Lessons from self-publishing

I came to self-publishing as a bit of an experiment – I’d submitted Parasites to a number of publishers and hadn’t been accepted, so whilst I worked on book number three, I thought I’d experiment. After all, if it’s good enough for Rocky Flintstone (of My Dad Wrote a Porno fame) then how hard could it be?

Ok, so I wasn’t quite that cocky, but nonetheless, it’s in a platform’s interest to make it easy to self-publish.

But – and it’s a big but – it’s hard to do it well. I read a lot of blogs that say ‘get it right first time because it counts’ and I honestly think that unless you’re some kind of publishing prodigy, that’s going to be impossible. I would say to take it slowly, explore the platforms and bear the following in mind my number one lesson that kindle is easy, print is hard. Your kindle makes it really, really easy to email yourself a pdf and lo and behold, it appears on your kindle. You can check for typos, get your layouts sorted, and generally, Kindle is more forgiving. When I first published Parasites on Kindle, Amazon found two typos in just over a hundred thousand words because I’d been able to edit it a lot.

Print on the other hand, is tougher. You can order author and proof copies, but the option is slightly hidden away! Once you’ve set the size and printing options of your book, you can’t go back. Well, you can ‘unpublish’ but it won’t ever really vanish from the Amazon store. You can, thankfully, change the contents and the cover easily enough – which is just as well because cover art is hard. But again, there are people who will do this for you semi-professionally for a small sum (between £8 and £40) which is something I explored with Fiverr to reasonable success.

I’d also heartily recommend that you download the templates for print that Amazon gives you, which vary depending on your book size, and then go back and reformat your book. The first time I messed this up and ended up with a large book with tiny font. It looked ok, but when I got it right it looked much, much better!

And perhaps most importantly – be forgiving of yourself. You’ll mess up. You’ll learn. You’ll recover. And that’s ok.