Approximately one week ago, I self-published the first book in my Shapeling Trilogy. To my pleasant surprise, I started selling ebooks immediately at Amazon and Amazon UK, and I thought I would share my experience. Keep in mind, however, I am not an expert, and it has taken months of investigation and preparation to get to the place where I could self-publish. For those of you thinking about going this route, here are some considerations.
- Format of your book: Are you going to publish an ebook only, or an ebook and a print book. I chose both, so it was necessary to create two formats, one for the ebook and one for the print book (my print book will be available soon).
- Selecting the ebook company to convert and make your files available to different distribution channels (Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony, etc.). Regarding Amazon, I chose to go direct with them, rather than through a distributor. I will discuss this later.
- Selecting the print-on-demand company for your paperback.
- Creating your own cover vs. outsourcing.
- Making your book known.
For this blog, I will share how I accomplished the paperback part of number 1. Please check back for the ebook part of number 1 and the other numbers.
Through trial and error, I discovered I like having my writing displayed at the "get-go" in a 5x8 book format. My word processing program is Microsoft Office Word 2003. First, I create the book template by setting the top and bottom margins at .75, the inside and outside margins at .5, and the gutter at .35. I choose portrait orientation, mirror margins, and apply that to the whole document. Also, in set-up under the paper tab, I change the paper size to 5x8. Next, I insert page numbering beginning on the first page, but suppress the number so it doesn't show until page 2. You may prefer starting your numbering at the beginning of your first chapter. I've had problems with that, which is the reason I start with the first page. At first I worried that this was bad etiquette, but have since seen many books done this way.
You now have a document to begin typing your masterpiece into. Also, it looks like a book from the beginning, which I like. Here is how I order my pages: the first page is blank, the second page is the copyright page with necessary info (disclaimer, ISBN number, etc.). The third page is for dedication and words to your readers, the fourth page is blank, the fifth page begins chapter one.
I use normal formatting for the body with Times New Roman 12. I have experimented with the chapter headings. "Heading Two" is nice. Also, you want to keep your font characters for your chapters no larger than size 14. Whenever you come to the end of a chapter, insert a page break. Do not press the enter key multiple times to reach the next page (bad...bad).
This is the template we will use to create the paperback by converting it to a .pdf file later. Also, we will extract the words and create another template for the ebook. Ebook templates look nothing like paperback templates.
I hope this information is useful. If you're a self-publishing guru, I welcome comments and tips.