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How To Write and Self-Publish Your Own Book
by Jack Wellman
2010-01-24 09:53:35
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Have you ever wanted to publish your own book? I thought this was the last thing that I would ever be able to do. But it was not as hard as I thought. Well, I did learn the hard way, but you can learn from my mistakes and self-publish your own books. I’ve had so many people ask me about this that I thought I’m going to write an article on it! If you’re a writer, then you already have many articles that you have published already. So, in the strictest sense, you are already a publisher. If you have always wanted to publish a book and pass on your writings to your family or for posterity’s sake, then self-publishing is the way. It doesn’t matter if you have written poetry or Haiku’s, you can still publish your own book. I used the old fashioned printing press to publish my own book. But what I know now, I would do differently, and here’s where you can learn from my mistakes.

I am in the process of writing my fourth book but this one is going to be in the C.S. Lewis style of fiction with a message of morality. It is decidedly out of character for me, but I’m branching out. I normally write Christian theological books since I’ve been in education and a Sunday school teacher for years. And as a father and grandfather, I’ve learned a few things…including things from my own children and grandchildren. But me, write a book!? Never in a million years…or so had I thought. But I have learned to never say never.

So many have encouraged me in my writing that I’ve decided to branch out into a different genre but whatever you love or have a passion for is usually the best thing to write about. I love history so I use what my passions or interests are in. I also love Biblical theology and human compassion stories. If there is something you really know a lot about, then you must obviously have a passion for it, so write about it. Perhaps you already have dozens or hundreds of articles that you could use and condense into one document. I’ll tell you the best document in the business to do this with and it is absolutely free.

I have investigated dozens of publishers. I got prices estimates from Crossbooks.com, Random House, Outskirts Press, Publishers.org, Harper Collins, MacMillan, and dozens of others and I have discovered that the minimum costs were several thousand dollars up to 40 to 50 thousand dollars. I thought there must be a better way. And I believe that I found it.

When I published my first book, I did the editing, grammar and spell checking, proof reading, and even did the liner notes and introduction. I had 120 books published in my small Kansas town of Belle Plaine, Kansas at the local printer. This printer does phone books, cook books and others so I thought, why not use them. I had it done perfect bound, glossy finish, and in paperback with about 80 pages. My cost was $828.48 for 100 copies. They gave me 20 extras and printed some for themselves, including giving the local newspaper copies. This small town had its first published author. Me, a small time author with a big time project. It took me, from start to finish, about 6 months in all. But I did all the editing, proofing, page set ups, etc. I wish I had known then, what I know now about a certain document that lets you create your interior file for a book. It's all contained in one document and then you can export it into a PDF to download to self-publishers and send via email as an attachment.

I have written over a hundred articles and I started categorizing them into chapters. What I ended up with was 12 chapters in all. My first book was called “Blind Chance or Intelligent Design?, Empirical Methodologies and the Bible”. Since I know that 3 out of every 4 graduating High School or college-bound Christians leave the “faith once delivered”, I wanted to keep my former Sunday school students grounded in the faith. So I wrote a book about empirical scientific, biological, archeological, paleontology, mathematical, historical, etc. book about evidence for creation and for Jesus’ existence being a fact, as well as convincing evidence for His resurrection.

I pledged to donate 10% to missions work and 10% to local churches and the remainder for setting up a homeless shelter in Sumner County, Kansas, which has no homeless center or shelter. There are over 6,000 (est.) homeless people in this county. My plan was and still is, to use part of the proceeds to open a shelter for the many people; families, single people and children who live under bridges, in cars, in (who knows where else?). I'm a member of the First Baptist Church in Belle Plaine, KS and would love to get started in the process of opening a shelter in our severely underserved county of Sumner, just south of Wichita, KS. My passion is to help homeless people break the poverty cycle, secure a GED and to clothe, feed and house the homeless.

My first book was “Blind Chance or Intelligent Design, Empirical Methodologies and the Bible“ and it was done on the printing press. But then I discovered self-publishing and had it published through lulu.com, which is owned by Google. I then wrote book number two, “Do Babies Go To Heaven?, Why Does God Allow Suffering?” (Yes they do by the way). And finally, I wrote my last and third book, “Teaching Children the Gospel, How To Raise Godly Children”. I had all three of these books published by Google’s lulu.com and they are a publish on-demand book. That is, when someone orders one, they print it and mail it. I made them as inexpensive paperbacks as possible so most everyone could afford one.

