Showing posts with label publish a book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publish a book. Show all posts

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher


To help you dreamers out, I'm writing this review about my experience of self-publishing my first paperback book through Amazon.

First off, I'm absolutely a newbie at this; the piles of pulled-out hair beside my desk rests as evidence. 

I'm going to go point-by-point with some of the major issues I faced during the learning process.

Again, this article isn't meant to come across as all-knowing, because I'm not all-knowing on this subject!

However, I did spend hours, and I do mean hours researching and learning and doing and swearing just to get that first paperback book up on Amazon. So from that perspective, I know a little bit more than I did a month ago.

What was most daunting was learning the technical aspects of getting that book up on Amazon.

You writers out there would probably agree that writing the book is the easy part! A few weeks back, I posted an article on getting a Kindle eBook up and running. You can read about that swearing event here. Again, I'm not a guru!! Just sharing my newbie nightmares.

So here we go, point by point on some of the things I learned about self-publishing a paperback book through Amazon:

1. You Need the Paperback Book Templates from Amazon

First, if you haven't already, sign up for KDP Self-Publishing.

Before you get started, go to the Amazon self-publishing help area to get those templates.

Download them, unzip them, then decide on the size you want your book to be. Choose the Template that reflects the size you want. You need the Template because it has all the borders and guidelines you have to follow when writing. While you're in that help area, watch their videos and read all their tips. Good stuff there.

Note: Standard size seems to be 6X9 - For my poetry book, I went with 7X10. There are a lot of sizes to choose from.

2. What Word Processing Program Should You Use to Write Your Book?

There's a loaded question. I must have landed on fifty different answers during those google searches from hell.

I don't have the full version of Microsoft Word on my computer, and I wasn't about to frigging buy it.

So I researched alternatives to Word. I found the common ones people use; one is a free download called OpenOffice.org, and the other freebie word processing download I found is LibreOffice.

I've used OpenOffice in business before but based on some of the comments I read from the LibreOffice users, I thought, what the heck, let's try that one.

So to answer the question, you can use Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice - maybe there's more? I dunno.

3. What About Writing and Preparing Your Book in Google Documents

That's the first thing I did before even starting the 'technical aspects of what to do after it's typed." I typed the book in Google Docs. At least I had it there for safekeeping until I knew what the heck to do next!

From what I've learned so far, you can type your book directly into your word processing program using the Template from Amazon KDP, of course! Can you skip the google docs part? Well, I still plan to write my books in google docs and then copy and paste them into the word processing program with the book Template.

4. LibreOffice - Using the Amazon Paperback Templates

I have no idea whether you can upload the Amazon paperback templates into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. However, I'm going out on a limb and saying, yah, of course, you can.

With LibreOffice, the first thing I did was upload the Paperback Template I needed for the size of the book I wanted to do. At that point, it was a matter of learning the LibreOffice program. If you're familiar with word processing programs, you'll probably be able to muddle through. When in doubt, google those questions, that's what I did in spades.

Since my book was already written in Google Docs, I simply copy and pasted it section by section into the template.

LibreOffice: What I Like About it

When you open the program, your books are there, individually listed as nice sizeable Icons. It was fairly easy to learn, but I'm not a pro at it by any stretch of the imagination (yet).

LibreOffice: What I Don't Like About it

Holy Hannah, who designed the Footer Page Count area - YUK! Very difficult to use. Yes, my mouth needed to be washed out with soap a few times. Some of the comments I made (whilst hubby was laughing) "who designed this part of the program! Are they so self-absorbed with their intelligence that they had to make it complicated?."

Other word processing programs have easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy Footer Page Counts, but not LibreOffice! Yes, the table of contents auto-generates and the pages count properly, but it's the number system in the Footer and where the counts start that cause you to drink lots of wine!

Will I use LibreOffice again for my next book? Yep, I learned so much; I don't want to switch now. But I don't have that page count thing in the Footer sorted out yet! And yes, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on it - still not clear.

