"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Self-Publishing Experiences

Recently, I revised two publications and submitted them as ePubs to Smashwords.

I also created a PDF/a using Libre Office of the revised RKFNC to submit to Lulu to create a POD.

Then, I formatted a new publication, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities Marketing Report, Mérida, México in Pages, created an ePub and submitted it to Smashwords.

But, the preparation of the revised publications took months because I struggled to format the manuscripts created in Pages, exported as ePubs, to get the format I wanted, or to convert to a docx to create a PDF/a format.

I had so many problems, I can't remember them all. But, most days, I would start out optimistically, thinking it would take a couple of hours to fix the current problems and then find myself at 10pm at night still trying to fix problems.

I tried Open Office to create a PDF/a format but never got past all the formatting errors. Then, I tried Libre Office. I finally figured it out when I formatted the revised RKFNC.

I had almost 16 versions of each manuscript in attempts to fix formatting and image problems. Conversions of previous manuscripts produced loss of formatting, changes in styles, and image disarrangements. In one conversion, I kept getting Arial microcode font which I never used.

The takeaway from these issues was the realization that even though I tried to use a clean manuscript, in some  cases, I was using a file that had been formatted for a particular use and using the same file for another format introduced errors in coding. Coding I could often not see.

When I converted BGAO from pages to an ePub format, I had fewer problems because I was using the original file even though I had revised the manuscript many, many times.

Converting the revised RKFNC from a docx using LibreOffice to a PDF/a was a little easier than creating an ePub. I did have to fix some formatting errors. But, generally, the process was fairly smooth.

For authors who only produce about one book a year, I feel that I have to learn how to use various software programs all over again.

While using Lulu was fairly straightforward, I made a few mistakes and lost some work and had to start over.

I use macbook with Pages, Word for Mac, Preview and PhotoscapeX. While I had a few other software packages just a year ago, it seems I keep losing them when I upgrade my devices. But, in general, I don't want to spend any more money on software just to produce a book.

Plus, I hope the big software developers realize their popup reminders are aggravating. I ignore them now. I delay updating my software because it means too much downtime while it reloads and often I lose some functionality in the updated software.

Below are charts I created to try and capture the elements of making choices when you choose to self-publish. These charts are incomplete as I continue to gather information. Also, these represent my personal experiences, I know others who use several of these online publishers and are happy with their services.

Because this process took so long, over that time, I began to sense changes in the eBook marketplace. Large eTailers seem to be abandoning support for free or low-cost publications. Other online publishers have increased their fees and costs.

Unless you wrote a bestseller, or are an established author, or a popular niche author, it will be hard to get eyes on your products.

While I have researched and attempted to tackle marketing, it is a huge endeavor to try and find your audience, especially, if you write eclectic books like I do.

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