Quick n’ dirty tips, self-publishing business

Hi, kids–

So I’m getting ready to release another novella on Kindle (and other self-publishing outlets).

And that requires a few steps. Here are some of the quick n’ dirty things I do.

After I finish and fine-tune the manuscript, I send it to an editor to check it over. I also have it proofread once I’ve made the editing changes. While that’s going on, I’m working on getting a cover ready. I have someone who puts those together for me, so I find an image I want to use and make sure that I’ve paid for it (unless it’s in the public domain or it’s my personal photograph or artwork), and that I follow the stipulations with regard to crediting that image in the frontmatter of my ebook (if the source requires that). I also make sure I understand whether I need to pay again in a year to renew the license to use.

I also copyright the work. The US Copyright Office has made it a lot easier these days to do that, especially for ebooks and presently unpublished works. They have a whole division now for online submissions. For a standard literary work, it’ll cost you about $35 unless you live in a specific state (not sure why those states run a little higher–about $65). The easiest thing, I discovered, was to create an account at the online copyright office.

Here’s the link with some info about the eCO online system, as they call it. And here’s what the login page for eCO looks like. You can also register a new account there.

Here’s the link to the main copyright office. There’s lots of info there, and I was able to navigate the eCO system pretty easily. And with an account set up, it’s convenient.

Okay, so we have all that done.

Make sure you have an account with Kindle Direct Publishing (or whatever platform you’re going to sell from). Because I’m currently with KDP, I’ve supplied that link. But here’s the link to Smashwords, which is another popular platform. If you’re indie publishing for the first time, I strongly recommend you read all the FAQs and tips before you try to get started. Familiarize yourself with the programs and make sure you understand the contracts and the way royalties work.

I then make sure I have the electronic file in proper format for Kindle (and other platforms). Kindle offers the chance for you to go through the manuscript in Kindle format before you make it public, which is good because you can then go through and make sure the formatting is okay. If you have to make corrections, however, you have to make the corrections in the original file and then upload it again. Yeah. I upload quite a few times.

Then you upload your cover image (make sure it fits the specs of the platform you’re using). Because I’m super anal, I check and re-check everything. One thing I noticed that seems to help readers is if you include a word count and Kindle page count (not sure how that works with other platforms — authors, chime in!). You can add that to your synopsis, which will appear on your Amazon sales page.

The thing is, it’s not just a matter of finishing a manuscript and then ta-da, it’s uploaded. There’s a lot of detail work that goes into self-publishing after you’ve written the work. Sure, that’s the heavy lifting part, but make sure you understand the platform you’re working with, that you understand the contracts you’ve signed, and that you follow instructions closely. It’s kind of a pain the first time around, but well worth the effort you put in to learning how it all works before you try to go live.

And if you have any tips to add, PLEASE DO!

Happy reading, happy writing, happy publishing.

4 thoughts on “Quick n’ dirty tips, self-publishing business

  1. Good information. Thanks, Andi. I wouldn’t have thought about the copyright, and that’s basic stuff. See how much I take for granted because Bold Strokes does that work for me?

  2. (I’m asking because I’ve never done that, and assumed that because I wrote it and put it out there, and maybe even put a copyright on it, it was “mine.”) What’s the $35 get you?

  3. I copyright my stuff through the US Copyright Office so that I have indisputable proof that the work is, in fact, mine. I get an official piece of paper in the mail that I can scan and email to prove copyright. Filing an official copyright establishes a public record that gives you legal leverage and puts others on notice that you, in fact, have claimed protection under US copyright laws to protect your work. An official copyright filing also secures you the right to pursue damages against someone who has violated your copyright. It’s another layer of protection. You can’t sue for damages unless your copyright is registered.

    Here’s a good link: http://www.clickandcopyright.com/copyright-resources/why-copyright.aspx

    And here’s another: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/stopping-internet-plagiarism/your-copyrights-online/3-copyright-myths/

    I kinda like knowing I can sue for damages if someone messes with my stuff. Maybe that’s because I’m creepy that way…muah ha ha!

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