**WARNING: THIS POST IS A LITTLE LONG AND FULL OF WAFFLE. GIFS, TOO**
By now y’all should know I’m self-publishing Darkness & Light. Don’t worry, this isn’t yet another post about that. Okay, so it kinda is. But isn’t.
It’s more about how much time and effort this self-publishing malarkey takes and my newfound respect for all the self-published authors who have come before me.
To be honest …
when I very first made the decision not to renew my contract, my brain very much did this:
But then I told myself to quit being so stupid, it’ll be okay, I have self-publishing author buddies I can go running crying to if I, at any point, realise I have zero clue what the blooming heck I’m doing.
Turns out …
My initial reaction was actually pretty spot on.
Because self-publishing is HARD WORK, people!
Of course, it probably didn’t help that:
1) I had very little time in which to get Darkness & Light back out there, because of it being removed, and because of it being the first book of a series that had all of its other titles still available for sale.
2) I didn’t currently have the money to spend on hiring a load of other people to do anything/everything for me.
I used to wonder why self-publishing authors paid other folk so much to do stuff they could probably do themselves ….
Man, I’m such a muppet. Obviously, it’s because this is some frustrating s***!
Back on track: I gave myself a little over a month to get my D&L act together. Once I got my shiz packed tight and quit racing around the house like a headless chicken, I sat my butt down and told myself to proofread the manuscript.
Luckily for me, it had already gone through a major overhaul of edits when I signed with J. Taylor, but an author can’t help but check … just … one … more … time … that their story’s okay (especially as I hadn’t read it since 2011)—and the editor in me wouldn’t have stood for me not proofreading it anyway. <<Job #1
Around this …
I realised I had to figure out my cover.
This angle of self-publishing took a while to sink in. Because I’ve never had to worry about my covers before. Never had to think up ideas. Never had to do much of anything about it. My publisher sent me ideas and my lips either curled wonky for a sneer or nicely for a smile. So, when this did sink in, I was back to looking like this:
However, after I’d quit panicking, I sat back and studied my options, and discussed my options with a couple of folk—and my options looked a little like this:
- Design my own cover (you have no idea how ridiculous this option is—I didn’t even have Photoshop on my laptop at this point, just a crappy basic ‘Paint’ program)
- Pay a cover artist to make me a completely new cover, with a new look for the series, which could be applied to each of the Holloway Pack titles as their contracts ended and rights reverted back to me. I very seriously considered this one, but then started stressing about ONLY Darkness & Light looking so different to all the others, for long enough to cause confusion when it totally no longer matched the other books. So, I stepped away from this option, to be reviewed at a later date.
- Get the original ebook cover recreated. This offer had been laid on the table, but I didn’t want to rush into accepting because I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision for the series as a whole.
When I did finally make up my mind to go with the original ebook cover, though, it was like a great weight had been lifted. Except, I then decided I could set the self-published titles apart for now by branding with a chosen font for my author name (one I could carry across to other titles, if I decided to continue self-publishing beyond the Holloway Pack), and then figured I may as well try a new font for the title, too.<<Job #2
Now, the above mightn’t sound like a hard thing to have to look into, BUT …
I then had to:
1. Download Photoshop.
2. Crash-course myself in using
3. Look at Lord knows how many fonts online and be certain I would have permission to use them, if chosen.
4. Try all the different fonts I liked on the cover, one after the other, after the other, after the …
5. Get help. Ha! Because whilst I managed to narrow the font choices down quite a bit, I was undecided on the final few selections. In stepped my Street Team. *bows down to HP Hollerers* These dudes helped stop me going crazy from looking at fonts, and through LOTS of processes of elimination, the cover fonts were decided. \o/
So, what then?
Well, by this point, I was enough of a way through my proofreading to be able to estimate how much longer this gig was going to take. Plus, I’d just received the wondrous email that many authors received from Amazon, telling me that putting books up for pre-order was now an option for ALL authors/publishers. Plus, I figured having a definite and announced date for re-release would help keep me on track and kick my butt into gear if needed. So, I put D&L up for pre-order. And then I announced the re-release date of September 10th.
