Episode 5: That Time I self-published a book

365 Dates of Travel Podcast

365 Dates of Travel Podcast Transcript:

This week’s all about self publishing, because this actual week is the week that my first book ever is going to be published. It’s had some weird timeline issues going on, but that’s part of the learning curve. But I’ll get into that a bit later.

How it started

I thought I’d start with a little bit of a timeline of how everything worked. So, as some of you will know, if you’ve read some of my work already, there was a seed planted back in November 19 that maybe I actually could write a book. Skip forward to September 2020. During COVID I had pre booked some long service leave, which obviously I didn’t get to travel during that time. So I was at home with a few weeks off work where I could do whatever I wanted as long as it was at home. 

So I signed up for some Master classes and started learning about writing. Dan Brown’s Masterclass was very encouraging and I watched all sorts of other authors, including Judy Bloom, which was interesting to get a different perspective. Unfortunately, then I got frozen shoulder and it was just really hard to find a comfortable position for typing and sitting at the computer, so that put things on hold again. 

Then I was on and off about what I was wanting to do and how I was going to do it. So I kept doing research, basically. So I had this idea for a novel which I wanted to write, and I will write one day, but the research basically just was ongoing. I was watching documentaries on TV or on the internet and reading books about the subjects, which was all to do with the Vatican, Stalin and Nazis with World War II. So that book’s a little while off. But the research was happening at this time. 

Apollo Bay

But it was a form of procrastination. I still wasn’t sitting down and writing. So by April 2021, I decided I was going to book myself some time away from all the distractions of home. Obviously the world, or Melbourne, had opened up a little bit at this stage. So I booked four or five days down in Apollo Bay in an apartment where you overlooked the water. I could hear the sound of the beach and I thought, if I can’t write there, then I’m never going to be able to write. So it was my last chance to give it a really good go. 

I’ve been there before, and I knew there wasn’t a desk, so I had to make my own desk to take with me, which I fashioned out of plastic containers, which I’ve had since my childhood, and the top of a coffee table, which I had bought but never actually put together, as you do. So the coffee table top on top of the plastic boxes created this beautiful desk which I could place directly with the view of the ocean. And the plastic boxes formed shelving, so I could store everything I needed in there. And I took a folding chair and some cushions as well to make everything set and work altogether. So that was great. And I did, I managed to sit down and get stuff done. There were a few false starts when Word decided to just stop working on my computer. That’s when I discovered Google Docs. So thank you, Google Docs. Otherwise I was going to have to write a really long email to myself.  

I started writing, but most of the writing was typing up all the notes and collecting all the notes that I’d taken, from watching all the documentaries and research and putting it all together and sort of in categories. I wrote a few scenes here and there because I really forced myself to do that because I realized I was just procrastinating with the research yet again, but I really wasn’t happy with what I had written in the actual scenes. I had a very high standard for myself and completely was not living by the mantra that the first drafts are meant to be terrible. 

First Draft Attempt For Novel

So now I know first drafts are meant to be terrible and are always terrible. And that’s their purpose to get the thoughts on piece of paper, work out the timelines and the basic structure of how everything’s going to be set out. And it’s later where you go back in the second and the third and the fourth draft where you flesh out the storyline, you clean up the words and the dialogue, insert all the research, take out if you’ve got too much research in there, and just make it into an readable draft. 

Like one of the sayings that’s thrown around all the time on the internet is you cannot edit a blank page. So you just need to get words, any words on the page, and you can always improve it later as time goes on. One writer I started following on Instagram calls it vomit writing. She says, you just sit down and write whatever comes in your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to make a sentence. It’s just blurting it all out and getting it on the paper. 

But I took it as, oh, you’re terrible. You’re never going to be able to write a book. So why did you even kind of bother for a while? So that was a bit annoying and frustrating and a little bit of a setback. It took me a while to sort of try and work out whether I wanted to keep going or if I should keep going more to the point, seeing as I was disappointed in myself.

A New Idea

But by July, I’d come up with a new idea. And I thought I needed something that would actually make me sit down and do the writing. And I thought, what would be the easiest thing to write about? And of course, travel came up. Travel, it’s stories of my life. I’ve got the diaries, I’ve got all sorts of collection of memories and photos. So I thought it would be a fun way and an easy way of actually getting myself on the chair in front of the computer and do some writing. 

