Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Review - Self-Publishing Books 101

Self-Publishing Books 101: A Step-By-Step Guide to Publishing Your Book in Multiple Formats by Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart

Self-Publishing Books 101 is a free Kindle eBook on right now.This book is very informative and helpful and I gave it five stars; although, I don't believe this book should be the first book read on self-publishing. The mere volume of information can be overwhelming for someone just beginning to think about self-publishing. I didn't realize this, since it wasn't the first book I'd read and I'm a bit technologically inclined, until an author friend pointed out her confusion, and I will explain that statement at the latter part of this review.  That said, I think Self-Publishing Books 101 is the best of all the books I've read on self-publishing so far due to all the options and choices introduced. First, lets look at the book's contents.

Part One: Foundation for Publishing Success
This section starts out with chapters on the actual writing and editing of the book. I almost skipped over this part since I am a published author looking at self-publishing, but I'm glad I didn't. It reminded me and reaffirmed information I already knew. The third chapter is on marketing--something I've never been very good at, so I definitely found this chapter informative. It talks about areas that are important to any type of publishing and those specifically targeted to self-publishing: Your target audience (who will read your book?), keywords to use (determining which ones will give you the best results), and there's 5 steps to building your marketing platform.

Part Two: Self-Publishing Your Book
There are six chapters in this section on how to self-publish in multiple formats, but it doesn't delve right into these formats. It starts out with Chapter Four - Pre-Publication Decisions. This chapter deals with choosing your book title and has six steps for that. It really has me rethinking my current working title. I have made a list of possible titles but keep going back and forth on which one to use. I plan to use the advice in this chapter to make my final decision. This chapter also explains other decisions you have to make on pricing, your book description, and choosing a category and keywords for your book. Chapter Five - Book Cover Design 101 is self-explanatory, from what is included on the front, back, and spine to whether to design your own cover or hire it out. It also gives you Book Cover design company options. Chapter Six - Self-Publishing in Print Books is about the different options you have when going through this process. I will not go into everything this chapter includes but just suffice it to say you have many options. Chapter Seven - Self-Publishing in eBooks delves into the different platforms and if you want to self-publish directly to each platform or use eBook distributors. Again there are many options from which to choose. Chapter Eight - Self-Publishing in AudioBooks and Chapter Nine - Translating Your Book. These two areas were not part of my plan until I read these two chapters and now, these are options I think I will eventually try.

Part Three: Other Publishing Decisions
This section includes two chapters: Chapter Ten - Obtaining a Copyright and Chapter Eleven - How to Form an Independent Publishing Company. I already knew about "Obtaining a Copyright" but again it reminded me and reaffirmed what I already knew. I wasn't really interested in forming my own publishing company but after reading this section I can see the benefits and may rethink the options at a later date.

The rest of the book includes: Conclusion - Self-Publishing in a Nutshell (goes over the basic steps), an excerpt from another of their books, "Marketing Your Book on Amazon", Additional Resources, and About the Experts (about the authors of this book).

The authors of this book have a Website dedicated to helping and training authors at Training Authors. They have a free newsletter and advice, videos, and they also have books and other tools for free and for purchase from themselves or others in the publishing industry.

Back to the Confusion
My author friend knew I was researching the self-publishing idea and she was also interested and emailed me about "Self-Publishing Books 101" after she read it. Her email stated, ". . . it sounds awfully complicated . . . besides writing the book, editing, formatting and getting cover art, you have to get an ISBN or ASIN number, it needs different formats for different websites" and I wrote her back explaining that she could do as much or as little as she wanted, and that most of the self-publishing outlets provide the ISBN/ASIN for you when you use their services. Now, I admit, I didn't see the confusion at first. I had taken a two-week break from my research to redesign a Web site. So, I had to go back and reread the sections on ISBN and publishing in print books and eBooks. I think the background I have in technology also helped me understand better as well as I had read other books on the subject before this one.

When I wrote her back, I explained she could start out with Amazon's Kindle for eBooks and CreateSpace for print books first, see how well her book sells, then move on to other venues like Smashwords (a publisher/distributor service). At Smashwords she could format once and they would distribute her book to multiple online bookstores; such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBook, etc. My author friend and I decided, she would edit for me and I would format for her. Editing my own writing isn't a strong area of mine. I also received an email yesterday from Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer, advertising Two-Way Templates from Book Design Templates, where you can format once and publish twice (ebooks and Print books). They are also offering 40% off until Sunday night for these new templates.

I can see how it can all be a bit overwhelming and confusing in the beginning. In my day job I'm responsible for training others on software, policies, and procedures in my field. Sometimes it is hard to explain to others what you know. Even in writing fiction, you know what you want to write, but getting your information across to readers is sometimes the hardest part. For the reader it may be that they are looking for specific information, but while looking at the many shelves of multiple options (like looking for a candy bar in a candy store), it's hard to find what you're looking for without your head swimming from all the choices. Most of the people I have met are hands-on learners, doing it and delving in helps us to remember what to do. So that's the best advice I can give: Make your decisions on how you want to proceed, go to the sections of this book on the step-by-step instructions and just do it. Each time the process will get easier. Or you also have the options of trading processes or hiring out the publishing process which leaves you open to just writing your books. Your options are almost limitless in self-publishing.

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