You've somehow stumbled upon the page of Dan DeWitt, genre-hopping author of the zombie thriller ORPHEUS, the Norse mythology adventure ODINSONS, and the horror short-story collection UNDERNEATH. There's lots more where those came from, so stick around.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A four-letter word to describe the self-publishing process.


What did you think I was going to say?

So, you have a release date in mind? Great! Congrats on your accomplishment! Now start formatting your book. Do. Not. Wait.

If you've actually noticed that I'm behind schedule for everything but the Smashwords releases of Orpheus and Underneath...well that's awesome that you noticed. Thanks!

Back on topic, this isn't a result of lack of work on my part. I've written, rewritten, re-rewritten until I want to punch myself repeatedly in the face just to break up the monotony.

The problem is that this first-timer just didn't know how long it can take.

I'm going through Smashwords for the ebooks. You may have heard that. Anyway, when you publish through Smashwords, your book will be listed not only on their site (which gives limited exposure) but on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc. because that's where you really want to be.

However, that is contingent upon getting accepted into the Premium catalog. That sounds a lot more daunting than it is. Getting into the Premium catalog means that your book is properly formatted and has an acceptable cover image.

This is where the delays come in. Proper formatting is very specific. If you have too many line breaks in a row, it will get rejected. If your table of contents isn't right, it will get rejected. A zillion other things will get your book rejected. Each submission and rejection cycle takes a few days at minimum, and these delays pile up in a hurry.

Of course, I could always skip this whole step and publish directly on the various booksellers, but then I fear I'd be putting out an embarrassing product.* In all honesty, sometimes an author only gets one real shot, and following Smashwords' stringent guidelines gives that author (read: "me") the best chance for success. One note: this only concerns formatting, not editing. Even if you format your work perfectly, make sure it's properly edited first or you're wasting everyone's time.

The upside is that I know all of this now. My next release, Ragnarok, is slated for release in November. Guess when I'm starting the publishing process?

* A person at my old job self-published a murder mystery directly on Amazon. I downloaded the sample and knew what I was in for quite literally one paragraph in. The line breaks and justifications were all over the place. Unsurprisingly, it was poorly-edited, as well. The kicker was that the author had a list price of $14.95. They did everything wrong, and may have derailed any chance they have of being a successful author. Do your research.

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