When it comes to getting your book out into the marketplace, big decisions are needed.
I’d tried traditional publishers but in big business an unknown and untried author is rarely noticed. I wasn’t daunted though because I wanted to stretch myself further by exploring the options of self-publishing.
I had a manuscript. It was edited, reworked and revised. I went to workshops on self-publishing. There’s a carnival of sites like Ingram Sparks, Createspace and Smashwords amongst many who make it sound easy. After all what could go wrong. Just sign up, build your cover and upload. Easy. Nothing to it.I knew some people who had done it. A couple were in their eighties. Surely it couldn’t be that hard.
I was wrong.
There was another step in the process that I hadn’t counted on and it was called formatting. How naïve I was?
I tried a recommended site called Pressbooks which is a WordPress format. The deal is that you copy and paste your book and they take care of the format. For a small fee they do the formatting for print and ebooks in one foul swoop. Somehow it didn’t work quite that way for me. There was so much extra work for me to do with them that I decided to format it all myself. Was I brave or just stupid?
Nevertheless, I took the leap. I spent weeks learning how to format my lovely manuscript. I learnt about gutters (that’s the bit in the centre of two pages in a book) and how they need to be a certain width. Who’d have thought this was so important and that I would find myself falling into it, so to speak.
I learnt about indentation, paragraph spacing, font, sizing, page numbers, front matter and back matter. There’s lot to it. Making lots of mistakes along the way and seeking help from Robert, a fellow writer, improved my expertise enormously.
And of course, formatting a print book is very different to an ebook.
But a basic crash course in Word would have been very helpful at the start.