Publishing, Part II

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When last we left my self-publishing process in Part I, I had gotten keywords and categories sorted out and survived the Indent Crisis of 2015.

I needed a new font. One that was available for commercial use and affordable. That nixed all of the fonts I could access through Photoshop and word processing programs. I looked around and found a few I wanted to try on a font website declaring all their fonts were free for commercial use. I like free.

Unfortunately, I got too interested in one before I dove into the fine print of the license. After reading it, I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to use it for my e-book cover. I realized that buying a license and having the proper use spelled out was worth it to me. I went with Fontspring. A helpful person chatted me through the right options, and I was soon sorted. I got my new font in the cover, and it’s looking good.

I didn’t know that I had to buy ISBNs. I thought they were one of those things that were handed out for free by the government. Nope. You must purchase them from the only distributor in the U.S.: R.R. Bowker. The company had a lot of options for purchasing ISBNs. I went with the bundle of 10 ISBNs, as it was recommended by several different sources as the best deal.

I’m also justifying the expenditure as an incentive to get me to write and/or finish the other novels I’ve got rattling around in my head. Got to use up all 10.

I wasn’t sure if I needed to officially register my novel with the U.S. Government. I thought simply by the act of writing it down, it was already under my copyright. I had put the “C” symbol with my name and “All rights reserved” on a page labeled copyright in my manuscript. Did I need to fork out money for an additional copyrighting seal of approval?

I read Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick, and decided I did. I did it partially because I’m more comfortable in the better-safe-than-sorry zone, but I also did it because of some advice from Sedwick. She encouraged her reader-authors to take their publishing venture seriously and make decisions that demonstrated their seriousness. That made sense to me. Not only did I want other people to see my novel as a serious venture, I wanted to remind myself that it was a serious venture for me. It was worth the thirty minutes to fill out the form and the 35 bucks for that reminder alone.

I thought I had both of these taken care of before I even started the Amazon process. I had a bio and a short description that I spent months working on when I was submitting query letters to agents. But there is nothing like a new, potentially larger audience to make you reexamine how you talk about your novel and yourself.

The description of the novel could be up to 4,000 characters, but I didn’t want one that went on forever when you hit the “read more” link beneath the first few lines of description. I also wanted the part appearing above the “read more” link to be enough to get someone’s attention on its own. I ended up using the two line teaser I had on my website’s Books page, paired with the longer description I used for queries. Then the tweaking started. I would change a couple words, leave it alone for a day or so, then change another word. After a week, I had to cut myself off or the mini revisions could’ve gone on forever.

The bio I had needed more work. When I compared my query bio to other authors’ bios, mine felt like an odd mix of professionalism and jokiness. Other authors’ bios had a consistent tone throughout, either selecting funniness or a list of their published works and awards. It was an easy choice for me to go with funny. The finished bio turned out to be a better fit for my “About the Author” page in the manuscript as well.

P.S. I managed to get super lucky and grab as my author page url. Must be all that good, clean living.

I entered my seven keywords, and selected two categories. I typed in my registered ISBN and uploaded my cover image jpeg. I checked the manuscript’s formatting over multiple devices, rechecked, then uploaded it as well.

When I got to the section on price, it wasn’t a big decision for me. I went with $2.99. There’s a lot of conflicting advice in the pricing arena, and I wasn’t ready to dive down that black hole just yet.

I affirmed and confirmed a few more legal hurdles, got to the last page, and clicked the button to submit my book. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had done it. I had published my first novel.

I hadn’t been expecting to have so much emotion about that moment, but there I was, all misty as I looked at a screen telling me my submission was pending and might take 72 hours to appear on the website. I was proud and exhausted and happy and relieved it was done.

And it took less than an hour before the novel went live on the website. It was a good Friday.


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