Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Adventures of Self-Publishing

Why does a writer decide to self-publish? There are probably many, many reasons why, from not having an agent, nor a publisher, or simply just wanting to have complete control over the process. When I decided to publish Three Merry Mysteries, I chose to do it simply because I wanted to see how the process works. I selected five short stories I had written, three of which were mysteries, and then added two bonus short stories to make a total of 34 pages. The book size I chose was 6” x 9”. My word count was 9,300.

Two other local authors and I have been tossing around the idea of publishing a short story collection that we would write, edit and self-publish together. Our hope was to add it to our own authored books that we could sell at local art festivals and shows in Pennsylvania.

Let’s be clear: I am semi-literate to the world of computers. I understand the basics of most Microsoft Office software, but I’m no computer guru. That’s why I chose Createspace.

I was surprised by the ease in which Createspace took you through the steps of completing what I considered a daunting task. First, you must set up an account with them and give a title to your fiction or nonfiction work. From then on, the Createspace page actually prompts you through the process, using a nifty dashboard.
If I were to give anyone advice about the entire process, I would include the following main points.
  • Make sure your copy is flawless, error-free and grammatically perfect
This is important since you will have the opportunity at the end to proofread your copy, using an online preview or having a printed (hard) copy sent to you. If you discover mistakes, you must start all over again and make the corrections. This will also require that you to resubmit and wait for Createspace to review it each time. 
  •  Have an idea for your cover art before you attempt the process       
  • Chose your cover colors carefully
There are many beautiful, standard cover templates that are available at no cost, and that can easily be changed to the colors of your choice. Since the first short story in my mystery collection was about windmills, I went on and purchased a picture of three windmills for a nominal price. If you’ve not discovered, go there just to view the most gorgeous photography for sale.

I would caution everyone to order a proof copy, even if you must wait for it. This allows you to see what the book will look like before you submit it for final approval. What I also learned is that light colors often fade onto light backgrounds of web pages. I actually ended up changing my basic cover background color from ice blue to gray for this reason alone.

Everyone asks the cost. A custom 13-ISBN# costs $10.00. If you choose Expanded Distribution it will cost $25.00 more. And, if you choose Kindle Ready conversion, add $69.00. Bottom line: Everything could only cost as little as $10.00 for the custom 13-ISBN# (which I recommend) or $104. I did choose Kindle Ready conversion because I did not feel comfortable doing the electronic version, but later learned it wasn’t that difficult. I also felt that I couldn’t put a price on dodging a headache.

Am I going to tell you that it’s quick, easy and fun? Absolutely not. It’s frustrating at times, but it’s fun to see it evolve and finally come together. The one thing I learned is that there’s always a phone number to call if you need help, and Createspace has pages of online information to nudge you along on your adventure of self-publishing.

If you’d like to see my finished product, go to and use the “Search Inside This Book.” It will not only show you the basic set-up, but it will allow you to read the first mystery, “A Sticky Affair,” for free!


  1. Hi Judy. Wanted to let you know I tagged you for The Lucky 7 MeMe. Check it out. :)

  2. Great explanation of the process for Kindle books. Nice blog. I'm now following. Your design is fantastic! I need to return to mine and do some work. Thanks for the inspiration. Fellow PA Writer - Pam

  3. Pam,
    Thanks for the kind words. My blog sort of evolved as I needed to add things. I see you're above Pottstown, PA. Good luck in your writing endeavors. --Judy