Setting my manuscript free (or sending it off to school)

I did some more research, but Amazon CreateSpace was an easy choice for me. I felt a certain loyalty towards them, it was, after all, a programme about Amazon that got me writing in the first place. And if I wanted a broad platform to launch my book, it doesn’t come much broader than the mighty Amazon. A double edged sword, possibly. On the one hand giving me the potential to reach corners of the world I have barely even heard of, on the other I would be pitching my book against millions of others. Scatter the seeds wide, and hope a few take hold? Or cultivate a small patch of ground and nurture the seed along. I don’t know the answer to that yet, maybe future blogs will be able to share.

Several people asked me if I had considered pitching to a traditional publisher first. It did enter my mind, but you hear so many stories about manuscript rejection. I had visions of a single rejection stopping me in my tracks. My manuscript languishing in archive files for eternity (or until the computer died, and unnecessary backed up files were not transferred to its replacement).

So I opened a CreateSpace account. A rather cranky website, CreateSpace, I have to say. Given who you are affiliated with. Navigation is tricky and often not clear. And I was slightly surprised to be dealing directly with the USA. Scheduling calls for Eastern Standard Time, and suffering a lag on telephone conversations. Despite the fact that we talk the same language, guys, somehow we don’t quite do we? “Thank you for reaching out to us…” is definitely not a British English phrase. Having said that, the advisors were brilliant. No question was too stupid, each and every one of them has been polite, helpful and efficient. That is worth a lot, so thank you people. (And I’m sure there were several of my English phrases that they found slightly odd, not to mention my general vagueness!)

I checked my document for a final time, painstakingly changed all my asterisk passage breaks to fleurons and uploaded the manuscript. Then I found and read the guidelines on how to make your document ready for upload, and learnt that passage breaks should be indicated with asterisks. So I sent them a message, put the asterisks back and uploaded again. This has rather been the tale of my entire experience so far. In every task I do, I locate the information about how I should have done it after the job is done. I’m not a patient person (another character flaw), but guidance or tick-boxes which appear automatically on the site would have been very helpful. You have to search and dig for everything. My advice here would be to make sure you find the guidance for each and every stage – it is there if you look hard enough.

When I first started writing, the plan was to create an e-book without any financial outlay. But as the process went along and I did further research I realised this wasn’t the route for me. Possibly I could do it with a third or fourth book, but I definitely needed assistance this first time round. I didn’t have a clue about layout or font. No idea where to begin designing a book cover. And I liked my book enough to want a physical copy. Of course there are plenty of people out there offering their services in this regard; book cover designers, proof readers, copy-editors. I am sure that many of them provide a better, more specific service than CreateSpace can via long distance communication and the constraints of budget. Again, this is something I would definitely look in to further with a future book. But it cannot be argued that the editing package which CreateSpace offered me was ridiculously good value. The fact that it was a ‘package’ enabled me to see exactly what I would be spending, without the embarrassment of getting quotes from individuals or companies, and then working out that I couldn’t afford them.

My lack of experience and impatience (again) led me to purchase a CreateSpace editing package. I’m not saying this is the best way to go, but for me this time it provided the easy option. For those of you who are looking to do this yourselves, I purchased the ‘Editing Package’ (two rounds), ‘Marketing Copy Essentials’, and ‘Custom Cover Premier’ (two cover concepts).

Tune in next time to see if I made the right choices, and how I got on with the dreaded questionnaire!

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