Tuesday 19 January 2016

How to publish a book

You may know that I self-published a book last month. If you would have told me that two months ago, I would have burst into loud laughter and asked you if you'd had one too many. 

I knew nothing about book publishing. I have no friends or family working in publishing, and have a completely unrelated job to this world. And yet, the time we live in is full of possibilities, and thanks to the internet I figured out a way. 

Today I want to share how I managed to get my words from my computer out into the world in form of an eBook and a real book.  

It's all thanks to one company: Blurb
Blurb is a book-printing company that not only produces high-quality photo bookstrade bookseBooks and magazines, but who also help you to sell and distribute your book. 

There is a lot of information on their website, and it can get pretty confusing when you have never done it before. I will take you through the process of how I made my book step-by-step, just in case you want to make your own, okay?

I chose BookWright, a free software that includes several templates, unique ISBN for your book, and a huge variety of fonts, layouts, text- and photo-containers you can place wherever you want, and a bunch of other stuff that I haven't figured out yet. Does it all sound overwhelming? It sure did for me. 
So I decided to keep it as simple as possible. After downloading BookWright, I came across the Novel Starter Template Guide. When you scroll down, you will see several different templates you can choose from with example books of what they look like. I went with the Watercolor template, because I like the bright colours. 

  This is what the BookWright software looks like. 

2. Important your files as Rich Text Format.
I don't have any fancy book writing software, so I simply wrote my book in word document. To important your word document to BookWright, you have to save it in Rich Text Format. To do that, you select "save as", and then "Rich Text Format".

The next bit is going to be a bit technical (aka boring), it's only interesting to you if you want to use it. Feel free to skip to #4!

3. What the heck are "reflowable text containers"?
By far the biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to actually use BookWright. I'm sure that's due to my ignorance and not the software's fault, and I did figure it out in the end. 

The beginning is easy:

Start new book? Yes please!

The first few steps are easy, honest. You click on "Start a New Book", select the format, and then save it under the title you want. Now you  have a blank slate, ready to get filled with your words:

The first thing you do is save every chapter individually as a .rtf (Rich Text Format) file. 
Then you add them all to BookWright. 
Now all you have to do is choose as layout (you simple drag and drop), and then drag your first chapter onto the page. 

More than likely, you will encounter a yellow triangle at this point, which will become the bane of your book-making experience:

By clicking on it, you will learn what's wrong. It warns you if the font is not eBook-compatible (that's easy to change, there are 50 fonts that are eBook-compatible), and the most common one:
Flowable text not displayed within book. 

For the life of me I could not figure out what they want from me, and got really frustrated. 
Until I stumbled across the solution accidentally:

When you hover the cursor of the mouse anywhere within the text box, a grey frame will appear around it. In the bottom right corner you will find a square with a T in it. By hovering over it, this message appears:
Click this icon and then into another container to flow text.

Left-click on it. 
Then go to the next page and left-click on the grey frame  there. 
The next page of your chapter appears! Once I figured that out, the rest was easy. 

4. Upload your book
Finally, we are getting to the fun part: getting it ready to be printed! 

Once you have it uploaded, Blurb offers spell check (you can skip it if you want), and the chance to go over it again. When you are happy, you upload!

5. Sell your book
This part is fun. And unreal. Also frightening. But four weeks in, it is all back to business as usual, and I can go days without thinking once about the fact that there is a book with my name on it out on Amazon

I won't go into too much detail about the selling and distributing part, because it's surprisingly straightforward. 
If you decide to sell through Blurb, click here
If you want to sell through Amazon or other online retailers, click here
If you want to publish an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing, click here

6. Promote your book
If you have any questions about marketing, I'm pretty much the worst person to ask. I suck at it.  
Beyond mentioning it on the blog a bunch of times, I haven't done anything except for one thing: I boosted the post with the book announcement on my Facebook page. I had never done that before, and was shocked at the difference it makes: For $10.00 I reached over a thousand people, when my usual number is between 50-100. 

Apart from that, all I did was create a Book tab on the top, and was fortunate enough to be mentioned by my friend Mariah on her blog. (Love you!)

I'm completely unknown, and my "sales" are just in the double digits. But you know what? 
All I wanted was to see if I can do it. I set myself a lofty goal last year, with no idea how to make it become a reality. 
But if you want something, and doggedly work towards it, you will find a way. 

I hope this very confusing post is of any help?
How-to posts aren't my strong suit, but I really wanted to show you how I did it, just in case you've always wanted to publish a book yourself. I know that there are lots of us out there ;-)

Whatever you dream about, go chase it! You can totally do it. 

P.S. Blurb did not sponsor me to write this post. I wanted to share the great experience I had with them! 


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