And then the whole idea evolved after doing research online about blogs and website building and marketing and the lovely SEO and all sorts of things that I learned as I was again slightly procrastinating along the way. But I bought writing software. I bought a new computer before I bought the writing software, so it was all up to date. And I bought a microphone as I was googling all about podcasts and how podcasts work. 

A Book Reading Challenge

By August, I’d read a quote that said, you cannot be an author if you don’t read books. And that made me feel a little bit bad because I really haven’t been a big reader over the last few years. I mostly only read when I was traveling, but then you don’t have a lot of time when you’re traveling. So I haven’t read that many books. And I started to feel a bit guilty and I wondered, like, how many books should you actually read or could you actually read? 

I ended up starting, or challenging myself, to read one book a week. So 52 books in 52 weeks. I started that in August 21. So the combination of the reading actually helped me also get into the writing. And I was reading from a different perspective as well, where I was looking at it and how the author had done this or that. What I liked, what I didn’t, liked noticing the mistakes that authors made. And I think I’d have to say majority of the books I read had at least one spelling mistake or some sort of grammatical mistake somewhere in there. Not that I’m an expert, but even I picked up little bits and pieces here and there that was sort of interesting. Some of the formatting was terrible, which made me want to make sure when I got everything done that I had everything perfect. But at the same point, if I missed one thing here or there, I was probably in good company with the rest of the writers and books out there. 

With reading so many books, I joined Kindle Unlimited so I could have access to a lot more books and not have to pay as much. And that also gave me access to books about writing. So I was able to do research on writing as part of my challenge of reading the 52 books. It was a combination of research, learning and reading all in one. 

Finally Writing

By October I was actually sitting down, I believe, I can’t be sure, but it was around about the October mark where I started to write. I had the deadline of the 7th of November, as that was the date I left Australia and started my traveling life when I was 18. I planned on starting the book at that point, therefore I kind of had to start the website and all of that as a way of getting my work out there by the 7th of November. You need a deadline sometimes to get yourself going. So come the 7th of November, I was going a week at a time. So that was the plan. One post a week on the website of a week’s worth of travel stories. 

Making a Website

And in the beginning, the website was a huge learning curve. I turned a two hour YouTube video into a six hour marathon one night to build my website. I had to stop and pause and rewind multiple times and try and work out like, how did you get to that screen? That doesn’t make sense. And it was extremely difficult. I’m not great technology-wise. But just over 6 hours, and I had a website. I was proud of that. It was a basic website, but it was enough to get me started. 

Making The Weekly Posts

But I only had enough writing for one week. So those first few weeks I was doing an episode a week, so to speak. As in I wasn’t ahead in any sense of the word because first I had to find all the travel details and diaries and everything and sort of get them together. I also had to come up with a plan. Did I actually have a story for every date of the year? So fleshing out what I was going to write on each date I kind of needed to know in advance if I had that, which took time. Then you’ve got to sit down and do the writing. You’ve got to do a bit of editing. Then I’ve got to find the photos. And of course, a lot of the photos aren’t digital because we’re talking about back in the 90s. So I then had to sort of digitalize photos to put them on the blog post. I had to learn how to make blog posts, which is very slow in the beginning when you’re learning. So it would take almost the whole week remembering, I was also trying to do the reading of a book once a week or one book a week. And I was still working nursing. I was part time by this point, so I was only doing the two nights a week as I am now, but that’s still a lot to do when you’re still learning how everything was working. 

Slowly, over time, I managed to get ahead. There were a few weeks where I didn’t do any reading and I just got into more writing and it got easier the more I did it. The blog post got easier the more I did it. 

I had requests to do audio, which is something I had already planned on doing. I’d bought the microphone after all, so then that was another thing. I had to go back and record all the previous weeks that I’d done and then work out how to add those to the website. That added an extra layer to do for every week for each blog post that went up on Sundays. So it was kind of like a constant keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going. But I got faster and faster. 

Daily Word Counts

As a bit of an idea how the writing went, I started counting word counts per each day of writing from January 2022 onwards. January I was writing an average of 2158 words per day. By February, I had increased that to 3291 per day, and slowly increased more in March to nearly 303,500. By April and May, I dropped back to 2600 and 2800. For some reason, I was probably catching up on my reading at that point. By June 2022, I was back up to 3135 words per day. July, 3500 words per day. And by August, when I was really trying that last bit to get everything done, 4892 words per day.

