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Friday, June 29, 2012

Counting the Cost: Publication Wisdom From Guest Hijacker Linda Hoye

       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.

Connect with her on her blog A Slice of Life Writing, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn.

          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?

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  1. I love your wisdom in knowing what you're capable of doing, and what not. If I go the self pub'd way, I know I can't do it ALL by myself. the cover is emotional.

  2. Linda, you are one smart woman for going the professional route with your book. I wish all self-published authors followed those steps. Few realize that unless they purchase the ISBN from Bowker themselves, they are not listed as the publisher.

  3. Hello, Linda,
    Thank you for giving such wonderful advice. I have been engaged in writing a story, and have been given a gift for my birthday to go to a website to have a copy of my book published (just one copy). I have received a lot of encouragement about having my book put into real publication. At present, it is being written in serial form on my blog. I am still not quite sure if I want to really have it published, or even if it would be of enough interest for readers to purchase it, were it published. Anyhow, that all looks like wonderful advice for authors. Thank you, again. Best regards to you. Ruby Young

  4. You're truly quite an amazing woman Linda, I would love to read your book and I appreciate all of your voice. It's always good when Lee allows unaware people to be more aware to other writers out there.

  5. Good, good post!


  6. Hi Lee and Linda - great thoughts here and so simply set out - very useful for all concerned.

    I'm expecting to get your book shortly .. Cheers Hilary

  7. @Em-Musing - I think when we get to the point of stopping trying to do everything ourselves we open ourselves up to benefiting from the synergies that working with others provides, don't you? Thanks for the comment about my cover too.

  8. @Diane - I did a lot of research before choosing the route to take. I hope that I can share some of what I gleaned to help others along the same path too.

  9. @Ruby - what a wonderful gift to have been given! We all have stories to share.

  10. @Yeamie - I don't know about being amazing...but I do hope you'll check out my book! :-)

  11. @Lynn, @Shelly, @Hilary - Thank you!

  12. Oh my goodness, that is one of the most powerful covers I've ever seen. It evokes so much feeling.

  13. LINDA ~
    Yes, I agree with the others who have mentioned the eye-catching cover. The topic itself is not something I would ordinarily be interested in exploring (that's just me) but if I saw that book sitting on a shelf somewhere, I would be drawn to it and would undoubtedly pick it up and start to thumb through it, solely due to its cover.

    And once I started thumbing through it, who knows what I might read that might cause me to buy the book despite having little interest in the general theme initially.

    So... GREAT COVER! It's certainly effective as an advertisement for what's inside (which is, of course, the real purpose of all book covers).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  14. I'm not ready to go the self-publish route at this point but I'm hanging on to this post for later. Lots of great info. Thank you.

  15. @Ciara - thank you! I do love the cover!

  16. @Stephen - We're a visual lot, many of us, and that's why an eye-catching cover is vital - even if you're just publishing in e-book format.

  17. @LD - I'm happy you've found something of value here.

  18. Congratulations Linda! and may you have continued success with future projects.

    I dream of being a published author, as many bloggers do. Who knows? So for now, the priviledge to write will remain in a blog format, something that I love doing.

    At the moment, I am way beyond my bedtime, so I hope to visit your blog tomorrow. I really like peeking into a new blog on occasion. :)

    Oh... great info on self-publishing!

    Thank you Lee, for showcasing another talented person.

  19. A great post from a wonderful writer.


  20. Fantastic, informative post. Thank you both, Linda and Lee, for this experiential wisdom.

  21. Linda and Arlee, Great post! I have self-published (working on my third book right now). My experience: I did it all myself. Until I find myself seriously in the black, I plan to keep doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff myself, which is pretty much fitting with my personality anyway. Can you say "control freak"? BTW...I adore memoirs (have even written one), so I plan to check yours out!

  22. Dear Linda, thanks for this truly helpful advice about the cost of self-publishing. I ordered your book from Amazon and it came this past Thursday. It is on my bedside table, waiting to be read. Thank you for writing it. Peace.

  23. Thank you Linda for another outstanding post and thanks to the readers for the comments--you never let me down.


  24. Plenty of smart info. here. I thought about these same things when I did my short story collection. There is no way I could have managed the formatting and cover design, so I got other people to do those for me.

  25. Oh, Linda, I totally agree. There are some things we just shouldn't skimp on. The number of self-published books I've come across that clearly haven't paid for professional editing, or they've done their own artwork. It makes me cry inside.

  26. Hi Linda,

    Terrific post and valuable information! Especially your warning about vanity presses and focusing on design and formatting. Nothing to add as I am a publishing newbie. I hope to self-publish a book one day and will definitely lean on your post as a guide. Thank you!


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