BLOG: Adventures in Self Publishing Part 2 – Taking the plunge (DIY style)

This week’s blog post is all about how you shouldn’t be afraid of doing it yourself.
Wow! What a busy week it has been. publishing a book is a bit like giving birth (it hurts, it’s a labour of love, but worth it in the end) so here’s a quick update on what I’ve managed to do (and why):

Kingmaker Ebook on Amazon KDP:

Yes, I finally got there and it was surprisingly easy! I had a few minor issues stripping the code out of my Word file saved as HTML but after a few attempts (and a few more Google searches for the excellent help out there) I finally got an ebook interior that looks like it was done by a big publisher. It only goes to prove that you can create a professional product using simple software if you pay attention to detail and try to emulate the best of the best!

ADRIAN’S TOP TIP: compare your formatted file with the Kindle file of your favourite authors – Does their one look better?  Why? Keep redoing it until you are happy! I used Robert Holdstock’s Lavondyss (Kindle ebook), Bernard Cornwell’s Warriors of the Storm (Kindle) and my collection of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books as an example of best practice. Also, although you can upload your Createspace file onto KDP as part if the Createspace process, don’t – you need a separate version for KDP because you need a table if contents.

ISBNs bought, allocated and registered!:

I know, I could have  left this off and saved a few £££ but I wanted Three Assassins Press to offer a quality product and to be MEASURABLE so I bought 10 numbers from Nielsen, the UK ISBN allocator. I tried to register my Kindle mobile file the way I had read but they don’t do that anymore so I then had to register for an online password and wait a few days before I could use their Title Editor. After a few goes I have found this is a lot easier and faster to use so it was worth the wait.

ADRIAN’S TOP TIP: Buy an ISBN, DON’T use a free one (or ignore it). Having an ISBN proves you are serious about your business (and you are, aren’t you?). I haven’t yet properly investigated the ordering system that Nielsen offers to the trade but it does seem to enable booksellers to place their orders with me as a professional publishing imprint. Fantastic!

Smashwords vs. Kindle Select:

This was a difficult choice. If you really want to cover online retailers other than Amazon then you need to consider using Smashwords as the easiest way to get in with the competition (especially as now even Sainsbury’s are using Kobo). However, the more I looked into it at the time it seemed a lot of work for little reward so I decided to sign up to Kindle Select for three months, accept that the book can only be sold on Amazon for that period, but enrol on Smashwords when the time is right and I have got the Amazon version selling. The added benefits of Kindle Select should hopefully outweigh the benefit of Smashwords (I expect Amazon to be my biggest retailer anyway, especially in my key UK market).

ADRIAN’S TOP TIP: Balance your workload and prioritise sales channels and actions – the aim is to get published and start selling, and you only have one pair of hands! Use Amazon as best you can then add Smashwords when you have the time.

Paperback version via Createspace:

For a long time I wasn’t sure about whether I should do a paper version of my book as well as an ebook – I have seen other writers say how the extra effort doesn’t give high enough sales volumes (1 in 100 sales is a figure often used). However, I found the Kindle process so easy I thought I would give it a shot as I wanted to feel like a had really “done it” (I know, it almost seems like a vanity process, but I wanted something tangible for all my hard work, something in my hand to make all this effort worthwhile). Call it vanity, but I decided to go for it anyway, and I’m glad I did.

So, formatting the interior was really easy, I just downloaded the 5″ x 8″ Word. doc template from Createspace, copied and pasted then did some tweaking. I had to reduce the font size to 10pt in order to make the page count financially viable but it seems to work and looks great. 

ADRIAN’S TOP TIP: Don’t trust Createspace when they say they have fixed a problem with your file – check it and see what has changed. I had several attempts before I found a way to stop them deleting key elements!


The cover was a little harder – I had used Adobe InDesign a lot and done desktop publishing when I worked in marketing so I was eager to see if I could do it myself (I am quite artistic too). I had created the original KDP version using Scribus but Createspace found some preflight problems when I tried to upload it so I had to redo it from scratch. All in all it took me 3 days to do everything myself, and only using free software. The biggest challenge was finding a suitable image – in the end I used Shutterstock (for my imprint logo and a WW2 Nazi eagle I use on the paperback cover – it cost about £30 for 5 images including vectors) and Pexels (for the main cover photo – totally free!). After a few attempts everything passed with Createspace and I mopped up some formatting issues I had missed so now I’m now just waiting for a proof hardcopy from Createspace.

ADRIAN’S TOP TIP: Don’t be afraid of doing it yourself. Some “professionals” actually aren’t very good in my opinion, and that includes full-service companies so if you have an artistic eye and the patience to learn, why not give it a try? If you don’t like it after that, then you can still try a professional. I learned so much this time and now I have the templates set up so it will be a lot faster next time.Don’t use the online Createspace cover designer facility as the templates scream “amateur” in my humble opinion. However, DO invest in a professional cover image (tweak it with Gimp or Photoshop) as a strong visual (and good font choice) is key to attracting customers.

Hopefully by the time I write again, Kingmaker should be out there! To your success and happiness.


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