Friday, May 20, 2011

Self-Publishing: More Info... just in case you go there

Last month I had the great opportunity to listen to Nathan Everett, at the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) monthly meeting, talk about self-publishing.

Nathan Everett’s talk:  
"Writing was the easy part:  The Mechanics of Self-publishing.”

Synchronicity was at work. I attended Nathan’s seminar and learned a couple things that I had never thought of about self-publishing—font, and margins. And go figure, I can’t find my notes to tell you the exact secrets. But I can give you a hint… Do not use Times New Roman. Don’t skimp on inside margin space.

Nathan said that Times New Roman looks “chunky.” He also said that many publishers charge significantly more if you go over a certain number of pages because they make you increase the space on the inner margin, thus requiring more pages. Then he said, “you want it to look like a real book.” I had never thought that it wouldn't. Was this good advice?

Now synchronicity slips in.

When I returned home, a book was waiting from a friend who self-published. The moment I opened his book I realized what Nathan was talking about. The font was thick and black. "Chunky." Not the font of any book I’ve ever read... bad enough to irritate the reader. I then specifically looked at the margin space and realized it was very hard to read the words close to the inner margin—the book was too thick. The author/publisher also did not heed the advice of the inner margin spacing. There is a reason for this added space, beyond charging us for more pages.

In addition, my friend's memoir is an incredible story of an aviator’s life that could have been a best seller, but the author wouldn’t listen to the professional’s who wanted to help him tell his story. The sad news is, this book will get lost on the shelf, and perhaps the reason why self-publishing has received a bad name in the past. 

Advice to all those who are contemplating this route and want their book to fly off the shelf:

  • Find a company that does more than just print. Unless you know what you’re doing—which I certainly don’t—the price you’ll pay for an expert is worth their weight in gold. Cliché? Of course; but true.
  • Hire an editor, or have people you trust to read and find holes. You want them to point out everything they see— you only get one first chance to do it right.
  • Read your novel, as many times as necessary, until you don’t find anything to change.

Before you make your decision: 
  • Read what Melissa Ohnoutka and Kristie Cook have to say about their  self-publishing experiences 
  • Visit Krissi Dallas, our hero, who self-published first, then was picked up by a traditional publisher.
  • If you decide to publish, and want to keep the cost low buy using a publisher where you format and upload, contact Nathan. He's brilliant and will help.

Click on the names below to visit your Self-Publishing Resources: 

Tell us what you think about self-publishing, and share your resources. More than that, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing? Is there a downside if your book is perfect? 

Enjoy the Journey!
~ Karlene


  1. Excellent advice and resources, Karlene. It's certainly a big question with more and more people wanting to know the ins and outs than ever!

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I'm tucking it away for the future, in case I ever decide to go the self-pub route.

    I think that each book has to be taken on it's own, to decide if self-pub is the right path or not. Here's great check-list, if you're trying to decide.

  3. Awesome post Karlene! I'm so sorry I missed that meeting. It sounds like it was very informative. Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest recently wrote an interesting post on self-publishing as well. I agree with Susan (above) in that the decision is different for each book and each writer.

  4. Thanks for your comment Linda. There are many questions... we just have to make sure to do it right.

  5. Susan, you are so welcome. I've been compiling and tucking away for the future just in case too.

  6. Thanks Heather. I wish you could have been there too. So much to learn, but so many are having a great success with the self-publishing.

  7. Thanks for the great links Karlene. This is terrific advice. It is so important to get it right the first time...

    Have a great weekend ladies.

  8. Thank you Michael! You have a nice weekend too!

  9. I'd be waaaaay to terrified to do this. I know I'd release it and instantly find lots of spelling errors. Not the way I want to make a splash. Interesting about the font and margins. I'd never heard that before!

  10. Excellent advice, Karlene! I wish I'd had it back when I self-pubbed. Haha. :) I did make the mistake of too many words on one page - but that was because it was going to be a $4 difference for my readers if I didn't lower the page count somehow!! I'm still glad I did it and saved readers' pennies, because I have honestly only had one person say something about it in a review. And she still gave the story high ratings - point being that if you have a story that is fresh and that people love, formatting won't necessarily deter them. So, this is GREAT advice for future self-pubbers, but for those out there, who (like me) already made some of the same mistakes - it's OKAY! Believe in your story and promote its concept - not its formatting. Haven't e-books taught us that? The ebooks I buy are formatted VERY boring, but I still buy them because the story/concept is what I'm sold on. My imagination fills in gaps and makes up for any boring formatting issues. :)
    And thanks for including me in this post! I am certainly NOT an expert in any way - just did what I thought was best for my story. Ha. I've certainly learned a LOT through my experience. Love you, Critique Sisters!!!

  11. Oh, and I just realized the link on my name doesn't work... Hmmm? Was it going to my blog or my website?

    Thanks again! :)