I have been learning a lot about self-publishing a hard copy of a novel in the past few weeks. There are so many more possibilities now than there were when I sought out iUniverse in Y2K. At the time, iUniverse was a good deal at only $199. I still did a lot of the formatting work myself, using their template, and they would not allow me to design my own cover. I could send my graphic, and they would decide upon the best way to utilize it. They did a decent enough job, but it did not end up being quite what I had envisioned. However, it would have cost extra money to re-do it in any major way, so I let it go. Ditto for the formatting of the interior text. There were mistakes, but only a certain number of them could be corrected for no charge, so I had to let a bunch of those things go, too. Tried to tell myself that inconsistent hyphens really wouldn't detract from the content, but you know what? Every time I open that copy of O Fortuna, they leap off the page at me, screaming, "Amateur!"
O.K., so perhaps I overdo the fastidiousness, but the fact is, to my eye, it looks sloppy, and I suspect it looks sloppy to the reader, also. If I expect to be taken seriously despite the fact that I am self-publishing, it has to be even more perfect than what a "real" publisher would do. If it's not, I perpetuate the myth that no self-published author is worth reading.
Don't be getting your knickers in a twist; I do not agree with that, and I can overlook the sort of errors I can't overlook in my own work if the story is a good one. However, that is the Attitude I have gotten from other writers in some alleged writers' "support" groups. If your goal as an author is NOT to be picked up by a "real" publisher and thrust into a particular niche, then you are not a "real" author.
Oh, puh-LEEZE! I'm as real as anyone. I live, move, breathe, work a day job, make music, and WRITE. I mean, SERIOUSLY WRITE, dammit! But I write what I want to write: the sorts of books I would have loved to get my hands on over my years of reading. I also use them as vehicles to process, and lighten, my own personal load of baggage. All writers do that. If one tells you they do not, then I believe they are lying.
O.K., off the soapbox, Jehan. Back to formatting and re-formatting, and this era's changes in self-publishing.
I know very well not everyone is a fan of Amazon. However, I LOVE Amazon. Nearly everything I could possibly want may be found there, from coffee, to books, to music, to hand lotion. As if that wasn't good enough, NOW they have made it possible for me to publish my books, FREE, via Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space. It's a no-brainer.
My proof copy of O Fortuna, received on Thursday of this past week, is beautiful, but there were things I needed to tweak on the covers, and as for the interior, it was lovely, BUT I forgot to put in page numbers and headers, and thanks to the way I had spaced the text, the book came out to a whopping 642 pages and weighs a ton! Reformatting was definitely in order. I did all that, and now am reading the hard copy to see if there are any further little quirky errors that leap off the page at me. Sad to say, I have found a few, which probably no one else would notice, but bug the piss out of me. It's time-consuming, but that's all it costs me: my time. When I upload the corrected file, it will not cost me a red cent, and within 24 hours I will be sent an e-mail informing me that the files have been processed, and I may order a new proof copy.
Oh, and did I mention that I managed to cut the number of pages down from 642 to 430, just by fixing the spacing? That brings cost down for everyone: me, the author, and you, the readers. What's not to love about that?
Author copies are not expensive on Create Space. On iUniverse, I think I got maybe five bucks off the list price, which they had set in the region of twenty bucks. That was a lot of money for a paperback in Y2K, and who wants to pay THAT MUCH for a paperback?
List prices are also more reasonable at Create Space. I had to jack the price up twenty-five cents more than I wanted to, because my set price was three cents lower than they required. Three cents! How silly, that they will not let me sell at a price three cents less than I want to charge, but I shan't quibble, and I expect people who buy the book won't quibble, either.
Maybe iUniverse has improved since I published that first edition, but they have priced themselves well out of my reach, and I think the copy Create Space did for me, even with my silly errors, looks a lot more professional and classy than the iUniverse copy.
So far, I am not impressed by the lack of response I have received from iUniverse in regard to unpublishing those earlier editions. I want them OFF the market NOW, because they are no longer up to my standard in many, many ways. I guess I will have to make a phone call and see if I can get the wheels rolling in the desired direction..
My next task to work upon is self-promotion. I really, really suck at that!
Oh, well, tomorrow is another day...