I’d like to thank Mary for having me on her blog today—actually we swapped blogs for the day. We’ve been talking about sharing our experiences as indie authors, and for this post I’d like to specifically discuss formatting.
Indie publishing really is a business, and if you let it, the process can get pretty darn expensive. It takes a team to get your book to the retailers, and unlike in traditional publishing, you have to pay the people on your team. You may be able pull in some favors or get some freebies to lessen the hit to your bank account, but you’ll still have to prioritize where your money will be best spent. Your team may consist of an editor (and copy editor, proofreader, or more), a cover designer, a paperback formatter, and an ebook formatter. There are plenty more places were your can spend your hard earned money when it comes to marketing and promotion, but for today, I’ll focus on the book itself.
For my first book, Provex City, I created a team with nearly all the members listed above. I started with my primary editor and then sent the manuscript to a proofreader. It is invaluable to have multiple sets of professional eyes combing through your words. I had an artist create cover art for the book, which was good for the ebook, but it didn’t include the full spread for a paperback. I originally put Provex City exclusively on Amazon (to take advantage of KDP Select), so I used Liber Writer to create the Kindle format and Createspace (using the now retired Author’s Advantage package) to create the paperback.
For my second book, SUSY Asylum, I decided to cut down my team—eliminating the formatters. There was a definite learning curve, but after doing it a few times, releasing future books will be a breeze. We need editors, so an author should never cut there. I am not too artistically inclined (graphically or by hand), so a cover designer was a must for me. But I did some research on formatting (and though there are many, many companies, resources, programs, and tons of advice out there, I am happy with my results), and created a process that worked well for me.
I started with formatting my MS Word document by following the directions from the Smashwords Style Guide. Once formatted, I uploaded the Word document (.doc, not .docx) to Smashwords and made minor adjustments to get admitted into their Premium catalog. There is an option now to upload an ePub file, but I kept getting errors with it; so the Word document worked better for me. Once admitted into the Smashwords Premium catalog, your book is then distributed to Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, Kobo, and more. I then took my Word document and pasted it into a free ePub formatting program (though donations are encouraged) called Sigil. I followed the tutorials and it was pretty painless. Once I had a finished ePub file, I used a free ebook converter program (donations also encouraged) called Calibre to create a .mobi file (Kindle format) for uploading to Amazon. The only formatting I spent money on was for the paperback. I purchased an interior book template from The Book Designer for $99, which I have the licensing to use as many times as I want. Along with the release of SUSY Asylum, I rereleased Provex City, and did all the formatting for it as well.
I spent time in formatting my own ebook and paperback, but I saved a significant amount of money. Liber Writer costs $60, using a formatter for Smashwords costs an average of $50, and the Creatspace Author’s Advantage package was $400. So with formatting SUSY Asylum myself, I saved about $400, and the rerelease of Provex City, about $500. After ironing out the kinks, I feel this was time well spent and money well saved.
We indie authors need to make important business decisions along with our many creative ones. For some people, hiring formatters is worth the money. I want to give you options, and the process I outlined here is one of many, but one that specifically worked for me.
Oliver and Desiree continue their adventures into Provex City, assuming their greatest threat is dead. But what they fail to realize is the Lorne family is more than one man—more than death. In their travels, they learn of a mythical asylum for inter-plane travelers such as themselves. When Oliver uncovers the truth, he finds himself facing his worst fears with no escape.
Welcome to SUSY Asylum.
Michael Pierce lives in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two ultra-protective Chiweenies. Provex City is his debut novel and the first book in the young adult fantasy Lorne Family Vault Series.
Today you’ll find me at Michael’s. I’m talking about six things I learned about being an author-publisher that might help you in your publishing endeavors.
You can still enter to win The Backworlds in audio for the price of a comment. HERE