Believe the hype this time.
Today, anyone can publish a book. A real book that people can buy online at the click of a mouse from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble or…dozens of other places.
I just did it.
It’s called The Keka Collection, the paperback version is $12.99, and the eBook version will be available soon, too. For now, you can get the paperback via the URL below—even if you don’t want to buy it, stop by and leave me “shout out,” if you’ve a mind to:
End of commercial. I'm on a dual mission today.
And the second part of that mission is to see if I can't convince some of my friends here on OS do what I just did.
Now, I have to admit that once I saw that picture of me that I’ve used as my “avatar” on OS for so long, smiling at me from the cover of my book on Amazon.com, I felt both thrilled…and terrified.
And it wasn’t entirely my idea, this collection of blog posts. My sweet but persistent friends, family and ex-in laws were the ones who said, “You should turn those stories into a book,” every time I alerted them to a new post.
And pretty soon...I began to think they were right.
I think we all have that thought at least once, those of us for whom writing is like breathing--and just as important as breathing to our souls and spirits. Especially if we’re lucky enough to discover, via sites like OS, that others kinda like the little stories we once only told ourselves in our diaries and journals and those big spiral notebooks we used to hide away in some secret place to make sure they remained for our eyes only.
The terrifying part has to do with that.
I felt it in my stomach and up my spine when I checked a few days ago to see if the book had finally officially gone up.
And at that moment I realized that my “baby” was out there, all by itself, to be judged and analyzed…
It’s not my first book. Back in the day I was asked to write three others, by major publishing companies. But this one is all “me.” Published by “me,” and packed with personal experiences I’ve shared with some of you.
And now those person experiences are on sale to…the whole bloody world.
Scary, yes. But that…is what writers do. Eventually. If they're serious about being writers.
So that's the other reason I’m writing this today.
There are dozens of wonderful writers here. Writers far more skillful and intriguing and fascinating than I will ever be, who have poured out their souls on this site, and who could, within a week or so, be offering their words to the whole world, too.
So let me tell you how just easy it is to do that.
Of the two ways of being published I chose to explore, the easiest and fastest and cheapest by far—it’s free, actually--is Createspace, the Amazon.com “subsidiary” (https://www.createspace.com/ ).
Book Baby--son/daughter of CD Baby--will handle the eBook and handle its release for Kindle, Nook and everything else, all over the world on more sites than I knew existed. But they’re expensive and have been a wee bit less efficient so far—I’ll use them again, though, because now I know how to keep them on task.
You can do just fine with Createspace. And you don’t have to know anything about publishing. Or…book design. Or anything terribly technical.
They offer templates and articles and forums full of very precise and practical information, and bossy little gizmos that check everything, and I mean everything, every step of the way. It’s “by the numbers,” this process, and the gizmos won’t let you move from one step to another until they think you’re ready.
So…how do you start?
The first step is to turn your blog posts into a Word document you can fiddle around with first. Download a template in the book size of your choice and that’ll be simple.
I actually copied and pasted my blog posts right off the Web page—there must be an easier way, but OS doesn’t export to .pdf like some of the other blog sites, so I did it manually. And as long as I heeded the little “auto format” box which prompts you to paste it in the formatting of the “destination” file, all went well.
Sometimes the templates are little cranky, but it’s usually just a matter of bossing the headers and footers around. If you’re not sure what the problem is, just describe it in the proper forum, and someone will shoot you a note that puts everything right in seconds. Incredible “community,” they’ve got there. Very supportive and quick to come to the aid of a novice.
Photos can be a pain, but I managed to get mine through the gizmos after a few fits and starts. At Createspace they want them to be at least 300 dpi, but I later learned from BookBaby that they could be as low as 175 dpi and still look pretty good.
Color costs extra and may not be worth the trouble unless you’re doing a book of your art or photos, of course. If you need guidance, again, just go to the forums.
Because the Microsoft and Windows photo programs I already had really didn’t work very well, I downloaded a free program someone suggested—it’s Irfanview, (http://www.irfanview.com/ ) and it will resize your pics easily and beautifully. But if you do all that and you still keep getting little yellow "!" signs...this is the one time you can ignore them.
You’ll see what I mean when your first proof arrives—the photos will be fine. I’m a little less than totally pleased with one or two, but mostly…I’m happy with what I see.
And BTW--if I were doing this again, I would save the photos for last and do nothing but resize and insert them toward the very end when everything else was as perfect as possible. They cause strange things to happen to the pages, and if you’re still doing revisions, it’s nerve wracking to see things jumping from one page to another. So you stop revising to fix the photos...and breaks the "flow," and it's hard to get back to the words.
But once words and pictures are placed just so, it’s time to turn that Word document into a print-ready .pdf file. Which…is actually as easy as saving it as a .pdf file. It will seem like rocket science if you read the frantic forum posts from novices like you who just cannot get their .pdf files to work. But it’s just not.
If you really decide to do this, I can PM you the one trick you might need to know to “embed” fonts into that .pdf file, in case you decide to do an eBook, too. If the fonts are embedded, they’ll be true to form no matter which eReader someone is using. But if you only want to sell “print on demand” paperbacks…no need. Though the gizmos will pester you to do it, anyway.
Another word about those gizmos. Once you upload that .pdf, they check the formatting and tell you exactly what you need to fix. You can ignore them, but they’re programmed to help you build a good book, so don’t. They even have cover templates and gizmos to check them, too. It took me one hour to create my cover. Or…maybe less than an hour. That’s how easy.
And…remember, this is all free.
I mean, you can use one of their paid services to do it for you, but…why?
Once the gizmos have deemed both cover and interior to be book worthy, and that can happen within hours after you upload, you will receive an email urging you to order a proof to of your book to read through for any last minute edits or revisions you want to make.
A paperback copy costs about $6.00 (with shipping), but you can read through the eBook version for free. Remember, though, that almost everyone who has ever published a book would advise you to get a hard copy you can hold in your hand, even if it’s just to hug it and marvel that it’s really there, in your hot little hands, at last.
There are a few more “chores” along the way. During the process you’ll be directed to write a brief bio—a short one and a longer one. It’s your “review” that goes up when the book goes "live" on Amazon.com. I’m still thinking of tweaking mine, but…maybe not. I’m trying not to second guess and fiddle with things once they’re out there—there’s always going to be something you didn’t catch or wish you’d done differently.
It’s out there now. And as scary as that feels…I’m also delighted.
Now, it’s your turn.
Send me a message when you’ve done it. And I’ll tell you all about virtual book tours—yes, they do exist, and I’m going to do one.
See you out there, my sweet soul sistahs and brothas.
I'll be waiting for you on up ahead a piece...
Holla if you need me...