Meet Gloria Zachgo, Guest Blogger for today. Gloria and I met through Kansas Authors Club, a state organization for writers. She has self-published two novels but in somewhat different ways. Thanks, Gloria, for sharing your self-publishing experience with us.
How and Why I Self-Published
A friend once sent me the quote, “Amateurs built the ark – Professionals built the Titanic.”
I truly was an amateur when I published my first book, The Rocking Horse. I’d written a manuscript as a challenge to myself, shared it with my writing group, and received enough encouragement that I knew I wanted to see my book in printed form.
I also knew the odds of a traditional publication were not good, but I was not deterred. I started querying agents – 80 of them. Some of them answered my queries. They were kind and encouraging, but they were all rejections.
The bottom line was, I didn’t find an agent to represent me, and if I wanted to see my book in print, I was going to have believe in myself enough to publish it myself.
I was lucky because my husband, Ron, believed in me too. Together we researched publishing options and finally decided to go with a package deal offered by Createspace. It included…
· Comprehensive copyediting of my manuscript
· A unique book cover
· Custom total design
· Promotional text creation
· LCCN Assignment (Library of Congress Control #)
· Press Release Creation
· Press Release Distribution
I learned by working with those professionals. I had a comprehensive editor for my manuscript, a design team for my book cover, and another team for my promotional text. They gave their advice, but the entire time ALL DECISIONS WERE MINE AND I HAD THE FINAL SAY ON EVERYTHING. In three short, but very busy months, I held my first printed book in my hands.
Reviews for The Rocking Horse were so encouraging that I wanted to write another novel. I had many requests for a sequel, but my heart dictated a different venue, and a different genre.
Upon completion of my second manuscript, I knew I wanted to self-publish again. I liked having the control over my own work that Createspace gave me. However, I couldn’t justify the cost of all the services I’d used for my first book.
As much as I would have liked to have a comprehensive copy editor, the cost for a 90,000 plus word manuscript was over my budget. I’d written Never Waste Tears in first person (but I had five first persons), and the dialect was written with incorrect grammar. Even my spell and grammar check quit correcting me. So I basically did ALL of my own editing, without purchasing a support team.
Because I already had an account with Createspace, all I had to do to get started was to type in my title. Then it was a matter of following the provided step by step instructions to create…
· A book cover
· The book size
· A choice of paper color
· A type of font
· The selection of margins
· The placement of chapters and headers for my name, the book title, and the page numbers.
After making the formatting selections, we downloaded the manuscript, so that we could page through online and see what it looked like in book form. Because I used interims in different parts of my book we found it a bit tricky to insert the blank pages correctly. We learned by trial and error.
I’ve been told a writer should not design their own book cover. I broke that rule by using my own painting for the cover. Ron then used Microsoft Publisher and tools from Createspace to design the front and back cover of the book. Here is the one place we had a bit of a problem, as we had trouble getting the spine to fit correctly. So for a modest fee, we purchased help to finish the cover design.
Once Createspace approved the formatting, we ordered our first PROOF book. I was then able to edit directly from my proof book, make any corrections on my manuscript, and download it again. I hate to admit that it took us a total of 12 downloads and 5 proof books before I was ready to push the publish button.
The quote my friend sent me came to mind again—“Amateurs built the ark – Professionals built the Titanic”. Yes, I was still an amateur, but I gained a great deal of experience through the whole process, and had fun learning.
The first time I self-published was because the traditional way didn’t work. The second time I self-published was because I liked having control of all the decisions. Every step of the way was totally my own. It worked for me.
My advice to others would be that every author should investigate the many options available to them.