Author Topic: New Author Publishing and Preparation  (Read 355 times)  

Offline Amras

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New Author Publishing and Preparation
« on: April 21, 2017, 07:22:22 AM »
So I am brand new to writing, like completely. Im actually an Engineer with a creative mind and a love for Fantasy and wanted to turn my idea that has been building for many years into a book. Of course having a mind for Mathematics and Science while lacking in proper writing, trying to turn thoughts into words turned out to be a pretty big challenge.
However, I am now on the final chapter of writing the book and I decided to check out some ways to publish it. I thought that would be the easy part, but I was sure wrong.

Through my research into publishing a book, I found a blog that directed me to this website. I have learned a lot while reading through this forum, but I still have so many questions.

With my research I found its best to avoid publishing companies and might be better to self-publish. They said most publishing companies take control of your book and demand certain changes be done to the book and you must comply. So you lose all rights and control of your book. Which most times end up completely changing the structure of the book.

So I began checking out self-publishing, to which I found there is a lot involved. Such as:
-If self-publishing do you need a lot of expensive software? I am not sure what is involved but have been reading you need a bunch of different softwares to properly format your book.  You cant just prepare it all in word doc?
I thought it was just getting the layout correct. Like making the page sizes proper book page size.



I have a few more questions, but so I don't overwhelm myself, I will take them one question at a time.

Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 07:32:58 AM »
I saw a previous post about uploading books to places such as Barnes & Noble at www.nookpress.com. I was reading their website and it seems straight forward, but I just want to make sure. Do you just make an account and pick the paper back, and then pay to have them print it, and they will sell it in Barnes and Noble after that for you? Or do you have to do something else to get it sold in their stores?   

Online Acheknia

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 07:35:36 AM »
With createspace, I just use Word (Docx) If you have illustrations you may need to make those into a PDF file but so far I've only used text, so Word is perfect.  This page could be helpful.
https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1482
I can't remember if it's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Createspace (CS) where they say to make a PDF but I don't, it goes through just fine in Word. :)
One thing I have learnt through the KDP forum is that it's best to do print books in CS but ebooks in KDP.
They are both Amazon and both free to use. They even have a cover creator if you don't have your own cover.

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 07:37:45 AM »
I saw a previous post about uploading books to places such as Barnes & Noble at www.nookpress.com. I was reading their website and it seems straight forward, but I just want to make sure. Do you just make an account and pick the paper back, and then pay to have them print it, and they will sell it in Barnes and Noble after that for you? Or do you have to do something else to get it sold in their stores?
If you go with CS you can choose expanded distribution which includes Barnes & Noble.

Offline Rachel E. Rice

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 07:46:00 AM »
Amras, there are so many threads here to answer all your questions. If you can't get your questions answered because most individuals are writing and may not have the time, then do a search here and you may find everything you're looking for. There is so much information available here.     


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Offline J. Tanner

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 08:00:32 AM »
With my research I found its best to avoid publishing companies and might be better to self-publish. They said most publishing companies take control of your book and demand certain changes be done to the book and you must comply. So you lose all rights and control of your book. Which most times end up completely changing the structure of the book.

There are horror stories regardless, but this is not typically true of reputable trade publishers. They work with authors to make the book the best book possible. Sometimes that means a lot of changes, sometimes not, but their goal is to help you. Not change things just for the sake of change. The main thing you need to understand about trade publishing is that they take on far less than 1% of the authors who submit material to them, and they tend to take 9-24 months to get a book published once they do take it on. And yes, you lose some control, but publishers are taking all the financial risk while you take none--you get paid if your book tanks!--so they deserve to have some say in it.

Quote
So I began checking out self-publishing, to which I found there is a lot involved. Such as:
-If self-publishing do you need a lot of expensive software? I am not sure what is involved but have been reading you need a bunch of different softwares to properly format your book.  You cant just prepare it all in word doc?
I thought it was just getting the layout correct. Like making the page sizes proper book page size.

A properly formatted Word doc is fine for ebook. Proper formatting can be a bit tricky the first time out. In essence you must format everything via Styles and if you fail anywhere in the book to do so, it's going to look jacked up to a reader. Oh, and you can't see your mistakes in your source DOC, so, uh... yeah, tricky.

For a paper book, you'll export to PDF from some program. Word isn't recommended for pro quality output but it can suffice. It's not great at font/character tracking compared to alternatives like InDesign. But you can get by. I'd say it' worth the investment to get a pro to format a paper book for you. Unless you're down with long, detail-oriented learning curves or can't afford even a minimal investment in your business (or you consider it a hobby, not a business).