5. Prettying Up that Book as You're Putting it in the Template

I decided on font styles, headings, and font sizes. From what I read, consistency was important. However, my book is a Poetry Book, so it's different than a novel. A novel, I would imagine, is more straight forward.

I did quite a bit of research on what the best fonts are to use in books, particularly poetry books. After my research, I ended up choosing the Garamond font. I used that font throughout the whole book. I didn't choose it because it was the best for poetry. I preferred the look of it for easy reading on the page.

My paperback poetry book has chapters and sub-chapters, and also a few graphics throughout. So yah, more convoluted to lay it out.

6. How Should the Sections of Your Book Flow and in What Order?

I googled this over and over. You guessed it, different answers from different people. Being that I wrote a Poetry Book, I didn't follow the traditional page designations that a novel would. Here's how I laid out my poetry book:
  •  First Page inside the Book - Title Only

  •  Second Page inside the Book - Title, Sub Title, Author

  •  Third Page inside the Book - Copyright Page (I googled some content and modified it to suit my book). On the copyright page, you'll include your ISBN number - more about that below.

  •  Fourth Page - The Dedication

  •  Fifth Page - A Summary of the Books Contents (that's optional)

  •  Sixth Page - Acknowledgments

  •  Seventh to Eleventh Page - Auto-Generated Table of Contents (my table of contents ended up being 4 pages)

  •  Twelfth Page - A Chapter Page that summarizes the poetry content for Chapter One

  •  Thirteenth Page to page 136 - The content of the book with all chapters in there (I have six chapters)

  •  At the End: About the Author, with sections on 'Why I Decided to Write a Book of Poems' and 'What's Different About This Book of Poems'

  • My Personal Favorite poems are also listed at the end

  • "Thanks for Reading" was next. The gurus say to ask for a review - um, no I didn't do that

  • Closing Message to My Kids

7. Book is Done, Sitting in Your Word Processing Program - What the Heck is Next?

Logging into KDP Publishing is next. Start your engines. 

Select the type of book you're uploading (Kindle eBook or Paperback). 

Go through each of the areas to fill in the information they ask for (this is before any uploads). Honestly, I just watched a lot of tutorials and tips on how to fill everything in. 

Uploading Your Book:

If you're confident that your book is the way you want it, you can upload it. 

However, to upload your book it has to be in a format that's conducive to Amazon's format. LibreOffice extensions are not. After searching out how to do this, I discovered that you can upload the book to amazon in PDF format. (There are other acceptable formats as well). 

In LibreOffice, to get a pdf extension on your file, you simply go to - FILE - EXPORT AS - and CHOOSE PDF. Save it to your computer. Bingo, you're ready for uploading.

Don't worry if you upload the book and you need to change it for some reason - you can overwrite that upload easily if you're not live. Just don't approve it until you're sure. I ended up re-uploading mine a few times as I discovered some errors. I'm sure there are more I missed, being my first time and all.

Note: The Gurus strongly stress hiring a professional editor to check your book for errors. Yah, I didn't do that either. Are they right about that? YES. It's the smart thing to do. Hire a professional. But again, this is Newbie territory I'm in so of course, I'm not listening. Lol. Down the road, yes, that's something I will consider.

8. WAIT! You Need a Book Cover! OMG

Ok. The gurus say, 'get your cover professionally done.' They're right, did I do that, no. Why? Because it was my first book of poems and, well, I had to be the opposite. Plus, I wasn't ready to spend money on that until I felt more confident about what I was doing.

If you're a graphics guru, by using Amazon's KDP Cover Page Templates (you can download those - google search), you can make your own personally designed professional cover. 

There's no way on God's green earth I could possibly do this in a timely fashion. Yes, I tried. More booze. However, I am thinking of hiring a graphics professional down the road for other books I plan to write. 

Oh, I did create my own cover for the eBook version using the online program, Adobe Spark. But that's not useful for actual paperback books that need high-quality digital print.

Inside KDP, there's a Cover Creator Section.

