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Though pronounced "miss-TAIR-oh", Mistero is actually named after its founder, Mister O - or "Mr. O". Our logo hides this subtly. If you look closely, you'll see the crown of the hat is the letter "m", the brim of the hat is the "r", and his face is the O.

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Saturday
Jan262013

What to Know When Self-Publishing

What's up everybody?!

Welcome to my first post ever! This is pretty exhilarating haha I'll try to keep my posts as short as possible, but if you're ever looking for more info, feel free to ask in the comments section at the bottom of the posts. Hope you enjoy!

Alright. So. I just finished writing my first novel and am now setting out as a Canadian author trying to get this thing published. Being a first time author, here's what I knew about the publishing process:

  • ...

Nothing.

I didn't know where to start, or where to look, or what to do. BUT after a lot of research, I learned that self-publishing is pretty customizable and you can spend as much or as little as you want. Some things you may already have, so you won't need to buy them. Some things can be found for "free" through means that I don't necessarily condone ;) (i.e. downloading torrents with uTorrent). But whatever avenue you choose, here's a list of things you might need at each stage in your writing/publishing journey:

When you start writing

Software

  • For writing
    I use Microsoft Word 2007 and it's a dream, but OpenOffice and Google Docs are free if you prefer.
  • For making PDFs
    When you get to the later stages, most printing companies will not take your document to print unless it's in PDF format. Download the free one above and you will find the ability to "print" your document as a PDF under your word processor's print option.

When you finish writing and begin editing

Fine-tuning and local-awareness-spreading

  • Get some beta/proof readers
    These are your friends and family who are interested. Give them a digital copy and get their feedback. If you need to, bribe them with cheap gift certificates.
  • Hire a professional editor
    This is essential. Though costs here can go for over $500, it makes the all the difference between professional end-product and a distraction-fest that leaves much to be desired.

Aesthetics and "book look"

  • Cover design
    Professional: Mistero | DIY: Software - Adobe Photoshop/InDesign (~$1000) or GIMP (Free), Stock images - iStockPhoto ($20 - $80+/image),
  • Interior layout
    Professional: Mistero | DIY: Fonts - DaFont (FREE-$200+), Margins - Depends on printing company

When you finish editing and begin self-publishing

Now you just need to get hooked up with...

  • An International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
    This is the number that tags your work with respect to its format. For example, you write a book, but if you sell 1) the book, 2) the eBook version (.ePub, etc.), 3) an audiobook version 4) a PDF version to sell, and so on, all of the same title, you'll need one ISBN for each of those. If you're Canadian, good news: ISBNs are totally free for a lifetime supply. They're given out through CISS. If you're American, you have to buy each ISBN through a company called Bowker for $125 per individual ISBN (but grouping discounts are available).
  • A printing company
    I don't have a ton of experience with a wide range of printing companies, but I did a *lot* of research and went with what I found to be the best, Lightning Source. For a $75 setup fee and $12+/year to use their widespread distribution channel, they are beyond amazing. Individual customer service reps assigned to your account, start-up documents to answer all your questions, and so much more. And when I say widespread, I mean very widespread: print hard-copies from their factories in the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom to cut back on shipping costs, and online through their well-known channels, including Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, and tons more.
  • A proof (copy) of your book
    You get one of these little pieces of emotional history through your printing company when you've sent them two files: your cover and your interior (story). It's about $30 and includes next-day delivery. Essentially this is a copy of your book exactly as it'll look if you give your printing company the "Okay!". Pretty monumental, I know. You can also order copies at around $5 each for your friends to skim through too and see if they notice any last-minute changes.

After self-publishing (promotion and marketing)

  • Start a fanbase
    Tell everyone you know, promote your stuff in content-related forums (Goodreads, etc.), and most importantly, know it takes time, effort and a ton of optimism while it takes time to gain momentum. Hang in there :)
  • Make a website
    Professional: Mistero | DIY: Domain name/URL/Web address - GoDaddy ($5-$35/year), web hosting - SquareSpace ($100-$200/year), custom "flashy" code and web design classes extra.
  • Google AdWords
    Once you have your website created, advertise on Google so businesses wanting new ads on their site can use yours.
  • Mailing lists
    I use MailChimp, which is free, straight forward, and provides a lot of high-functioning customizability (colours, layout, etc.)
  • Facebook / Goodreads Ads
    With over a billion user profiles, Facebook is a great way to reach people for the price you set as an advertiser to specific demographics. Goodreads has 140 million page views a month and is more directed to book lovers.

Off-setting your costs

  • Fundraise online
    Kickstarter (US/UK) or Indiegogo (Canada) are the best choices. Kickstarter is the more well-known of the two, but requires you to reach your fundraising goal in its entirety or else you get nothing. Indiegogo allows you to have that same kind of fundraising option, or (and I like this part) there's an option to collect all funds raised, even if you don't meet your goal (you just have to pay Indiegogo 5% if you reach your goal or 9% if you don't).

And so the search for knowledge and truth continues...

~ A. J. Darkholme

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