To take my manuscript and turn it into a digital novel is not nearly as easily as creating a blog. There are number of things that I will have to do in order to get it on iPhones and to attract interest so that people read it. Here is my game plan for the next several months.
Start a Small Business
As I am publishing my novel myself and receiving the royalties (we hope) directly. I will have to set up a new small publishing house. Fortunately, creating a Sole-Propriety Business in Canada is extremely easy as there is no paperwork. It is treated as individual income. However, for tax purposes, I will have to keep diligent records of what I spend and what I earn. This will certainly be a new challenge for me as I have never run a small business before.
Build a Website and Blog
This is an essential step in order to build interest around my novel. To this end, I have bought a domain and web space from a company called 1an1. I have already created the blog that you are currently reading. Now my challenge will be to integrate my blog straight into my website but so far 1an1 is having problems integrating wordpress into their sites. Hopefully a call to the technical department will help me to figure things out. The goal at this point is to simply get a professional website up and running. Once it is stable and I am comfortable with it, I can start adding new features and especially content. Content will be my primary strategy to attract readers and my big project will be to create, upon my manuscript’s release, a wiki for the Evermore Trilogy
Have my manuscript copy-edited by a professional
This is perhaps the most expensive part of self-publishing. To hire a professional copy-editor to go through a manuscript line-by-line, is extremely expensive, running in the thousands of dollars. For this reason, most self-publishers prefer to use their friends and colleagues to copy-edit and proofread their manuscripts. Big Mistake. One of biggest knocks against self-publishing is the poor quality of the manuscripts. This isn’t to say that a manuscript is bad, but when you spot a glaring spelling mistake, it completely takes you out of the novel, and forces you to question the professionalism of the author. This is perhaps the biggest reason while most readers do not take self-published authors seriously and nor should they until the quality of the manuscripts improve. And that costs money. Lots of money. But it is an essential step to producing a professional digital novel and no author should do without a copy-editor.
In my case, I’m going to spend the next couple of months looking for a copy-editor (if I’m going to spend that amount of money I’m going to make sure that he or she is worth it) by getting referrals from publishing houses. The actual process of copy-editing should take three to four months.
Design a book cover
The next step will be to design a book cover. Now this is the fun part so I’ve already gotten started on it. I’ve hired my colleague Kevin Bookhun to design the cover for the digital novel. If you are fortunately enough for someone to find your book on Smashwords, a smart cover design can make the difference between them buying the book and moving on to the next entry. The cover design is always a challenge because it has to be simple, provocative, and aesthetically pleasing. With the necessary back and forth needed between Kevin and I to get it just right, this step will take several months. By summer, I should have an good idea of what the book cover will look like. This is one of the advantages in digital publishing. Whereas in traditional publishing the author usually has very little say over the design of the his book, in digital publishing the author has complete control over the end product.
Placing the Manuscript onto Smashwords
The next step will be to place the manuscript and its cover design onto Smashwords. I’ve chosen Smashwords because it is the one service available to self-published authors that can get their manuscript onto the iPhone in Canada. To format it properly for all of the different digital formats that are in use these days, Smashwords feeds the manuscript through a software program called the “Meat Grinder”. This gives the author almost no control over the final end product. In a perfect world, I would prefer to use Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. Amazon’s DTP would give more control over the final product and make my manuscript available to buy on both the Amazon Kindle and the Kindle app for iPhone. Rather than buying it through an obscure websitem, Amazon’s DTP would allow me to sell my novel on the popular Amazon store. Unfortunately, neither the DTP or the Kindle are available yet in Canada so I will have to stick to Smashwords for the time being.
Promote the Novel
The final step will be to promote the novel and try to get people to buy it. At this point, I’m a little unsure of what I’m going to do for this step. I will remain open to ideas from my readers as we move closer to the publication date.
And that’s it, that’s the general game plan. As I move forward, the gaps will be filled in and I expect that I will encounter problems that I had never expected. But in publishing as in life, if we didn’t encounter the odd roadblock, then the journey wouldn’t be very interesting.