English is my second language and I did not want to give anyone a reason to give my book a poor review because of misplaced commas. Networking is the best way to find an editor. Just like cover designers, they tend to be booked weeks, if not months, in advance.
Formatting: If you don’t want to tackle the formatting yourself, your editor more than likely knows the names of several formatters to choose from. I decided to format the novel myself for CreateSpace and Kindle. Should I offer my book on other formats in the future I will probably pick a distributor that offers formatting. After all, I want to spend my energy on my next project.
Publishing: The books took me through every step of the publishing process, with one exception: I had no idea that I had to submit two W-9 forms, one to CreateSpace and one to Kindle Publishing because they are different entities. Fortunately, this step is only required for first-time authors. But if you have set yourself a deadline, it is worth mentioning that processing your tax information can take several weeks.
That’s self-publishing in a nutshell.