Publish your book as POD (Print on Demand) or as an eBook? Which path to choose?
My Self Publishing Journey
First Stop – Smashwords
I decided to publish my book as a Print on Demand Paperback book as well as an eBook to give readers more choices.
First, I took all the motherhood poems I had written over 8 years, thought of my target audience, and my chapters and put them together as a book in word format. Word Format works best since it is a widely accepted format by most self publishing resource sites.
Next, I headed over to Smashwords. I loved the Smashwords concept. It converts and transforms your word format book into multiple eBook formats for various e-reading devices. First you will have to upload your source file, your word .doc format file. Smashwords will then convert your word .doc file into the following formats
1. EPUB (iPhone Stanza)
2. Palm Doc (PDB)
3. Plain Text
5. HTML (Smash Reader)
6. .Mobi (Kindle)
8. LRF (the old format for Sony Reader)
9. RTF or Rich Text Format
10 with more options on the way
I was very excited about this. Imagine that. All I had to do was upload my word doc and it will automatically be converted into so many formats readable by so many devices. That would take your eBook straight into the hands of many devices including the iPad, iPhone, Sony Reader, etc. Smashwords would convert the files for me and distribute them to major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel.
I did not have to know how to format books into these different formats. All I need to know is Word. I know Word, or at least I THOUGHT I knew Word.
I immediately downloaded all 72 pages of the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker.
I read all 72 pages and realized that formatting the book was not as easy as I had thought. That was mainly because my book was image intensive. Smashwords works better with books that are mostly text. I tried to pay someone to do the formatting for me but he declined because of my huge image intensive file which was over the size limit. Sadly, I had to take my book elsewhere but I will go back to Smashwords later on, I am sure of that.
The Easiest Part of Self Publishing Your Own eBook is Writing it!
Self Publishing My Own Print On Demand Book – Next Stop – CreateSpace
Next, I headed over to CreateSpace. At CreateSpace, manufacturing and shipping is taken care of. Your book remains in-stock, without inventory, made on-demand when customers order. Cool! I did not have to come up with any start-up money to create my book.
I opened an account at CreateSpace and immediately started creating. I find that because CreateSpace creates a print book, the formatting is much easier. This is because it does not have to convert it into the different file formats. So what you see is what you get. In the word .doc file format, most of the time, what you see in word is not what you get when it is converted into other file formats, you will find that your margins are misplaced, your indentation and paragraphs etc are all wrong! Whereas at CreateSpace, formatting is relatively simpler.
Get Published. You can take your book from manuscript to the masses with self-publishing and print-on-demand from CreateSpace.
CreateSpace is an Amazon company. Books you created there will be sold at the Amazon marketplace. However, you can choose Expanded Distribution by paying $25 to have your book distributed beyond Amazon stores and including libraries etc. I chose this option.
Steps I Took At CreateSpace To Create My Book
Get access to FREE book publishing tools, resources, and a growing online community of authors. Learn how.
I found the steps very user friendly. I followed all of the steps one by one till I got my end product. Here are the few steps I took.
- Create Title
- Select ISBN. You can have a free ISBN or select other options if you wish.
- Upload your book. You can use the Internal Reviewer to see how your book will look like in print. (My word .doc file did not look right as it overflowed the pages so I had to convert it into a pdf file before uploading.)
- Create and Upload a Cover for Your Book. (I used the Cover Creator at Create Space. Again, I found it very user friendly)
- Make changes by reuploading till you are satisfied that your book looks right (You may have to do this several times)
- Once you are satisfied with your changes, your book will be reviewed in the next 48 hours. Mine took less than 12 hours to be reviewed.
- The final step is to proof your book. You can proof your book digitally or order a printed copy to proof before approving.
- Approve your book for publishing. Your book will be made available in the Amazon Stores within 5-7 days. Mine took about 1-2 days.
Unlike my blogs and Squidoo lenses, my print on demand book is tangible. I can touch and hold and feel it. That feels simply incredible and fantastic!
Download Formatted Templates For Your Print on Demand Books
I used the Formatted Template on CreateSpace to create my book file. Even, with formatted template, you will need to make adjustments to your book formatting. Formatting is a big headache when creating your book anywhere.
