Tag Archives: self publishing

The Proof is in the Hand

 Proof pic

I uploaded my  manuscript into Createspace and waited for the file to be checked. Approval came through and I was invited to peruse the finished book on-line. It looked like a book, but for me, I needed to touch and feel it.  So I ordered three proof copies; one for me and two, for others to proof read.

A few days later, the door bell rang and there was the courier holding a small box in his hand. I took it and walked around the house with it. I knew what was inside, yet all I could do was stare at the package.

Finally, I peeled off the wrapping and found a real live book –  a manuscript no more. Like a newborn baby, I was tentative about picking it up. I was excited yet nervous. Months of work and obsession sat there waiting for my scrutiny. I made myself a cup of tea glancing into the open box, I guess to make sure the book was real. Then, with my cuppa, I picked it up and sat down to read.

About twenty percent of book sales are eBooks but there really is nothing like holding a paperback in your hands – flicking the pages back and forward, turning it over to read the back, examining the feel of the cover and pages inside.

Unsurprisingly I found myself making changes once again. Was I ever going to stop I wondered?

What’s in a Cover

How your book is dressed entices the reader to look inside. Never judge a book by it’s cover? Rubbish! We all know that’s simply not true. It’s the greatest marketing tool to have. So how do you decide what the cover should look like? It’s a big question and a hard one to answer.

My book is historical fiction so I knew that I wanted a vintage feel. My book is titled “Climbing the Coconut Tree” so a coconut tree might be a good idea somewhere on the front. I had a working cover photo of an original ink picture that someone had drawn by hand of a coconut tree and native huts. It was on a Christmas card sent by my father in 1948. I was never able to find out who the original artist was. It is beautifully drawn in black and white and I although loved it, I knew it wasn’t strong enough.

Original front cover

Strolling across the internet there are lots of economical do-it-yourself covers. Createspace and Smashwords provide templates. But the problem for me was there was nothing that really grabbed me. Finally, I decided to seek help and found a graphic designer Anthony Guardabascio from http://www.continue.com.au. He designed my perfect cover which is below. I really love it and I hope you do to.



In the gutter.

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.