I had the highest count on my last day. I just was at that final point and I wasn’t stopping until I finished. So on one day I wrote 8183 words. I really wanted to get everything done as I was off on a little trip down the Murray River and I wanted everything to be finished by then. 

I also had to make social media posts for those for the weekly new post on website thing, which would often take a lot of time, particularly in the beginning as well. But the writing itself, those full 365 dates worth of travel was from around October 2021 until August, early September 2022. 

Editing

After that, I needed to obviously go back and do full editing. They only had very basic editing before going up on the website. Now I had to go back and look at every single date, work out if it worked together, rather than working within a week’s worth. I changed some of the dates around, choosing different stories slightly to make it work or fleshed out part of the story. 

Then the editing process. I’d bought a lifetime subscription to software called ProWriting Aid and it’s amazing. I hated it when I was doing the weekly website posts, but when it came to the real editing and the idea of coming together as a book, it was really useful. It was very brain draining and kind of a bit boring, but I understood how useful it was. 

There were a few glitches along the way. I tried to not copy and paste and move things around as much as a lot of the formatting of things got lost. So I added an add on so I didn’t have to do the copy and pasting. But then one night I’d spent six, seven, eight, 9 hours editing the January chapter of the book, only to discover before I went to bed that none of the changes I had done had saved. All that work and completely wasted time. I was already tired by this point. But I kind of felt like I needed to try and remake the changes while some of it was fresh in my head. And I know I absolutely did not make as good changes as I did on the first time round. But I was so tired and I just couldn’t remember. 

I was so mad at myself and frustrated and wondered, what else have I lost? How am I going to do this? So eventually I worked out a few glitches in the systems. It was interesting. I would copy and paste after I’d made the changes into a Google Doc just in case. And then I discovered there were these discrepancies between the word count in my writing software, which is software called Scrivener, and the Google Docs. Sometimes that actually meant I needed to go back and find those missing words, but sometimes there’s just no way you’re going to find them. And it got to a point where I think it’s just how they count words or something. It was really frustrating, but I really don’t understand how that worked. But I couldn’t stress over it because it was just going to take more and more time and just stress me out. 

After the first round of the ProWriting Aid, I would then try and have a break and put it aside for at least a few weeks or a month preferably before going back and reading it again and seeing if there’s more changes needing to be made. And then I put it through a text to speech software called Natural Reader where someone else’s voice was able to read the words to me. And so you sit there as you listen to the words being spoken and you have open the document on the computer, so anything that sounds a bit weird or strange, and there were quite a few things that I definitely changed because of listening to it that way. So it’s quite an interesting way to get a different perspective, even you reading it out loud, which is what I do during editing when I’ve got paper copies. It’s still different when it’s somebody else’s voice and it’s how they’re interpreting it based on what you’ve written, as opposed to how I’m saying it based on what I know it was like at the time and what I may have written. So it is slightly different from me reading it out loud. So I made more changes based on that. 

Again, you try and put it aside and then you come back and I’ve printed it out and gone through the editing process by hand that way and then made any changes that I go back and each time you find something to change, I often wonder if I ended up back to the first edit after I’ve made changes like three times, but that’s going to take me too long to figure out. So I haven’t actually gone back and looked at anything like that. But I would be curious to know if after like five changes, I ended up exactly where I started in the first place. 

So going through the editing process, you get a final word count and the word count at the end is so different from what you had at the beginning. A lot of stuff’s taken out, but also some other stuff is added in. But editing generally deletes words from the overall final word count. And the word count obviously will predict how many pages the final book will be. 

Formatting

You cannot design a book cover until you have your final word count. Editing has been done, now I need to do formatting. It was the formatting that would actually give me the page count. So again, some more software was bought called Atticus and it is amazing and wonderful and this was really fun. I actually really enjoyed it. 

It’s December by this point when I start using Atticus, my final word count was 99,014 words and it started out according to Atticus as 315 pages. I’d already realized by this point I was cutting it back to the six months. So six months worth was 99,000 words.  Looking at it, I realized I had put in the wrong book size. So it was at the five by eight, whereas I wanted six by nine. So once I changed it to the bigger format, the page count came down to 269 and I was like, oh, well, that’s good. But then it was at a very low font and it hadn’t taken into account a few other formatting issues. 