The Cover of My Book – Mother, Wife, Myself
This is the Cover of My Book which I created using the Cover Creator at CreateSpace. All I had to do was type in the words when prompted and select from the images available. As you can see, there is a barcode area. CreateSpace will print the barcode for you. You do not have to know very much about how to create the cover yourself and how much space to leave for the spine of the book etc. It is all automated.
You can upload your own cover image for the book if you prefer. You can also upload your own author image for the back of the book if you want.
My eStore on CreateSpace
CreateSpace gives you a space as your eStore where your book can be bought directly from CreateSpace.
I like this idea because I do not have to sell my bookstore on my own website. Some may prefer to sell their own self published books and ebooks on their own using their own website and other promotional methods but at the moment this is not the path I have taken. Perhaps I will consider it in the future but at the moment, I find this easier and less time consuming.
PRINT ON DEMAND BOOKS ARE PRINTED AND SHIPPED TO THE CUSTOMER WHENEVER THERE IS AN ORDER OR DEMAND
My Book On the Amazon Bookshelf – Mother, Wife, Myself
I find that my book is now available at different prices from several bookshops other than Amazon, including The Book Depository and BooKnackrh, because I chose expanded distribution.
Create a description for your book. Mine is as follows:
A collection of poems, quips and quotes by a mother for mothers on the joys of motherhood and how not to lose yourself after becoming a mother and wife. How do you keep your individuality after becoming a wife? How do you not lose yourself after having children? How do you find the perfect balance in raising kids?
This collection of private poems written over 8 years is about the joy, love, sweat, tears and stress that comes with the job called “Mother”. Follow the author on the journey from wife to mother to self discovery in this book of poems, quips and quotes on motherhood. “I have not lost myself. I have discovered my new self. I have learned that I am a stronger person than I thought I knew. I am evolving into this new and better person called “MOTHER”.
For eBooks – What You See Is Not What You Get when it comes to formatting
If you publish your eBook and Print on Demand Paperback book on different platforms, you have to be prepared to spend some time reformatting your book for submission. A formatted word file that looks really good as a print on demand book may look terrible as an eBook.
Self Publishing My Own eBook
Next Stop – Kindle Direct Publishing
Next, I decided to publish my paperback book as an eBook.
You may choose to publish your book as an eBook alone, or as a paperback or both. You may publish your eBook first or your paperback first. There are marketing implications for both.
I decided to publish my eBook immediately after my paperback and make them available at the same time to give readers more choices. I did not consider the marketing aspects. I wanted to do both because I wanted to learn how to do both.
I intend to self publish more books so it is important that I learn how to self publish a POD (Print on Demand) paperback as well as an eBook on my own. I had to climb the steep learning curve now and learn the rest, marketing, promotion etc, later.
Steps I took to Publish my Own eBook at KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
- Enter book details and title
- Enter book description
- Verify Publishing Rights
- Target my book to customers
- Upload my book cover
- Upload my book file. I uploaded my original word .doc file. This is the hardest process. The rest is just a matter of filling up the form. Again, it is due to formatting. I had to upload and reupload till what I view in the book previewer looks ok. The enhanced book previewer (which you can download to your pc for use) will show you how your book looks on different book formats like the Kindle Fire, Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone and iPad. The preview of how my book will look like on the Kindle Fire was amazing!
- Save and Publish
- Book is reviewed within 24 hours. Mine took less than 12.
This is my eBook, the Kindle Edition on Amazon’s Kindle Store
The collection of poems from this book was written over 8 years from the time my children were babies. There were days when I really questioned myself on whether I was really being the best mother that I could be to the kids or the best wife. This book records down my journey into motherhood and provides an insight into the joys of motherhood as well as all the internal struggles and feelings a mother feels.
I would recommend it for new mothers as a gift for Mother’s Day. I hope that other mothers can read this too and nod their heads and say “Yes, I feel exactly the same way too. I’m not alone!” May all we mothers be bound by this special bond that makes us Mothers.
It’s all coming together now!
Putting it all together
Finally, I went to Amazon Author Central to put up my bio as well as list my books.
It is important to create an Author Central Profile so that you can give more information about yourself and your book.
You can include your bio as well as information about your websites and a list of your books once you have a few.
