Writing a book is a very difficult task. The better you want your book to be, the more difficult it is to write. Getting your book published used to be just as difficult, but not anymore. Amazon makes self-publishing your book as an ebook very easy. CreateSpace, which can be accessed through Amazon, makes publishing your book as a paperback just as easy.
Formatting Your Ebook
This was the most difficult part for me. It is not as easy as downloading your word document. Your files have to be in a certain format. For the ebook, you don’t want to use tabs. You want to use indents. Centering should be set up in styles rather than paragraph. Don’t justify your paragraphs. Don’t use page breaks, page numbers, headings, or footnotes. There are a few other things to consider as well. The best way to figure out how to format for an ebook is to go through this step-by-step process from Smashwords. Download free instructions on Smashwords by clicking HERE. Incidentally, you can also sell your ebook on Smashwords.
Formatting Your Paperback
Creating the document for your paperback is much easier. Most of the things you don’t want to do in the ebook format can be done in the paperback format. The most difficult part I had was the page numbers. You don’t put page numbers or headings on the ebook version, but you definitely want them on the paperback version. You want page 1 to start on the first page where your story starts so you have to set up your word document to start counting page one on page 7, for example. You can also have headings where the left pages show the author’s name and the right pages show the book title. Or the left page says the book title and the right page says the chapter name. The tricky part is getting all the left pages to say one thing and all the right pages to say another. Your page numbers can be centered in the footing. Play around with your book until it looks like what you want it to look like. Then download it onto CreateSpace.
CreateSpace takes you through the download process. It also lets you preview how each page of your book will look. Flip through each page to make sure it looks right. If it doesn’t, fix it in word and download it again.
Ebooks and CreateSpace also have different formats for the book covers. When you go through the process of creating your ebook or paperback, be sure to look carefully at the instructions for the proper size and format. Ebook covers are smaller in size while paperbacks require a larger size with a higher dpi. This is because an ebook is viewed on a smaller digital screen which generally requires a dpi no higher than 72. A paperback book is larger and the dpi should be at least 300. Don’t forget, on your paperback version you will want to make sure there is room for the ISBN and barcode.
Traditional Publishing v. Self-Publishing
Before, publishing your book required soliciting an agent. One could solicit hundreds of literary agents and possibly never finding one, or risk finding one that took advantage of rather than helped a new author. If you are lucky enough to find a good literary agent, you have to wait for the agent to solicit a willing publisher. This could take several months, or even years. Or your agent might never find a willing publisher. Self-publishing guarantees your book will be published. But it doesn’t guarantee your book will sell. The benefit of having a literary agent and a publisher publish your book is they do all the marketing and distribution. Once you get a publisher, you just sit back and wait. With self-publishing, you have to do all the marketing yourself. This can take a lot of time and money, and a possibility of little return.
Whether you self-publish or choose the traditional method is a personal choice. For me, I tried the traditional method but found it exceedingly difficult to get my foot in the door and unfortunately found a bad literary agent. Instead of trying the traditional method again, I chose self-publishing because it was more important to me to get my book published than it was to make money and have wider distribution.