So after I changed the font and played around with a few of the settings, it ended up back at 322 pages. And that was after adding things like the ornamental breaks and changing the dates into subheadings. Every little change you make makes a difference to the final page count. And I was watching it go up and down and all around. And then I actually discovered that there was a date missing. Somehow I completely lost the 7th of  January. Like how do you just lose a date? So I had to add in more words into the mix and just when I thought I’d finish the formatting with the final page count, I remembered I hadn’t formatted the quotes. 

All the quotes were just back into normal text during the copy and pasting, or uploading from Scrivener into Atticus, made all the formatting disappear, so lesson learned. But I’ve also learnt how to make the formatting once it’s in Atticus, really simple and easy. And that also means that it doesn’t matter how I’m formatting it when I’m writing. It doesn’t matter if I’ve got indentations at the start of the paragraph or if I put a line in the middle, or those things can just be done, fixed all at once, quite simply.

Once you’re in the Atticus software, one thing you’ve really got to look at with the formatting is something called “widows and orphans”. That means you can’t have the first line of a new paragraph, as the last line on the printed page. And you can’t have the last line of a paragraph as the first line on the printed page. So even once I’d got all the other formatting stuff in, I then had to go back and check every single page and look for those widows and orphans. Sometimes I’d have to rewrite the whole paragraph in order to make it work. That’s actually a very motivating way to edit. I must remember that in the future. 

So the page count changed again. March in particular was a really hard month to get the widows and orphans and everything to sort of match up and even just the end of the dates of the travel. Because again, you don’t want to have the subheading of the date at the bottom of the page and all that sort of stuff. So March was quite tricky. And it went 312 pages overall, the book to 313, then back to 312, then up to 313, and then it was just so up and down, it was all over the place. 

Book Cover

In the end it was 312 pages. And I made sure I stuck to that. So even after getting proof copies and making changes, I had to keep the page count as that. Because the moment I got that 312 page count, I started working on the book cover. I had planned on paying someone to do that because I don’t really know much about all of that sort of thing. I’ve never been known as an artist. But it was just so hard trying to find somebody to do it, justify the money that it was going to cost to do it. All the cheaper versions of ways of doing it, as in pre-made covers, which they just changed the words, basically none of them matched my book. 

I didn’t even know what I wanted for the book. How do you put this whole book into one page of a picture? So this, hands down, was the hardest part of self publishing. A friend at work, her sister-in-law, has had a book accepted by a publisher and she said that she had no say whatsoever in what the book cover looked like. And I have to say sometimes that would be really nice. 

But I did it by myself. And there was a few different options out there. I put some on social media and got some opinions to see and everybody liked different ones, so you’re never going to make everybody happy. So in the end, I went back to an original or an idea that I’d sort of come up with way back before I was even anywhere near close to finishing writing, a very rough sketch that I drew up. And I sort of went back to that and I’m actually really happy with it. I’m very proud of it. 

But there’s a few more steps involved. Once you’ve got the page count, you need more help from technology to put that into an exact size of the book cover. Because it’s not just the front and the back, you need the spine. And the changing page count will change the spine. You input the exact number of pages and it comes up with the template. Then I could upload that into Canva, so more technology needed to learn. On Canva, you can make that so that you can see it, or you can make it completely disappear underneath, so you can increase that and decrease the visibility whenever you want to. And then you can fit the individual front cover spine and the back cover. 

So because this was taking so long, and I was losing so much time, I ended up making a fake cover, or just a really simple sort of little cover, so that I could get a proof copy to continue the editing process. Otherwise I could have spent weeks, months, years stuffing around with the stupid book cover. It was just awful. I hated the whole process of the book cover. 

Proof Copies

My first proof copy was very exciting. And I knew by that point it wasn’t going to be the final cover and it wasn’t going to be quite the same, but oh my god, it was so exciting when it arrived. It was my book. It was a little bit ugly, but it was my book and it was my words. And it was just like there was my name on the cover and this is everything that I’ve done and it was just so exciting. This is something I’ve wanted my whole life. Like, when I was ten, I wrote in my diary, I vow to one day publish a book. And finally here I had that book in my hand. So it was a very exciting moment. 

After the excitement died down, I had to go back to editing. I needed to read that book from front to cover. I had four proof copies from this first book until the final files that I made, and each time I read the book over a two day period and I made changes as I went. So I had the computer on with the file open and I’d realize I’d forgotten a comma here or this title is formatted differently from that title, and so forth and made the changes as I went. And that would take me two days to read the book from cover to back. It is amazing each time you do find things that you missed and you’re like, well, how did I miss that the first time around? 

