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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Self-Publishing: One Man's Journey

My friend Les Bridgeman just released Seeing the Invisible God: 52 Reflections on Divine Anatomy, (Sounds awesome, right?!)  Because I want writers who are considering self-publishing to know what’s involved, Les was gracious enough to share his experience here. So grateful for this generous peek...
Les shares...

If you’re thinking of writing and publishing your own book, be prepared for a challenge. Here are the ten major steps I took, along with the expenses I paid, to publish my new book Seeing the Invisible God: 52 Reflections on Divine Anatomy

1.   Wrote the book. In total, it took about seven months, but that was spread out over six years.

2.  Had it professionally edited – $1140. The cost depends on the type of editing you need. Also, my editor was relatively inexpensive – $25 per hour. But she was recommended by a professional author I met at a writers conference, and I know that she worked on his books. Make sure to get your book edited by a professional with experience. There are so many grammar and punctuation rules and you need someone with expertise in those areas to look at your work. If you need substantial editing, it will probably cost a lot more. If you want to brush up on the rules of writing, my editor recommended the Chicago Manual of Style.

3.  Had the cover designed and created – $262.50. This involved about 60 emails going back and forth on details of the design and took about two months to finalize. Fortunately, I was working with a friend, and we agreed on a price per hour from the start.

4.  Purchased Scrivener – a program that enables you to create an e-book, such as a Kindle version – $39. It sells for $45 but I found a discount code online. Warning: Scrivener has a ton of settings, so it takes time to learn. You can purchase tutorials to help you learn Scrivener, but I just struggled along. I did, however, write to Scrivener a couple of times, and received helpful and timely responses to my questions.

5.  Purchased Word for Mac– I was trying to avoid purchasing this, but in the end, I gave in and I’m glad I did – $109.99. Of course, if you already have Word or are comfortable with another word processing program, you can skip this step.

6.  Interior Design template from Purchased the leadership template with the e-book template – $47. There are many details to consider with interior design, such as margins, headers, page numbers, font, and font size. How will you decide on all of those details? (Actually, you will need to decide on the size of your book first. Measure books you have and then go from there. I chose 8.5 in. x 5.5 in.) And when you decide, do you know how to set up everything properly? The template helped ease the process dramatically.

7.  Purchased an ISBN from bowker – $125. You don’t have to purchase your own ISBN, but doing so gives you more freedom to sell your book in other places. If you don’t want your own ISBN, you can get one at no cost from CreateSpace. Here’s a breakdown of your ISBN options.

8. Uploaded my e-book that I created with Scrivener, along with the .tif cover file to Amazon Kindle Direct then waited for it to be approved, which took about 6-8 hours.

9.  Uploaded my paperback version with my .pdf cover file to CreateSpace then waited for it to be approved, which took about 12-15 hours. CreateSpace is Amazon’s print on demand service so if you use them, you don’t have to stock physical books to sell. The books will be printed when they are ordered.

10.After the paperback was approved, I purchased a few paperback proof copies from CreateSpace – $86.96. (This is where I messed up a little.) On Amazon’s CreateSpace, you can approve your book at no cost by viewing the PDF or by using their digital viewer. But I don’t recommend doing that. If you really care about the finished product, you’ll want to hold and see in person exactly what your customers will be seeing. Also, studies have shown that we can’t proofread as well digitally as we can on paper. And finally, colors don’t look exactly the same on screen as they do on paper. But why did I purchase a few proof copies? Because I kept changing things. Every time I picked up the book and read something, I wanted to make a change or two. My editor told me that would happen. I don’t know if authors are ever 100% happy with everything in their books. I also learned that one editor is not enough. Most professionally published books have gone through a team of editors. (If you self publish, who will be your team of editors?) I should have had my wife read every word before publishing and, in the end, that’s what ended up happening. My mistake cost me about $70.

Like I said, those are the major steps I took and the grand total was $1723.49

Les Bridgeman, author of Seeing The Invisible God, has a Master's degree in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has been developing Bible courses since 2003, and he cuts his own hair.

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