Nov 15, 2013

Self Publishing - A Tricky Business

I've spoken a little bit on this blog about my other jobs. Writing is my dream, my main focus, my future. What it is not, necessarily, is my bread winner. I don't know many writers who write just to make money, because the truth is that it's not a profession where you can hope to have a steady and long term flow of cash.

Don't get me wrong - this is not me complaining. I'm so excited to see SO CLOSE TO YOU on bookshelves that I still happy dance every time (it's getting very awkward for all my local bookstore owners). But I'm not one of those lucky few who get to write full time.

So I have a couple of other jobs - part time work that leaves me a lot of time to focus on writing. One of those is nannying for a super awesome 7 year old (you may have seen me post his burp-jokes on twitter). Another one is editing/helping to create author platforms. Through this I've had the pleasure of working with Stephen Zuckerman, an author out of Minneapolis.

Stephen is a character - an avid traveler, a doctor, an entrepreneur. His experiences inform his writing, and the result is a rich and detailed essay style. He also specializes in these little "zuckerisms" - short quips and aphorisms that are as funny as they are true. He has two books out already: New Clichés for the 21st Century and Doc, What's Up? Both are available in paperback (if you're interested, email!), but he and I decided early on that we also wanted to make sure they would be available digitally.

I had never gone through the process of publishing on Amazon before. Naively, I thought that if I just threw a Word document up there, it would turn out looking amazing. This is not the case. This is especially not the case if you are working with a piece of writing that has already been formatted for print. When I tried to upload the books, the paragraphs were a mess, the fonts changed sizes randomly, and there were tons of blank pages. After a couple days of tears (I wish I was kidding), I quickly realized I was out of my element, and Stephen and I started looking for someone who could help us. 

I contacted some of the bigger companies who specialize in formatting. Because one of the books - Doc, What's Up? - had a bunch of images, the price was creeping into the thousands. Frustrated, I asked twitter for help. I can't remember who it was, but someone quickly recommended Megan Duncan.

Thank. God.

Megan was a joy to work with. Professional, thorough, and efficient. I literally threw a mess of pages at her, and she turned them into beautiful ebooks. If we had a problem, she fixed it quickly and perfectly. I cannot recommend her enough.

I don't often use this space to promote (other than, um, me, and also maybe Kdramas), but I had such a wonderful experience with Megan that I really felt the need to write a glowing review of her services. I want you to understand how big this project was - at one point I sent her a file with over a hundred images in it. And she didn't even complain (!!). More than that her prices were beyond reasonable and she helped make any adjustments we needed even after we'd given her the last payment. It's always such a risk to do business with people over the internet, and I never once had a reason to doubt her.

I've said before that I think self-publishing is awesome, and while I've only experienced traditional publishing so far, I am sure that I will be self-publishing some work in the future. For people like me, who tend to get lost when it comes to html & all that jazz, having a Megan Duncan in your life is invaluable. If you ever need to format an ebook, definitely keep her in mind!