The one question you seem to have overlooked, and tends to be the most important one, is whether the book is even ready to be published. The reality is many first novels are not, particularly from authors who haven't been writing for years and years before attempting that first novel. The books tend to have fatal flaws, on need lots of line editing. Do you want to invest a lot in publishing a book that's not ready? At this stage I would recommend looking for unbiased outside feedback. The cheap route is joining critique groups. The expensive route is hiring a developmental editor. The middle ground is finding a few BETA readers you don't know but this can be a challenge before you have an audience.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 08:06:39 AM by J. Tanner »
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Offline BWFoster78

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 08:08:02 AM »
Quote
So I am brand new to writing, like completely. Im actually an Engineer with a creative mind and a love for Fantasy and wanted to turn my idea that has been building for many years into a book. Of course having a mind for Mathematics and Science while lacking in proper writing, trying to turn thoughts into words turned out to be a pretty big challenge.

Greetings Amras,

I, too, am an engineer (mechanical) with a passion for fantasy. I'm nearing completion of my third novel.

Quote
However, I am now on the final chapter of writing the book and I decided to check out some ways to publish it. I thought that would be the easy part, but I was sure wrong.

One of the hardest lessons for me in writing the book was how to make readers like the book as much as I did. Because I was already emotionally invested in the story and characters, I found out that I viewed my writing a lot differently than someone just picking up my book. Using only words to translate story and emotion in an engaging manner was not nearly as easy as I would have thought coming from a world where I'd had to solve differential equations. It wasn't like technical writing at all.

I spent a couple of years writing it and running it past a lot of critique partners. By the time I sent it to a developmental editor, I was sure she'd say, "This book is The Awesome. Make a couple of minor revisions, and everyone in the world will love it!"

Uh ... that's not exactly what happened. She tore it to pieces, and I started over.

The final draft that I published was much better, but ... well, let's say I learned a lot more from reader comments. My second novel was a lot better.

All that to say, I have no idea where you are in your development as a writer. I went through a learning curve that was considerably longer than I expected. Just be prepared to maybe find out that writing fiction well isn't quite as easy as it looks.

Quote
With my research I found its best to avoid publishing companies and might be better to self-publish. They said most publishing companies take control of your book and demand certain changes be done to the book and you must comply. So you lose all rights and control of your book. Which most times end up completely changing the structure of the book.

I'm not sure what field you work in, but I started out doing HVAC design for commercial buildings. When an architect came to me and told me not to put a duct in a space because it "would ruin the drama of the space," (that actually happened) I told him, as a design professional, that we had to have a way to get airflow in the area. It was a change that had to be made, even though the architect didn't want it.

The editors working for publishing companies probably know a lot more about writing fiction than you do. You not being willing to take their advice is the same as one of your clients not listening to your advice in your area of expertise.

There are many reasons to choose self publishing over traditional publishing. There are also many reasons to choose traditional publishing over self publishing. I'm just not sure that worrying about having to accept the advice of qualified professionals is a good reason.

Quote
-If self-publishing do you need a lot of expensive software? I am not sure what is involved but have been reading you need a bunch of different softwares to properly format your book.  You cant just prepare it all in word doc?

I've uploaded all my books straight to Amazon from a docx file with absolutely no issues. No expensive software required. The trick is to use Styles for all your formatting. I'm sure you can Google "formatting an ebook in Word for Amazon" or something and find instructions easily enough.

Quote
I thought it was just getting the layout correct. Like making the page sizes proper book page size.

Ebooks don't have book page sizes. They're scaled for the device they're read on. Again, search for a formatting guide. There are a lot of them out there, and the instructions aren't difficult.

Note that there are expenses involved in self publishing. I put about $1500 into my first novel, mainly for editing. The other major expense is covers. I cannot stress enough the importance of editing and a good cover.

Hope that helps.

Brian

 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 08:10:17 AM by BWFoster78 »

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Offline AgataKDbook

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 08:55:58 AM »
HI. New member reader and writer.  ;)


I am Agata. I've already found a ton of cook recipes resources for a newbie author like me.
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Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 09:51:19 AM »
With createspace, I just use Word (Docx) If you have illustrations you may need to make those into a PDF file but so far I've only used text, so Word is perfect.  This page could be helpful.
https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1482
I can't remember if it's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Createspace (CS) where they say to make a PDF but I don't, it goes through just fine in Word. :)
One thing I have learnt through the KDP forum is that it's best to do print books in CS but ebooks in KDP.
They are both Amazon and both free to use. They even have a cover creator if you don't have your own cover.

Thank you, this is the way I was originally doing it. All fixed out with Word Doc. But then in reading some websites said that to have it properly organized, there was really expensive software used, but I did not see why Word Doc could not just be used. But this helps me out, I know I can continue this way.
I have been trying to best way to do both Print and eBooks, so thank you again for that. :)

Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 09:53:15 AM »
Amras, there are so many threads here to answer all your questions. If you can't get your questions answered because most individuals are writing and may not have the time, then do a search here and you may find everything you're looking for. There is so much information available here.   
Sorry. I actually did read them. I search for all post about publishing and read through, which is where I got most of my information. Like which websites to use, and about  Nookpress and such. However, on each post, I had extended questions about what was being talked about. I know most forums hate when you zombie a thread, so I thought it safe to make a new one instead, to gather extended information on the posts.

Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2017, 10:02:05 AM »
There are horror stories regardless, but this is not typically true of reputable trade publishers. They work with authors to make the book the best book possible. Sometimes that means a lot of changes, sometimes not, but their goal is to help you. Not change things just for the sake of change. The main thing you need to understand about trade publishing is that they take on far less than 1% of the authors who submit material to them, and they tend to take 9-24 months to get a book published once they do take it on. And yes, you lose some control, but publishers are taking all the financial risk while you take none--you get paid if your book tanks!--so they deserve to have some say in it.

A properly formatted Word doc is fine for ebook. Proper formatting can be a bit tricky the first time out. In essence you must format everything via Styles and if you fail anywhere in the book to do so, it's going to look jacked up to a reader. Oh, and you can't see your mistakes in your source DOC, so, uh... yeah, tricky.

For a paper book, you'll export to PDF from some program. Word isn't recommended for pro quality output but it can suffice. It's not great at font/character tracking compared to alternatives like InDesign. But you can get by. I'd say it' worth the investment to get a pro to format a paper book for you. Unless you're down with long, detail-oriented learning curves or can't afford even a minimal investment in your business (or you consider it a hobby, not a business).

The one question you seem to have overlooked, and tends to be the most important one, is whether the book is even ready to be published. The reality is many first novels are not, particularly from authors who haven't been writing for years and years before attempting that first novel. The books tend to have fatal flaws, on need lots of line editing. Do you want to invest a lot in publishing a book that's not ready? At this stage I would recommend looking for unbiased outside feedback. The cheap route is joining critique groups. The expensive route is hiring a developmental editor. The middle ground is finding a few BETA readers you don't know but this can be a challenge before you have an audience.

That is true, coming to this forum and reading around, I have heard it both ways. They do seem good for newer writers, if you find a good company. I have read that there are a lot of scammers though. I know never to pay a publisher, as they are usually one of the scammers.

I am actually not preparing to publish yet, or soon. I still have to finish the last chapter, and then I need to go through myself and make sure I have no mistakes, and then have it edited.
I just need to be prepared when I take on tasks. I do not like trying to figure things out last moment. So I like doing my research and learning everything I can before I even think about trying it. So I'm just in the stage where I am gathering information. I still have a lot of work yet.

I do need people to read the book for sure. So far I have had a couple kids in a book club at my college read my book, and they enjoyed it. But I definitely would love to find more professionals to give a full unbiased opinion.
Thank you you all your help.

Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2017, 10:12:41 AM »
Greetings Amras,

I, too, am an engineer (mechanical) with a passion for fantasy. I'm nearing completion of my third novel.

One of the hardest lessons for me in writing the book was how to make readers like the book as much as I did. Because I was already emotionally invested in the story and characters, I found out that I viewed my writing a lot differently than someone just picking up my book. Using only words to translate story and emotion in an engaging manner was not nearly as easy as I would have thought coming from a world where I'd had to solve differential equations. It wasn't like technical writing at all.

I spent a couple of years writing it and running it past a lot of critique partners. By the time I sent it to a developmental editor, I was sure she'd say, "This book is The Awesome. Make a couple of minor revisions, and everyone in the world will love it!"

Uh ... that's not exactly what happened. She tore it to pieces, and I started over.

The final draft that I published was much better, but ... well, let's say I learned a lot more from reader comments. My second novel was a lot better.

All that to say, I have no idea where you are in your development as a writer. I went through a learning curve that was considerably longer than I expected. Just be prepared to maybe find out that writing fiction well isn't quite as easy as it looks.

I'm not sure what field you work in, but I started out doing HVAC design for commercial buildings. When an architect came to me and told me not to put a duct in a space because it "would ruin the drama of the space," (that actually happened) I told him, as a design professional, that we had to have a way to get airflow in the area. It was a change that had to be made, even though the architect didn't want it.

The editors working for publishing companies probably know a lot more about writing fiction than you do. You not being willing to take their advice is the same as one of your clients not listening to your advice in your area of expertise.

There are many reasons to choose self publishing over traditional publishing. There are also many reasons to choose traditional publishing over self publishing. I'm just not sure that worrying about having to accept the advice of qualified professionals is a good reason.

I've uploaded all my books straight to Amazon from a docx file with absolutely no issues. No expensive software required. The trick is to use Styles for all your formatting. I'm sure you can Google "formatting an ebook in Word for Amazon" or something and find instructions easily enough.

Ebooks don't have book page sizes. They're scaled for the device they're read on. Again, search for a formatting guide. There are a lot of them out there, and the instructions aren't difficult.

