Wednesday, January 30, 2013


By Lin Cochran

Nobody has ever accused me of being a slow learner until now, but I wasted a lot of time and money learning how to do something I could have learned quickly and for free had I only known about publishing partners.

First, a course exploring self-publishing clarified what I had always suspected—traditional publishers take all the fun out of it. You do all that work writing the book, only to end up hating the title and cover they put on it, because the marketing department has to justify its existence. Two additional courses and every book I paid hard-earned money for were unnecessary.

The majority of books on self-publishing are about how they used to do it. Like most things digital, self-publishing changes every 15 minutes. Nobody told me the books would be obsolete five minutes before I bought them.

As it turns out, the most expedient way to publish your own book, be it print or digital, is to go straight to the source. For print books, that usually means CreateSpace or Lightning Press. I used CreateSpace. Lightning Press expects you to know what you are doing. For e-books, Kindle and Smashwords are the way to go. I used both. CreateSpace, Kindle, and Smashwords act as publishing partners. Your success is their success; therefore, they all provide complete details for formatting books to be published through their venues. For free. And when some detail or other changes, it is announced on their forums or in a blog. They assume we are participating in their forums and reading their blogs. It is a mistake not to; they provide free, up-to-date, accurate, possible-to-follow (if not easy) instructions, and a way to check your work to see if you did it correctly. You will be amazed at how small errors that would go unnoticed on a computer screen become glaring zits on the nose of Miss America once viewed in book form. Just follow the instructions provided by your publishing partner.

To publish a print book, set up an account with CreateSpace and list the working title. Make up the details as you answer the questions asked by CreateSpace. This will force you to think like a publisher. This is not easy for writers, but now you are a writer and a publisher, so learn to think like both. Head straight for the blogs and forums.

Same for an eBook. Download Amazon’s free how-to style books, which walk you through formatting your manuscript for both Kindle and Smashwords. Some details are significantly different, especially when uploading. Again, blogs and forums fill in the blanks, but I only learned this after 18 failed attempts to publish Love of my Lives on Smashwords. Eighteen! before it was accepted into the hallowed Premium Catalog. I feared slow learning had aged into no learning.

Every now and then I have to go look on Amazon to make sure the book is still there. It proves though slow I may be, I’m no sissy.
About the Author

Atlanta native Lin Cochran is author of three non-fiction books on spiritual principles. She lived in Florida for 30 years, where for she wrote newspaper features and columns for a local newspaper, and was a columnist for an international magazine. Now she writes and lives in Salem, South Carolina, with her husband and Lily, a rescued Labradoodle, plus a rescued tabby cat named Silver.

 Love of My Lives is her first novella. It is about reincarnation, romance, and murder.
Learning to self-publish opened the way to becoming an instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) associated with Clemson University, where in March she will be teaching a short adult-education course titled, How to Publish an e-book.


Caroline said...

Good post. Enjoyed reading it.

David said...

I smiled all the way through your post as it seemed to mirror what I did and will continue to do. If one of the old school publishers wants to publish one of my books that's fine. Create Space has and will serve me well.

Deborah Dee Harper said...

Excellent post! Thanks for the great tips--I always love to ride on the back of someone who's already done the hard work :-) Seriously, though, I appreciate hearing about your experiences. Great job.


J.B. DiNizo said...

I really enjoyed reading this column. I use CreateSpace too and like them a lot.

Linda Robinson said...

Thanks for the post, Lin. I'm planning to take the self-pub route for my third manuscript, so this was encouragement in perfect timing.

Marilyn said...

Thanks, Lin, for your very helpful post. I self-published my memoir, Silent Echoes, with Outskirts Press, and very pleased. But without competent marketing by the author (unless they can pay for it), books do have a short life. Now I'm looking to publish with KDP, hoping for more traffic. Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing your experience.