In case you’ve missed it, I recently released my debut poetry and prose collection, which I self-published! A year ago, I would’ve never imagined taking that step, or ever thought I’d go through the motions I did to get on that writing journey, but 2020 was one hell of a year. Making it this far, I feel I’m able to relay some self-publishing information to whoever needs it. I spent many hours reading blog posts and watching videos on other people on similar writing journeys, and they were all very helpful.
First and foremost, you need material! This is ultimately the hardest part of making a book because the words are the main feature. Write, write and write. Write about the mundane, and the heartache. Write about fond memories, write about moldy apples. I didn’t realize I actually wanted to release a collection until I had amassed over 100 poetry and prose pieces.
Decide what you want to create
Like many people at the start of a new year, one of my resolutions for 2021 was to venture into something I had never done before. I fell in love with writing again at the end of 2020 and wanted to take it to the next level, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Scrolling online one night, I saw a social media post for a poetry chapbook competition. A light bulb sparked in my mind.
I feverishly struggled to put my unedited pieces together in a manuscript 4 days before the competition was closing. This was quite challenging dealing with heartache and taking care of my family. Ultimately I decided that I wouldn’t be able to get it done to the level of perfection needed and called it quits. I knew in my heart though I wasn’t quitting on putting together a collection, so rather than producing a chapbook, I set my sights on self-publishing a full book.
Edit and format a manuscript
At this point, all of the work you want to include in the book should be done. Honestly speaking, this wasn’t the case for me, not for another 2 months, anyway…sort of. I edited, formatted, made a proof copy of the book, then decided I was going to change the format completely, re-edit a bunch of pieces and add more, too.
With self-publishing, you are able to creatively control every aspect to the best of your ability (editing and design costs can add up). I was confident in my ability to edit, design images and format the book myself which saved me quite a bit of money, but gave me a lot of headaches. I flip-flopped on the chapters and flow of the book more than once, as well as how the pages were to be formatted. After producing the book to completion through one platform, I restarted everything again on a different platform for distribution. (I’ll have to go further into this on another post)
Re-vise everything until you’re fed up.
While doing self-publishing research, I came across someone saying you should re-read and revise your book until you’re completely sick of it. After reading that, I thought I reached that part already. No, no I didn’t. You need to get to the point where you hate your book and would be just fine not reading it again. (haha?)
Every time I thought I was ready to order a proof copy, I found simple spelling or formatting errors. There are even proof copies that arrived after I found errors in my manuscript.
So, learn from my very simple mistakes. Edit, edit, re-vise, re-vise. If you’re someone who works the most at night after very long days, then re-read your formatted manuscript during the day when you have free, undisrupted time to put all of your attention into your work.
Order a proof copy
This step is dependent on the distribution method or book printing platform you choose. I made many lists comparing various printing options/prices for my book. I have copies printed from three different companies so that I could make the most realistic decision for distributing purposes. As I mentioned before, I’ll have to make a separate post talking about each company.
The money I put into bringing this book to fruition went mainly into ordering proof copies. Two of the three companies that I was interested in printing with that provided proof copies were in the U.S. While the proof copies were cheap, shipping was double the price of one book. (I live in Canada)
In total, I went through 4 actual proof copies before I was ready to release my book officially. Ultimately, this was a very important stage for me because it motivated me to continue working to perfect the final copy.
You are ready to release your book! After working many long hours and nitpicking over many small details, your book-baby is ready to see the world. It’s a very surreal feeling once it’s actually finished, so let it soak in a bit first before you make your big release.
Upon making printing/distribution lists, I figured out how I was going to release my book. You’ll have to do the same, taking into account your audience, further costs for printing/shipping etc. I will definitely make another post for those specifics.
More posts are to come on self-publishing as this is only one of many topics. Be sure to subscribe to the email list for future updates.