After going the traditional route and having a publisher do all the work of publishing my books, I decided this time around I was going to try self-publishing. Well, it hasn’t been easy and I have a newfound appreciation for my publisher, but I feel more pride in the work I’ve turned out because I had to do everything myself—hiring an editor, a graphic artist to do the book cover and formatting the interior of the book.
I didn’t have much of a problem hiring my own editor and in a way I think this is better than being paired with someone unknown to me, but I’ve had both good and bad experiences with the publisher-assigned editors. This time though I picked a tough editor. She challenged me and I liked that. It made me take a closer look at my story and work to improve it.
The cover design was a challenge for me because I know nothing about designing a cover. Why should I? My publishers always took care of that part of the publishing process. The first covers I planned on using were made by a friend for free, but after I showed them to another friend, who is also an author and graphic artist, I nixed them. And my friend was right—the covers weren’t that good. Now, I am probably one of few who don’t think a cover should make a book. It’s the inside, the story that should make a book. But readers don’t think that way. To them a good book has a good cover and a good story. And they are right, of course. I got lucky and found an awesome cover designer on Fiverr. He opened my eyes to what a great cover looks like.
Finally, I had to tackle the interior formatting of my book. I know a little bit about formatting so I figured it couldn’t be that hard. Wrong again. At first I was going to have a friend format my interior, but then I decided I wanted to learn to do it myself. I picked up some helpful tips and went to work. And it drove me nuts, but I managed to fumble my way through it and I’m satisfied with the results.
Will I self-publish again? Sure, I plan on self-publishing the other 2 books in my Arcadia series. After that, I’m not sure. It depends on how well these books sell and if it’s really worth my time and money to do it myself. I still believe in using a publisher. They really do a lot for us authors. I just wanted to see how well I could do it myself, see if my sales increased or not. I do like the flexibility of setting my own prices and designing the book the way I want it.
If anyone out there is planning on self-publishing, do it right. Hire an editor. I can’t stress this enough. This is probably the most important step in the entire process. Writers cannot see their mistakes. Believe me. I know what I’m talking about. My editor really improved my story and found things I should have seen but didn’t. So, don’t skip this step.
This has definitely been a learning experience for me and opened my eyes to new opportunities.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author
Forbidden love… Broken vows… Betrayal…