This bibliography is too dense to read in one sitting (not that you make a habit of reading bibliographies in one sitting, unless you’re having trouble falling asleep). If you read this all at once, you will run away screaming from the notion of self-formatting, but I hope you will find sections of it useful as you work through the frugal and ultimately satisfying process of self-formatting your own novel. I’ve written this as a companion piece to “Guide to Self Publishing”, which I wrote for Leslie Pietrzyk’s Work-In-Progress blog. Read that article first.
In case you haven’t heard me brag about it before, in November 2010, I self-published my two novels, Food and Worry and Six Words, in both paperback and Kindle editions. This annotated bibliography records the articles and books that helped me most during my four-step process. Sources are ordered by those four task stages, instead of alphabetically.
Most (but not all) my sources slant toward self-publishing with Amazon’s CreateSpace, and focus on do-it-yourself document formatting (AKA self-formatting), as opposed to paying a real-world or online printer to do the formatting for you before they print your paperback or hardcover books (or before they convert your ebooks, if you’re more interested in digital publishing).
Annotated Bibliography for Self-Formatting & Self-Publishing Your Completed Novel :
TASK ONE: Getting permission to use other people’s quotes (unfortunately all novelists have to do this—even self-publishing novelists, according to attorney Joy Butler)
1) Joy R. Butler’s The Permission Seeker’s Guide Through the Legal Jungle and her blog article “Staying Legal When Using Quotes”
Butler specializes in entertainment, intellectual property, and business law.
2) Beth Spencer’s “I’d Like to Have Permission to be Post-Modern, But I’m Not Sure Who to Ask” http://jacketmagazine.com/01/spencer.html
Writer and performer Beth Spencer’s permission process sounds more nightmarish than anything anyone else could go through, because she potentially had a zillion permissions to seek. This article will make you feel better if you are dreading asking permission to use a paltry two or three quotes.
Seeking permission to use song lyrics:
3) Dr. Jennifer Rohn’s article “In Which I Correspond”
Dr. Rohn is a scientist, journalist, and novelist.
4) Blake Morrison’s Guardian article “On the Cost of Quoting Lyrics”.
Morrison is also a writer and journalist.
TASK TWO: Which Self-Publishing Company Should You Choose?
Since self-publishing companies evolve so quickly, wait to start this task until your novel is truly done (i.e., as typo-free as it can be) AND you have permission to use quotes.
1) ‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital” by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg from the Wall Street Journal on June 3, 2010.
2) Writer/Computer Programmer Bryce Beattie’s blog: http://www.howtoselfpublishabook.org
This whole blog is a terrific how-to manual. In Bryce’s article “Choosing a ‘Free” POD Publisher: Lulu Vs. CreateSpace” he concludes that Lulu and CreateSpace are both great (but he picked Lulu by a hair at the time that he wrote the article–even if the article is not current as you are reading this bibliography, it provides good food for thought.)
4) “Self Publishing My Books with CreateSpace” an article by Larry Zafran (math educator and textbook self-publisher), was a resource I referred to again and again.
5) I’m biased in favor of CreateSpace, because I’ve had a great experience with them.
6) As I Googled, I read great things about Blurb (especially for image-rich books) and Lulu, so I recommend you check them out as well. Smashwords is a popular ebook publisher.
(Click here to go to the section of this bibliography that provides more articles on ebooks.)
TASK THREE: ISBN Assignment
ISBN is the acronym for International Standard Book Number. This essential publishing industry code is comprised of a row of numbers alongside black and white lines. ISBN identifiers are printed as rectangular patches, most often on the backs of books.
Many self-publishing services like CreateSpace offer you the option of a free ISBN, but because I wanted more autonomy, I purchased mine from the official provider of ISBNs, a company called Bowker. The Larry Zafran self-publishing article I mentioned above convinced me to buy my own ISBNs.
TASK FOUR: Formatting Files
1) The Catherine, Caffeinated blog from author Catherine Ryan Howard. Catherine is so generous with her detailed, humorous advice. Her whole blog is worthwhile, but start with these two links:
2) Larry Zafran’s self-publishing article helped during this stage too! (Scroll up to the previous mention of Zafran’s article for that hyperlink, since for some reason my HTML editor isn’t letting me insert the link right here.)
3) Walter Mendelson’s ebook Build Your Book. The Build Your Book ebook is one of the most frequently recommended sources on the CreateSpace community forums, and he’s an active participant there. So I also bought this ebook out of gratitude for his wise contributions to the forum.
IF YOU’RE FORMATTING PAPERBACKS and/or HARDCOVERS (AKA “PRINT BOOKS” as opposed to EBOOKS):
First, you’ll find that in formatting-speak, your manuscript is referred to as an “interior file” (interior because the pages of your manuscript will be published within the book covers). Most print-on-demand self-publishers like CreateSpace, Lulu, and Blurb require you to upload your interior and cover files in PDF format, rather than in a .doc file, unless you’re paying them to do the formatting for you.
INTERIOR FILE FORMATTING
1) The Tinhorn Template
If you’re formatting with Microsoft Word, this template will save you a lot of time—and even though it was designed for use with Lulu, it works equally well for CreateSpace.
2) “Typesetting in Microsoft Word 2007″ by Jack M. Lyon of The Editorium
[Note: I could only find this article as a PDF download at this link–you’ll need to scroll down to the middle of that page, just below a section called “Before You Get Started”)
3) J.R. Dunster’s http://www.polydactylcatsunlimited.com/self-publishing/index.html
4) David Griffiths’ self-publishing site at http://www.self-publishing-solutions.com/david-griffiths.html
In addition to being a self-publishing expert, Griffiths is a retired naval photographer who won a Humanitarian Medal during the evacuation of Saigon. I wish my author bio was so impressive!
IF YOU ARE FORMATTING IN MICROSOFT WORD, you may into problems separating chapters/sections. These articles by Microsoft Word experts may help:
1) “Word Doesn’t Know What a Page Is” at http://daiya.mvps.org/wordpages.htm
SELF-FORMATTING RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WHO DISLIKE MICROSOFT WORD (and who already use or want to use OpenOffice.org software and GIMP software–both are free, open-source, and well-respected:
1) Self-publishing expert Bryce Beattie provides a wealth of good information including screenshots. For example, click on http://www.howtoselfpublishabook.org/category/text-layout/
COVER FILE FORMATTING
I used Book Cover Pro software, which I purchased for $100, and had a good experience with it.
But if you don’t want to pay for book cover software, consider these two options:
1) David Griffiths at http://www.self-publishing-solutions.com/david-griffiths.html
provides a pdf called “Cover Design with Word 2007.”
2) Bryce Beattie’s article on how to format CreateSpace covers using free, open-source GIMP and OpenOffice.org software goes step-by-step with screenshots. Although it focuses on CreateSpace cover formatting, it’s a great introduction to GIMP and to the art of template layering in general.
3) If you’re publishing through CreateSpace, their Help section offers this advice if you don’t want to use the Cover Creator template they provide for free: “Using an Existing Fully Formatted Book Cover”
(Note: I formatted my files first for my paperback edition, then paid CreateSpace $70 per novel to do the Kindle conversion for me.)
1) Bryce Beattie’s oft-mentioned blog provides detailed advice for ebook formatters, especially at these two links:
2) An overview on ebook formatting by tech-savvy romance novelist Jamie DeBree can be found at this link: http://bookbiz.jamiedebree.com/2010/09/16/selfpublishing-formatting-for-ebooks-overview.aspx
I hope this bibliography helps you and if you time and mood allow, please post a comment about resources and/or time-saving tips that you’ve found useful.