September 10th was less than a handful of weeks away.
Okay, so at this point, ebook cover was figured out. Proofreading was complete.
Yeah, next came that little activity of joyfulness called formatting.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to format a book for publishing before, but it’s pretty complicated the first time. Especially if your technical skills and level of understanding are mediocre—like mine. Luckily, the publishing platforms tend to have guidelines you can follow, and Smashwords even has an entire downloadable pamphlet on creating something they’ll accept. With, like, step by step instructions. Ones that even I can understand.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t c**k up, and that it wasn’t stressful, and even once you’ve successfully formatted for one platform, another wants it slightly different, and another slightly different again ….
So, I got stressed again.
Until I uploaded my files to the publishing platforms and they got approved.
After which I pulled up my big girl panties, and moved on to the next stage.
Formatting the manuscript for print …
Want me to tell you how many times I attempted this stage of self-publishing and stepped away, willing to throw in the towel and forget about the print book?
Um … a lot?
I tried using the pre-formatted template.
I co**ed that up.
I tried again.
I cocked that up.
I tried again.
I cocked that up.
See the pattern here?
On about the fifth fail, I kinda looked like this again:
and thought f**k it!
I even contacted a recommended manuscript formatter, ready to admit defeat, so I could find out how much he’d cost and what his turnaround is—I didn’t lie to him, told him I was trying to do it myself and I’d only need his services if I didn’t pull it off, and he wished me luck …
And then, after a day away from the frustrations, I opened up a document that only had the page size ready formatted, and I started from scratch. Created all my own styles. Worked through one chapter at a time. <<Job #3
And after two days of very slow work and painstaking concentration, and around the twentieth evening in a row of ignoring Mr B, and after pulling my hair out all over again trying to format number pages how they should be (I mentioned my lack of technical-ness, right?) … I had a print-formatted manuscript. \o/
So I converted it to pdf and uploaded it to CS (Createspace).
I still had the print cover to sort out.<<Job #4
Thankfully (a BIG thankfully), when I was sent the files for the recreated cover, the designer also sent me a file for the full print cover.
I fell more in love with her that day than I already was.
So all I had to do was pop all my text on, right?
The cover had to be the exact right size, for the exact number of pages, for the exact colour of pages ….
Again, luckily, there are downloadable templates available—stick in your page count and interior details, and in return you get a template exactly right for your book.
By this time, I’d figured out Photoshop enough to work with layers, and so I spent an entire evening (whilst ignoring poor Mr B again) adding all my text, getting it where and how I wanted it, on the back cover, too, and on the spine …
And then Photoshop shut down on me, for absolutely no freaking reason, right before I had a chance to hit save.
Yeah, I went back to looking like this:
But as the evening wore on, I thought Screw You, Photoshop. You’re the final detail on the Darkness & Light cake and I will NOT let you beat me.
So I woke up early the next day, ignored my Internet tab in exchange for my PS one, and worked on it all over again, painstakingly saving at each stage (‘cause you gotta learn from experience, yes?) … and a little over an hour later, I had a full print cover I was happy with.
But it still wasn’t over …
Nope, I still had to upload that and get it approved.
So, after saving that to pdf, I headed in, popped it into my ‘project’, and got a message that it was waiting to be vetted and they would email with the results, which could take up to 24 hours.
TWENTY FOUR F**KING HOURS!
Well, they didn’t make me wait that long. They only made me wait around 8 hours before they sent me this:
So obviously I razzed over to the site. Launched their proofing tool. Played with the window where I could see my cover in all its standing up glory and make it spin and everything, which made me excited until I started doing this …
And yeah, The Boy called me sad.
Mr B just kinda looked at me.
And I did more of this:
So, yeah, the moral of this story is …
Self-publishing is really hard. My respect I had (because I did respect them for the balls it takes to go it alone) for all the authors I follow who self-publish, and my writer buddies who self-publish, has definitely gone up a notch.
On the other end of the scale, self-publishing is seriously fricking rewarding.
Look out for my next post, when I shall flash abovementioned full print cover for Darkness & Light.