Do the work yourself

Forty-eight weeks after the second day of the new year

Author received an offer this week from someone who suggested he could format her ebook for her for a small sum, and could then make a paperback out of it. In fact, for an added sum, a small one of course, he would also design the cover. Just give him the text and he would do it all himself and even put the books up on Amazon.

Author didn’t even need to think about it. Thank you, but no, that was her only and final answer. And to you she wants to say: no. Absolutely not. You’ve put in all that work into your words, crafted thoughts into story, worked so hard on honing your creation. So much of who you are is in that manuscript and you have such hopes for it, and now, when there are only a few more steps to go, just one or two technical ones, you will put it in someone else’s hands? Granted, those last steps require some work, but what you’ve done so far was so much harder. See your story through the rest of the way, that last stretch still has something to teach you.

This is not just an abstract suggestion. As you know from these blog posts, Author also did that part of the work herself in her published novels. It took time, and it took learning, and it certainly was frustrating at times, but she stubbornly did it herself. Go back to her post twenty-four weeks after the second day of the new year, the one named “Don’t worry about the need to learn something new”. There’s a reason she gave that post this title. Read it. In it Author not only talks about the process of creating an ebook and a paperback, she also talks about how it was for her, learning to prepare these two formats. After all, just like you, when Author started out she had no idea how to create an ebook or a print book.

And by the way, an ebook and a paperback are two completely different formats, requiring different types of work. For the ebook, Author needed to understand Amazon’s instructions and to format the manuscript accordingly, and she test-uploaded the ebook to the Amazon previewer quite a few times until she got it right (that’s a great help, by the way, the Amazon previewer. It allows you to preview your ebook as many times as you want before publishing it). And for the paperback, Author had to understand the requirements of the printer (Ingram, as you already know if you’ve held an Author & Sister paperback), and to then decide on a number of parameters such as the size of the book and then adapt the manuscript to the selected print layout. And for both ebook and paperback, it took having covers made—that too requires the author’s involvement, in the selection of a designer, in the decision on what cover would best characterize your story, and in choosing from multiple design samples and making sure the right one, with all the correct details placed in it, ends up as the gate to your story.

Yes, this takes some work. For Author’s first book, The First, preparing the ebook and the paperback took some time, several weeks in fact, and for Oracle’s Hunt these steps took somewhat less time because she had more experience. But for both she did everything it took until she got to the point where she could nod to herself when looking at the ebook on the Amazon previewer and at the sample paperback she received from Ingram, accept them as done. And you know what, through this process, through the work she did herself, she has gained a whole lot of appreciation for the publication process.

And then there’s the publication itself. Uploading the ebook and ensuring the paperback is available for ordering are also parts of the process you should go through yourself, or certainly be involved in if you’re working with someone, as Author is with Sister. No one is better positioned than you to provide for your book a blurb, keywords and browse categories, and whatever other detail is needed when you make your books available to your readers. And once it’s published, you need to follow the book on its first days out, make sure everything is up correctly, make sure your creation is available to your readers without a hitch.

The fact is that what Author learnt specifically from the steps of taking her work from manuscript to ebook and paperback is priceless. What that person who had emailed Author was offering to do so quickly and for so little, takes time. It takes time to bring a finished manuscript to publication in a way that respects your work and your readers. Time and a whole lot of attention. And you, the newly published author, the still-learning, still-experiencing writer, should be the one to do it. Every step is your responsibility and you should be involved in it, hands-on, not simply hand it over to someone who doesn’t know and doesn’t care about you, and certainly doesn’t care about your work and your readers the way you do. And you know what? If for any reason you feel you can’t do this part of the work yourself, then by all means, get someone to help you. But choose that person carefully, choose someone you can trust to handle what you’ve worked so hard to create, and make sure you’re involved in what’s being done with your manuscript.

Since this entire post is a tip of sorts, Author will end it with a word of encouragement: you love books and have read many of them, haven’t you? So you know what paperbacks and ebooks look like. All you need to do is choose what you want yours to look like, and make sure that’s done. And you know what? Enjoy the work. It might look scary at first, but you’ll get it. And you’re not alone: there are others like you who have already been through publication and are there to answer questions. We are all out there to answer questions. Don’t forego this part of the work just because you think you can’t do it or don’t want to put in the time. There’s a special feeling to it, preparing your creation for publication. It’s pretty amazing, seeing your work out there on display. It’s worth it.



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