Self Publishing

By Premee Mohamed
Aug 24, 2018 · 914 words · 4 minutes

I was about to call this 'My Journey to Self Publishing' but HAHAHAHAHA NO


What actually happened, as detailed on my main website blog, is that I wrote a novella last summer, very quickly, and was really rather pleased with it, and then decided that I would self-pub an illustrated version. After about three months, I had gotten as far as deciding what style of illustration I would prefer. After maybe ten months, early in spring of this year, I had annotated which scenes I would like to illustrate.

Slowly it dawned on me: At this rate, it would take about four thousand years to actually thumbnail, sketch, ink, scan, clean up, frame, number, format, and insert these so-called illustrations into a so-called book.

The realization was wearying; I went to bed for two days, trying to gather enough strength to put pencil to paper.

Then I realized that it was possible, just possible, that I could... publish it without the drawings, just to get it out there, and maybe work on an illustrated version later. ASTOUNDING! I declared, and leapt out of bed. (So as you can see, this was not terribly well thought-out or a journey of any kind. I went from the impulse to just do it, to release day, in like... a week.)

For my subscribers who are interested in self-publishing, or who are just curious (or nosy; I don't judge), here's the actual process that ended up happening!

- Checked with my agent as to whether I could actually do such a thing. I felt silly at first, but he agreed that the wording is a little weird in the contract, so we ended up discussing novellas and novelettes for several emails! In the end we figured that if we both agreed something was a novel, then he'd deal with it, and if it was any shorter than that, then I'd deal with it (unless I wanted the help). So off I went, with his blessing!

- Then the nitty-gritty began, starting with pulling my finished novella from Google Docs (where I write all my stuff) and into MS Word.

- Then I put on the 'Show Punctuation Marks' thingy and got rid of all my extra spaces and paragraph breaks, anything where it was clear that a page break would be better. I also reduced the hanging indent from 0.5 inches to about 0.2 (the bigger one looks fine on a computer screen, or printed on letter-size paper, but it looks HUUUUUGE on a Kindle or a phone).

- Then I used Calibre to convert it from Word to ePub, and I also clicked 'Smarten Punctuation' (why? I have no idea; it seemed like a good idea at the time and I don't even know if it worked because now that it's out in the world I have given myself a horror of reading it again. I do know it has one enormous, egregious typo that everyone so far has been gracious enough to not point out).

- Previously, I had made my cover on Artrage (my favourite drawing program!) and saved it as a .jpg at Amazon's suggested size (1600 x 2560 px). I should have also been paying attention to the dpi (300) but I figured that since I wanted the cover to look a little beat-up and Victorian anyway, it was OK that I uploaded it at a lower resolution. I'll know better next time. Anyway, I threw that into the Calibre file when I made the ePub.

- And then I uploaded it onto Amazon's self-publishing platform, filled in my information, checked the preview, and that was that!

Honestly, I thought it was going to be so much worse. More involved, you know? Kobo was even easier since I already had the completed ePub file, and their interface is much friendlier, easier to use, and better visually organized. I will be the first to admit that I did not remotely look at currencies while I was doing either one, and set it at $2.99, but on Amazon that's in US dollars and on Kobo it turns out to be Canadian, so Americans get a bit of a deal if they shop the Kobo one.

At any rate, knowing how easy it is now, I will likely be releasing other things later on! It's not the money (belieeeeeeeeve me, it's not the money) but the knowledge that certain things just will not sell, and I don't want them to remain so unloved. They're not three-act-structure-y enough, there isn't enough Conflict, or high enough Stakes, or the characters lack Agency, or there isn't sufficient Action, or any of the formulaic things that I see publishers looking for when they call for stories. Those are things that I can write when needed, and don't feel like writing the rest of the time. I like a story to find its own pattern and rhythm, and for the characters to have stakes exactly as high as they need to be and not artificially inflated or altered to suit some template that some editor learned about in their MFA. So the answer isn't stalking off in a huff and never letting the stories see the light of day; it's releasing them exactly as they are, and letting them be hated or loved on their own merits.

Next time, maybe: Fun Adventures With Cover Art, A Thing Of Which I Know Nothing!