A Leap of Faith: Self-Publication Online

At the end of my last blog I described how I’d decided to self-publish Landsliding on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform – and then a whole new set of problems faced me.

  1. Obviously the whole manuscript would need to be edited and proofread – but how would I ever be certain when it was ready to go online? There would be no professional editor to advise or help me.
  2. How did one start to go about uploading a book online – how did you format it, choose the font, design a cover or promote it? I had no idea about any of those things.
  3. And suppose I received loads of negative reviews – was I resilient enough to cope, without being put off writing for life? I really wasn’t sure.

I knew I had to start somewhere, so first of all I read carefully through the whole manuscript, looking for any discrepancies, errors or typos. Then I asked a couple of my writing group friends – ones who hadn’t seen it before – to read the text and give their honest views. Once they fed back their thoughts, I made a few amendments to take their views into account.

In the meantime I had set myself up on KDP so I’d be ready to publish when the time came; happily, the admin part wasn’t as complex as I’d anticipated. Also, it turned out that both the formatting and the font were standardised as part of the process so I wouldn’t have any worries about those.

The question of cover design was problematic, as I was loathe to spend time and/or money on commissioning an illustrator to create one for me. Being an Aries I’m incredibly impatient; I want to do everything straight away with no hanging around.

I don’t know how it works on KDP nowadays but when I did it there was a very simple graphic design package whereby you could design your cover for free. So with the help of my daughter Susannah I created an extremely basic cover, hoping its lack of visual appeal wouldn’t deter potential readers.

Landsliding’s original cover (!)

After that was done, I proofed the text several more times to look for typos and was shocked to find how tiny errors can creep past you time after time. This was a really labour intensive task as each read-through took a full day. By the time I’d proofed it seven times I got to the stage where it was as perfect as it was going to get – so I was ready to upload and put Landsliding online.

This was the really terrifying part. Pressing ‘Upload’ literally terrified me – I knew that once it was online my work would be exposed to the world, risking both praise and ridicule. In the end I more or less just closed my eyes and took a leap of faith, feeling a mix of exhilaration (I’ve done it!) and abject terror (What the hell have I done?)

A couple of my friends bought the book immediately and posted glowing reviews within a couple of days. Living in rural France, as I was then, word spread fast through the local expat community so it was no problem to promote it locally. 

But beyond the local area and my friends in the UK, I had little idea about publicity. After selling around 100 virtual copies I seemed to have hit an impasse so – to try and widen the net – I did the following things:

  • I started an author Facebook account, having always sworn to keep away from social media
  • I sent the book’s Amazon link to reviewers and editors
  • I tried to interest local magazines in reviewing it 
  • I asked our local library in France (which had a popular English section) if they’d like me to give an author reading 

To my disappointment,  everyone I approached said they needed to see the actual printed book. Nowadays it’s no disadvantage to be published only in ebook format ; there have been some massively successful e-authors such as crime fiction writer  LJ Ross who’s sold nearly 5 million books. But, for me, particularly with no expert knowledge of social media, it was way too hard to get the message out to the world.

It was so frustrating. I had huge belief in my book and knew I could get people interested if only there was a product to show them. In the end I realised there was only one answer; to get copies printed myself. So now I’d be self publishing in paperback format – and the next phase of Landsliding’s journey was about to begin.

Celebrating my big accomplishment!

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