Self Publishing Notebook: I'm baaaaaack

I want to start this post by addressing my absence. When this blog started, it was to be an every-two-weeks affair. I even had an extra post stored up in case something got me behind. Well, if you’re a writer you know that lots of things can set you behind. The day job (if you have one), kids, dirty dishes, social media, and the sudden incomprehensible desire to grow vegetables, can distract the otherwise dedicated writer. A writer’s biggest challenge is overcoming procrastination and distraction. Really. That’s it. And that’s partially my story. I’ve been working on my 2nd novel for way longer than I expected because of these things. But also because my completely healthy 42 year old temple of a body suddenly became the Temple of Doom (literally - the scene where the villain reaches into the guy’s chest - that happened.)

In 2016 I learned that the DNA that makes me tall, handsome, witty, and irresistible, also combined for a vascular system that was missing some key elements for sustaining a long life without some serious help. I’m basically the human version of Chinese Drywall. But it makes for GREAT writing material. This manifested itself in yet another writing project. A memoir of sorts. Not some “woe is me” story of tragedy, but a dry look at how a charmed life suddenly had some very serious challenges. It’s sort of like how people who fell asleep at 9 p.m. on election night took the news when they woke up on November 9. “Come again? Everything was fine yesterday.”

So in addition to not writing this blog and not finishing my novel, I started another project. Let’s call it “not finishing my memoir.” 

One of the things holding me back mentally on my novel was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it needed. Not just the editing, but the process of taking the final product and making it “shelf ready” for readers. When I published my first novel, I naively thought that the writing/editing was the hard part. As I put the final touches on the story I said, “I’m almost done!” Then I learned that taking those bits and bytes of words and making them a product was the not-so-fun-part. 

Amazon offers some pretty basic Word templates to work with for getting your book on Kindle and CreateSpace (their print arm.) But as you probably know, Word has a mind of its own, and it thinks it’s smarter than you. The simple act of deleting a comma can send a document into a spasm that alters everything on the screen. Ultimately you’re pounding the keyboard asking, “Why is the font different in just this one paragraph and why can’t I change it?” 

Enter: Vellum. One day after New Year’s, I bumped into my neighbor, Nathan Van Coops, who - unlike me - is a highly successful self-published writer (because I live in a secret literary utopia) and he said, “Hey, you need to check out Vellum. I reformatted all of my books for Kindle in 4 days.” His timing couldn’t have been better, because I needed to make changes to my first novel on Kindle and didn’t feel like opening the Word can-of-worms and creating big problems in the name of minor fixes. I went to Vellum.pub (not .com, not .net, not .org) and I’m not lying, within an hour, I had uploaded a completely new, far more attractive version of my Kindle book. This, at a time when I’m doing about 150 - 200 downloads per day, and ranked in the FREE top 10 in my genre. The part of publishing that I dreaded the most, is now a piece of cake. Oh, there’s a cost. $30 per book (a pittance, for what it does), or $100 for 10 books - never expires. 

My message: DO NOT pay someone $500 to $2000 to “format” your book for anything unless it’s chock full of illustrations and equations (you nerd.) Those companies are using Vellum and it takes them 30 minutes and costs them $10. For me it was a game-changer because I suddenly felt even more motivated and edited 20 pages of The Napoleon Bloom (Coming - sorta - Soon!).

So the lesson here is: Procrastinate long enough and someone will put out an app that does what you need to do. Wait, that’s not right. The message is - keep grinding - keep writing - and use the act of not writing to make the next act of writing a work of excellence. (Yeah, we’ll go with that.) 

Next time on Self Publishing Notebook: Reviews and when readers send suggestions! 

When Jonathan Kile isn't ignoring the Chicago Manual of Style and drinking chai tea, he encourages you to check out his adventure thriller, The Grandfather Clock, which is currently ranked the #1 #8 Free Adventure/Suspense eBook on Amazon Kindle. The sequel, The Napoleon Bloom, will be out in 2016 2017. He promises. Jonathan gets his email at [email protected].

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