Major Lessons Learned for Self-Publishing (so far…)

This Fall I spontaneously decided to publish a book of poetry. I’m currently on the self-publishing route at the moment—that way I only have to rely on myself to make things happen and not a major publishing firm to play the “years of waiting game.” I don’t claim to be an expert on publishing whatsoever, I’m literally doing this on my own and sharing my experiences!

The collection of poetry and prose revolves around the topics of anxiety and depression, so I had a goal to have something done and published on December 10, which was the anniversary of my first panic attack that got the ball rolling on taking care of myself. Well, there are a lot of moving parts to self-publishing that I’m learning while going through the process. As of right now, December 18, there is no book yet. I’m working real hard trying to tame my anxiety to not freak out and equate this to failure since I set a date for my book release and worked hard to get there. So, instead, I am trying to reassure myself that this is just part of the hustling process, that this is me learning lessons for my next set of books, that I am still going to get this done so therefore it is not a failure. And on top of that, I’m doing this on my own and making it happen for myself. It’s just that I’ve been so excited and anxious to physically hold a copy of my book and share it with everyone that I don’t want to delay it any longer.

Anyway, the point of this post is that there are some things that I underestimated and didn’t research thoroughly (or rather early) enough:

1) Get your title and cover situated much earlier.
For me, this came later in the game because I was focused on the interior content—text and images. It would be wiser for future works that decisions for title and cover come much earlier. I didn’t think about the amount of research and options I would have to select an artist to trust with my cover. Not to mention the emails back and forth nature of getting a crystal clear understanding from both parties AND both of us having busy schedules where things happen that cause delay. **Disclaimer: I am not saying I am unhappy with my artist or that I have any ill will—the point here is that these things will happen so plan ahead for more time rather than less.

2) Don’t file for copyright too early.
When you file for your copyright they want the most updated version of your work. That said, I submitted what I THOUGHT was my most up-to-date, but later on, after the fact, I started looking at my manuscript some more while I was determining the cover/back cover/spine situation for my artist. I realized that the formatting of Left and Right pages were off and the headers and footers were not synced up correctly, so basically I had to re-do the entire thing with a new template that I got from CreateSpace, which I had tried to do myself manually with Microsoft Word. Needless to say I couldn’t make too many drastic changes to the content since I had already submitted it, but the point is to wait and double check everything multiple times before you send it. Contrary to getting your artist and cover earlier, get the copyright much later.

3) Allow WEEKS for the actual proofing, printing and publishing process.
Another thing I didn’t research too thoroughly until later in the game is how long the proof/print/publishing process would take. I was naive to think that I just simply had to submit the manuscript and cover and PRESTO!—instantly done. A couple weeks ago I started the submission process on CreateSpace and realized that there things I didn’t think about:

• there is a specific template for the cover submission that was dependent on your book length (duh)
• the amount of time it would take to physically print and mail a copy to me for proofing
• the amount of time it would take to make the revisions and get that finalized
• the amount of time it’s going to take to order and receive my final copies
• the amount of time it’s going to take time for everything to officially get posted for others to see and purchase

All of this on top of Christmas and New Year’s holidays coming up—that’s going to push the release date even further.

Again, I’m maintaining my anxiety about not getting this done sooner. There’s nothing I can do at this point but roll with the punches and play a bit of a waiting game, but I’d rather do that and get everything done right than rush and make mistakes. A few months ago, I went to a self-publishing panel at a conference where an author on the panel talked about how they were so excited for their first book, and when it was finally published, they found many, many errors and formatting issues that they had to go through the publishing process again for a revised second edition.

This published book is a major goal for me right now, and as long as I follow through with it and eventually hold a copy of it in the near future, I’m happy.


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