Welcome to Day #4 of Backpacked Week! To celebrate/constantly remind you about the fact that my new travel memoir, Backpacked, is out now until you buy a copy of it, I’m posting every weekday this fine week about aspects of this most recent self-publishing headache– I mean, um, process…
First, a reminder (or, another one): Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America is out now! It’s the story of the three months I spent backpacking across Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, despite me not wanting to. If you read Mousetrapped, this is what happened next. If you didn’t read Mousetrapped because you’re not into Disney or NASA, rest assured this new book features neither of them. And you can buy it for your Kindle for just $2.99, or for your shelf for $14.95. Visit the Backpacked website for more information, or just hang around here, where I will be CONSTANTLY REMINDING YOU ABOUT THIS AT REGULAR INTERVALS until Friday.
Then I’ll stop.
Today I’m going to talk about how much work self-publishing is.
I think people get the wrong idea because we – self-publishers – tell them things like, “You can publish a book on CreateSpace in half an hour” and “It only takes a few minutes to upload an e-book.” I’m as guilty of this as anyone, because I like to encourage people to self-publish (good books). I want people to understand that it’s achievable. But self-publishing – even self-publishing like this, just POD paperbacks and e-books – is a whole hell of hard work if you do it properly, or try to.
This time around and to help demonstrate this, I decided to keep a list of everything I had to do to self-publish Backpacked in POD paperback with CreateSpace and e-books with Amazon KDP and Smashwords, or to get to the point I am with it today.
So what have I had to do to get Backpacked out into the world?
- (February 2011) Decide to write and release the book
- Decide on a release month (not enough information for release date yet)
- Register a new free WordPress blog to act as Backpacked‘s dedicated book site
- Upgrade free blog URL to “backpackedbook.com”
- Set site to “private” while it’s under construction
- Take “scrapbook” picture to go on the cover
- Start new “scrapbox” for Backpacked; I use one of these for each book
- Mock up front cover design in MS Word
- E-mail cover designer mock up and ask for quote
- E-mail copyeditor and ask for quote
- Blog about decision to write and self-publish it
- Update Twitter profile, etc. with news of Backpacked
- Write a synopsis
- Blog the synopsis
- Get e-book (front) cover from designer to use for promotion
- Construct backpackedbook.com and set it to public
- Rearrange catherineryanhoward.com to make room for links, etc. about Backpacked
- Share cover design with blog readers and Facebook fans
- Write the book (Um yeah, that only comes now…)
- Edit first draft
- Send book to Sarah, my copyeditor
- Send book to Sheelagh, my best friend who’s in the book, so she can okay it
- Mock-up rough interior to get page count
- With page count, determine manufacturing cost using CreateSpace’s calculators
- Use manufacturing costs to determine list price
- Get cover designer to build an online bookstore* so readers can pre-order signed copies
- Mock-up design, liaise with designer to perfect online bookstore
- Set online bookstore to live and start to advertise it
- Download full cover template from CreateSpace
- Send template to cover designer along with instructions for back cover
- Send update to Mousetrapped page Facebook fans re: pre-ordering Backpacked
- … and to everyone in my e-mail contacts list…
- … and to everyone who ordered a copy of Mousetrapped from me…
- … and to everyone the More Mousetrapped mailing list…
- … and blog a reminder too, just for good measure.
- Answer interview questions for Alyssa Martino’s blog.
- Close online bookstore.
- Make a list of books ordered and print out receipts from PayPal.
- Upload 70+ photos to Backpackedbook.com to make slideshow and…
- … write captions for every single one of them while watching Outnumbered.
- Ok Backpacked‘s paperback cover design.
- Work out remaining timeline and set release date.
- Set up new title on CreateSpace.
- Upload finished PDF cover file to CreateSpace.
- Work through copyeditor’s suggestions, accepting/rejecting changes.
- Create two copies of MS – one destined to be e-book, one a paperback.
- Download CreateSpace interior MS Word template.
- Copy and paste in edited text and format interior.
- Insert free ISBN provided by CS onto copyright page.
- Go through interior again, fixing errors.
- Upload interior file to CreateSpace and submit for review.
- Order a proof copy so I can see for first time what cover, font, etc. looks like.
- Create a PDF version of Backpacked to send to blogger friends.
- Make this video about editing.
- Go through proof copy looking for errors and adjust interior file with corrections.
- Send interior file to copyeditor for proofreading.
- Buy envelopes for sending pre-orders.
- Take e-book MS and prepare it for upload – one for Kindle, one for Smashwords.
- Smashwords version won’t convert properly; try again.
- Smashwords version won’t convert properly; try again.
- Figure out only way to make it work is to “go nuclear”, i.e. strip out all formatting then go back and put it in.
- Upload/publish this new file to Smashwords.
- Upload/publish this new file to Amazon KDP too, so they match.
- Upload proofread interior file to CreateSpace.
- Order proof copies of this final version.
- Download .mobi version from Smashwords and send to friends/reviewers.
- Purchase royalty free music for book trailer.
- Use JING to record video for book trailer.
- Make book trailer using iMovie.
- Upload book trailer to YouTube and Vimeo.
- Check second – and final – proof copy.
- Click “Approve Proof” on CreateSpace (i.e. publish).
- Pay for ProPlan upgrade on CreateSpace.
- Order enough stock to cover pre-orders.
- Send “Out now!” message to everyone on my mailing list and the More Mousetrapped mailing list with MailChimp.
- Post “Out now!” status updates on Mousetrapped‘s Facebook page.
- Add book trailer to Smashwords listing.
- Add book trailer to Goodreads Author Profile.
- Set up new Google Alert for “Backpacked” + my name
- Add new section for Backpacked to my sales data spreadsheet
- Add Backpacked to bibliography in Amazon Author Central.
- E-mail Amazon to get them to link paperback to Kindle edition.
- Update Mousetrapped e-books with links to Backpacked’s e-book.
- Update Mousetrapped paperback interior with Backpacked in the “Also By…”
- Update Self-Printed e-books with links to Backpacked’s e-book.
- Update Self-Printed paperback interior with Backpacked in the “Also By…”
- Update blog, booksite etc. changing “Coming soon” to “Out now!” and links to buy.
- Update Goodreads author profile.
- Write 5 x launch day blog posts (including this one); schedule them for posting
- (Today) Keel over.
And as the stock to cover the pre-orders is somewhere between North Carolina and here right now, I have yet to:
- Sign and pack stock orders; send them out.
- Print out all invoices and update cost/profit spreadsheet
- Sell stock to family and friends.
And by the way, I haven’t really done a major publicity push with this book. If I had, we’d have to add things like finding reviewers, e-mailing them, creating and printed an information sheet, sending review copies, etc. and maybe try to organize a blog tour and a giveaway. The book trailer and blogging about it are all I’m doing. Nor have I had a launch, which would mean organizing a venue, ordering in stock, creating and ordering printed materials (posters, bookmarks, etc.) and contacting the local press in the hope they’d cover it. The list above, in other words, is the least amount of work I could possibly do for one of my self-published books.
It’s self-publishing on a quiet day.
*You can’t conduct commerce of any kind from free WordPress blogs, so I had to “hide” another self-hosted site inside my free one to act as the bookstore.