A Reluctant Self-Publisher

by Jodi Auborn
(Ticonderoga, NY)

My 4th book (but first self-published)

My 4th book (but first self-published)

I was a reluctant self-publisher...but now, I wouldn't do it any other way.

Back in 2009, I was thrilled when a certain small-press publisher accepted my first novel, "Stormwind of the North Country." I had started writing it when I was ten, and it had taken over twenty years to finish. Now, after getting rejections from over twenty-five agents and publishers, I thought that I had finally made it!

Two more books followed, and over the next few years I sold several hundred copies at local gift shops, craft sales, and book fairs. The books received good reviews, and I even built up a small fan base. I was so happy to know that people were reading my books, and that they actually liked them! However, I never made any profits, or sold a single one on Amazon.

Although the books had been published for free, they were very expensive for softcovers of their size. I knew that the high prices hindered me from selling more, but I was afraid to try out self-publishing. I had heard of CreateSpace but thought that it was one of those places that charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish a book.

As I looked into it further, I discovered that I was wrong. Although CreateSpace offers (optional) paid services like professional editing, cover design, and formatting, I learned that it's possible to publish for free! (Note: they are technically a "printer," not a "publisher.")

Before I even finished writing my fourth book, "Matthias: The Ghost of Salvation Point," I went on their website and read all that I could about getting a manuscript ready for publication. I had a lot to learn, but the website has articles and an online forum that teach the proper ways to design a cover, edit/proofread, format the final manuscript, and even has lessons on writing in all different genres.

Since I'm on an extremely limited budget, I could not take advantage of their services. I was on my own. On Fotolia, I found a perfect photo and paid fourteen dollars for the right to use it on the cover, which I made using CreateSpace's online "cover creator."

I was used to doing my own editing and proofreading (because my first publisher doesn't do that; it is the author's responsibility), so after three books, I'd had plenty of practice! I spent several weeks proofreading the final copy and correcting typos and plot holes. Then I had several more people proofread and give me feedback on the book until it was free of any remaining mistakes.

I learned that proofreading and editing are some of the most important parts of self-publishing!

However, I found that I just could not format the manuscript correctly with my current software. (The online manuscript has to be prepared just right, or CreateSpace's computer system will not accept it.) I found a very good company called Jera Publishing (which, by the way, was a great company to work with), who formatted the interior for $150.

I was very pleased when the book was all finished and I received my proof. This book is the same good quality as my other ones, but almost three times less expensive! I'm already finding much greater success at selling it - including online! I'm even starting to make a profit on it!

I'm grateful to my original publisher for publishing my first books for free and giving me a start, but due to their expensive prices and services, I plan to continue self-publishing my future books. I learned much more about the publishing and marketing process, and best of all, I'm enjoying better sales!

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