I am acutely aware that there are things I might have missed and I hate that thought, but you just can’t keep reading and printing and waiting and doing it over and over and over again. And yes, I could have paid someone to do the proofreading. It’s really hard to justify spending money when you don’t know you’re going to make any money and you’ve already spent a lot of money. All that software I’ve bought and so forth. Down the track, when I write novels, I will absolutely get them edited and proofread. 

My travel books are my practice books. I’m learning how everything works and I’m very proud of the fact that I have actually done everything myself. So I haven’t actually, besides software, I haven’t actually paid anyone to do part of the process. So it is 100% all me, which I’m very proud of. It’s also a way to learn what you’d like and what you don’t like and what you can do, and what you can’t do. So I absolutely will outsource book covers whenever possible because that is an absolute nightmare. I’ve learned I really hate that. 

But I’ve learned there’s no need to get anyone else to format it, pay someone to format it. It was really fun and I liked it and I think it looks really nice inside. I’m pretty sure I did a good job. And while I was doing it, I actually thought, oh, I wonder if someone would pay me to format their books because this is really fun. But again, I’d probably be so pedantic, I’d never make any money because I would spend so much time doing it. It would look amazing, but whether it would actually be worth the amount of money I could charge based on the time it took. But trust me, I did think about it and look into it and all those things. But for now, I’ll stick to formatting my own book, which is one way to help save money. 

Money Matters

And it’s really hard self-publishing. You need to save money because no matter what, it’s going to cost you money. If nothing else, the website costs money each year. The first year they give you a discounted price, but by the time that second year ticks over, the price goes up, which I kind of understand the thought process behind that. But you still haven’t made any money necessarily a year down the track after starting your website, plus all the software, and don’t even start on the time that you’ve actually spent. I’m probably in the minus when it comes to an hourly rate for the amount of time that I’ve actually spent to what potentially I might make from sales. But you never know what’s going to happen down the track. And like I said, it’s a learning curve, it’s a learning book, it’s my practice book. 

It could be considered a little bit of a vanity project, if you want to call it that. But I really don’t care. I wrote a book and I have that book in my hand and even if no one buys it, then I’m just going to be happy for the rest of my life with that. It was a childhood dream. It was a lifelong dream. And I’ve achieved that. So anything else that happens is a bonus, really. Obviously I’m still going to keep writing and writing more books and who knows what’s going to happen over time. This is just the beginning.

Formatting Potential Mistake

I was meant to format, well everything I read said I was supposed to format the ebook first. And I kicked myself when I realized, like, the amount of time I spent formatting the book with all the widows and orphans and all that sort of thing. They don’t matter when it comes to an ebook because it’s all just one big page, basically, so you don’t have to worry. And it’s up to the individual person what settings their screen is on. So no matter what I do, it’s going to look different a little bit on everyone else’s screens. 

For a while I kicked myself and I think it might have been something that was added. So the lifetime software products I’ve bought, all of them come with lifetime updates and so sometimes things are added and I don’t even know they’re added. Or, I’m not even sure was that there when I first started. So I kind of feel like at the beginning I couldn’t press the button called duplicate, but by this stage I could press duplicate, which meant I got to make a duplicate of what I had and I was able to reformat the duplicate in an ebook. 

That wasn’t the hard bit. Going from a paperback book to an ebook is not that difficult. It was more if I had to go back and make changes to the paperback book because that is what takes the time when it’s the formatting with all those widows and orphans again. So that was my fear at the time that I’d have to do and thought I’d wasted my time. But with the duplicate, it was absolutely perfect. You could just change the title later to get rid of the word. I think it’s copy rather than duplicate. So I could get the perfect title. I could add the separate ebook cover to my files, separate book cover to the paperback version, and I could just play with them individually. 

I have learned now that there is no point in doing that until my final proof copy has been read. Because a couple of times I did have to go back and those last minute changes I had to make twice on both the ebook version and the paperback version. So I’ve learned a lot. The next book will be a lot easier, but like I said, the formatting at least was a bit of fun and I didn’t mind ever doing any formatting along the way. 

