So this is what it means to be your own publisher. Terror. Typos. Eye strain from way too much time looking at web sites. Yet another reason why it would be nice if someone else did all that work.
But this is the path I have belatedly chosen, self-publishing, and in the DIY culture of today’s media, it’s a real education. I actually kind of like the process. If you haven’t been through it, let me give you the rundown of what it’s taken so far to get Funnel Vision out into the world – and it’s not quite there yet.
1. Write the book. Rewrite the book. Edit the book. Share with critique partners. Rewrite again. (Insert years here spent trying to get an agent to like it enough to pick it up, as I did.) Get serious. Rewrite again. See the world changing fast. Decide to publish it yourself.
2. Buy ISBNs. This isn’t what everyone does, as a lot of publishing services provide them, but I felt that to be serious, I wanted the block of Bowker numbers for each edition.
3. Design book/hire someone to design book. Did I mention DIY? I’m a ridiculous do-it-yourselfer. (Sometimes that’s called a “control freak,” though I’m always happy to get professional assistance.) I wanted to see if I could come up with a cover that made me happy. I have some background in graphic design, thanks to a long career in journalism. With a couple of stock photos of good-looking people, carefully transformed, and my own tornado photography, I made my own cover with Photoshop. That includes a back cover with a tornado image I shot and an only mildly manipulated sign photo – that’s a real sign in Liberal, Kansas, and fits my story perfectly. I used Word to design the inside of the book.
5. Create e-book editions. I am wonky enough to make my own web pages, so I thought this wouldn’t be hard, and it wasn’t – very. That said, it was a glitchy process, as I exported a slightly stripped-down Word file to a web-page file (HTML), then used the friendly, free program Calibre to convert to ePub (for Barnes & Noble Nook) and mobi (for Kindle). Smashwords insisted on doing the conversion itself with its “Meatgrinder” program. I didn’t really want to use Smashwords, but Apple has made it so difficult to direct-publish to the iBookstore that it seemed the simplest way; plus, the book now can get on some of the less-popular e-readers. The problem with tinkering with all this code is that it’s easy to let glitches creep in, and I had an invented word in a couple of the versions that forced me to do a quick file substitution. Fortunately (depending on your perspective), no one had bought the book yet.
6. Plan launch. I am doing scattershot marketing. I’ve created an online press kit, sent out a press release to the local paper, created a book trailer (DIY again), and signed up for lists of media looking for interviewees. I have a lot more to do, but I have to keep in mind that during all of this empire-building, I really need to be writing my next book. I’ll be signing books at 1:15 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Space Coast Writers’ Guild conference at the International Palms Resort in Cocoa Beach with other writers of proven fabulousness. As they say, I’m just happy to be here.
7. Hurry up and wait. I’m planning a virtual book launch party for Tuesday – that’s Jan. 24. I hope my friends and anyone with an interest in Funnel Vision will log on that day and buy the Kindle e-book (or paperback, if it’s there) to give me a bump in the rankings, even if it’s just for one day. I’m hoping the paperback will have migrated to Amazon by then, but that’s out of my control. Eventually, my Smashwords file should make it to iBooks, and the Nook version is already out there. I have no control over the timing of any of that, either. This part of the process is pretty frustrating.
8. Enter twilight state of amazement (pull down pants). OK, that’s just me. I have a bit of trepidation now that I’m pushing this book out in the world. I’ve lived with it for a long time. It’s intensely personal to me, despite all this talk of the superficialities of design and code and marketing. And I am really feeling one of my favorite literary quotes, from Edna St. Vincent Millay: “A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down.” This seems even more true, having not been gilded by the official blessings of the great publishing machine. It’s out there. It’s naked. I hope it finds friends.
I won’t be strutting around saying I am a “published author.” But I can quietly say I’m a “self-published author.” These days, that’s not such a bad thing, right? On with Funnel Vision !