www.whyville.net Apr 13, 2008 Weekly Issue

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Emmy's Logo Here: Publishing Your 'Baby'

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This novel has been my life for the last year.

Every day, I'm continually thinking about it, brainstorming new plots, characters, and more often that not, a certain line that a character will say. I've been known to come home from school with ideas scrawled on my hands and arms because there didn't seem to be paper present at the time, and I lose my inspirations as quickly as they come.

I have the novel saved all over different programs on the computer, most which can be accessed from the Internet just in case my computer crashes. This novel is my baby, I can't have anything happen to it.

For the novel being my baby, I am pretty harsh with it. I've erased pages after pages, and restarted the whole thing multiple times since I first thought of the story line a couple of years ago. It's coming along extremely slowly, especially since the perfectionist in me is never happy with it. Most of what I write is rewritten or seriously changed the next day.

I was talking to one of my friends about my attachment to this novel, and as he put it, "When something funny happens, you probably stop to figure out if you can fit it into your story somewhere before you realize you should laugh."

It's true. I feel like I've invested part of myself in this project. All those late nights slaving over the computer, trying to come to a good ending point for the night, all this time I've spent improving it, making it better. All the people I've met through the subject of my novel. I feel like I owe it to my friends and family to get this done, to make it a beautiful piece of art, because they are truly the ones that have kept me going through the whole process. They are the ones constantly coming up with fun things to add in, or a new twist in the storyline. And in the end, I also owe it to myself. It's always been my dream to get something published, something real, something worth reading.

This week that's exactly what I'm going to talk about. No, not about my novel, but the steps to self-publishing your writing.

If you have talked to any author, you've probably heard many of their publishing company horror stories. Very, very few books get published by an actual company, not to mention sell well. Many successful authors say that they had to send their books to many, many different publishing houses before they decided to accept it. Take J.K. Rowling for example. Her Harry Potter series are hands down the most well-known books in the world, yet was rejected from twelve publishing houses before Bloomsbury decided to publish it. This is Harry Potter, people. It just goes to show how hard it is to get something published by a publishing house. That's why so many authors choose to self-publish their books. There are a couple very big downsides to this decision, though.

For one, self-publishing means you don't get any editorial help from editors at a publishing house; you have to hire an independent editor which can be extremely expensive. Also, distribution of the book is extremely difficult. Most major booksellers won't take books from self-published authors because they doubt the quality of the work, besides, it's always easier to sell something that has a big publishing name behind it. Local bookstores sometimes take self-published books, but otherwise, it's up to you to get out there and spread the word about your book. This can be a big problem, especially if you invest a lot of money in printing your book and get nothing back from it. Then again, look at the Eragon series. The first book, Eragon was self-published till it became a huge hit and was finally picked up by a publisher.

There are also a few advantages of self-publishing. I'll tell you about them before I start going into the steps of self-publishing.

For one, you have control of every single aspect of your book. Complete creative freedom. You make all the choices with your book, which means no pushy business people hovering above you telling you to do this, or to do that. Also, when self-publishing, the books are the author's complete property which means they get 100% of the money from sales. That in itself is a reason why so many people self-publish their books.

Now, you've heard from both sides, the good and bad parts of self-publishing. Now I'll tell you the steps to do it!

1. The first step is pretty obvious. You have to write a manuscript you love. Something you're ready to put even more time and effort into than you have already. If you aren't confident in your product, then why should others be?

2. Edit, edit, edit. The revising process is key. Make sure all grammatical and spelling errors are gone, and make any final changes you need to. Make sure it's read and reread by many different people. Some will catch mistakes that others will not. You can't just rely on your computer. The computer won't catch a mistake like your character goes to school on Friday and three days later it's Wednesday. Those are mistakes that need to be caught by actual people.

3. Start organizing a layout for your book. Font, page layout, dedications, cover art and back covers. All this needs to be done before sent off to a printing company.

4. Once you've got your book how you want it in your head, send it off to a printing company to be put together. Remember a budget. You don't know how well your book will sell, so don't print too many copies on your first run. You can always go back and print more if needed. The last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money printing your book and then not selling enough to break even, let alone make a profit.

5. Distribution, marketing. You need to get your book out there. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways for a book to become popular, so many self-published authors do presentations at schools, if the book is a children/teen book and appropriate that is. Colleges and libraries also make fantastic places to promote your book. If you want to sell your book retail, try getting some local bookstores to take a look at the book. It's not common they take on a self-published book, but there is a chance.

There you have it. Those are the five very basic steps to self-publishing. Remember, there are a lot of smaller things you have to do in between.

Here are a couple of books you could read about self-publishing if you'd like to learn more;

- "The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book" by Dan Poynter
- "A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing: A Time and Money-Saving Handbook to Printing, Distributing and Promoting Your Own Book" by Mark Ortman
- "Book Publishing Resource Guide" by Marie Kiefer
- "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book" by Tom and Marilyn Ross

Who knows what you can do when you self-publish? There are thousands of opportunities. Maybe, someday, I'll be able to hold a finished and bound copy of my novel. That'll be one of the happiest days I'll have in a long time. To finish something so important to me, for an opportunity to get it published . . . there's nothing I could want more.

But for now, I'll just make the short-term goals: Make the ending sentence of this paragraph really hit home with Steven; or Write 1,500 words a day. Small goals are how we achieve our big ones. Hmm, maybe I'll write next week's "Emmy's Logo Here" on goals.

For all you are passionate, truly passionate about writing and about becoming an author, I have no doubt; whether you self-publish or are picked up by a publishing company; that the experience will be amazing.


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