I was talking with a friend the other week. She’d seen a couple of posts on social media that I’d made of some Riley Pope cover art and asked me when the books were out (December, if you’re interested). I won’t go into detail, but long story short she was surprised that I had to get involved in the editing, proofreading, cover art creation, etc etc. “I thought all you had to do was write and someone else did all the other stuff.”
I chose to self-publish my Riley Pope series for a number of reasons:
- They’re coming in around 9,000 words each and I wouldn’t know where to try and get that length of work published (outside of competitions and magazines where there are no guarantees of publication)
- I’ve been messing around with comps and the never-ending novel long enough now and just want to get my work out into the public domain.
- I’d quite like to make a little cash, no matter how small an amount, from the hours and the effort I’ve invested.
I don’t think there’s quite as much stigma around self-publishing these days as there used to be. There’s a lot of work out there of equal quality to that of the traditional publishers, and I’m betting that the authors are all the more better off for it. There’s also a large pile of poorly written, unproofed, badly designed dross that’s the fuel for the stigma that I mentioned, and whilst it’s no excuse for publishing substandard products I can sort of understand why there are people that do it.
Hats that I have worn in the last two months:
- Author hat
- Editor hat
- Proofreader hat
- Cover art designer hat
- Blurb writer hat
- KDP manuscript converter hat
- Website design hat
- Twitter hat
- Facebook hat
- Curl up in a corner and cry hat
Some of these hats are easy to wear; they fit me and suit me and I’m happy to wear them. Author hat needs no explanation. Editor hat, ditto. I’m a recently qualified proofreader, and whilst it isn’t easy to proof your own work, I’m confident enough in the process to feel like I did a good job. I don’t very much like Twitter hat; probably because I don’t much like Twitter. My Facebook page is brand new and shiny (and just waiting for your shares and likes, hint hint) but I’m on there all the time so it wasn’t so difficult to set up a page. Website design hat? I’ll leave that up to your interpretation (please be nice!).
Cover art design hat was a learning curve. I’m not a designer and I’ve no skill at all in programs like Photoshop. Where, then, could I create my ebook covers? Which option should I choose? What size did it need to be? And graphics. Where did I get those from?
I ended up on Canva, which is free, and found they had a ready made template for Kindle ebook covers. They offer free graphics and images but none were what I wanted so I headed over to Shutterstock and spent whole days browsing graphics for my covers. I eventually settled on a theme for the series and sought out suitable artwork. I then bought a licence that allowed me to download five images. If I use one image per book then I think it works out about £7 a book. It took me some time to get my cover art just how I wanted, especially when I realised how unreadable the font was when shrunk down to icon size.
Blurb writer hat – I imagine its about as painful as wearing synopsis writer hat. I haven’t had to wear that one yet, and I am not looking forwards to it either. Blurb? Bleugh! Enough said.
I’m still getting over my stint wearing KDP manuscript converter hat. If you’ve never had to do it, I envy you. If you have then I sympathise. I’ve gotten used to writing my drafts in 12 pt Calibri, l.5 line spacing, tabbing to indent paragraphs and holding down the enter key to start a new page.
But KDP doesn’t like that. You must entirely strip your poor MS of all formatting and start again from scratch, inserting page breaks, removing any white space longer than three lines, and changing all the thousands of paragraph indents from tabbed to first line indents. There’s probably a simple way to do it, but I was learning, so I did it step-by-step. By step. By torturous step. I now have a Kindle template saved for just such a job, so wearing my KDP hat in the future shouldn’t be such an issue.
I had no intention of wearing my curl up in the corner and cry hat, until I realised just how close I was to having published work available for purchase. Assuming there are people out there good enough to buy my work, then self-assessment tax hat is looming in the distance.
“I thought all you had to do was write,” said my friend.