Self Publishing for Beginners

carrion filesThis week I became an author. After reading about Hugh Howey, I was inspired to collect the three installments of The Carrion Files into an e-book which I then put on Amazon (as part of the Kindle  Digital Publishing Select program).

It started with a desire to actually get the story out there, in a more professional form than just as periodic posts on my blog. I had a cover idea, stark, jarring and simple and a trial of Photoshop, even though my skills are basic and the friend I’d enlisted to help me cackled when she saw how I’d turned the background layer black.
This is the result: (Infection Vector image here – remove this note!)

It’s nothing compared to some covers but it looks much better than many terrible covers I’ve come across in my time, both professionally created and self-pubbed. Most importantly, I’m happy with that and coming from me, an OCD, perfectionist high functioning autistic writer, that’s practically unheard of.

I’d already started checking the text, running a final check but when my friend – Michelle – came on Tuesday to help refresh my Photoshop-fu, it became terrifyingly clear that she wasn’t going to leave until I hit the published button.

The actual process was simple and I chose Kindle simply because Apple is being slow on the paid account front. I rang the IRS a few weeks ago for an EIN, a number which will stop Amazon giving 30% of my profits directly to the US government. Unfortunately, the number doesn’t yet seem to be on the system so the iBook will have to wait a little bit longer.

In the case of KDP Select, 90 days.Scrivener, SFWA

My choice to enroll was somewhat of an experiment and I have no idea if it will work out but I’ve put the book for sale at $2.99/£1.50 across all the Amazon stores. The same goes to the price but I don’t feel it’s a large amount, plus it was the minimum amount Amazon would let me have 70% royalties and those are important.
I don’t write for the money, I’m never going to be a multi-millionaire. I write because I love it but if I sell enough copies to pay my Council Tax deficit then so much the better.

Creating the e-book itself was simple but I learned move in half an hour that I expected to. I write using Scrivener and this simplified things by allowing me to compile an e-book which could then be converted to Amazon’s odd propriety format. Scrivener also allowed me to control the look and specifics of my e-book. I created separate pages for copyright, a dedication, the story itself and, finally, a author information page. Then I compiled these together and suddenly I had an e-book.

Frustrating for me was the time-aspect when it comes to publishing. I hit the publishing button expecting instant gratification but no, there was a twelve hour delay for review and then another few hours for the publishing itself to take place. I pressed publish at 11am on Tuesday morning and it didn’t go live in the US store till nearly 10pm and the UK the following morning.

But, oh the joy. Seeing your book on Amazon, for sale to people, is indescribable. I know, technically, it’s more a novelette according to the SFWA guidelines, but it’s still my book. I went into an Apple store and brought the Amazon page up on one of the iPad Minis; I was half tempted to do it on all of them. I was on a high even as I started on the next instalment, which will probably be a little longer I think.

I am, however, asking for anyone who buys or borrows the book to leave reviews on your appropriate Amazon or Goodreads. I want to know if people like the story or even if it’s rubbish. The thing to remember is this is just the beginning and I have no idea how many installments I will write until the story is done. I’m just letting Jessie, Cam, Barley (and Aoife, Eve and all the other people you’ve not met yet) go where they will.

British folk can get The Carrion Files here.
Americans and everyone else can get The Carrion Files here.

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  1. Congrats on getting your book published.

    For a long time now. I've though of establishing a business aimed at helping authors publicize and publish their work, with emphasis design. I'm familiar with both web development and graphic design, and I would think there would be a lot of people who would be interested in simply developing a web presence to promote their ebook, and maybe some help with cover art and presentation. I'm not sure how you reach authors without publishers though, which is essentially who I'm aiming at.

    I'm planning on getting my own ebooks out in 2014, and before then I want to thoroughly think out how I'll try to prepare the market for it, and establish some kind of web presence. It can be a daunting process, but I'm hoping that after I've gone through that I could probably help other people through the process.

    I'll take a look, I'm interested in knowing how well it does.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'd like to extend some heartfelt congratulations. I'm excited for you. I think it's great to see an author jump in and get themself published and look forward to reading it.

  3. Good luck. The hardest part of indie authoring is getting discovered- by reviewers and readers.

    As for your cover, most indies think you need a photo and a "Pro". I like the minimalist approach like you've done. Just remember though, it has to look good as a thumbnail too. Fonts like you chose look cool, but when miniaturized, they become blurred.

    Fir the best advice and info in indie publishing I highky reccomend the Kindle Boards Writer's Cafe, at,60.0.html

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