The gurus say, don't use this! So I did the opposite, and for this book, I used it. It's better to hire someone, but I'm not there yet. Play with Cover Creator; you're not obligated to any design until you finally hit save. Even then, you can still change it if you want. You need a high-quality photo of yourself if you're putting it on the back of your book (at least 300 DPI - that was challenging!).

9. ISBN Numbers

Both eBooks and Paperbacks need them. They're different for each book, and every book. Yes, you can ask Amazon to generate one for you. 

The downside to having Amazon generate one for you is that you can only use that particular book with that particular ISBN number for Amazon. In other words, if you're going to offer your book elsewhere, you would have to get your own ISBN number for those.

So you're wondering, how do I get ISBN Numbers? Right?

Canadian ISBN Numbers:

If you're in Canada, you can go here, a Government of Canada page, and register to have the ability to generate ISBN numbers. It could take a few weeks before you're approved. I thought, what the heck, so I registered. 

I used my own self-generated Canadian ISBN number for my eBook Version. Easy. 

However, what I discovered with the Paperback Version is that along with the ISBN Number, the book needs a Digital Code thingy on the back, and I had no idea how to get one of those through my Canadian ISBN account. I'll learn later. 

So for the Paperback Version, I used Amazon's auto-generating ISBN number. Easy. Just be sure that when you get that number from your KDP Account, you put it inside your book on the Copyright page. Best to do that before you actually upload the book.

United States ISBN Numbers:

Since I'm Canadian, I didn't research this very much. However, from what I read, it seems Americans have to pay for those? Don't quote me on that though; I'm not sure. But, again, you can have Amazon auto-generate the numbers for you.

There's more, but that's enough for today.

In closing, my guiding principle while doing this was that famous quote, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." My goal was to get one done.

I'm already onto my next book (It's not poetry, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?) Just a tad addicting.

I hope this helps other newbies, because wow. :)

Here's what my newbie-book looks like - front and back covers.

Available on Amazon (Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, however
the link under this particular photo does not contain my AssociateID)




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, October 6, 2019

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Been Meaning to Do for Decades

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Always Wanted to Do

Have You Ever Wanted to Write an eBook But Didn’t Know Where to Start?  

That’s where I was. For decades I kept saying, "I want to do a book of my lifetime poems," and kept putting it off. Finally, I took the plunge and just recently completed the book. The poems were already written, and it took me about a month to learn the ropes and put the book together. It’s a book of personally written poems and lyrics from the age of 8 to 58, entitled "We Will Have Morning Smiles."

As a newbie self-publisher, I’d like to share a few of the tools I researched and used to get this first book on the market. These are just the basics, to learn from the guru’s you’ll have to Google and find the ones you like. I did watch multiple YouTube Videos from various people, and the advice I found most helpful was Self-Publishing with Dale. I tripped on his videos after endless Google research. Compared to some, his video presentations were the easiest to follow. 

My First eBook of Poems
The advice in his videos are helpful, but to be honest, I didn’t follow all of it. One bit of information was that you should use a professional to create the cover of your book (if you can). I didn’t do that; I created my own. However, I do agree that a professional is a better way to go. 

The other is that you should, if you can, hire a professional to ‘Format’ your book. Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t do that. I formatted my own. Formatting isn’t easy, especially with a poetry book, but you can do it if you’re willing to read and learn.

Here are Three Quick Points to Help You Get Started:

1. Create Your KDP Publisher Account on Amazon - This is Where You'll Upload Your Book for Publishing

That part is easy. However, when you start filling all the information in, you'll have a lot of questions. The good thing is, KDP has a terrific help section, and customer service answers questions very quickly.

2. Google Documents or Microsoft Word - Where You'll Write Your Book

I wasn’t sure how to get a book written, formatted, then uploaded to Amazon or any other sellers platform.

After reading multiple articles on how to get started, I was more confused. 

What I found was that most people use Microsoft Word to write their books. Since I don’t have the full paid version of Word on my Laptop, I decided to use Google Documents. However, you do have to save your work in .docx format to upload it to Kindle Create (see more about Kindle Create below). 

