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Shelley the Truck
06-08-2013, 05:23 PM
I'm intimidated by the process of self publishing (print and electronic). I don't want my first and only book to crash and burn, yet there are so many things one needs to know. Mistakes seem inevitable.

It's absurd, but I'd feel safer plopping down 50,000 random words to create a dummy version and actually publish it just to learn the process and to know what outputs are generated by certain inputs.

So the question is, how do you prevent your first from being your worst--a miserable failure in the marketplace due to some misjudgement on your part?

FionnJameson
06-08-2013, 05:31 PM
My first book was an unholy mess but damn, I learned a lot. Make sure your final draft is Crystal clear, clean, and the formatting is perfect. I would suggest viewing the manuscript on various devices. I use a Kindle Fire, a regular Kindle, a Kobo and my phone to find any formatting issues.

J. Tanner
06-08-2013, 06:00 PM
It sort of depends what you're worried about.

It sounds like formatting maybe. You can test pretty thoroughly prior to uploading using the various software viewers and even your own Kindle if you have one. That's pretty close to 100%. You won't end up with an unholy mess if you create it manually and check it first.

If you go the upload DOC and let the service auto-format route then you open yourself up to a lot more problems.

Formatting is both the biggest learning curve, but also the easiest thing to get right.

In my experience, more people have problems in their cover, blurb, sample (and book?) that hurt them far more than minor formatting issues.

And then the other big problem is in people's heads. They have a serious mismatch between their expectations once their book is uploaded and the reality of what typical sales are and they assume they've done something wrong when the book doesn't sell well out of the gate. That isn't necessarily the case.

Old Hack
06-08-2013, 06:21 PM
Every book is a learning tool. You can't avoid it. And if you don't want to learn anything from your first book, how else do you propose to learn the stuff you need to know?

I'm sorry to ask such a tricksy question, but I hope it proves my point.

Polenth
06-08-2013, 07:20 PM
If you take it slowly, it isn't that bad. You can check and double check your formatting before you upload the file. So you'll know what it'll look like.

WriterBN
06-08-2013, 07:42 PM
Focus on the writing. You can learn the rest. There are plenty of excellent resources online (including here) where you can get help.

In my limited experience (one book so far), the hardest thing about self-publishing is the time and effort involved in marketing.

iron9567
06-08-2013, 09:43 PM
I would have to say like everyone else is to take your time and relax. when you self pub you aren't going to be perfect every time.
good luck on future publishing.
thanks
iron

merrihiatt
06-08-2013, 09:59 PM
You could always use a pseudonym for your first book, so if it didn't turn out the way you intended, you could unpublish it and will have learned a lot along the way. I would encourage you to make the book the very best it can be before making it available, though. Readers deserve your best effort rather than 50,000 random words plopped down.

Shelley the Truck
06-08-2013, 10:22 PM
Since posting I've spent some time at the KDP website and downloaded their guide. The formatting does indeed look simple. Guess there's no way around a steep learning curve. Everything learned leads to new questions. That's life isn't it?

shelleyo
06-09-2013, 01:52 AM
Since posting I've spent some time at the KDP website and downloaded their guide. The formatting does indeed look simple. Guess there's no way around a steep learning curve. Everything learned leads to new questions. That's life isn't it?

I think it's a good investment to learn to do it on your own, but there's always the option of outsourcing the formatting. There are lots of services who will do it for you for a reasonable fee. This is a great option for people with more money than time, provided you get a good service with lots of word-of-mouth referrals.

If you don't want to pay someone, just follow the instructions and check everything thoroughly. Smashwords style guide, which can be downloaded free from Smashwords, is actually an excellent primer on styles and can help immensely if you have formatting troubles, too.

As far as the content, I used to think that whatever piece I held in my hand was probably the best thing I'd ever write, I'd never have another good idea, this one was my only shot at anything. If I screwed it up, woe to me. Took me a few years to get over that worry, but the more words I wrote, the more it faded.

First are scary and can seem overwhelming because there's SO MUCH to learn about everything. Take your time and do the best you can. Can't expect any more from yourself than that!

Good luck!

ResearchGuy
06-09-2013, 03:10 AM
. . .It's absurd, but I'd feel safer plopping down 50,000 random words to create a dummy version and actually publish it just to learn the process and to know what outputs are generated by certain inputs. . . .
Something very much like that was among my early learning steps (a book of gibberish that is fun because the cover looks credible and people pick it up, leaf through it, and do not see that it is nonsense). Another option, which I also used, is to grab a public domain text from Gutenberg, remove the Gutenberg-specific stuff (leaving only a public domain file) and format that as a book, add front matter (title page, copyright page with appropriate notations, foreword or introduction, and maybe some notes or comments, and publish that.

Experiential learning. It's a good thing. Lulu.com is excellent for that purpose.

--Ken

P.S. If you want a preformatted starter for a 6" x 9" book (.doc file), let me know. Study it with all of the formatting marks showing, and put it to work. Free on request. Or see www.umbachconsulting.com/BookFormattingExample.doc (http://www.umbachconsulting.com/BookFormattingExample.doc) -- lacks some refinements like a half-title page at the very front, but still useful as a starter. That particular versin is filled with gibberish as place holders. Clean that out and put it to use.

P.P.S. Folks sell formatting services. Not necessarily expensive to format an uncomplicated file, as long as it is not gummed up with too much amateur nuisance that has to be undone (spaces or tabs to indent paragraphs, etc.).

P.P.P.S. To set up for Kindle, there is a workable shortcut. Prepare clean file for printing, be sure there are no weird characters in it (I always have to watch for drawing elements in place of proper em and en dashes, for example, and delete soft hyphens), and save a copy as HTML in word. Examine that closely for any needed fixups. Make the fixups. When it looks right, upload to the Kindle platform and examine the result. Again fix any apparent problems. But first, if you are actually going to publish (as opposed to, say, a private project in Lulu.com to experiment with), have a worthwhile book.

Norman D Gutter
06-09-2013, 06:23 AM
I was very worried about the formatting/uploading process at first. So I decided to practice with a short story. That gave me 2,200 words to mess with rather than 70,000. I had a friend who volunteered to do the cover. I started with Kindle, made sure it was good, then moved on to Smashwords. Three months later I did the same with a 40,000 word non-fiction book, again with a donated cover. A few months later I went through the formatting process for CreateSpace and had the print book available.

The problem for me is that each time I do this—nine items now—I find I have to climb the learning curve all over again. I'm getting ready to format and upload item 10, an 80,000 word novel. Today I pulled out the Smashwords style guide and am reading this. Tomorrow it will be Kindle and Monday CreateSpace. I go at it slowly, and so far haven't had a lot of problems with the process. It's just slow for me. But I suspect that, unless you format and upload something monthly, each new item will have the learning curve all over again.

NDG