Note that there are expenses involved in self publishing. I put about $1500 into my first novel, mainly for editing. The other major expense is covers. I cannot stress enough the importance of editing and a good cover.

Hope that helps.

Brian

It is amazing to find another Engineer here, and to know you have had published books. One of the biggest things stopping me from writing this book for so many years was the fact that I am an Engineer, and I feared members of the literature society would see this as an insult. I always thought that you needed many years in college to be able to be allowed to publish a book. And feared that my lack of proper use of creative words would hold me back. It was actually my sister who told me that as long as you have a good story, the book will sell. You can always hire editors to make the grammar good, but you can't hire editors to make the story good.

But I had the same experience, being more technical I struggled with the same problems.
I actually was very secretive about my work. I had the biggest fear that I loved the story, but everyone else would hate it and criticize it. it wasn't until just a year ago I let a few people read my book. And they really enjoyed it, which gave me the courage to finish it and try and get it published. If it wasn't for those few people who encouraged me, I would still be hiding my writings under a rock and be sure that they were terrible.

I plan to do the same for the editor. I need a very patient and skilled editor to rip apart all the mistakes I have.
Thank you.

Offline Amras

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2017, 10:13:42 AM »
HI. New member reader and writer.  ;)

Hello there. Fond reading and attempting to become a writer, here. :)

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2017, 10:23:20 AM »
Thank you, this is the way I was originally doing it. All fixed out with Word Doc. But then in reading some websites said that to have it properly organized, there was really expensive software used, but I did not see why Word Doc could not just be used. But this helps me out, I know I can continue this way.
I have been trying to best way to do both Print and eBooks, so thank you again for that. :)

You really should not need anything more than Word(which you have), a text editor(free), and Calibre(free) or Amazon's own conversion tool and previewer(free). If the sites you read say you need some expensive software and they just happen to sell that expensive software, I would be skeptical.

A lot of people seem to like Vellum, which costs money, because it seems to make it easy to do stuff like add dropcaps, chapter flourishes, HTML links, etc. to an ebook. You might want to check that out, but you do not need a program like that to do any of those things. Like some others mentioned just search Google and Youtube. There are a bunch of guides showing you how to do this with what you already have and free software options.

You could also hire someone relatively inexpensive to format and convert your Word manuscript if you do not really want to take the time yourself to do it. There are probably people here or on Fiverr or somewhere that offer that service.

Offline BWFoster78

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2017, 10:35:11 AM »
Quote
You can always hire editors to make the grammar good, but you can't hire editors to make the story good.

Think of building a good story like building a good house. If your foundation and structure aren't good, your house isn't going to be very good, either. A developmental editor absolutely can help you craft a better story by pointing out the places where you need more rebar in your concrete, a bigger beam, or an expansion joint.

A lot of first time authors have the mindset that their story is The Awesome just because it's the story that's running around in their heads. I cannot express enough how much observation bias a new author has toward their own story. Believe me, there are probably hundreds of story and character flaws in your manuscript.

Another mistake I made is doing a multiple POV epic fantasy as my debut novel. The structure for that is so much harder to pull off correctly than for a single POV story and character arc.

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2017, 10:50:29 AM »
Thank you, this is the way I was originally doing it. All fixed out with Word Doc. But then in reading some websites said that to have it properly organized, there was really expensive software used, but I did not see why Word Doc could not just be used. But this helps me out, I know I can continue this way.
I have been trying to best way to do both Print and eBooks, so thank you again for that. :)

You're very welcome, I'm still quite new to this myself so I was really pleased to find that Word did everything I wanted it to.
There are many posts in KDP forums where other more experienced authors state that they also use Word & not PDF.  :)

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Re: New Author Publishing and Preparation
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2017, 10:53:51 AM »
In your concern for the technical aspects of formatting a book, please do not overlook or skimp on the stylistic and storytelling aspects that are so crucial to a successful book. A critique group, paid beta readers, free beta readers found through trusted sources, and a developmental editor all can serve portions of the same function and obviously vary in price or time you must invest. A copy editor and a proofreader will be essential for the mechanical aspects. Get good recommendations and get samples, and/or find competent people who might trade services or even do a proofreading pass free.

Your biggest expense would be a top-notch developmental editor. Relatively few people who self-publish can afford one, and you must be sure such a professional is a pro in your chosen genre or your investment may be wasted. Instead, many writers gather a patchwork of trusted sources to give them feedback. This setup usually takes some time to arrange and/or participate in. It also can be a bit hard on the ego to get any editorial feedback, but I urge you to listen to it. If more than one person cites a specific issue, take some time to seriously consider whether they are right or you are.

Don't be in a hurry, and especially, do not be in a hurry to spend significant money. Information is freely available here and in many author loops, Facebook groups, and more.   

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