The original cover – that I fucked up

(nb I don’t know if this is my browser adding them or what but this post contains things that look like links but are in fact spam. My links are single underlined only, the rest? fuck knows what)

Hey I did a book, a whole book right into the world out of my brain. I know I keep banging on about it but as a tentative step into the wild west frontier of self publishing I’m pretty proud of it.

Does the internet really need another step by step guide on how to self publish? No, no it does not – there are far more informed blog post’s out there. This is more an answer to the incredulous question ‘How did YOU publish a book?’ Rather than a comprehensive answer to the question ‘How do you publish a book?’

Step One – Find The Material

I decided to do a ‘best of’ a collection of the best things I had written so far. The book version of a sitcoms clip show. I thought it would be a nice way of clearing the decks before Pier Review and I stole the idea of Jon Bounds.

Luckily and to my pleasant surprise I don’t throw anything away so a large portion of this step was spent Indiana Jones style digging through my hard drive. Even then I was missing a few, but I found that if I checked my ‘sent’ folder of a couple of my email accounts I could sort out the ones with attachments so all the stuff I had sent to various editors and websites could be salvaged. Of course they would be my shoddily proofed and pre-edited versions so quite a lot of them were quite raw.

I also dug into this blog for the nuggets of corn amidst the piles of shite. Other websites I had written for handily tagged my posts with my name so that wasn’t to difficult.

Step Two – Polish

the temptation to go through the old work with a wrecking ball and completely rebuild some of the articles was massive, but not practical seeing the amount of material I had, and also, somehow, dishonest.

I know I sometimes come off as arrogant but its because I’ve worked harder to become a writer than anything I’ve ever done. So if that means four or five really good ideas get lost in a blizzard of poorly framed arguments and dodgy syntax, its worth it to show the progress I’ve made.

Of course it has to make sense though, so I did have to go back and move a whole bunch of commas around. But it was a process of filling the cracks rather than completely re-plastering.

All of which took place in a programme (when did the word ‘app’ finally kill off the word ‘programme’ it just seems so antiquated now) called Scrivener, simply the best, and densely feature packed, programme on the market for large writing projects. Although its not perfect, the way it builds the Table Of Contents for your project is related to the nesting and order of your folders which isn’t the most instinctive way of doing things and the internal spell check isn’t the easiest to use as it doesn’t allow you to see the context of the word its correcting. But on the whole there is no way a few things I have written would have been finished without it.

Also the aforementioned Jon Bounds uses it, so he was able to proof it without the hassle of importing and exporting the text into different formats. We even share a Dropbox where we back up most of our projects so I didn’t even have to send it to him.

Step Three – Format

It was proofed (twice). Scrivener allows you to export straight into ebook format – and while this is all right, tweaking it involves opening the project again, re-exporting it and checking the changes. So I used Sigil with its very simple WYSIWYG interface to go in and nail the formatting.

It needed a cover. I designed one myself but the size was wrong and the title shoddily placed. In a fit of stupid I saved the whole thing instead of ‘save-as’ing it and lost the original photograph, yes it was my only digital copy, no, I don’t know how that can even happen. I had to paint my face and re-shoot it in the early hours one beer frazzled school night. Again Jon saved the day when I sent him the whole mess and he knocked up a much better version in less than an hour.

Step Four – Publish

At the moment the book is only available on Amazon through the KDP thing I signed up for. To be honest I’ve yet to see the advantages – I think its something to do with getting more royalties in India or something. The scheme does ask for the book to be exclusive to the Kindle for ninety days though so I do not investigating more to see if I could have opted out of that.

The whole process is relatively painless, finding your international banking numbers is a hassle (they’re on your bank statement normally but don’t ask at your branch – they know less than nothing). As someone who hates and dreads forms it didn’t bend my head too badly at all.

I set the price at $4.99 which works out at about the price of a pint in sterling which seemed apt and pretty good value for nearly 50,000 words.

And that was that, all there was left was to bother as many people I could about it.

I happened to get into a twitter conversation with Sci-Fi author Jeff Noon about e-readers. My first instinct about them was a negative one – not entirely surprising to anyone who’s seen my book collection, I clearly fetishise the objects as well as value the contents. His point was that e-readers are not just for replacing books but are a new way of consuming information, one of the advantages being that they are for all the things that fall between the cracks of internet and print – Essays, story fragments, extended blog posts now have a home, a place in our information diet. And more importantly the beginnings of a way to distribute and monetise the creation of these things.

The way we consume words is changing, personally I’m still not entirely convinced that e-readers are not the mini-disks of information distribution. The next step is probably inhaling articles through smoke generated by a new wave of electronic cigarettes or straight into our skulls with gelatinous book bullets.

Or maybe I’m missing the point entirely. With our species progression we’re realising that what we perceive as neuro-typical is a very slim middle slice of the population and as our awareness grows of ourselves and others we will be much better at managing our data flow in a way that suits us personally. They’ll be no dominant format because hopefully) there will be no dominant brain type.

What is important is that we continue to have platforms to share our thoughts, dreams, and stories. And if I manage to earn enough to get around in, all the better.

The amazon link is here if you want to buy or even just look at it in its natural setting, Or if you want to know more about it this very website has a landing page for it here.