Now, in my opinion, I had a manuscript that was publish worthy. I’d already decided to go the independent publishing route. There were still many options to consider. When you are ready there are a hundred or more companies available online, all of which promise to make the process easier. Many offer: in house editing, cover design, interior design and even marketing programs. Some suggest they can make you a best-selling author, and that’s before reading your work. Of course, all their services come with a price tag. These are the vanity publishers, though they often do a fantastic job of hiding that fact.
I spent some time researching many of them and their prices and packages. Some of them are quite expensive, some seem gimmicky and others have a long list of unsatisfied customers. Through writing groups I’d met a couple authors who had gone this route, each had chosen one of the companies that had made my top five list. One had used the ‘in house’ editing services offered, while the other hadn’t. After reading both books and finding both to be littered with mistakes I was glad that I’d used a professional editor.
They helped me decide to go even more independent. This left more choices. I wanted my book to be available in ebook form as well as a paperback. I closely looked at three that offered this, plus a relative ease of process. Companies such as Amazon’s Createspace, Ingram Spark’s Lightning Source and Lulu are free or very low cost to get started. All are ‘print on demand’ publishers which means that the author or customer can order any number of books at a time, rather than being forced to fill a garage or stockroom with stacks of books. Each company has merits and any of these three would be an excellent choice as far as I could tell. They all have guidelines and/or templates to help turn a manuscript into an actual book.
I chose to use Createspace, mainly because I know and use Amazon myself. I had also read on some blogs that it was the easiest of the platforms to use. It took me about a day to format my manuscript and cover until they conformed. After I’d successfully loaded them into the system, it went through a 24-hour approval process. Once approved by Createspace, you then can proof read the product using their digital reader or printing a PDF copy. I used the digital reader and found a few indentation issues. I corrected those and reloaded the book’s interior and waited 24 more hours. This time everything looked good and then opted to order a physical copy for proofing before making it available for sale. This takes time, but is very worth the extra effort.
The day that package arrived and I held an actual book, written by me, in my hands was extremely exciting. My sister’s cover looked absolutely fantastic. Inside, the indents, page numbers and chapter breaks were all where they were supposed to be. I thoroughly went through the book and then gave my okay on the Createspace website and the next day ‘Monsters and Miracles’ was available for sale on Amazon. I felt a profound sense of accomplishment and for the first time felt a little bit like an author.