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Author: Varlot One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 4867  
Subject: Marketing a Novel as an eBook, the Final Chapter Date: 7/16/2012 7:08 AM
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It's been quite some time since I last posted on the ongoing process of self-publishing my novel, House of Shadows. One of the more interesting developments occured when I discovered that another author by the name of Rachel Neumeier was publishing a novel with this same exact title with a publication date approximately two weeks to follow my own. Odd bit of serendipity, that. Ah well, these things happen. (Though not very often...)

My own version of this title came out last month. The trade paperback version was put together by Createspace, a subsidiary of Amazon, and made available on June 14. These same folks made an electronic version of the manuscript for the Kindle (the format is called 'mobi'), which was made available a couple of weeks later, on June 28.

This process was quite time consuming, which is why I am only now getting around to posting about it. I will try to keep my comments regarding the process as brief as possible and not overwhelm anyone with unnecessary jargon.

Createspace is quite the professional outfit. Their primary focus is the creation of trade paperback books. While they will convert a property into Kindle format (as they did mine), it is not necessary to utilize their services for this purpose. For more information on self-publishing one's own manuscript as an ebook on Amazon, I recommend exploring the relevant topics at http://kdp.amazon.com, as an explanation of such would be far beyond the capability of a post such as this in order to do the topic justice.

I chose to go the Createspace route and have a trade paperback version of my novel done which could then be converted into a electronic format primarily as a safety measure. House of Shadows is intended to be the first in a series titled "The Breed Wars". Because of this, getting as much as possible right the first time was essential to me.

There are two basic elements to the creation of a Createspace trade paperback, the cover and the interior. These folks offer a series of pricing options to choose from. I described my needs to the rep assigned to me, who gave me a price of around $350 to do the cover. For this, I would receive two cover concepts, both front and back. I could then choose which I preferred, or combine the two (front of one, back of another). They would have also provided the cover art, but I already knew the pic I wanted to use, an image I purchased from shutterstock.com. While an additional expense, I feel it gave me greater flexibility, since I did not have to approve the cover art as well as the title font, positioning of same, etc.

I got my two cover concepts, then picked the front of one and the back of another. The price I paid entitled me to a second round of changes for no additional charge, which I ended up making use of. You can see how the cover turned out here (my apologies for the length of the link): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_gnr_aps?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahous...

A separate price was quoted for the interior, another approximately $350 or so. I uploaded my Word doc file, which they converted (as they did the cover) into a pdf file. (I was also provided with jpg files of the cover, both front and back.) Once this was done, and once the final cover was approved, I was sent a proof copy of the actual book itself. My fee entitled me to make up to eighty changes for free to the book (not counting changes made due any mistakes on their part, any of which would not count against the eighty change limit). Once I received the proof, I made note of any changes I wanted made using a spreadsheet file they provided, then uploaded same. I also requested that the cover be lightened, as I found the physical book cover noticeably darker than the image I had been provided with.

Once these changes had been made, I received a second proof. I approved it, and that was that. It did take some time for the finished product to be made available, and the release of the Kindle version took an extra two weeks or so to complete.

Now, what would I have done differently? About the only thing I can think of was that I would have given more thought to paying for their editorial services, as regards proofreading. I caught errors late in the process which I might have missed, and a good proofreader would have made the process less tense. Otherwise, I am happy with the results.

At this time the book has received one review, five out of five stars, from a member of Vine Voice, an invitation-only program which provides reviewers with access to not-yet-released products for the purpose of writing reviews. Sales are what one can reasonably expect from a first novel by a previously-unknown author. But if there is anything I have learned from this experience, it is that the best marketing tool is a crackling good story, and everyone who read House of Shadows prior to publication demonstrated the kind of unbridled enthusiasm which is very hard to fake. So from here, we'll see.

I've learned a great deal more about self-publication than could possibly be contained in a post which is already a bit long, so any future commentary must needs wait for another time. I hope any readers of this and prior posts has learned a bit from my experiences, and if anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
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