At first I was completely daunted by the prospect of doing all the technical stuff BY MYSELF! (My husband, bless his heart, relies on me to do any techy stuff in our house, and our children, all very computer literate, live too far away to help out if I get stuck.) So eventually I took a deep breath and started.
The KDP helplines were helpful, at least to start with, until I reached the page where I had to give details about my tax status, when my computer froze completely and refused to carry on. I wasn’t sure whether this was KDP, me, my new computer or the battery in my mouse that was causing the problem, so I turned it off in disgust and left it till the next day. Next day the same thing happened, despite me changing the battery in my mouse, so again I had to leave it. Then the next day, for no apparent reason, it all worked again, enabling me to go on and sort out the tax details. What a relief when it accepted what I’d done and allowed me to go on to the next page!
So far, so good.
Luckily by now I had my cover picture – my son Tim, who is a professional illustrator, did one for me to the exact specifications KDP required, so that was uploaded easily. The book itself, however, took a little longer…
I’d already tried formatting my book myself, checking all the time on my Kindle how many spaces I needed to leave at the start of each paragraph. But somehow, no matter how careful I was to make each indent exactly the same, when I uploaded it on the Preview they were all over the place. Very unprofessional. And as for linking the contents list to the individual chapters… that sounded so complicated that I contemplated not bothering with links at all.
Eventually I rang a friend who had already published several of her own ebooks and had a chat to her, and she advised me to look at Katherine Roberts’ blogs, which, bless her heart, she would email me directly.
This proved to be the turning point. Katherine’s instructions were so much easier to understand that I went back to square one with the formatting and managed it with no problems. Hooray! She also suggested the obvious thing that hadn’t occurred to me: I should email my final ms to my Kindle for checking! That was brilliant – I could see immediately that it was all working – except for the links. So I took another deep breath and began on those. Again, it sounded easy – and it almost was. Except that my new computer had more options than I was anticipating, so I wasn’t sure which to go for. Eventually, after two steps forward and one step back several times, I discovered that I had to make sure I clicked on “In This Document” at the Hyperlink stage, rather than going with the default “Web page”.
And at last it worked. I sent it to my Kindle, and it worked. I previewed it, and it worked there too. So I took a very, very deep breath and clicked PUBLISH.
One thing I wasn’t sure of was whether enough children of the book’s target age range (it’s intended for 9-12 year-olds) would be likely to access it as an ebook, so when friends (ie fellow-writers) suggested I should also make it available as a POD paperback I thought in for a penny… “It’s quite straightforward,” said KDP and CreateSpace.
Well I suppose it was slightly more straightforward than my initial attempt at doing an ebook, but still not completely plain sailing. I had to make so many decisions before it was publishable, eg how big the book should be, how many pages, what size font, how much to charge etc etc. But at last, after several trials and errors, the book too is now out there and I’m delighted with how good it looks (thank you, CreateSpace!)
To date around 600 people have downloaded it or bought it, which sounds wonderful to me, though of course it’s nowhere near the thousands mainstream publishers would expect to sell. (I now have a lot more respect for all the decisions they have to make before a book is published!) However, I feel really proud that I actually managed to do it myself.
And now I know how to do it, I am keen to do it again, with other books I have already written and waiting. Not to mention the other ideas I’ve got in my head! In fact I’m raring to go.