I began as a freelance writer and I simply compiled and condensed all my articles onto one document. I discovered free software that’s also a wonderful word processor. It’s free from openoffice.org but they do take donations and I plan on paying them back someday. You only have to download the software for this word processor. Then you can copy and paste all of your articles onto it, or you can just start writing. I just put all these articles into one document (from open office.org). Under the “Format” section on the word processor, I went to “Page” and made 6 by 9 margins. This makes it a 6 by 9 paperback, perfect-bound and one that is much less expensive than the standard hard cover. Openoffice.org software lets you “Export” it into a PDF file which you must use when you download the Interior of your book to a self-publisher. Make sure that you put no security restrictions on this PDF file or it will be rejected by the self-publisher.

These self-publishers have guides and directions for how to do this, but much of it is not covered. For example, you must leave a blank page for the inside of the front cover of the book. Then leave another blank page, then comes your title. After the title, then leave another blank page, then an Index with chapters & pages (with numbers left blank until you’re finished). Then, leave another blank page, and then add your Introduction. Next, leave two blank pages before your title and before chapter one. After each chapter and at the end of each chapter, you must have a blank page. At the end of the book, you have another blank page for the inside of the back cover. The self-publishers will actually assign you a free ISBN number that you must put near the front and at the back of the book.

Make sure you put your name (as the author), the date of publishing, the ISBN and put the words Copyright, 2010 (or whatever year it’s published). But which self-publishers and print-on-demand publishers should you choose. There are only two that are clearly the best in the business. They are lulu.com (owned by Google) and CreateSpace.com (owned by Amazon). Don’t worry about your front cover. They allow you to design the cover yourself or they will for you (for an exorbitant fee I might add). Try and do as much as you can. Do your own spell check, and grammar check, editing, and proofreading before you submit it or you‘ll regret it (like I did). They allow you space to put a brief synopsis on the back cover describing your book and attach a copy of the author’s bio and their picture. You can upload your own picture for the front cover or they have nicely designed covers that need no picture. You can upload your own author’s picture on the back in a small upper left hand corner if you desire.

As far as customer service, I have tried the two best and cheapest in the business (Lulu & Create Space). If you use any others self publishing service or choose an on-line publisher, you have to fork out anywhere from several hundred dollars (w/no promotions promised) or several thousands of dollars (with promotions and no guaranteed promotions to on-line book stores or Amazon [the #1 book seller in the world]. With my first two books I used lulu.com which is Google’s self-publisher, but the follow up and service are absolutely terrible. They accept credit cards and Pay Pal for payment and Pay Pal is easy to set up (just need a checking account). As for my experience, I recommend CreateSpace.com owned by Amazon.com. For one thing, they are the world's biggest book sellers. However, Amazon’s CreateSpace accept only credit cards for payment, but they put your earnings (your royalties) directly into your checking account unlike Lulu which puts your money into Pay Pal limits withdraws up to only $500 a month to transfer the royalties into your checking account.

Also, CreateSpace has a promotional plan for just $39 and requires no upfront money. When you books done, just order a proof and its ready to sell in just a few days to weeks. With Pro Plan, it will send your book to Amazon and to on-line to retailers and on-line books stores and to academic institutions. They also give you a link to “buy” and that link is yours to post on any website (I’ve done mine on my other sites, my blog and on my Associated Content Contributors Page under the “Affiliations” link. Click one of my affiliate’s links and it takes you directly to a view of the book, a summary of it and a button with the option to “Buy” it. If you don’t buy Pro Plan, then chances are it will not sell. Even with Pro Plan, there is no guarantee it will sell many copies. I would personally recommend CreateSpace.com (Amazons) because they offer the biggest market in the world.

When you export your openoffice.org document into a PDF file, then you will download this, called the “Interior” onto the self-publisher for the inside of your book. And, you can also sell this same book as an E book and as a Kindle reader book on Amazon. You can email your own book easily by an email attachment too by attaching it as a file and you can your PDF e-book to anyone, anywhere. I write, edit, review and publishing everything myself so I pay no one to do this for me. They offer this service, but again, it’s quite expensive. I have edited others books, spell and grammar, sentence structure, etc. for other writers and authors of books, and it is not cheap.

You can publish your own book. More than likely you will not get rich from doing this. I have not, but I can pass on my writings, my passions, my desires to some at least, and most certainly my children and grandchildren for the day that I am no longer here. It's simple, inexpensive and step by step procedures are available at most self-publishers as on-demand printing publishers. If I can write books, then you can too. It's not rocket science. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to leave a lasting legacy, write a family history, publish your works or just a cook book for posterity. You won’t regret it.

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Asa2010-01-24 10:14:21
Jack forgot to mention that Ovi Magazine also offers free publishing for all types of books. See our library here: http://ovimagazine.com/cat/56

Jack2010-01-26 02:59:45

Great point Asa. I missed that. I appreciate Ovi for this most rewarding service. This one got by my attention. Apologies to the you Asa & the staff at Ovi. Point well taken!

Asa2010-01-26 09:42:20
Of course... we only offer e-publishing rather than the print publishing you discuss in your article!

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