Jun 22, 2014

Epublishing Journey (Sorry for the Delay)

I promised to chart my e-publishing adventures, and here I am to make good on that promise.

First, let me say this: writers have excellent resources when it comes to self-publishing. Stepping into the indie arena, I had no idea the tools at my disposal. From CreateSpace to Smashwords to BookBub, authors have the ability to reach and interact with thousands of people. Granted, it takes time, money, and hard work, but it's definitely possible.

A brief rundown of the indie author's utility belt:

CreateSpace: A print-on-demand service that prints and distributes physical copies of your book. Rather than paying them up front, they take a percentage of every book sold. For example: The print edition of my book is priced at $9.59. I make $2.38 for sales via Amazon, and $4.30 for sales via CreateSpace. You may think those prices are low, but considering they print and ship it, you're getting a good deal.

Kindle Direct Publishing: (KDP) allows an author to publish their work on Amazon. It's extremely straightforward, easy to use, and when I had a problem, a quick email to Amazon was all it took to clear things up. Amazon's staff are friendly and quickly to respond. All in all, I had a great experience with KDP

Smashwords: A one stop shop to distribute you work to Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc. Smashwords allows you to list your book price for free, and if you ever make changes to your story, readers who've already purchased the book can download the updated version for free.

The biggest downside to Smashwords is actually uploading you work. It is difficult, and a single mistake can prevent it from uploading/uploading correctly. They do have a downloadable guide to help with formatting. I followed it and managed to upload my work. When I went to update it a week later, I mess something up and the formatting got all wonky. In frustration, I pulled it from the site and enrolled in KDP Select. I'll try again later, but I'm not looking forward to it.

All in all, Smashwords is a great tool. I just wish it wasn't so complicated to use.

Sigil: Sigil translates your text into HTML code which is the base for ebook files. It can also generate a table of contents and run the HTML of your book through a validator that makes sure all of your HTML code is correct. This is a must have program for publishing ebooks. Here's a video tutorial.

Calibre: Considering most of the grunt work is done by Sigil, Calibre is used for fine tuning. It can rescale font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can also insert the book metadata into a "Book Jacket" at the start of the book. (Pulled from site)

Midnight Whimsy: A book cover designer who does EXCELLENT work on custom book covers. She designed the cover for My Best Friend Death (as seen in the upper left corner). She's an amazing gal to work with.

CCR Book Cover Design: An equally wonderful sight for premade ebook covers (for the more cost conscious). Cheryl designed the cover for my yet-to-be-released episodic work DeadEarth: Mr. .44 Magnum. She has a huge array of premade covers, and the turn around time is twenty-four hours (excluding weekends).

Now that you know the tools at your disposal, you need a rundown of two other very important aspects of ebook publishing: time and money.

Time: Trust me when I say you spend A LOT of time doing menial things. For example, before I moved my story from Word to Sigil, I had to chart all the italicized words in my novel (Sigil removes the formatting of your story), and once I had them charted, I had to then re-italicize them in Sigil. Talk about BOR-RING

Want another example? Page numbering. Sounds easy, right? WRONG. Numbering the pages for the physical print of my book took me hours and a lot of Googling. The reason: Headers. In the physical print, odd numbered pages (recto) have the title of my book, while even numbered pages (verso) have my name (or maybe it's the other way around). The only pages that don't have my name or title of the book are the pages that start a chapter (they don't have a header at all).

To format the Word doc that way, I pretty much had to tweak my doc to restart the page numbering at every chapter (as if every chapter was a new document). After I did that, I had to go chapter by chapter and manually change the numbering. Let me repeat that... MANUALLY CHANGE THE NUMBERING. If you mess up once (like I did) you won't know until you finish, and then you have to start over from wherever you messed up.

It was a nightmare.

There are a lot of little things like that that will take up hours of your time. And Smashwords is a vicious, time-consuming beast on it own. If you can't tell by now, I have a love/hate relationship with Smashwords.

In short, if you want to epub, make sure you give yourself the adequate amount of time needed for formatting. You want to look professional, so don't cut corners in the interest of saving time/money. It'll hurt you in the long run.

Money: I kept the receipts for every epublishing related expense (for tax purposes), so I can give you an accurate rundown of what I've spent.

Cover design: $170.00
Premade Cover design: $55
Net Galley: $80
Website: $99
Domain Name: $9.90
Business cards: $39.46
ARCs: $14.14

Total: 902.50

Pending expense:
Bookbub: $250

I also had to pick up a new laptop and printer, but I won't include those in this tally.

As you can see, it's not particularly cheap (especially considering you may not make back what you've paid), but it's not extremely expensive either.

Well, that's all for now. In my next post, I'll get into sales and my personal experiences. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. I'll answer them in the next post.


  1. The woman who designed my bookmarks also does book covers if you ever need an alternative! ItGirlDesigns, http://itgirldesigns.com/portfolio/book-covers/. My husband's ex-father-in-law teaches workshops on self-publishing and people pay big $$$ to attend and learn what you just told everyone!

  2. Sheesh! lol I got dizzy reading about the page numbering. lol But great job! You put in a lot of effort, and it paid off. :D

  3. Thanks for the detailed article and offering such useful info. Two questions:

    1) What size/format did you select for the print version in CreateSpace? I know size/format can affect the pricing to some degree (or at least that was my impression).

    2) What was the final word count for your book (i.e., MS Word count, not SMF)?