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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Are We There Yet? Self-Publishing... Or Not

By Sandra Nachlinger

Everyone has heard, “Are we there yet?” from a child on a long road trip or perhaps said those words themselves. Several months ago I wondered if I’d ever get to my destination—the re-release of my second book Bluebonnets for Elly.

About a year ago, Bluebonnets for Elly was picked up by a small publisher, released in paperback, and also offered as an ebook. I was ecstatic! But a few months later, the company unfortunately had to close its doors. The publisher graciously returned all rights to the books written by her authors, but … what to do? Send the manuscript out to agents or publishers? Re-release the book myself? I decided the best decision for me was to self-publish the novel. That’s when the journey began.

Here’s an overview of what is involved in self-publishing a book:

  • EDIT. The initial publisher had already assigned an editor for the book, but there’s always something to tweak – a better word, a more complete description, extraneous phrases to cut. After reading through the manuscript again and making changes, I asked a couple of fellow writers to read the book and give me feedback. Their input was extremely valuable. Professional editing services can also be used (for a fee, of course); however, my friends are knowledgeable writers and I trust their judgment.
  • READ through the book one more time to decide which changes I want to make, as suggested by my friends. After all, it’s my book and the final responsibility for its contents is mine.
  • CHANGE the contents and make sure that a revision on Page 5 doesn’t affect something that happens on Page 90.
  • FINALIZE a copyright page, bio, dedication, and any other pages I want to include in addition to the story itself.
  • FORMAT the manuscript for paperback and ebook publication. Smashwords has a nifty “nuclear” protocol, but it’s incredibly detailed and time-consuming. Professionals can be hired to format the book.
  • REVIEW the book online to make sure the margins, page headers, page numbers, page breaks, etc., are correct.
  • CREATE a cover. Purchase a photograph, create text for the front and back covers, decide on a glossy versus matte finish. I used Photoshop and spent many hours fiddling with different photos, fonts, and layout. You can pay someone to create a cover for you. CreateSpace offers that service for a fee, too.
  • SUBMIT the interior and cover files to Amazon and CreateSpace (and possibly elsewhere).
  • TWEAK the cover so that it complies with Amazon and CreateSpace’s requirements. The text on the spine of my book was too large initially.
  • PROOF. Once the book layout is approved, order a proof copy and read through the manuscript again, checking for mechanical problems (spacing, indents, italics, etc.), as well as missing words or grammatical mistakes that might not have been caught earlier. I found one missing word (“the”) and had to resubmit the book’s interior.
  • PRICING. Decide on what you’ll charge for both the paperback and ebook versions.
  • PUBLISH. Decide if you will offer the book in other outlets: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, etc. Decide if the book will be offered to Amazon’s overseas markets and if you will participate in Kindle Unlimited or other programs. Decide if you want to offer the book for pre-order.
  • PROMOTE the book’s release (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) Actually, this should start in advance of the release date.
  • WRITE. Start writing the next book.

I’m sure I left out some of the steps in the process, and the sequence of events may be different for different writers. For example, some writers have an idea for the book’s cover before they even start writing the story. Add your experiences and thoughts in a comment, please! But this is basically what I experienced in republishing BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY. 

I’m happy that the answer to “Are we there yet?” is finally YES!  

You can find the new and improved BLUEBONNETS FOR ELLY here:
ELLY on Amazon


  1. I do believe you've covered all the steps, except to maybe proof just one more time. Lol It's daunting at best, but totally worth it to be completely in charge of your own work. Great job, Sandy!

    1. You're right, Carra. I'm sure I proofed the book more times than I mentioned. In fact, I could probably have inserted "Proof" between almost every step!

  2. It does take a lot of work but to have the total control is worth a lot too ;)

    1. I agree. Self-publishing both my books was the right decision for me.

  3. I loved your book, Sandy and am so glad it's back up for sale again. I've self-published quite a few books. If I can be of help to you on the next one, please holler.
    Your overview is great. It gives a potential author a good idea of what's involved with self-publishing. I use my former SCP editor to edit for me. She's very reasonable and quite good.
    Looking forward to your next book.

    1. Hi, Jean. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed Bluebonnets for Elly.

  4. Nice overview, Sandy. You made it sound less complicated than it is, of course, because you omitted the hours and hours spent plotting and writing the book before the items in your post begin. Still, writing is the best job in the world, isn't it?

    1. Thank you, Caroline. I decided not to even try to go into the hours (weeks, months, maybe years) that go into the actual writing of a book. Just describing the self-publishing tasks was enough! To me, writing is the fun part.

    2. Thank you, Caroline. I decided not to even try to go into the hours (weeks, months, maybe years) that go into the actual writing of a book. Just describing the self-publishing tasks was enough! To me, writing is the fun part.

  5. Yes, those were the steps in my process, too, although I hadn't had a book out with another publisher first.

    I've learned a lot along the way, and I think my sixth book is better because of how I changed my process since my first one.

    Congrats on your new version!

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  7. Like you, Sandy, I have left my publisher and have decided to self-publish. I like having control of my material and being able to make changes when I decide to and not having to wait on someone else to make decisions. Getting most of the royalties is nice too. I have just begun the editing process and am weary of it already. It's the hardest part of publishing. I admit, I don't like it, but I have read those books where the author didn't take the time to perfect their material. I didn't finish the book. Thanks for the detailed explanation, Sandy.


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