The hardest part about self publishing your book is the formatting! You may need to reformat the same files in different styles depending on where you are submitting your book for publishing.
How Much Should You Price Your Self Published Book?
You may prefer to offer your eBook for free if what you want is to promote your websites, products or services.
However, if you are a serious author and you want to write more books in the long run, the best thing is to study your competition for your genre. Check out the books that are similar to yours and try not to overprice or list a price that is too low.
Publishing my eBook at Smashwords
This is the book I published in Smashwords
I did say that I would return to Smashwords and I have.
This is the book that I published at Smashwords. If you click on the picture, it will bring you to my author’s page on Smashwords. Have a look. You will see that my book is listed there with the description and author bio. The price and various formats for download are also listed. I have chosen to have 20% of my book available as a sample. I think that giving a sample allows the reader to have a sneak peek into your book and decide whether they want to read it.
Publishing at Smashwords is really easy. The hard part is again formatting. You will have to read the Smashwords StyleGuide or Formatting Guide thoroughly to make sure that you meet the formatting rules. Why do you have to do this? Smashwords converts your word or pdf files into many formats that is why. So they have to make sure that your book looks good in every format.
Steps I Took To Publish My Book At Smashwords – These are the steps I took to publish my book at Smashwords
The steps are simple and publishing is immediate. Your eBook comes on live immediately after hitting “Publish”. That sounds really easy right? Well, the steps to publish are simple but formatting the book for publishing takes time and patience.
- I added a book title
- I gave my book a description
- I selected the price. You can choose to make your ebook a free one.
- I selected the option to give readers a sampling of my book.
- I selected the category for my book.
- I keyed in the tags for my books
- I selected the eBook formats I wanted my book to be converted to. I selected all which is epub, Sony Reader (LRF), Kindle (.mobi), Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Plain Text. This makes my book available in all of these formats. Don’t worry if you don’t know what all of these terms mean. All you have to make sure is your file in .doc or .pdf meets the styling requirements before publishing.
- I uploaded the cover for my book.
- I uploaded my book file in word or .doc file format. I had to make sure that I met the strict formatting requirements before uploading this.
- I hit publish.
- I selected an ISBN. This is important if you want your book to be included in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Being in the Premium Catalog allows your book to be distributed to major online retailers like Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and many others.
- I submitted my book for manual review for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog.
- After hitting publish, my book is instantly available at Smashwords with a personalized page.
How Smashwords Distributes eBooks
Try to Get Into Smashwords Premium Catalog. It’s Free!
Smashwords has a premium catalog and you can get your book in this premium catalog for free .. provided you meet the Smashwords stringent formatting rules. Why are the formatting rules at Smashwords so strict? It is because Smashwords takes your word file and puts it in what they call the meatgrinder which converts your original file format into various eBook readable formats.
After submitting one of my books for manual review and waiting for 3 weeks, I got into the Premium Catalog the first time. Phew! The other book has some formatting issues I have to resolve before submitting it for another review. So it is back to the back room formatting department again, in this case, the formatting department is me!
When it comes to self publishing your own book, you are the formatting department, the designer, the proof reader, the writer, the marketing department all rolled into one. That is a whole lot of work involved!
Why Do You Want To Have Your Book In The Smashwords Premium Catalog?”
You get to sell your ebook on Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor and more outlets coming soon. That’s why! Go to Smashwords to see How Smashwords Distributes eBooks
Getting into the Smashwords Premium Catalog means your eBook will be available on the Apple iPad!
Promoting Your Book
Publishing Your Book is Just the Beginning – You have a long road to travel in terms of promotion and marketing your eBook
Your eBook will not sell by itself. YOU have to do a lot of promotion and marketing for your book. Fortunately there are many articles on promotion and marketing. Here are a few marketing tips from CreateSpace’s Marketing Central. Do check it out.
The first thing I did was to go to my Facebook to create a page for my book and give my friends there a SHOUT about my book.
Then, I wrote this lens. I also put up some links on my blogs. Next, I will need to put up some blog posts and my own book review. I also sent out a press release. So many things to do…… so little time.
I still have a lot to learn and do and I will be updating this lens as I travel along my self publishing journey.
Here is what I have done so far to promote my book
I have timed the launch of my book to an event, in my case since it is a book of poems for mothers, I have timed it closed to Mother’s Day.