To save your google document to a .docx format:

  • Click ‘File’ in the top left
  • Scroll down to ‘Download’
  • Several file saving options will show, choose (.docx)
  • Save the file to your computer. Done.

Oh, and guess how much I knew about Google Documents? Yep. Nada. I never had a reason to use it. However, I should have been! It’s a terrific tool. I’m using it for a ton of things now. So easy. I’m currently helping a family member out with a project and have been sharing work via Google Documents. No wonder people like it!

Here’s another google docs tip for you: 

In google docs, you can auto-generate a Table of Contents. However, on the editing bar, look for the button that says, “Normal Text." There’s a dropdown menu there that lets you choose various Heading options. 

Your Heading choices are essential because they determine what goes in your table of contents, and where:
  • Heading 1 - Puts the title as a Chapter Heading in your Table of Contents
  • Heading 2 - Places it as a Sub-Chapter below a Chapter

With my poetry book, sub-chapters were important. The main chapters are the headings that describe the types of poems, and the sub-chapters are each poem by title below it.
This is the Back Cover
It appears at the end of
the eBook on the inside

3. Download Kindle Create - Kindle Create is Where You'll Format Your Book for Publishing

There are conflicting views on using this. I would guess very experienced self-publishers don't need it.

Since I’m a newbie and Kindle Create was easy to understand, it served my needs. I’ll be using it again, at least until I become some sort of a pro. 

Download Kindle Create to your computer directly from Amazon. Then watch the video tutorials and read the help section. They’re fabulous.

Upload your saved book (either from Word or Google Docs - if that’s what you used), into Kindle Create. 

The file that's created in Kindle Create is the file you'll eventually upload to your KDP Amazon Publisher Account.

A Few Tips to Share: 

  • Kindle create generates a Table of Contents for you
  • However, I still created a detailed Table of Contents in Google Docs
  • I included both Tables of Contents in my book - The detailed Table of Contents with Sub-Chapters is from Google Docs, the other from Kindle Create only features the main chapters (because I designed it that way). You don’t have to do this, but I wanted more of a break-down.
  • It appears you can't directly internally link on your document while inside of Kindle Create. 
  • Do all your internal linking in Word or Google Docs before you upload it to Kindle Create.

Remember, these are the basics for beginner self-publishers like me. I wanted to give you a way to get started on your own ebook because I know how daunting getting started can seem.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, August 1, 2016

Review of CreateSpace Self Publishing Platform

Instructions for Publishing Books at CreateSpace.com


 State Flowers of the USA Coloring Book: For Students and Teachers

Ever since I published my 3 books on CreateSpace people have been asking me how to do that and if I recommend them. The short answer to that is yes, I do recommend them.

The other thing people want to know is if it is hard to do. That is not so easy to answer. There is a learning curve for sure, but I do have some free tools you can use to make it easier. All in all, I think CreateSpace is a fantastic tool for first time authors to get themselves published.

*All the books on this page are my own books I have published at CreateSpace.

Getting Started at CreateSpace 


So here I am going to take you step by step through the process to create your first book on CreateSpace and get it published and listed on Amazon and maybe picked up by booksellers who will also distribute it for you. My first book is on the right and got picked up by 12 other sellers besides Amazon including Barnes and Noble and several teacher websites. I am thrilled! 


The first thing you will need to do is sign up for a free account. Just go to http://CreateSpace.com  and follow the easy registration instructions. Once you have an account you will be taken to your dashboard. It looks like the image below. The first thing you do to get started on a new book is to press that Blue button that is just about in the middle of the page which says "Add New Title." If you know the title of your new book just go ahead and add it. Don't worry you can change it before you publish, so  just put something and that way you will have access to the rest of the tools. This is the first part of the setup by the way.  After you have a title, you can just hit the button at the bottom that says "Save and Continue." 


Menu 

On the right is a photo of the Menu that is on the left side of the setup process once you add a title. You can see that the different parts of the process are listed and when you complete a section it gives you a Green check mark so you always know what else needs to be done. 

