The Book Process: Self Publishing Online

(This post is continued from last week’s post: The Book Process: the beginning. This was scheduled to go out last week, but WordPress never published it. Oops.)

After I completed the novel, I went the self-publishing route because I wanted to get this project out on my own terms, and in my own way. I had spent many years waiting for someone else to tell me I was good enough, pretty enough or talented enough to act in their project. Now was my time to take back this power (I’ve spoken about this before on my Kickstarter project – more on that later).

I didn’t realize how time-consuming it would be. They make it seem relatively easy, and it can be – but if you have limited budget, and need to teach yourself – the learning curve is immense.

Finding the right book cover

I did NOT want my book cover to look like this:

book cover sample

Or like this: 

So, I opted into hiring someone on elance.com. Finding the designer was harder than I expected. There were only two or three that I loved, and I decided to go with a gamble – someone new to Elance.

The actual process of figuring out what I wanted was not easy, and looking back, I think I took too much control. I had an image in my mind before starting, and didn’t let the designer use her creative expertise. I had my reasonings (which I’ll outline a bit more below).

I love and hate my book cover – it tells the story, but it doesn’t have the elements that I am really drawn to in a book cover – simplistic ideas and amazing typography. (See my pinterest page for my inspiration). I think that once you read the novel, you “get” the book cover – it has all the parts of the novel in one place – the cover. But is that trying too hard? So far, readers give me good feedback on the cover, because they see all the elements of the novel have fallen into place.

Here are the stages that my book cover went through to get where it is today:

book cover mockups

to

three questions version 1

to:

to finally:
Three Questions book cover

The problem is – I think the best covers tell one simple story and have one basic story, it doesn’t try to tell you everything at once. Here are some ideas that she pitched to me initially:

three questions edit

She clearly had a solid idea of what she wanted – she got the elements of the road trip and the letters, and a part of me wishes I had let her run with it a bit more. However, she hadn’t read the book. Although she knew there were letters – she didn’t get the modern aspect of the love story, and went with an antiquated typewriter, and even though I explained there was a road trip – the diner isn’t somewhere these girls would end up. So, I didn’t feel like she completely “got” it. That’s why I directed her more.

The book cover may be going through another redesign. Trying to figure out where best to distribute the rest of the Kickstarter funds.

Createspace vs. Lulu

I had an audience in both England and America, so I figured that I would use both Lulu (which has international printing presses) AND Createspace (Amazon-affiliated publishing partner) for my paperback version. Createspace and Lulu are self publishing platforms which both distribute on Amazon.com. I highly recommend Createspace for the quality of their books over Lulu.

Lulu is more expensive, and much lower printing quality. Despite their printers being in Europe, and the shipping being a bit less expensive – Createspace still won out. I have not had a great experience with Createspace on the paid services, however. They have been responsive, but EXTREMELY slow. I went to them to get the interior pages reformatted, and it has taken over 4 weeks. I recommend using Elance again for something like this. Just research the person you choose, and make them do a sample formatting on a page, so you know what you’re getting. Make sure they have good reviews. Call them before starting as well – you’d be surprised what talking to a person on the phone tells you about them.

Ebook sales have been through the roof since I re-launched it. I formatted and worked on all the initial HTML coding. Once I got a bit of money, I was able to find a Kindle formatting company that also formatted for the Nook for free. They’re in India, but did a great job! Now, I’m published on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble. Pay the extra $140 for this work. Again, so worth taking away that headache.

The first time I formatted the ebook on my own, and I spent at least 30 hours getting this right. You do the math – worth paying someone else.

Marketing

Kickstarter has been the best platform for this ever. It made me think about my marketing campaign – email marketing, Facebook, Twitter, guest blogging, timelines, giveaways etc – in a very, very real way. Plus, my email campaigns during the process got me a connection at a location in New York for a book signing (coming in July!), and put me in touch with countless others who have not only become advocates for my success, but also who I will be collaborating with in the future. It put me back in touch with people I hadn’t spoken to in years.

Do NOT underestimate the power of an email list. Start creating it now.

If you want to find true fans, do a Kickstarter. You’ll soon find out who they are. Even if you don’t succeed raising the money, you will learn something.

For me, the $5,000 I raised allowed me to edit my novel, redo the interior, market the book and build a book trailer! I’m being coy, but the book trailer will have its official release date next Tuesday (you see, a nice man named Jock taught me that this whole thing is about momentum…and so, I will make you wait – that is, if you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook, or haven’t searched for it on Youtube).

Plan, plan, plan. Marketing and momentum doesn’t happen without it. What a journey it has been.

And hire an editor – everyone told me to do it, but I couldn’t at first. Without the Kickstarter money, I wouldn’t have been able to hire someone who transformed not only the ending of my novel, but also the tiniest of details that make all the difference. Thank you Lindsey Benaissa! And, go figure, she’s an editor in Ireland! She knew the nuances between the British crowd and the American crowd. Narrowing down the editor was hard as well.

I had 40 applications on elance.com to edit my novel. I narrowed it down to 10 people, and  sent in a sample chapter for them to edit. This simple project told me everything I needed to know about their editing style. I didn’t want someone who touched my voice, I knew that. I wanted someone who was so detail-oriented that they missed grammar and typos that 20 other people had missed before, someone who understood my style, and worked with it, and someone who could edit both British spelling and American. I found my gal. Know what you want.

Tomorrow I will be updating you on what is going to be available, and where! Also, there is still a few copies left of the giveaway at Displaced Nation.

Tweet this to win: “I want a free copy of @TheLadyLunches ebook #ThreeQuestions via @displacednation http://amzn.to/3qu3stions #expat

4 thoughts on “The Book Process: Self Publishing Online

  1. Great advice, solidly told. We’re very proud of you! Can’t wait to read the new ending. I just re-downloaded it (I assume this is a different ending than the one I read in September?).

    • Hi! Yeah – the ending is slightly different. Really, the entire novel is slightly different and it leads up to the ending better than before. You’re such a trooper! You’ve read so many editions now :) x

  2. Hi Meagan, I’m reading the book now and really enjoying it. Thanks very much for this post as I need to make the next step in my self-publishing journey and this was perfect timing for me. Cheers Vix x

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