This is what I have done so far to promote my book. These are just some of the things I have done to date. I will update these as I go along.
- Create a Facebook Page for my book. Have a look. This is my Facebook Page for Mother, Wife, Myself.
- I made a page for my book on my personal blog. Here is the blog page for Mother, Wife, Myself. If you don’t have a blog, you can easily start one just for your book or books.
- I wrote a blog post about my book with the heading Gift Book For Mothers for Mother’s Day
- I sent out Press Releases. You can write and send out press releases yourself. It is not hard. Keep it short and simple. The worst that could happen to your Press Release is it ends up in the trash bin in some editor’s office but I think it’s worth a try. It is free advertisement for very little effort. You can even find free templates for your book release announcement or launch. Here is a nice book release template for you to download for free.
- I added text links to my book as well as picture links to my book on the Amazon site on all of my blogs.
- I put up the Facebook LikeBox of my Facebook Page for Mother, Wife, Myself on some of my blogs.
- I twitted, I google plus liked my own posts and page. I included my links on the linkedin site. In other words, I tried to use social media to the max. I also pinned the image of my book on pininterest.
- I wrote a Squidoo lens on a related topic for my second book “I Didn’t Know Breastfeeding Would Be So Hard”. Here it is Breastfeeding Problems Latching
The beauty in self publishing an eBook or Print On Demand Book is you get to update and improve on your book anytime you want. Your book is alive and dynamic!
What Should You Write About? – Don’t Know What Topics To Write About?
So you want to explore self publishing but what should you write about?
Write about matters that are close to your heart. This way, your words will flow together naturally almost effortlessly like magic. If you are more creative than you can write fiction instead.
If you are planning to write an eBook rather than a print book, you can write all sorts of “How To…..” books or you can write a free “How to…..” book and link it to your blog instead. You will have many ideas but one thing is for sure. You must START working on it.
For example, I had a very hard time breastfeeding and I could talk or write a lot about that. All the ideas and thougths were in my head. All I had to do was get STARTED and in no time, my book was ready.
I Didn’t Know Breastfeeding Would Be So Hard – This is another one of my books on Amazon.com
I have always been writing about other people’s products and books on my Squidoo Lenses. Now I can write about my own. That is really cool!
This book is not a breastfeeding guide. I had a really hard time breastfeeding my two children. It took them both months to latch on. That was really tough. I found solace in reading the success stories of other mothers who went through the same thing. It helped me to persevere and succeed in the end. I hope that by sharing my story, mothers who have problems breastfeeding will be encouraged to hang in there.
Why do you want to write a book? It has always been a dream for me. That is why I chose to self publish both an eBook and a Paperback. However, if you want to write a book to promote your website, product or service you can consider writing a free eBook.
From Blogger and Squidoo Lensmaster to Self Published Author. If I can do it, so can YOU!
Royalties For Your Book
I forgot to add this in the first time I wrote this lens. If you are a writer and an author, just getting your book out there is an achievement by itself and the self satisfaction you feel for having created your own book from scratch, from writing, formatting, designing the content, pricing and finally publishing it is incredible. It is an exciting wonderful feeling. The royalties is an added bonus.
CreateSpace has a very nice calculator you can use to calculate your royalty based on the price that you have selected for your book. You will see the price it will take to publish one single copy of your book, the minimum price you can set for your book and the royalties you will receive based on the price you have selected. Then it is up to you to decide on the price. Do take note that you have to pay the cost price of the book each time you want to order it. You can also make discount codes for resellers. It is just amazing.
As for Kindle Direct Publishing, you can choose between 2 royalty options for each of your Digital Books, the 35% royalty option and the 70% royalty option. Here is the KDP Pricing Page for those who are interested to learn more.
The Trick Of Completing Something Is Getting Started. Apply this principle to your book. Start Right Now! Good Luck!
My writing journey eventually led to my publishing and selling my own ebook on my own site. I find this option the most rewarding of them all. To be able to be in total control of the entire project from start to finish. My ebook is doing really well too so I am really happy about that. It is sold right on this blog itself! I added a paypal button to make it easier for customers to pay. This is the best option for me personally but it may be different for you. I wish you good luck on your writing journey and may it be every bit as rewarding as mine has been.