Sunday, February 12, 2012

Confusion Will Be My Epitaph

I have to say that using Create Space (or is it more accurately known as "CreateSpace" or something clever?) has been the most difficult part of the whole self-publishing process so far.  Second most difficult has been self-publishing the e-book on Amazon.  This all makes sense because, wouldn't you know it, Create Space is an Amazon company.

Fair being fair, I have to say I've been very pleased with the ability to self-publish onto  There's something terribly exciting about going to a website I've used for years with satisfaction and being able to see my own e-book posted there.  Makes me feel all important and cool.  Potential buyers can easily read some of the book there and most folks have purchased from the site before.  As my son says, "Easy-peasy, rice and cheesy."  

But getting the e-book onto Amazon was a bit of a more difficult and daunting task than it was getting it up onto  The Amazon introductory video makes it seem easy and straightforward, but there's a whole lot less hand-holding along the way.  You end up clicking the "submit" button while biting your lip with a cringe.  Did I do it right?  Did I just accidentally push my book out there for $99 instead of $.99?  

So of course the Create Space process had to be even more convoluted.  Get ready to be a typesetter and a graphic artist, in addition to being an author.  The great beauty of Create Space is that people can purchase a paperback form of your book without you having to get discovered by a publishing company and without you having to fork out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of your own money for a big press run.  I think.  

You see, Create Space doesn't do a great job of informing you up front what exactly they do and how exactly they work.  Since I was out, trying to self-publish, I jumped in to learn the way I learn best ... by just plowing ahead to see what happens.  So far, I've uploaded my manuscript along with a cover graphic and soon I'll be received a paper and ink proof of my book in the mail.  Wow!  My book, in physical form, in my hands to hold and look at and turn the pages of!  I think.  The website just doesn't really clue you in to what's going on.  

Fortunately, I'm a graphic designer and layout person by trade, so I was able to handle these aspects.  But still it was a big headache.  You can't just upload your manuscript.  If you're printing a 5" x 8" book, your manuscript needs by in a 5" x 8" layout.  And, since word processing programs are a tool of the devil, there's no easy way you're going to just bring up some menu and change the entire layout size of your manuscript with a click or two of the mouse.  Oh, no, it's never that easy.  Hey, there goes all your margins!  Hey, all of your tabbed indents aren't working correctly now!  Hey, isn't it amazing that several blank pages are suddenly showing up, scattered through your work?  Fun stuff!  

Then, make a high-quality graphic, which includes the art for the spine of the book being in the exact right position and upload it as a PDF.  What's that?  You don't have all the software for this?  Well, feel free to shell out hundreds of dollars and the Create Space staff will do it for you.  So much for the "self" in "self publishing".  

Please don't get me wrong.  I'm in love with the online tools available to me.  I never would have been able to pull this off 10 years ago.  And though I've been writing for my own amusement ever since I was in the 6th grade, this is the first time I've ever tried to put something out there for the world to see.  Do I have the gumption to knock on the doors of a thousand publishers in the hopes of getting my work recognized?  Probably not, especially since some publishers state that they don't accept unsolicited manuscripts.  

We'll see how this all turns out.  I'm certainly not burning up the charts with my book sales.  Yet.

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