Guest Blogger: Karina Fabian
Greater Treasures is my first foray into self-publishing. I chose to do so with this novel for a variety of reasons that I write about in other blogs, but the thing I’d like you to know is that it was not because I could not find a publisher for the book (I knew of one at least who would gladly have taken it) or that I’m dissatisfied with traditional press publishers (I love the publishers of my other books.) This was definitely a “because I felt like it” situation, and one I plan to make again for certain of my works.
It’s been quite an adventure for me, and one that I’m still learning the ins and outs of. I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned so far.
#1. Have a good reason to self publish. Personally, I don’t consider “No one will take it” to be a good reason. Wrinkle in Time, a Newberry winner and children’s classic, was rejected for eight years, and this was with a professional agent submitting constantly. Other authors I know talk about submitting to 70 or 100 places before being accepted. If you cannot get it published, ask yourself if it and you are ready. Having said that, not wanting to wait can be a legitimate reason, but go in with eyes open. It’s not an easy road, and you will handle the initial expenses. You’ll need motivation, and there’s nothing motivating about “No one else will publish my book.”
#2. Be professional. One of the biggest complaints against self-published books is unprofessionalism—bad editing, amateurish cover, basic story-crafting mistakes. Don’t fall into that. Get a good editor—hire one or trade favors with someone who has experience. It does make a huge difference in the quality of your work. Hire a professional to make your covers, or if you make your own be sure it looks professional: be sure you can read the title in thumbnail size, that the contrast in lettering and picture is good, and that it will stand out in a group of covers in your genre. I was lucky, I found the cover art of Greater Treasures in a page of premade covers for sale by Sarah-Jane Lehoux.
#3. Look over contracts with the different e-book providers, talk to other self-publishers and traditional publishers (if you know any) and make an informed decision on what venue to choose. For example, I chose to use Kindle Select, which puts my book in the Kindle library and lets me do some promotional things in Amazon, but I have to make the book exclusive to Kindle for the time it’s in the program. I did this in part as an experiment to see if the promotional and borrowing opportunities are worth the exclusiveness. Also, I don’t want to bother with learning to format the book for other venues at the moment, although I may explore that in the Fall.
#4. If you are going to print the book as well as e-publish, have a master file, or track changes. I had two versions—Kindle and CreateSpace, each formatted differently. When I went over formatting for the Kindle version, I found some things I needed to change and others that I needed to tweak, but I didn’t make note of them, just changed them in the file. Then, when I wanted to print the book in Createspace, I had to go over the Kindle version with a fine-toothed comb, comparing line by line with the print version. How much easier if I had used Track Changes!
#5 Ask for help. There are so many writers’ groups online with people who would be glad to ask your questions. I’m fortunate in that Ellen Gable Hrkach, Grace Bridges, Lincoln Chrisler, and Tim Marquitz, who are publishers or self-publishers, were patient with my questions. The book is better for their help, and I’m more comfortable with my decision to self-publish.
This has been a fun adventure, and I intend to do this again with other DragonEye stories, at least. I’m sure I’ll have many more things to learn.
Karina Fabian won the 2010 INDIE best fantasy award for her book Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. Whether it’s nuns in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, or zombie exterminators, there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian, as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, with getting her kids through high school and college, and with surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Greater Treasures is available in print and Kindle editions. Read about her adventures at http://fabianspace.com.