Challenge Completed – Self Publishing My Poetry Book

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Challenge Completed! You can now find my poetry book, “On a Saturday, you came home“, on Amazon and Kindle Direct.  Let me walk you through how I made this happen because it was a hell of a lot harder than I deluded myself into believing.

Over a month ago I had a blog post where I challenged myself to write a book of poetry in one day.  On top of that, I boasted that I would then self-publish it and throw it into the ether for kicks. I did manage to finish the book in one day. While my ignorance of good poetry let me write quantity over quality, I’ve come to realize that it is near-impossible to write poetry without emotionally gutting yourself. As flippant as I was about the whole thing, I’m kind of shocked at how much emotion came out and am somewhat embarrassed to be sharing it at all.

Honestly, the self-publishing is the hard part. Anyone without a background in layout and design should probably go ahead and spend some money on hiring a professional.

To start with I made things harder for myself by deciding that I would add images to enhance the reading experience. I’m pretty good with InDesign so the layout work wasn’t terrible. When you publish in print you have to keep the gutter margins in consideration and that can be difficult when you’re not using a template DOC file from CreateSpace (or lulu, etc).  Poetry is a bit more forgiving since the text was more towards the middle of the page.

I couldn’t use only the images I made in one day. I mean I could have, but I guess that was too much quality to be compromising for me. So I added some more images from my photo library.

And this is when I started taking things way too seriously. What font should I use? What order should the poems be in? Should the font here be white on top of the darker photo. I was being very nitpicky and had to constantly tell myself “V, this is no big deal. It doesn’t matter. There’s all of like 10 people who will ever see this.”

Finally, I was ready to go to CreateSpace. Why there? Well, I have done a bit of researching on self-publishing in the past. I’ve looked into it because of NaNoWriMo and for a class. Since I was making this book despite the stigma of self-publishing, it wasn’t a giant leap to just sell my soul to Amazon so to speak. At least for this project which is more an experiment. I know Amazon is the ire of the publishing world, but who was seriously going to publish my book of poetry? And why Amazon and not some other self-publishing company? Let’s not kid ourselves, you go with Amazon and your book is available to millions, just like that. I might make those 84 cents I was looking forward to.

After the layout work comes the pdf to upload. I labeled each pdf with a letter as a suffix to show which revision I was up to. The book I have on Amazon is revision Q. I’ll tell you how I got up that high: some misspelled words, a change of fonts, adding my mother, changing the name on my dedication, adding an About the Author, darkening a few images, and two proof copies later. Finally, after all the input and fixes I had the book down.

Then came the ebook version. I soon realized I couldn’t do the fancy layouts for the ebook version. I’m sure some grand publishers have figured out how to do this, but I was already investing too much time into this project.  The ebook version is image free aside from the front cover. And because I agreed to have it exclusive to Amazon Kindle for 90 days (ha,ha) you should be able to borrow it from the Amazon library for free if you subscribe to that service.

Now what did I learn from this:

  • Writing poetry is exhausting. Maybe if I had even lower standards it wouldn’t have been so hard.
  • Book publishing is some serious business, thank god I had a little experience already.
  • When I do finish editing my novel I will pitch it places and hope it’s not too strange for everyone.  Someone else can do all this formatting craziness.
  • It’s too early to tell if I would self-publish again, but maybe. It’s very satisfying to be able to search for myself on Amazon.
  • I’m not even done! Author Page on Amazon? How do I make viewers able to Look Inside the book? Should I tell people I actually know what I’ve done? Did you know it takes 24 hours or more for the print and ebook editions to sink up?

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