Guest author: Nicky Clifford on Self-Publishing – A Journey in Itself

Welcome to Nicky Clifford today, who I met online through a Facebook book club and then met in person when we discovered we were in the same town. Nicky self-published her debut novel in October 2016 so I asked her to share her experience for all of the writers who are wondering if it’s what they would like to do. So over to Nicky…

From an early age, I penned poems, short stories, letters and articles. Due to a lack of confidence, my dream of publishing a novel took a little longer to be realised. But at the age of 50, I self-published my debut novel, Never Again, and there was nothing like holding my very own book in my hands for the very first time.

But it took a long time to get to that stage. After what felt like 50 rewrites and edits, but was probably more like 15, I breathed a sigh of relief at having finally reached ‘The End’; I had no idea then that I was, in fact, at another beginning entirely.

I spent a considerable amount of time and effort researching and submitting my novel to carefully selected literary agents with, several months on, nothing but a pile of rejections to show for it. Once the crushing disappointment had faded, I dusted myself down and threw myself into self-publishing my novel.

Self-Publishing via Amazon

When you self-publish through Amazon there are two options: Ebook via KDP Publishing and Paperback via CreateSpace (Amazon’s ‘Print on Demand’ sister company).

There are three things that I wish I had known at the start of this process:

  1. Scrivener, the magic writing software, allows you to format your novel for Kindle at the press of one button, or so I’m told – can you hear my strangled scream of wishful thinking echoing around the room?
  2. To format my Word document for Kindle before I started writing.
  3. If you decide to offer a paperback of your book through CreateSpace, you can also, at the push of a button, transform your book into Kindle format – hindsight is a wonderful thing!

As I hadn’t, however, done any of the above, I made use of Kindle’s how to formatting sheet. Whilst it was user-friendly, the time it took me to complete this process had me practically tearing out my hair with frustration! A lesson learned!

You are bombarded with options once you start to work through the Kindle publishing process, including: royalties, pricing, loaning, protecting and many others; there were times when I thought my head would explode into a thousand different shattered pieces. However, one baby step at a time, I managed to work my way through it.

As my artistic ability comes nowhere near quality book cover design, I had the following options:

  • A bespoke book cover – this proved too expensive as writing is, effectively my hobby, not that you would know it given the number of hours it consumes!
  • Choose a book cover ‘off the peg’ from somewhere like: Self Pub Book Covers or The Cover Collection – keep in mind that if you want the spine and back cover designed as well, this will cost you extra. I opted for the front cover and added the text myself. Who knew that getting the perfect font at the ideal size in an appropriate position on a book cover could take so long . . .
  • A free cover design from CreateSpace, although these are not exclusive so you may find your book sitting on a virtual shelf next to the exact same cover.
  • CreateSpace has its own Cover Creator where you can slot in your front and back cover and have a small say in how the spine will appear. I took full advantage of this option.

Becoming a Publisher 

A lot of the hurdles I had to face were not something I had ever considered when I first put fingers to keyboard to write my novel, but I was determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get me to Launch Day.

ISBNs are an important consideration. You can publish your book without ISBNs, but if you do,it cannot be put on loan at a library or sold in a shop. So, with optimism as my eternal friend, albeit at times a wavering one, I opted for ISBNs.

The Kindle and paperback versions must have different ISBNs, which was certainly news to me – it does beg the question: Where have I been all my life?

Whilst CreateSpace offered me an ISBN free of charge, Nielsen UK ISBN Agency warned me that if CreateSpace owned the ISBN, they were then the publishers, which would make it hard, if not impossible, to move my book elsewhere.

Everything you need to know in this area can be found on the Nielsen website.

  • Buying ISBNs
  • Setting yourself up as a publisher
  • Registering your ISBNs

Be warned, this process can take weeks and weeks, so give yourself time!

Through Kindle Publishing, you can set your Launch Date and an ‘available for pre-order’ date, which is a great way to build up orders so when you get to launch, your book will hopefully arrive with a splash!

CreateSpace don’t offer either of these options. Instead, you push the ‘Approve’ button and it takes up to five working days to go live. The exact date, therefore, is a bit hit and miss.

When you paste the Amazon Universal Link link to your book into Book Linker this enables anyone, wherever they live, to click on this link and be whisked straight to your book on their own country’s Amazon site – invaluable!

And finally . . .

There is so much more I could add about book bloggers and blog tours, about social media and press releases, about author pages and photos and many other things I have learned on this crazy learning curve called ‘Self-Publishing’. But for now, your mind is probably spinning sufficiently to keep it whirring for a good few days, if not weeks. So, I wish you the very best of luck if you decide to embark on this journey; for me, it has been worth every single step.

***

Thanks for sharing your experience, Nicky!

Get a copy of Nicky’s debut novel ‘NEVER AGAIN’ here: http://myBook.to/NeverAgain

And keep up-to-date with her writing news on the following links:

Website: www.NickyClifford.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickyNovelist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NickyCliffordWriter/

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