Saturday, January 5, 2013

Westside authors

I have been asked by a couple of my fellow former Westside Books alum for information into my foray in self-publishing, and I have decided to answer here rather than individual emails.

My debut novel, Pull, was published by Westside in 2010. They have since ceased operations and I got the rights to the book back earlier this year. I set up my own publishing press, AllTheColorsOfLove, and re-issued a second edition. I have also published a set of short-stories, and am working on Being God, a Pull sequel. Not that this makes me any kind of expert, but at least now you have my curriculum vitae.

Here are the steps I went through. The order is not really significant. Each step may be done by the indie author or contracted out. I will note the steps I took myself.

  1. Get the rights back. In writing, not just an email saying it's OK. I made sure I had a signed document.
  2. Get a copy of your copyright document. That took some time, because at first it seemed ther original publisher had lost it. But with persistence, I got that from them as well.
  3. Editing. Because this had been edited before publishing, I did not have to hire an editor. Evelyn Fazio did an excellent job with the original. She is now a freelance editor, and I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an editor.  But there were a few places where I had wanted to make changes. I used this as an opportunity. Not much, I think I changed maybe four pages (ten sentences) in total. But I did feel that was enough to call the new version the Second Edition.
  4. Decide who you will use to print your book. I call them printers, even for the eBook, because I consider myself the Publisher. If I am self-publishing, they are the groups I use to assemble the product and distribute it. Different vendors have different format and cover requirements, so this should be done before you do those steps. I chose to have a paperback done by CreateSpace and an Amazon eBook. I also have a Smashwords edition.
  5. Cover. Purchase the cover art from Westside OR contract with an artist to design a new cover OR do it yourself. Use the specifications from your printing vendor. Since I was using CreateSpace, I dealt with their requirements. After hearing no reply from Westside when I attempted to purchase rights to the cover, I tried to hire someone. One person was in-demand and backlogged for months. I had creative differences with the other. In the end, I decided to learn Photoshop, buy a new picture of my cover model, and do the new cover myself. It became another outlet for my creativity. My new cover is similar enough to the old that people won't be fooled into buying the same book twice, but it has my own twist (I never got the point of the high-tension wires) and I was able to include quotes from reviewers.  And I had a ball creating it. CreateSpace then made a version of the cover to fit Amazon Kindle requirements.
  6. Purchase ISBN.  This also depends on your printing vendor. If you are going completely eBook, say Amazon or Smashords, I see no reason not to use their free ISBN. Createspace also had a free ISBN, but I decided I wanted to own my own for the physical book. I consider my own company, AllTheColorsOfLove as the publisher, and I want that noted everywhere, and that meant buying my own ISBN from Bowker. To me it was worth the money.
  7. Format book. This too depends on who you use for printing, different companies will want differentt formats. Formatting for Kindle is different from formatting for Nook or iTunes or for paperback. I did chose to do the paperback formatting for CreateSpace myself. It is tedious, and the instructions were not completely right, but it was doable. I hired someone to do the formatting for other platforms, and I don't regret the money. But if you are detail oriented, each platform has instructions on their sites.
  8. Final details.  You have to set a price, which was more difficult that I first thought, deciding on a price that will sell and at the same time give me a reasonable profit. Especially if you want to go to a bookstore or other distributor, they require discounts that you have to factor into your pricing. You will probably want an author page for your distributors, if you do not already have one. You will have to notify the parent company that you are the author, it was not automatic for me. Once they attach the book to your author page you can addional information to help market it. 
  9. Oh yeah, marketing. Best of luck, I'm still working on that, setting up conference appearances and preparing to hire a publicist to see how/it that helps with future books.

1 comment:

cleemckenzie said...

Thanks, Barbara. You filled in some holes for me on this process and I appreciate that.