Distributors 

So final proof copy was done, final files have been made. I’ve chosen to go, obviously with Amazon Kindle or Kindle Direct Printing, KDP. Amazon was who I was getting my proofs from. So from all the research I was doing during my procrastination stages was that you do everything through Amazon first because the proof copies are quick, there’s a really quick turnaround, so you get them back and you don’t have to pay per proof or pay to upload anything or pay to change anything. So you can upload as many different files, I got to number nine in the end. So I had nine revisions of my completed files before I was able to say it was ready. So that’s nine times. But of course, Amazon has a huge monopoly in the book world these days. You can’t really not be on Amazon. 

But obviously bookstores and libraries, don’t like Amazon because of the monopoly they’ve got and they’ve made their life a lot harder. So libraries and bookstores will not buy books that have been published by Amazon. So ideally you need two distributors. So Amazon is one distributor and I’ve gone with Ingram Spark as a second distributor. 

On Amazon I can do my paperback and my ebook and that’s distributed or potentially to be seen by up to 80% of the books sold in the world and the other 20% can actually be accessed by Ingram Spark. So all bookstores, libraries and everybody outside of the Amazon world can be accessed through Ingram Spark. They automatically put it out. So Apple Books and Google well, no, Google Play I have to do by myself, but Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble for the American market, it got on booktopia without me having to actually submit it to each of those individual places. I just submitted it to Ingram Spark and then it takes over. 

The ebook just automatically goes out. So I accidentally pressed Go earlier than I should have because I didn’t realize it was that instantaneous. So it was a bit of a surprise when I found my book already for sale before I was actually supposed to be ready for sale. But again, it’s the learning curve and I know for next time I can wait, or just what buttons to press. 

US Tax Forms

But there’s a lot of buttons to press and there’s a lot of forms to fill out. So for both Amazon and Ingram Spark, I have to fill out US tax forms. Now that was scary. That was the second worst thing after the book cover. Filling out US tax forms just sounds like a disaster could potentially happen. I believe I’ve done everything correctly, but I think the worst thing that will happen if I haven’t done it correctly is I will get taxed in America and taxed in Australia, which is not great for profits, but I don’t believe it can be anything that might send me to jail for fraud or something along those lines. Fingers crossed, that’s a correct assumption. But I think every time I had to fill something out, I Googled and found advice from other people who filled out the forms. And there’s all sorts of cheat sheets and things you can find. And basically Mr. Google has helped me in every single step along the way to find the information that I needed. 

Approval Process

There is a bit of an approval process with both companies and they each do their own little bits and pieces. Amazon accepted the print file of the book without any problems. And it was only after I had the final proof copies that I uploaded the ebook files for Amazon and for some reason it came back and said, you have errors. And I’m like, what? How can there be errors that said I had spelling mistakes? And when I said, okay, show me which spelling mistakes you’re talking about. I don’t understand how they found them in the ebook, but they didn’t find them in the paperback book. So they obviously go through different processes. But all the spelling mistakes were not spelling mistakes as such. They were foreign words as I have various words in German and French probably, and stuff along the way where I put the actual street name or building name or whatever it is. So the software obviously assumes they’re spelling mistakes, but they’re actually not. And it didn’t like the word wrinkled-ness, which is a made up word, and I’m aware it’s a made up word, but I’m not deleting it. So the word wrinkled-ness is staying whether spell check likes it or not. 

And the other word which I found interesting, that it didn’t like was and I remember researching how to spell this word because it’s a word I’ve actually used all my life, but it’s not a word that’s commonly used. And so I had no idea how to spell it. But I remember Googling it and checking out how to spell it, obviously before I was getting into the final stages of editing. And it’s the word bejeezers. So Amazon Kindle does not like the word bejeezers. I re-Googled it after it sent me this notification. And funnily enough, I did find other ways of spelling the word bejeezers, but I didn’t like any of them. So I stuck with my original spelling of bejeezers and I’m leaving it as it is. So I basically pressed a button that said “accept errors”, as in I’m not changing them. So I accepted the errors and said “continue as is”, and that was fine. 

Then with Ingram Spark, it was sort of opposite. They accepted the ebook version, but the paperback version I had to make some slight changes to the book cover for some reason, like literally 0.2 or something. I had to stretch it out, which is weird because it’s the same page count. So I made those slight changes. That was easy. But then after that it came up as “your title does not meet our integrity rules”. I’m like, it was same title on the ebook which was accepted, but apparently the ebooks don’t go through integrity checking. So I was really confused by this. It was quite hard to get a definitive answer or reason. And to start with, I just thought it was a glitch or it wasn’t anything and it was just going to go away. And then I realized it wasn’t going to go away and I had to fill out this “State Your Claim” form as to basically disprove or state your case why you shouldn’t be included in the integrity clause. And I don’t know if it was like, I sort of get this is why I didn’t want to split the book up into two volumes. I’m saying 365 dates of travel, but the book only contains six months worth of dates, so I don’t know if that was the cause. And so in my “State Your Claim” form, I wrote well, “I’ve clearly said this is the first six months of that 365 days. It’s explained in my introduction that’s how it works. And book two is coming out in June,” and that’s all I said. 

