Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Experience as a First-time Self-Published Author

At the beginning of the New Year, I prayed to God, that He would give me a book to write. I made this prayer because of the many attempts to write Christian fiction or romantic fiction which ended with uncompleted manuscripts. So, I decided that maybe I wasn't writing within the will of God and the calling He has for my life, and this was what ultimately kept me from finishing a manuscript. So, I decided that if He gave me an idea, I would be more inspired to complete the manuscript. 

Within a matter of days, I was hit with inspiration, as a result of personal experience. Basically, I had taken out one of my empty journals, to begin the process of setting it up as a notebook for bible study classes and sermons. As I did so, I began to think that it would be nice if I had a professionally bound notebook with pages that were already formatted the way I liked my journals to be formatted. That way, I wouldn't have to hand write so many pages in the journal myself. 

So, I decided that maybe I should type up some pages, print them, and place them in a three-ring binder, the closest thing to professional binding I could do on my own. But then, I remembered that CreateSpace (an Amazon print-on-demand company which I've been researching for awhile) would allow me to design my desired notebook and purchase it from them at whatever price I set.

Once I thought that through, I realized that ultimately, the book wouldn't be mines only, but available on to whoever found it and wanted to buy it. Therefore, I decided to put way more planning, organization and work into the process, and I eventually ended up writing four chapters on how to take notes during sermons and bible study classes, and designing an accompanying notebook/journal. That print book is now available on Amazon for $9.97, and the four chapters are available as a Kindle download, for $0.99.

The process of organizing this book and releasing it to the public has been rewarding, stressful, time consuming, and awesome. I've spent countless hours into the dark of night writing, proofing, and editing the manuscript, as well as designing the book cover with CreateSpace's Cover Creator software. I have learned so much about the process of getting a book published and have a better understanding of why traditional book publishers take so long to release a book to the public (almost a year or two after receiving the original manuscript). 

Knowing this, I have a higher level of respect for traditional publishing, but I also understand why print-on-demand publishing and self-publishing are such fast-growing industries. Writers can get really frustrated with the year(s)-long process of seeing their book printed through traditional companies: if what they wrote a year or two ago was innovative and amazing, it may seem dated by the time it's published, depending on the subject matter. In addition, they are not always satisfied with the final chosen cover.

But I understand the judgments towards self-publishing as well. Quick release of the book can be amazing, but it can also result in a poorly-edited, badly proofed manuscript with a cheesy cover that practically screams "I made this all by myself." 

But in the end, I am still proud of the book I have produced, my very first published book. I am currently beginning the process of completing my next manuscript, which is going to be longer and more detailed -- a bible character study. Once that is done, I will see if I want to go the self-published route again or not. 

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