Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Book Launch: My Self-Publishing Journey

This morning, before leaving for work, I discovered that my book formatter had finished the final edits, and my completed file was nestled, like a gift, in my gmail inbox. 

I had already completed all the sections of the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) application I could before uploading the book file, so I was eager to get home this evening, make a few clicks, and see my e-book and book description on my own Amazon sale page.

The actual upload was a little anti-climactic. I've been researching how to self-publish for over a year and have made hundreds of decisions along the way, knowing I probably wasn't as informed as I'd like to be on my options and their possible repercussions. Here's how I ended up self-publishing this first book:

I read print and online books, blog posts, and forums. My situation has me temporarily tight-fisted, so several decisions amounted to "what's the cheapest way to make this happen?" I'm thankful there actually is a very affordable way to get a cover design and internal formatting.

Working with technology I have not yet mastered makes me feel like I've been immersed in a foreign country where no one speaks English. I knew I did not have the time or the patience to become fluent in book formatting, so I hired a formatter on I bought two "gigs" (one for each of 50 pages; my book has 100 pages. Cost:  $10.

By the way, to pay for services online, I set up a PayPal account, deposited money from a bank account I set up for business, since I am basically starting a business with the production and sale of my products - books. This way, the broad accounting requirements are taken care of (until I learn more about how to run such a business).

I gave my formatter $10 more for the hassle of making the images at the back of the e-book read-able, and will probably still send in a "tip" for a total of $25. I think "hajath" did an awesome job on the pages, including the font, the headings, and the clickable Table of Contents. 

It took a total of eight separate messages to finish all the pieces, but I never had to wait more than 24 hours for a return e-mail and revised file. Best of all, the book content file was accepted immediately when I clicked to upload it on Amazon.

I also worked with a cover designer. I bought one gig for $5. She directed me to select an image from I found one that showed a "teacher" interacting with middle schoolers. The staginess of the shot bothered me, but I was eager to see a cover, so I went through with the process. Here is that first cover design:

The design was balanced and attractive. I just couldn't get over the "canned" appearance of the stock photo. Social media shares taught me that e-book titles must be legible even at the thumbprint size. 

When I got my cover design back, I shrunk it down while viewing it in "Preview" and could read my title even when the image was miniscule. My name even showed up well enough.

Around this time, I changed the name from Building Your School-Wide Discipline System to Beyond Classroom Management: Building Your School-Wide Discipline System. (See What's In a Name Change?) So I asked the same designer, through the email messaging system on, to change the title.

My designer changed the name in a few minutes' time. After I had attained a "real" photo of one of my teachers delivering our common rules and consequences to her class, my designer switched out the cover images for another $5 gig. I tipped her and got the finished cover design for less than $20.

Outsourcing the tasks I could not easily do myself cost me less than $50. Uploading the cover and the book content on the Kindle Direct Publishing site was effortless. 

Looking back, all of these tasks could have been accomplished within a couple weeks after finishing the manuscript. I'm looking forward to repeating the process - quicker and easier, of course - with my next book. 

Now, on to marketing!

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