And literally, I went to bed that night feeling absolutely sick that I was not going to be able to use their service and it was going to change everything to do with how I was going to publish and sell my books. And I got no sleep whatsoever that night. If I’d just stayed up for 15 more minutes, I would have got the reply from Ingram saying, “Oh, you now pass the integrity test. Wait for 24 hours and it will be approved.” Oh my God, I was so mad at myself. Why didn’t I just stay up for 15 more minutes? And I would have got that email, the happy email, before I went to bed, as opposed to after I finally gave up trying to sleep and dragged myself out of bed. 

Scary Moments

So there’s been a few heart flushing moments like that along the way, including someone claiming that I had copyrighted or broken copyright rules of their website and were going to take me to court and all sorts of things. And they’re all scams, but they really do make your heart flutter. And because I don’t know what I’m doing, I could easily make a mistake with, obviously not on purpose, a real accident mistake, as in the true meaning of the words. 

Selling and Marketing

So there’s been a few ups and downs along the way. But finally with Ingram Spark overturning the integrity clause, everything is now ready. Two ebooks, one for Kindle and one for everything that’s not Kindle. Paperback version on Amazon and paperback version that any bookstore or library can order. Now I can’t make the bookstores or libraries order, so that’s something I still have to work out how to do. But any bookstore that takes orders will be able to find my book and order it in so they can access it. It’s just I still have to work on them choosing it and I think it’s something I’d work on, I’d rather work on once book two is out and then I can sort of sell them as a package. I will feel better personally if they’re both out at that same time. And there are some things that I’ve read over and over, actually multiple times, of people saying it’s not worth doing a lot of advertising, and particularly not paying for advertising, until you have at least three books behind you. So I’ve had that in the back of my head. So I don’t want to do much in the realm of paid marketing or hard selling, at least until I’ve got the first six months and the second six months. 

It’s only a few months down the track. Like the writing has been done, the editing has been started and all the learning curve has been done, so it’ll be so much quicker. And that will be out in June sometime. I don’t have an exact date, but after that, all sorts of other things will happen.

Wrap-Up And The Future

But I’ve gone on for way longer than I’d planned. But there’s a little bit of an insight into what self-publishing a book is like. If there’s any specific questions you’d like to ask me, then feel free. 

Would you ever consider publishing your own book? 

It took me a long time to get over the whole idea of self publishing, because for most of my life I’ve thought only idiots did that, and only dumb people did that, and only people who weren’t good enough did that. But now I realize that’s not the case, and I’m very happy doing my self publishing mode of organizing it. But there’s still part of me that one day would like a traditionally published book. And that’s probably going to be my aim for the original novel that I started, if you remember, that contains Nazis and the Vatican and Stalin. It’s a great book with a great ending, but it’s going to take me a long time to do that. And again, it’s a whole different style of writing, so I have to get into that mode of writing, so I don’t want to rush that. In between, I’m going to do some cozy mysteries and I’m going to finish my travel book, so there’s lots coming. 

But if there’s anything you’d like to know about any of the stages along the way, then please let me know. Happy to answer any questions. And I hope this hasn’t been too boring or too long, but it’s also been interesting to see the process that I’ve gone through and knowing that now that process has ended. And my book and ebook are available at various places, and each day new places are going to be added. I’m hoping by the 26 March, every single place that it’s potentially available will be ready. Getting them all done on the same date is ridiculous. That’s why I’ve kept the date as the 26 March. And slowly the availability of the book will reach its peak. 

So I hope you didn’t stop listening after the first 30 seconds. Next week’s episode is going to be about, well, hopefully selling books, because literally people can buy my book now. And I’m hoping I can call my next podcast That Time I Sold My First Book, or That Time I Sold A Book or Books. So watch this space for next week. Thank you for listening and I really do hope you have an interesting day. 

Well, that’s this week’s podcast. Thank you for spending time with me today. I hope I made you smile or laugh.

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