Writing is the easy part. Finding a brilliant illustrator took some time. But figuring out everything else it takes to publish your literary work, now that was a chore. A learning curve mainly because I have never done anything like this before. As you can see, rhyming is both a curse and a blessing. Once you start, you can't stop.
Granted, I could have and should have purchased a "How To" book on self-publishing, but that's never been the way I operate. I'm a "research 20% and learn on the job 80%" kind of gal. That tends to be the most painful way to go about things, but I've found out over the past decade of learning new skills; this tends to be the most effective way I work.
I didn't do much research in the beginning. Once I had my manuscript in hand, I took everything else step-by-step. I knew I needed an illustrator and a great one at that. With the advent of modern technology and the world wide web, web-based services like Upwork and Fiverr bridge the gap between writers and illustrators, or where any creative talent comes together. The wonderful thing about these platforms is how simple it is to connect with an artist across the globe, just as long as the language barrier is minimal. I can't begin to tell you how crucial it is to have a meeting of the minds when it comes to explaining your design, ideas, and constructs to your artist.
Because I went the international route, I felt it was essential to get my book pre-registered with the US Copyright Office. Naturally, this protection is minimal for works not published. Most of us know it's easier to violate copyright infringement if the violator is US-based and, better yet, an established company. Did I jump the gun on the pre-registration? Perhaps, but I will say that when I selected my overseas illustrator, I made her aware of the copyright owner and had her sign a few legal forms to ensure that I was serious about protecting my intellectual property.
Over the next few months, as my illustrator went to work on the graphics for the book, I did more research on the subject of publishing and marketing a book as a self-publisher, LOL, just kidding. I didn't do any of that. That would have been too smart and good use of time.
Lesson number one: Make the most of the time you have while your illustrator works because once it's time to coordinate all the moving pieces, you would have wished you could have spent those months more wisely.
As I've come to learn thus far, it seems as though publishing a book can be broken into three phases.
Phase 1: The creative and development phase. This is where you write your book, have it edited, find an illustrator, and work with a designer, or do like I did, and do all that "goodness" yourself, minus the artwork. I am no Picasso.
Phase 2: Pre-publishing chores and tedious stuff phase. These are the things you need to do while your book is being illustrated. Your illustrator or designer will need certain things from you, such as your ISBN, imprint logo, address, pen name, Library of Congress number, etc., to be printed in the book.
Here is a shortlist of what publishing your book entails. And what you can work on while your illustrator draws.
Phase 3: Post-publishing chores and fun stuff phase. Now that you have your written work of art in hand, it's time to finalize some admin stuff and let the world know what you created. Hopefully, they will love it as much as you do!
Here is a shortlist of your publishing steps after your book is ready for print.
From the day I put pen to pad and to the day I listed my first book on Amazon, the publishing process took approximately six months. How naive I was, I thought I could have this book published in just a month and a half? And to think this project was going to cost me $750. LOL
Lesson number two: Triple your timeline and double your budget.
The take away here is, if I can do it, so can you. Just dig deep, deep into those pockets I mean, lol, unless you can both write and draw, you can do this on the cheap. Otherwise, there is nothing but some savings and a little creativity from holding you back from creating the next best seller. That's where prayers and luck come in! Let's hope our readers love what we have to offer.
Stay tuned for Part II, where I divulge the successes and failures of promoting my book for maximum exposure and sales. Here to a successful launch and more than breaking even!
Stephy R Salazar. A blog for an indie writer's thoughts on writing and publishing.