Will Self-Publishing Give Me Hairy Palms?

I’ve decided to self-publish the sequel to my crime novel about forensic scientist Sean McKinney. A friend from Mystery Writers of America asked if I would keep him updated as I go through the steps. Well, I figure if I post the info: A. more people can learn from my mistakes and 2. maybe it’ll help generate a little pre-publication interest in the book, which by-the-way is called “The Blue Silence” and is set, mostly, in New Orleans.

I finished writing the book last summer and sent it to a couple of beta readers and proofread it myself at least a dozen times. I’ve been teaching writing for nine years now, so I felt I could skip paying an editor, but I bet I’ll regret that decision. If any of you read the book and find mistakes, let me know and win a valuable prize (valuable as defined by me).

So, some software choices: I work on a Mac and have an old iPad Mini that I carry around for when I want to write during lunch. I wrote the manuscript in Word (converting from Apple Pages on the iPad). I have older versions of a couple of Adobe programs, Photoshop and inDesign, from my days as a graphic designer (after I left the crime lab). I used inDesign to layout the book and Photoshop to design the cover. I bought a photograph from Shutterstock.com and a cool font from myFonts.com. I had previously self-published my short story collection, “Kiddieland and other misfortunes,” using Ingram Spark (ingramspark.com) and was satisfied with the print quality and, of course, their distribution network (Ingram), so I figured I’d go with them again.

My first steps after laying out the book and designing the cover were to purchase ISBN numbers and get a Library of Congress Control Number. For the ISBN I used Bowker. You can find them at my identifiers.com. I also purchased the bar code for the back cover there. You will need to know a few things, like how much your book will retail for and have a short synopsis, bio, and metadata keywords ready. The Ingram Spark web site has calculators to help you decide on pricing. I’m publishing both print and eBook and decided on $12.00 for print and 4.99 for eBook.

Ah yes, the eBook… I paid a “professional” to crank out the code for the “Kiddieland” eBook and was disappointed. There were glitches generated by his software that only showed up on Kindle, lines breaking funny (ha ha) and other embarrassingly amateurish mistakes. This time I’m making my own amateurish mistakes and saving a couple hundred dollars. Apple Pages lets you break text into sections that are searchable in an eReader, but it doesn’t handle images well. I copied and pasted my text from inDesign into Pages, broke the chapters into sections, and exported an ePub file. I ran this through an online code verifier, Epub Validator, at http://validator.idpf.org. This told me exactly what sections and LINES contained invalid code. After that I imported the ePub file into a program called Calibre, which shows you each page and its code simultaneously and updates the page in real time as you fix the code. I had to do a little research into XHTML specs, but I like doing research. BTW—when you open your ePub file in Calibre be sure to turn off the automatic code fixer thingy or it’ll break your paragraphs in that funny (ha ha) way that my “professional” coder did.

Next: Outputting files according to Spark specs and uploading. Wow!