Linda Hoye is a memoir writer who has been my guest twice at Wrote By Rote. You can read those informative pieces here and here. Her memoir Two Hearts: An Adoptee's Journey Through Grief to Gratitude is now available from Amazon. In Linda's Hijack This Blog! contribution, she offers some very useful information for those who are thinking of publishing their own books.
Counting the Cost
As a young girl dreaming of being a writer I had visions of living a solitary life in a remote location where I would write books, package up manuscripts, and mail them off to my agent who would negotiate a perfect deal with the publisher.
Fast-forward to 2012 where my dreams—and the publishing world—have both changed dramatically. I work full-time at a corporate job, I don’t live in a remote location, and I don’t have an agent, but I have published a book. Today it’s easier than ever for writers to make their work available to readers thanks to the avenue of self-publishing.
You don’t have to spend money in order to self-publish but there are some things you may want to consider paying for.
Editing. Long before making the decision to self-publish I knew I was going to pay a professional editor for a comprehensive and copy edit of my manuscript when it was finished. I would never have dreamed of submitting it to agents or publishers without taking this step. Two Hearts would not be the book it is today without the help of my editor
Cover Design. I’m a writer, not an artist. I can’t draw, I don’t have a strong sense of design, and it would have been foolish for me to try to design a cover for the book. I also don’t have access to the beautiful fonts used on the cover and in the interior of the book (although I could have purchased them if I wanted to do it myself). I worked with a design team who provided options and suggestions based on my recommendations of how I wanted the book to look. I spent some time on iStockPhoto finding just the right photograph for the cover and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
Interior Design. If I had unlimited time available to me I could have formatted the interior of my book myself. This is not necessarily an easy task to take on and there is a lot to think about. Take a look at any book. What is the font? Where are the page numbers? What’s printed on the top and bottom of each page? What fleurons are used throughout the book? I took into account the time I would have had to spend doing all of this and for me it was an easy decision to pay someone to do it for me.
ISBN. I could have used an ISBN provided by free by CreateSpace but I chose to purchase my own instead. I wrote more about the reasons for this decision over at Women’s Memoirs recently.
eBook Formatting. I seriously considered doing this myself and even downloaded some tools from Kindle Direct Publishing to do it with. When I started looking at it I told myself if it took more than a couple of hours to convert my manuscript to ebook format I’d go ahead and pay the small amount of money to have someone do it for me. That’s what I ended up doing.
Royalties from self-published books are higher than what you receive from a traditional publisher. That, coupled with the fact that I have a full-time job, made the decision to spend some money up front for these services an easy one.
Keep in mind that you should never have to pay someone to publish your book though. While you may, as I did, choose to pay for services associated with the design and formatting of your book, the actual publication of your book should not cost you anything. If you’re asked to pay to have your book published you’re likely dealing with a vanity press. With a vanity press you will likely not retain control of the rights to your book and you will have little chance of having your book available via mainstream distribution avenues.
Linda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat-fanatical grandma. Her memoir, Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude will offer hope and inspiration to anyone who’s life has been touched by adoption. She currently lives in the state of Washington with her husband and their two Yorkshire terriers, but Saskatchewan, Canada will always be her heart’s home.
If you have self-published, what was your experience? What unexpected things did you encounter? Do you have anything to add to what Linda has said here?