Last time I posted I discussed why I chose Indie Publishing and how I came to that decision. Today I am going to discuss how I self-published. Before I do so I am going to point out that there are many different ways to self-publish, as there are reasons to self-publish, so if you are intending to self-publish then I recommend looking at what you want from the experience before making any decisions. What you want is vital in determining which platform you use, if you use one at all. Things to keep in mind when deciding how you are going to go about publishing are what format you want to publish in, (do you want to offer only print books, or only e-books, or both?), where you want your title to be able to be purchased from, and your target audience. I wanted to publish both paperback and e-book, and I definitely wanted the title available on Amazon, and so I chose a platform that offered me both formats in what I supposed would be a relatively easy process to follow. My target audience already buys from Amazon so that was a part of my decision making process.
For The Kingston Chronicles I chose to use the Amazon services Createspace and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). I’ve used Blurb’s services twice before during college and had pleasant results so I considered using them again. I thought however seeing as I was publishing a text based this time that maybe I would try Createspace. Blurb was fantastic for the Photo-books I previously published. Blurb gives you the option of simply using their software to print your own book or to set it up for purchase in their shop. Or at least they did. It’s been a long time since I used their services so I am speaking from past knowledge. They could have changed their service.
One of the primary reasons I chose Amazon’s services was because other authors I know had chosen this route and I wanted to be able to fall back on my friends’ experiences when I had questions. These services have paid features as well as free features which is an added bonus because it is possible to publish your title with little in the way of financial cost. If you choose eBook only I would say it is even feasible to publish without any costs. As I had to save up from my day job and Birthday/Christmas gift moneys, capital for business expenses was something that I needed to consider carefully. At the end of the day the only cash outlay I had to come up with was the cost of having proof copies sent to me to review for the paperbacks, and then the shipment of copies I ordered to fill pre-orders and to have a small amount of stock on hand. On a side note, I recommend encouraging your customers to pre-pay for their copies if you are offering pre-orders. Several of my initial customers pre-paid their books which gave me the last of the money I needed to actually get them printed. If I had published Kindle only I don’t think I would have actually had to pay anything. The price of proof copies (including shipping) was extremely reasonable and worked out approximately the price of buying a new release paperback from a major supplier like Amazon or Dymocks.
Just a note of warning to authors outside of the United States. Createspace and KDP direct their business out of the United States. In my case that means that firstly, before Amazon will make payments to me of my royalties the American IRS takes tax out of the sale price and Amazon takes a cut of the sales price. Basically, if my sale price is $30 then a portion of that goes to the American government as tax, Amazon keeps a portion and then I get the rest; and I may have to pay additional tax on this both in America and Australia. The dollar value of the royalties I get depends on the price of my title (so when I put it on sale I get a smaller royalty). Another thing to keep in mind if you live outside of the United States is that you may be required to file American tax returns. Whilst Amazon does not specifically help you with this they give you the forms you need to fill out for the IRS when you set up your account with them so that the IRS can determine what their take from your sale price is (note that some countries have reciprocal tax agreements in place which can potentially allow you to pay less tax than you normally would. Your entitlements can be established while you’re filling out this form by cross-referencing the relevant tax documents. From memory there are links to the IRS website so that you can check this information yourself.). Amazon (or the IRS I’m not sure which anymore) gives you the option to have the relevant forms that need to be filled out at tax time e-mailed to you if you are required to fill them out; as I understand it. I am in no way a tax lawyer or accountant, especially not for the American tax system, so if you choose to go through an Amazon imprint company (or really any company) be sure to read all about your obligations in the paperwork online. I just wanted to give you a heads up that if you self-publish you will need to keep taxation in mind.
On that note if you self-publish in Australia there are several requirements as well. The first is that if you are intending to make a career of it (i.e. it’s not a hobby and you are expecting to make an income from it) you will be required to have an ABN (Australian Business Number). Please discuss whether (and what kind) of ABN is appropriate for you with your tax agent/accountant. Again I am not an accountant or tax agent and am merely speaking from my own experience. The other thing to keep in mind is you are legally required to supply a copy of your published manuscript to The National Library in Canberra. This includes e-books. Providing this to The National Library is at your own expense (I.e. you are donating a copy and, in my case, paying to post it to them) and there is a form that you are required to fill out which can be found on their website.
Back to the publishing process. I found Createspace to be fairly easy to work with. One piece of advice; use the template they provide. I spent the better part of five days (and I mean days) formatting my manuscript and still not managing to get it correct (two of those days were literally me sitting at the computer focusing on formatting for eight hours). I finally broke and copy and pasted the segments into the template (because a simple copy and paste doesn’t quite work either) and it worked beautifully. The template is extremely clear with what needs to be inserted in which section and makes the process a hell of a lot quicker. I found the Createspace template especially useful because once you have finished setting up your manuscript for print they can then forward that template to KDP for you so you don’t have to waste time going through the submission process again.
There have been a few things that bugged me about the Amazon services, especially their reader review system, but setting up your title in their system was relatively simple. I intend to use the service again for my current manuscript. In my next post, which will be the 25th of February, I’ll go into further detail as to the process of reviewing your proof copies and things to keep in mind when formatting your manuscript. Thanks for taking some time to read this blog. If you have any questions please feel free to comment or send me a message via the contact page. 🙂