First in the Series: Laying Down the Groundwork
So you have written your manuscript and now you are ready to see it in print.
There are choices.
(1) You can attempt to get the attention of the Publishing Trade Houses.
This is a noble thing to try and far be it for me to dissuade you from trying. But statistics and the track record of those who try - who are not already famous or infamous (whatever the case may be) - is not good. Statistically, less than 1% of the unsolicited manuscripts become published books. Ouch! Here's another juicy tidbit. Out of every 10,000 children's books, 3 get published. Double ouch!
(2) You can go through what has been known as vanity presses.
These are the companies that promise you the world and give you (at a premium cost) a boatload of your published books to sell on your own. This may work, or it may result in a garage or attic (or both) filled with your books (which you will eventually have to give away so you can fit your car in your garage again).
(3) You can self-publish.
Not too many years ago, the self-published author and their product was considered inferior in the book industry. Amateurish, unpolished, not a serious player - all ways to describe the author who followed Sinatra's lead and did it my way. But with the sudden surge of the eBook industry and the popularity of POD (print on demand), more and more authors are choosing to self-publish.
Option 3 is the one I chose. (Well, to be honest, I only chose Option 3 after having the pleasure of pulling one too many rejection letters out of the mailbox - having first chosen Option 1).
Now that these options are out of the way, let me begin where I eventually started:
Put Your Book in eBook Form
One of the fastest and easiest ways to get your book out to potential readers is by converting it to eBook form. The two main players in the industry are Amazon's Kindle and to a lesser extent Barnes and Noble's Nook. I have used both for A Pilgrimage of Pests. I will say, the Nook app is more user friendly, but the online support (if you could even call it that) is horrible. Kindle's learning curve is steeper and knowledge of HTML formatting is helpful. Kindle support consists of e-mailing your questions to their support staff. If you are really struggling, they may provide temporary access to their phone line so you can actually talk to a real person - but this is rare. There are fee based services out there which will format your book for Kindle. Or you can wade through the online articles and community forums of do's and don'ts and thus learn how to format your book yourself.
Or you can do what I did. I relied on my son, a software engineer, who converted my Word file into HTML and I just had to upload it to Kindle.
(recent note: Since my early foramtting struggles, I have discovered the free kindle publication, Building Your Book for Kindle. Now we're talking. This is invaluable and will take you step by step through the formatting process. You can order through the kindle store).
Make an Author Website
When this was first suggested to me, I thought it was rather silly. Why in the world would I need a website and what in the world would I put on it if I did have one? And most of all, how in the heck would I make one even if I wanted to?
Needless to say, I made one; and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Here are four popular choices for your website builder: WordPress, Wix, Square Space and Weebly. There are more out there, but I found that Weebly was best for me. It is inexpensive, easy to learn and has an adequate SEO (search engine optimization). WordPress is the considered to have the best SEO. This means WordPress sites are more likely to rise to the top of Google's search list (Google loves WordPress). But learning how to use WordPress is a lot harder than Weebly. Weebly is a more intuitive. It's a simple drag and drop process and will seem relatively straightforward - especially to anyone with experience with programs like PowerPoint. Not to belabor the point or turn this into a Weebly love fest, but check out the link below for an explanation of Weebly's features and options.
I paid the extra cost to have my own domain name, independent of the Weebly brand.
Now, just like me, you may ask: What in the world will I put on my site? As I previously stated, I thought content development would be a huge problem. But it wasn't long before the ideas began to flow and my website grew rather quickly. Here is a link that provides content ideas.
I couldn't agree more.
Next: Beginning Your Own Publishing Company