As many of you know, I’ve been working on getting my Christian non-fiction book, Altered before the Altar, finished and published through Createspace. It has been a long and arduous journey, but I uploaded everything this morning and am waiting for the file review to complete so I can begin selling it in Kindle and paperback. As I sit here in the afterglow of taking the biggest step in my publication journey thus far, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you, my fellow laborers, on this experience.
When I first began seriously looking to published Altered, I knew that I wanted to write a good book that was relevant to single Christian women, easy to read, and that looked as professional as possible. I didn’t want any developmental editing or content editing: I wanted to say exactly what I felt led to say. I also didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for a professional product, especially when I couldn’t be sure I would sell enough copies to break even, let alone make a profit. It was more about putting the best book out there than anything else. I think that I’m doing that, but it hasn’t been an easy journey.
I did a lot of things wrong: I didn’t write the book in the properly formatted template from the beginning, which meant I didn’t give my cover artist an accurate page count the first time she asked (I also wasn’t finished writing the book and had to guess what the ending page amount would be–rookie mistake #2). I didn’t do a very good job of communicating what I wanted the cover to look like the first time around. I didn’t do much research into a cover designer. I thought that since I’d worked with a graphic designer before, it would be similar this time around. I didn’t know that cover design is a completely different art. I ended up choosing a designer who did a fantastic job, but that was due to God’s grace and not my ability to choose a designer.
I also didn’t pay for formatting, which turned out good and bad. It was bad because I spent weeks trying to figure out how to integrate all the elements I wanted without things shifting around on me. I didn’t know how to format the headings to alternate between the book title and the chapter titles. I couldn’t figure out how to create an automatic table with the elements I had. I didn’t realize that Times New Roman wasn’t a good font to choose for a professional looking book, or that the Georgia font’s size 8 was larger than the Times New Roman 8, etc. I kept getting pages that looked wonky and refused to be fixed. I didn’t realize that I had to buy Adobe Acrobat in order to edit a PDF document. The things I didn’t know about formatting could fill another book.
I didn’t know the rules for permissions for using non-KJV scriptures, either. In short, I knew next to nothing about publishing.
But here’s what I did know and what I learned along the way. I knew I had conducted great interviews and studied extensively enough to write a great book. I knew that I needed a professional cover designer. When I couldn’t afford to pay for formatting, I knew that if I could find instructions, I could teach myself how to do it. I studied traditionally published books to see what elements I needed. I enlisted the help of beta readers. I took as long as I needed to take to make sure each element was exactly as it should be. I tested quotes social media to see if they made sense. By learning to format, supplying my own cover image, and using beta reader response to revise, I saved myself a lot of money, learned new skills, and still ended up with a book I can be proud of.
I’m still not the best social media marketing maven, and I still don’t know if my book will sell well, but what I do know is that everyone who does end up buying a copy will be getting a quality book. I’ll be sharing the back cover copy and purchasing information soon. I can’t wait to show off my book baby.