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Self-publishing: Formatting Your Novel for Amazon and Createspace

CreateSpace Indie print publishing made easy. ACX Indie audiobook publishing made easy. KDP Terms and Conditions. Privacy Notice. Community Guidelines. That's OK. Some of the services are worth it -- or at least may be worth it.

It was good while it lasted and it helped me sell dozens, if not hundreds, of books. Personally, I'd never work with CreateSpace's in-house editors, copy editors, and in-house design people.

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That doesn't mean they're bad at what they do I've seen some covers that are well-done. But if you can, it's better to hire your own people and work directly with them. Ideally, you should be able to meet with an editor, copy editor, and graphic designer in person -- and they all should have experience in book publishing. Down the road, I suspect you'll see more self-publishers offer high-end programs that pair you with a former editor from a major publishing house. It's also worth mentioning that Amazon has become a publisher itself, with several imprints that it's either bought or created.

Amazon is in the process of developing a new hybrid model for publishing that aims to take the place of traditional publishers, which it sometimes refers to as "legacy" publishers. You can see a list of Amazon's imprints here. With its flagship Encore imprint , it selects certain "exceptional" self-published titles from "emerging" authors and brings them under the Amazon umbrella so to speak.

It's a good gig if you can get it. If you're serious about your book, hire a book doctor and get it copy edited.

You can now manage your CreateSpace content on Amazon's improved publishing services.

OK, so I've just told to avoid " packages " from publishers and yet I'm now saying you need editing and copy editing. So, where do you go? Well, before I sent my book out to agents, I hired a "book doctor" who was a former acquisition editor from a major New York publishing house like most editors he worked at a few different houses.

He happened to be the father of a friend from college, so I got a little discount, but it still wasn't cheap. However, after I'd made the changes he suggested, he made some calls to agents he knew and some were willing to take a look.

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He was part of Independent Editors Group IEG , a group of former acquisition editors who take on freelance editing projects for authors. While I didn't use his copy editor I used a friend of a friend who currently works at a big publishing house , he and other editors in his group can suggest people.

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To be clear, this isn't going to be a better deal than what you'd get from a package deal with a self-publisher, but these people are experienced and are going to be upfront and honest with you. They're not just pushing your book out to move it along the line on the conveyor belt, though they are trying to make a living. Warning: they don't take on all writers.

By no means is IEG the only game in town. And there are plenty of others. CreateSpace and other self-publishing companies are always offering special deals on their various services. There isn't whole lot of leeway, but it doesn't hurt to ask for deal sweeteners -- like more free copies of your book they often throw in free copies of your book. It also doesn't hurt to ask about deals that have technically expired. In sales, everything is negotiable. Remember, these people have quotas and bonuses at stake.

For their sake, I hope they do anyway. That's great, but when you're dealing with a superbasic package, you're most likely going to be doing customer support via e-mail or IM, and get very little hand-holding. It's nice to be able to call up and complain in a nice way, of course directly to a live person on the phone, so take that into account when you're examining your package options.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to self-publishing is that they expect to just put out a book and have it magically sell. They might even hire a publicist and expect something to happen. It's just not so. You have to be a relentless self-promoter. Unfortunately, a lot people just don't have the stomach or time for it. What's the secret to marketing your book successfully? Well, the first thing I advise -- and I'm not alone here -- is to come up with a marketing plan well before you publish your book.

The plan should have at least five avenues for you to pursue because chances are you're going to strike out on a couple of lines of attack. It's easy to get discouraged, so you have to be ready to move on to plan c, d, and e and the rest of the alphabet pretty quickly. These days there's a lot of talk about a "blog strategy," and many well-known authors do virtual book tours where they offer up interviews to various blogs.

You probably won't have that luxury, but you can certainly research what blogs might be interested in your book and prepare pitches for them.


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There are social media campaigns to wage, local media angles to pursue, organizations to approach, and all kinds of out-of-the-box gambits you can dream up. None of this will cost you a whole lot -- except time and perhaps a little pride. Then there's the stuff you pay for. And it's tricky to judge what's a good investment and what's not because the results vary so much from book to book.

He's still trying to figure out what impact the ads had, but Facebook does have some interesting marketing opportunities. And a number of self-serve ad networks are popping up, including Blogards Book Hive , which allows you to target a number of smaller book blogs for relatively affordable rates. The author MJ Rose has a marketing service called AuthorBuzz that caters to both self-publishers and traditional publishers. She says: "We place the ads in subject-related blogs, not book blogs. For instance, if it's a mystery about an antiques dealer, we don't just buy blogs for self-identified readers -- who are not the bulk of book buyers -- but rather I'll find a half dozen blogs about antiques, culture, art and investments and buy the ads there and track them.

She also says that you can't really spend too much, you can just spend poorly. I agree. However, I can't tell you what impact a week or month of ads on blogs will have on your specific book's sales. There are simply too many variables. Bonus tip : When it comes to self-promotion, there's a fine line between being assertive and being overly aggressive in an obnoxious way. As one friend told me, the state you want to achieve is what she likes to call "comfortably tenacious. Getting your book in bookstores sounds good, but that shouldn't be a real concern. You may have always wanted to see your book in a bookstore but bookstores aren't keen on carrying self-published books and it's extremely difficult to get good placement in the store for your book so chances are no one will see the three copies the store has on hand anyway.

Furthermore, your royalty drops on in-store sales. Some of the self-publishing outfits offer distribution through Ingram. Yes, it's true. It's very hard to get your self-published book reviewed -- and the mantra in the traditional publishing world is that reviews sell books. But that's changing a bit. People didn't take bloggers seriously at first and now they do. To find out once and for all, we printed a book using four of today's most popular services — and we're revealing the results in this post.

Update March 12222

To ensure we got the real indie author experience, we printed a copy of Not the Faintest Trace — a novel by Reedsy author Wendy M. Wilson, formatted through the Reedsy Book Editor , and designed by Patrick Knowles — from the four print-on-demand companies. We then had each copy delivered to BookTuber Mandi Lynn so that she could give us her indie author input.