THE DECISION TO PUBLISH IN PRINT:
After some thought, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish The Last Navigator in print. This wasn’t a decision I made out of the blue, though. I had already published a Kindle version of The Last Navigator which was a huge accomplishment for me. When I told people about the book, the first thing they would ask me is, “Where can I buy it?” This is easy enough, right? Not exactly. I found that having to explain how to download a Kindle book to people who don’t have a Kindle, an iPad/iPod/iPhone, Droid, or a computer was a difficult task. I wrote a blog post with instructions on how to download a Kindle app replete with links and YouTube videos in the hopes that this would solve the problem. After a few comments from my parents about a print copy of The Last Navigator, I put out a feeler on Facebook. I asked my friends and family members if they preferred print books or eBooks. Some desired an eBook, but most wanted a print book (personally autographed, I might add).
STEP #1: THE RESEARCH
I researched various self-publishing companies to find the best value and all seemed to be quite pricey. I strongly considered going with Abbott Press, which is a subsidiary of Writer’s Digest. The best all-around package they had to offer, however, was almost a thousand dollars. I talked it over with my husband and contacted the company to get more information. The publishing rep that I spoke with was very kind and knowledgeable. When I worked out the numbers, it was simply too much money to spend for such low royalties and no guarantee that my book would even sell enough copies to break even. Other companies, less prestigious than Abbott Press, offered similar packages at around the same prices. There’s iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Lulu, Xlibris, Outskirts Press, Aventine Press, and many other smaller self-publishing companies. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to choose the right one. Amazon also has a self-publishing company called CreateSpace.
STEP #2: CHOOSING THE “RIGHT” ONE
CreateSpace is an Amazon company that offers self-publishers a variety of publishing services, from full publishing packages all the way down to a DIY option. For a self-published author like me, this range of services offers the flexibility and freedom I needed to make printing my book a reality. The full publishing packages are expensive, though, so if you are looking for packages that offer everything, I would go with another company. If you are brave enough to take on the challenge of the DIY option, CreateSpace is the place to go. If you do all of the creating and formatting yourself, it doesn’t cost you anything except your time and energy. Here’s why I chose Amazon’s CreateSpace for printing The Last Navigator:
- Affordability – financially, this was the best option for me. I’m not a self-published millionaire so an option to do it for free was quite appealing.
- “A La Carte” – having the option to pay for individual services such as a professional review of my final formatted book or cover to ensure everything looks perfect, or having a professional designer create a high quality custom cover, or even conversion from the final print version to a matching eBook version. Even if I don’t use the services offered, having the freedom to choose individual services rather than buying a package that includes services I don’t need is a plus.
- Amazon’s Credibility – the fact that Amazon has a reputation as being credible and reliable was a huge selling point for me. Other self-publishing companies not backed by a larger, more prestigious named company, bring with them a certain risk. With CreateSpace, I can expect a high level of quality backed by a company that is well-known around the world. As the publisher, I want to be sure I use a printing company with a long-standing reputation for quality print products. I also want to be sure I use a book distributer that is trustworthy and reliable. Amazon is all of that in one company.
STEP #3: DESIGNING AND FORMATTING
Now the fun begins. I downloaded the packet on how to format for CreateSpace and began reading and researching the in’s and out’s of formatting a book for print. Having already struggled with doing my own formatting to publish an eBook, I shuddered a bit at the thought of MORE formatting. If I had the money, I would definitely opt for the full package and let someone else deal with the headache of formatting. Since I don’t have that kind of funding, I took a deep breath and dove into the deep waters of this thing called “DIY” self-publishing.
I tried using the templates that CreateSpace offers for the interior of the book. These templates are in Microsoft Word, which is great for word processing and formatting for a multitude of other things. Getting the Word document to save in a high enough quality PDF, however, wasn’t easy. Oh, how I wish it had been that easy, though. As I had expected, the formatting headache had just begun. Unfortunately, the Word template wasn’t an option for my custom header dividers and drop caps.
I looked into another option for formatting: Adobe InDesign. This software is expensive if you buy it brand new. You can get a 30-day trial version for free from the Adobe website but if you have no idea how to use it, a 30-day trial may not be long enough for you to learn the program and format your book. Here’s the good news. You can download a really old version of Adobe InDesign from the Adobe website for free (http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/). There is a disclaimer that it may not work on all operating systems and it doesn’t have all of the fancy features that the newer versions have, but it has the basics and it is completely free. I took advantage of this opportunity because I have some experience with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, and I have limited funding for my project. I downloaded the software and have started transferring the book, page by page, into Adobe InDesign. I have also started working on the cover in Adobe Photoshop, but I am having trouble converting it to a high resolution PDF to upload to CreateSpace.
As I gain more traction with formatting and figure out how to make it work just right I will post updates. My hope is to be able to create a basic template for InDesign for both the interior and the cover. Many people pay professionals a pretty penny to do the formatting and designing for them. I want to provide a way for self-publishing authors who aren’t design/format savvy to save money without sacrificing quality. Becoming an author has definitely been an adventure and the journey doesn’t stop with publishing. It is only just beginning.
If you have read The Last Navigator, please take a few minutes and write a brief review on Amazon. You don’t have to write an extensive book review unless you want to. Simply writing a few words telling other readers about your experience with the book would be enough. I appreciate the support and look forward to what the future holds.
Until next time…
J. G. McNease
***Don’t forget about the Fourth of July Freebie event coming up on July 3rd and July 4th. If you haven’t gotten a copy of The Last Navigator, this event is a great time to download your very own copy for free! Also, if you refer a friend, you can get an exclusive extended preview of the companion book to The Last Navigator, Through Ryan’s Eyes. Through Ryan’s Eyes isn’t going to be published until fall of 2013 so this sneak peek is extremely valuable. Don’t miss out! My goal is to have at least 10 downloads of The Last Navigator during this freebie event. I’d love to surpass this goal, so tell your friends, too!