The set up process is a series of pages where it will ask you to put in information about your book, so just do each step and hit save. The next thing it will want to know after the title is the ISBN. Now I am a big fan of "free" so I just use their free ones. The only reason to buy your own ISBN would be if you wanted to have books printed by them and then distribute them yourself. I have no idea why anyone would want to do that work though! Later in the process you will see that CreateSpace gives you the option to have your book distributed by Amazon (they own CreateSpace) and also by other online sellers and even by bricks and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble.  I am a big fan of "easy" too! So just use their free one, and go on to the next step, which is the Interior.

In this step, you pick your size and type of printing. You will see a list of formats and there is a button you can click to see the approximate cost to print too. But to save you time here is a page with a list of the sizes and templates you can download to add your content. https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323

Now the next step is the heart of the matter so to speak; adding all your content. The templates are set up for Microsoft Word, or for OpenOffice. I don't have Word, so I use OpenOffice. (because it's free, LOL, just go to OpenOffice.org and download it! ) I find this to be the hardest part of the process, because you have to make sure your content is exactly the way you want it printed. I have done 2 coloring books and I wanted them to be printed on one side only to make a nicer product for the colorists, so I had to really pay attention to insert a blank page after every image. If you don't know how to use OpenOffice or Word, that is beyond the scope of this article, but I used Google and YouTube and was able to do find tutorials to format everything properly. Just type your question into Google. 
 Shells From the Sea: Coloring Pages and Greeting Cards


Once you are happy with your book, save a copy, and then also use the "export as PDF" function to save as a PDF too, because CreateSpace wants you to upload it in PDF form. But if you ever need to edit it later, you might need the original document, unless you have Adobe software and can edit PDF documents. So just to be sure, I always save the original Open Office document and also a PDF document.


If my instructions are not clear, you can also see lots of helpful tips on the page under the Interior button. Also there is a forum with a community of writers who have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. However, many of them are experienced authors and seem to be a little impatient with first time authors, so I just use Google to ask my questions. For example I might ask "how do I  __________ on a createspace template?" You would think CreateSpace would be easier to ask, but no, Google is. 


Designing the Cover of Your Book on CreateSpace


Next is the cover. They have templates for that too, so just scroll through them till you see one you like. Here's a hint. Under each cover there is a scroll bar to see different versions. The typeface and the colors can often be changed so there are a lot more variations than is apparent when you first look through the cover options. Just pick one you like and upload your image if it calls for one. They often have specific requirements for the images, so if your images are not the right size you will need to edit them. Lots of people have Photoshop but I don't, so I use http://Picmonkey.com. (yes, it's free) You can upload an image there, change the file size in a few clicks and then you are good to go!

 The Swans of Kensington Garden: A Photo Book of Swans

Speaking of images, they have to be at least 300 dpi for CreateSpace so what should you do if yours are not?  If you have Photoshop, this is fairly easy to fix but if you don't, here is a free software program you can use to change them to the correct dpi. Just go to http://www.Irfanview.com and download the free software.  

The program can be used for many other things too, but I only use it for changing the dpi and use Picmonkey for all the other things I do with images, like change the exposure and crop, add text, straighten, etc. Picmonkey is much easier to use for those things. But you can't control the dpi with it. A hint when  you use Picmonkey: save the file as the best quality jpg. They call it Sean. Yes it is a bigger file, but it will make your finished book far more beautiful! 

So once you have your interior and cover done, you are ready to complete your setup. This just involves setting the price, telling CreateSpace where you want it distributed and approving the proof. You will be able to check it page by page to be sure it meets your expectations. Once that is done, CreateSpace will also have to examine your proof to make sure it meets their specifications. They will either approve it, or send you a message that it needs to be changed. Don't worry, they will tell you exactly what needs to be changed. 

Here is a photo of the project page that shows all the steps in a graphic so you can see what is done and what needs to be finished. This is a completed book so all my steps are completed and marked with a Green check mark. (I can't publish a coloring book on Kindle so that one has a red button.)



Eventually you will get it approved. I say that because it usually takes a few times before they do approve it. But then, wow, you will have published your first book! Good luck! 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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